The interim budget, presented by the Finance Minister Chidambaram today, is a political gimmick to camouflage its continued thrust of pro-corporate economic regime and anti-people bias.

In the run up to the forthcoming general elections, the Finance Minister seeks to project so called “aam admi” orientation by comparing the present expenditures/allocations on health, education and other developmental heads with the figures of ten-years back. By doing so the FM seeks to cleverly hide the truth that in the successive budgets of UPA-II Govt, the budgetary pro-people allocations were not deliberately spent aiming to contain the fiscal deficit. Even in the current year (2013-14), central plan outlay on rural development head has been cut drastically by Rs 5792 crore; in irrigation and flood control by Rs. 800 crore; in transport by Rs 24,359 crore; social services by Rs 28,640 crore and industry & minerals by Rs 11,843 crore; and also the central plan outlay was cut for the Health & Family Welfare Ministry Rs 7000 crore, Education (Human Resource) Ministry by Rs 4000 crore and Social Justice & Empowerment Ministry by Rs 1000 crore. Over all cut in central plan outlay was Rs 66,000 crore only to contain fiscal deficit to 4.6% and claiming credit for stabilizing the economy! All these expenditure would have contributed to income and employment generation to common people.

How the Govt, which is so focused on containing fiscal deficit could continue to allow pilferage in national exchequer by keeping due corporate tax and income tax from the corporate-big business lobby unrecovered? The tax-dues is to the tune of Rs 5.10 lakh crore as in December 2013. These dues are over and above the tax concessions granted to them on “revenue-foregone” account of around Rs 2.8 lakh crore only on account of corporate and income tax. The Govt laments on fiscal deficit only squeeze expenditure on peoples’ welfare.

The interim budget contains nothing on relief to the working people who generates GDP for the country and revenue for the national exchequer keeping the national economy afloat. The written statement of the Prime Minister in the 45th Session of the Indian Labour Conference that the demands of the trade unions were “unexceptionable” and the demands like universal coverage of social security benefits and national minimum wage “are in advance stages of consideration”, found no reflection in the budget reducing the prime minister’s statement to mere sound-bites. Despite assurances on different occasions no relief has been announced for the scheme workers who are not even getting minimum wages.

The budget’s major focus remains on further concessions to corporate and big-business lobby, both domestic and foreign, through tax concessions on the plea of promoting investment. Investment can expand only with expansion of market through increasing purchasing power of people. But, market can no way be expanded by squeezing developmental and welfare expenditures with ongoing gloom and widening poverty, further burdened by increasing food inflation. It was rather necessary to contain non-essential imports by raising import duty to contain current account deficit and also to boost the domestic industries. But Budget refused to take a call.

The UPA-II Govt ‘s blind approach to run the economy only by pampering corporates, both domestic and foreign, is bound to aggravate the gloom and crisis further. This is clear from the very fact that despite sizable growth in agricultural GDP by 4.6%, over all GDP cannot be estimated beyond 4.8 as the non-agricultural sector is in the midst of stagnation heading for decline. Complete reversal of the present economic policy regime is the only way if the country and the people are to advance.

CITU denounces the anti-people interim budget of the UPA-II Govt and calls upon the working people to heighten their struggle for reversal of the anti-people policy regime.

17th February 2014

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