The Union Budget 2021 exposes two main features – that the economy is in deep crisis and that the government is committed to make farmers and people pay for growth of foreign and domestic corporate. The squeeze on Peoples’ Welfare is enormous as the Government has tried to expand its role in Corporate Welfare.
While people have largely attained herd immunity and are fighting back resolutely, the Governmentt remains deeply inflicted with Corona disease, as is evidenced by its statistical jugglery, misleading claims, lofty announcements and poor allocations, some to be done over next several years.
The agrarian crisis is deepening, condition of peasantry is worsening and in lakhs they are camping on the borders of Delhi to knock at the Govt’s door. Yet Government Of India has lost its ears for them and is only paying heed to the Corporate. Such is the RSS-BJP commitment to MNCs that the PM announced in Davos WEF few days back a package of 26 billion $ (Rs 1.84 lac cr) for Production Linked Incentive by Foreign investors. Already GOI has allocated Rs 1 lac cr for establishment of agricultural infrastructure by Private Sector.
The Prime Minister has incessantly called this Aatmanirbhar, his Aatma being the MNCs and their Indian partner Corporate, not the Indian farmers and common people, from whose needs the govt is fairly distanced.
Outlay on Agriculture and allied sectors has been reduced from Rs 1.54 lac cr to Rs 1.48 lac cr, even as the total budget expenditure has swollen from Rs 30.42 lac cr to Rs 33.8 lac cr, driven by increased taxes on people and borrowing. Agriculture is now down from 5.06% to 4.37% of Govt, allocation, even as it still contributes 15% to the GDP.
This Modi Govt. has introduced Agriculture cess now which will be levied on diesel, petrol, urea utilized by farmers and also on some agricultural produce which will render them costlier. Only agricultural credit has been raised to nearly Rs 16 lac crores, while the interest subvention allocation for this has been brought down from Rs 21,175 cr to Rs 19,400 cr, meaning there will be less interest subsidy for farmers now.
Union Budget has cut nearly 35% in allocation for MNREGA, to Rs. 73,000 crores for the next year from the Revised Expenditure Estimate of Rs. 111,500 crore. This is bound to further increase rural unemployment and destitution with rapid decline in industrial employment, both pre-Covid and due to Covid lock downs.
PM Kisan allocation has been brought down from Rs 75,000 cr to Rs 65,000 cr, while beneficiaries of last installment released have come down to only 6.12 crore families of the 14 .37 cr farmer families.
Actual expenditures in several schemes have been far below the allocation last year and irrigation is one such sector. Under PM AASHA, market intervention scheme (MIS) for ensuring MSP for pulses and oil seeds in 11 states allocation for it has come down to only Rs 400 cr from Rs 4100 cr three years back.
The Govt. has increased FDI limit in insurance sector to 74% from 49% and thus given controlling stake to foreign capital.
Allowing control of insurance and control over agricultural production and trade of agricultural produce are in fact implementation of WTO stipulations.
On Heath services there is no attempt to strengthen public services. Claim of 137% increase in the outlay is misleading as PM Atmnirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana allocation of 46,180 crores is spread over six years and allocation of Rs. 35,00 cr for development of Corona vaccine is to benefit corporate friends.
Education has been ignored with an alarming cut in allocation for school education.
Even as RBI has estimate that NPAs will nearly double in a year only a pittance i.e. 20,000 crores has been allocated for bank recapitalization. Yet loot and plunder of public money by Corporate friends of Modi is set to rise.
The present movement against pro Corporate laws is not just to retain the past, it is a basis for move ahead to people based rural development and generate rural employment. It must be supported while opposing Modi Govt’s budget proposals.