Samyukt Kisan Morcha has expressed shock and bewilderment at the Union Budget 2023 announced by the Finance Minister on Wednesday.
After the sustained and determined protest of the farmers at Delhi, SKM had expected that the party-in-power would appreciate the importance of the farm sector and the need to secure income and future of the rural farming community, who form the bulk of India’s population. SKM has listed in detail that the Union Budget 2023 is the most anti-farmer budget in history of the nation for the following reasons:
1) The Allocation on Agriculture and Allied Sectors has been reduced from 3.84% (BE 2022) to 3.20% (BE 2023) of the total budget.
2) The Allocation on Rural Development has also been reduced from 5.81% (RE 2022) to 5.29% (BE 2023) of the total budget.
According to SKM, govt has shown its intent with such massive reductions. It also highlights how Union Budget 2023 hides more than it reveals.
1) Union Budget 2023 is silent on Doubling Farmers Income. There were no figures given in the Budget. It may be recalled that according to the Govt., it was Rs.8000 per month in 2016 (the year of announcement) and was to be increased to Rs.21,000 per month in 2022, so that the grand announcement of doubling income becomes reality. After 3 years, it was found to have been Rs.10,200 and perhaps now it is a maximum of Rs.12,400. Thus, out of the targeted increase in income of Rs.13,000, only Rs.4,400 has been achieved, that is only one-third of the target. In any case, the Govt has dishonestly stopped giving data on this and has hoodwinked the farmers.
2) Union Budget 2023 is silent on status of Minimum Support Price (MSP) on crops as per recommendation of Swaminathan Commission and what shall be done to ensure that farmers get legal guarantee of MSP. While the Govt has irrationally resisted the demands of farmers for MSP and its guarantee, this Budget has removed even the fig-leaf with which the Govt was trying to cover its meagre efforts to ensure that farmers get MSP. Flagship schemes like PM Annadata Aay Sangrakshan Abhiyan (AASHA) have seen a steady decline in allocation. 2 years ago it was Rs.1500 Cr. In 2022 it was reduced to Rs.1 Cr !! Only Rs.1 Cr to secure 150 million farming households.
Similarly, Price Support Scheme (PSS) and MIS (Market Intervention Scheme) was reduced from Rs.3000 Cr to Rs.1500 Cr in 2022 and this year it an unimaginable Rs.10 lakhs! In effect, the Govt has buried ASHA, PSS and MIS and with that the fate of farmers getting MSP has been buried.
3) Union Budget 2023 is silent on PM Fasal Bima Yojna. In times of shifting weather patterns and climate change, this scheme was supposed to protect farmers from crop losses due to natural calamities. In 2022, the allocation was Rs.15,500 Cr but this year it has been reduced to Rs.13,625 Cr. As crop losses mount, crop insurance support is being cruelly reduced by the Govt. Does the Govt. admit that the scheme has failed to protect the interest of farmers?
4) The Govt is drastically hacking the allocation for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) that provides critical income support to rural workers. In 2022, the budget allocation was Rs.73,000 Cr but in the face of rural joblessness and restless demand, the Govt. was forced to spend Rs.90,000 Cr. Since the general economy and especially the rural economy is still in deep crisis, it is unbelievable that the Govt. has hacked down the allocation of MNREGS to Rs.60,000 Cr, a dramatic cut of Rs.30,000 Cr.
5) The Allocation for PM Kisan Samman Nidhi been reduced from Rs.68,000 Cr in 2022 to Rs.60,000 Cr in this budget. The number of beneficiaries has been steadily declining and now the portal has stopped displaying real-time beneficiary data. At a time of deep economic distress of farmers, this scheme gave some relief to farmers but now even that is being constricted.
6) The Subsidy on Fertiliser has been reduced from Rs.2,25,000 Cr in 2022 to Rs.1,75,000 Cr in this budget. The past two seasons have seen farmers die in the scramble to get fertiliser and this budget is further deepening that crisis.
7) The Govt is grandly announcing new funds like Agriculture Accelerator Fund even as earlier announcements have been forgotten and lost. It may be recalled that the Govt had announced with much fanfare the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund of Rs.1 lakh crore; after 3 years it is found that only 10% of this fund had been actually disbursed.
8) The Govt is grandly announcing new storage and marketing schemes of agri products even as earlier schemes have failed, like the scheme announced 4 years ago of converting 22,000 village haats into mandis within 3 years. The Govt refuses to share any information about these schemes and is trying to fool farmers by announcing new schemes of the same type when earlier scheme have failed.
SKM demands that the Govt. stops fooling farmers and seriously focuses on resolving the critical issues of farmers like legal guarantee of MSP, crop insurance, reduction of input costs and steady availability of inputs. Since the Union Budget 2023 does not address these issues and it is apparent that even the flagship schemes named after the PM are failing, SKM calls upon the Govt to do the needful so that farmers do not have to confront and compel the Govt to what is anyway the duty of the Govt.
Media Cell: Samyukt Kisan Morcha