Resolution on Union Budget 2014-15
The General Council meeting of CITU being held on 11-14 July 2014 at Bellary, Karnataka denounces the anti-people Budget (2014-15) of the Narendra Modi Government. The Union Budget (2014-15) is an exercise in piloting large scale FDI-PPP mode in the financial and policy governance of the country under BJP rule. It followed the same policy trajectory deregulation, privatization and corporate-orientation so long followed by its predecessor the UPA Govt which has been rejected by the people in election. And pursuit of these policies by UPA has landed the national economy in gloom with dwindling growth rate, continuing inflationary spiral and aggravating unemployment. The Budget has set in motion the process of betrayal of the promise for “so called good days” made by Modi in his election campaign. The Finance Minister has said in his Budget speech, “ these are only the first steps and are directional.”
The Finance Minister, just three days before the presentation of his Budget spoke in Rajya Sabha on 7th July 2014 while replying to debate on “price rise” that any exercise in containing fiscal deficit through cutting down expenditure will lead to contraction of the economy in a situation of already dwindling growth rate of sub-5 per cent. He repeated the same statement orally in Lok Sabha while presenting the Budget. But while making high sounded commitment and promises for all round growth in his budget speech, in actual budgetary exercise, the Finance Minister meticulously practiced the same route of drastically cutting down central plan outlay on almost all heads impacting common people like Agriculture, rural development, Transport, General Economic Services and Social Services etc. The Ministries of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Human Resource Development and the Department of School Education and Literacy in particular and Women & Child Development also faced a drastic cut in allocation of funds. The share of SCs and STs in plan expenditure is kept far below (by Rs 47000 crore) the stipulation of planning commission guidelines based on proportion of population. Therefore, the first budget of the Modi Govt took off engineering a deceit on the people.
On the other hand, the Budget has launched onslaught against various flagship welfare schemes. MGNREGA is going to be immediate target of attack due to the policy pronouncement in the Budget that State Governments will have to spend two-third of the revenue transferred in ‘capital asset creation.’ Also a move is afoot to turn the right based employment guarantee legislation into just a welfare scheme with no guarantee in employment.
While engineering a drastic cut in expenditure on almost all heads impacting common people aimed at containing fiscal deficit, the budget remained reluctant in taking any action in arresting organized pilferage from public exchequer in the form of deliberate tax default by big corporate houses which reached a huge sum of Rs 4.18 lakh crore on account of corporate tax and income tax by the end of 2012-13 of which Rs 72901 crore is not under dispute. Rather the measures envisaged in the budgetary proposal to avoid dispute and litigation on tax claim are basically designed the defaulters a long hand to legitimize the default and pilferage from the public exchequer.
Added to this is the decision to constitute the Expenditure Management Commission to look into basically the subsidies for common people aiming at further deduction in the same. The Budget has already proposed a cut in subsidy on petroleum to the tune of Rs 22054 crore which would have a cascading effect on prices of all goods. And such cascading effect on prices of goods and services is going to be perpetual as the Budget announces total decontrol of diesel pricing before the end of current financial year.
Simultaneously, the budget reduced the direct tax leading to a revenue loss of Rs 22200 crore while increasing the indirect tax burden to the tune of Rs 7525 crore. And the manner the budgetary proposal extended liberalized concessions/reduction of customs and import duty on various heads, the additional revenue of Rs 7525 crore in indirect tax means a larger revenue on account of tax on domestic consumption goods to be borne by common people already reeling under continuing price-rise and mounting burden of unemployment and joblosses.
The Budget has announced raising of FDI cap in defence and insurance sector from existing 26% to 49% much to the detriment of the interests of national economy. The target for revenue from PSU divestment has been set at a huge amount of Rs.63,000 crore and the Finance Minister has announced that instead of earning dividend from PSUs they prefer divestment of Government equity in the PSUs. Number of measures have been incorporated in the Budget to actually weaken the public sector banks making them easy prey of privatization policy of the Government.
Budget while sounding high on promoting investment for boosting manufacturing sector, practically relied on good intention of the private investors through more liberal incentives and tax concessions. In an atmosphere of shrinking market and declining purchasing power of the people owing price-rise and industrial sickness, incentives and tax concessions cannot boost employment generating investment except causing revenue losses. Rather the measures announced in the budget for liberalization of tax regime on portfolio investment, transfer-pricing and mutual fund and steps envisaged for energizing capital market etc would attract flow of investment more towards speculative market than employment generating productive investment. That will definitely make the corporates and big business, both domestic and foreign, happier while common people will be left high and dry.
In respect of almost all development expenditure including various infrastructural projects, the Budget relied more on PPP and FDI despite dismal performance and non-materialisation of PPP during the previous regime. Rather, the Budget indicated further concessions/incentive to private players in the name of reducing rigidities and taking a more liberal approach.
On the whole, the first budget of the NDA Govt has basically turned out to be grossly anti-people in character promoting more aggressive loot by the corporate and big-business houses on the mass of the people. The General Council of CITU condemns such anti-people Budget and calls upon the working people and trade union movement to build united opposition to the said anti-people budget and related policies of deregulation, privatization for promoting corporate loot on the people.