In a quick reaction to the Union Budget 2017, Shri Provash Ghosh, General Secretary, SUCI(C), has issued the following statement today (01-02-17):–
While the country’s people are bleeding white under severe economic onslaughts in the form of unbridled price rise, mounting unemployment, rapid job loss, falling income, absence of rudimentary healthcare and access to education and their plight and misery having multiplied several fold following the demonetization drive, the Union Budget 2017 did not address any of such issues in right earnest. Instead it has only confined itself to exude customary false hopes, routine prattles of allocation figures, gimmickry in the name of tax reduction, continuing existing policy of gradual reduction of corporate tax, liberalizing FDI inflow and onset of digital era. Alongside, were usual hollow promises of poverty alleviation, increasing income of the farmers and improving the condition of the backward downtrodden populace.
Though the Finance Minister has tried to justify the most undemocratic merger of railway budget with general budget giving some most untenable logic of combining all modes of transport for better management, every indication has been towards more and more privatization of railways causing further dent into the pockets of the passenger in the name of “fixing tariffs on the basis of cost and competition.” Apart from progressively deteriorating passenger services and punctuality, safety of train travel is now under serious question following a trail of accidents. But no concrete time-bound programme to ensure the security aspect say by filling up the vacant posts in this field and stringent supervision with proper answerability in case of dereliction of duty or lax in vigilance on the part of the incumbent administration has been declared.
Without caring to spell out how and to what extent the much-trumpetted demonetization move has fossilized black money, curbed corruption, immobilized fake currency rackets and foiled terror-funding with counterfeit notes, the Union Finance Minister in order to hide the baselessness of such claims has only ended in saying that “demonetization is a bold and decisive measure and has strong potential to generate long-term benefits.” Like previous year, he has once again bluffed the rural poor by highlighting increased budget allocation towards agriculture evading any reference to growing suicide of the peasants, their deprivation of remunerative price and being forced to distressed sale by quarters of vested interest, increasing pauperization of the farmers and their conversion into agricultural workers and migrant labours. Similarly, notwithstanding the Economy Survey having admitted economic growth whatsoever to be jobless, the Budget has no mention of positive steps of job creation except new scope in ‘indigenisationof hardware and software’ (meaning use of domestically manufactured electronic technology) of Metro rail and augmentation of allocation under MNREGA. All emphasis is on so called skill development and entrepreneurship of the youth knowing fully well that such are all bunkum in a monopoly-controlled crisis-ridden capitalist economy whose whole and sole objective is to swell the coffers of the industrial houses and corporate behemoths by squeezing even the last drop of blood from the common oppressed people. Facts show that while only 35 days’ work out of promised 100 days was made available under MNREGA last year.
The much-clamoured boost of start-up ventures of the ‘entrepreneurs’ has been, as expected by the informed people, a master flop. With clubbing of plan and non-play outlays, it is clear that the government has no clue of any planned productive investment. Hence, as a part of ongoing militarization of economy to create whatever little artificial stimulation is possible in basic industries, military budget has been raised from 2.58 lakh crores of last year to 2.74 lakh crores excluding pension disbursals to defence personnel. CAG recently observed that fund generated through sachh bharat tax is either remaining idle or diverted elsewhere. But the Finance minister while singing praise for sachh bharat abhiyan did not utter a single word about it. Similarly, he also avoided mentioning what happened to the additional resources raised through agriculture cess on common people. The sop in the form of miniscule relief in personal income tax is virtually a show off to sooth the frayed temper of the suffering middle class who would soon find the rudimentary advantage having been wiped out following galloping rise in indirect tax once GST is introduced. Already it is apparent that the shortfall of Rs 20, 000 crores because of marginal lowering of direct tax rates would be covered by mopping up Rs 60, 000 crores through indirect taxation route like service tax etc. which would have to be borne by common people.
Finally, the entire thrust is on a credit driven economy the devastating consequence of which people have seen in the case of sub-prime crisis that originated in US and spread throughout the world. But there is no mention of increasing non-performing and stressed assets of the banks because of large scale default by the large corporates and industries. Also there is no specific indication of where the money for various budgetary allocations would come from. It is obvious that the government would either go for increased borrowing (over and above the budgeted 3.48 lakh crores) or resort to printing of additional notes pushing up inflation further.
In fine, it is, therefore, a budget of suppressed facts and shielding truth conducive to the vested interest of the ruling capitalists and their lackeys and totally inimical to the interest of the common people.