Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Friday, presented her maiden budget in the Parliament. While the mainstream media is full with reports of industry reactions and the Twitter reactions of middle class, NewsClick talked to various unions on how the budget will affect the working class of the nation.
‘Ease Of Doing Business’ At The Cost Of Survival of the Working People, Says CITU
The budget, which is also the first Budget of PM Narendra Modi’s second term, sets a vision for $5 trillion Indian economy by 2025. While the government says that the goal will be achieved through series of investments, Centre for Trade Union (CITU) has warned that this will lead to corporate extracting and looting more viciously from the common populace, the working people in particular.
In a press statement issued on July 5, CITU has criticised the Modi government for their Union Budget which has “turned out to be deceptive assurance for the mass of the people without any substantive provisions and a series of bonanza and giveaways for the corporates in various forms”.
“The Budget sought to pretend taxing the rich more by enhancing surcharge on individual income from above ₹ 2.5 crore,” read the statement, “But that has been more than neutralized and compensated by a sharp reduction in corporate tax to the tune of 10 per cent for almost the entire corporate community by bringing 99.3 per cent corporate entities to the minimum level of corporate tax of 25 per cent (from 35 per cent).”
While the union has questioned the means – such as inducing total flexibility in implementation of labour laws through reforms – by which the Modi government is trying to promote growth of the economy, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has praised the Union Budget for providing “the right amount of stimulus which would unleash the animal spirits [and] fire up the economy.”
Budget holds no substance for farmers, says AIAWU
The All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) has expressed its disappointment with the Union Budget, which according to them, “holds no substance” for farmers.
According to AIAWU, the rural development and the agriculture sector, which is already destroyed by demonetisation, has seen less real investment from the government. The demands of the masses of Indian people have been either covered up with lies or ignored.
Speaking to NewsClick, Vikram Singh, leader of AIAWU, has claimed that the government has not taken serious considerations of the social security needs of the people in rural India.
All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), in a press statement, has also condemned the Modi government for failing in aiding the farmers by not making inputs cheaper or increasing funds for MGNREGA and instead choosing to do the exact opposite by declaring Zero Budget Farming which is nothing but “adding insult to the injury”.
Corporates Will Benefit from the Capital Infusion to Public Banks: Says Former Gen Sec of AIBOC
It cannot be gainsaid that the banking industry is not facing a crisis and liquidity issues, reasons for which can be accrued to growing number of bad loans and NPAs. The budget speech mentioned a capital infusion of Rs 70,000 crore into PSU banks which, according to the government, will open funding options for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).
However, according to Thomas Franco, former general secretary, All India Banking Officers’ Association (AIBOC), the sections of Union Budget concerning the banking industry are only for the benefit of the rich people.
The capital infusion is basically to help the corporates solely because of the fact that the need for such an infusion was only caused due the writing off of huge amounts of loans – in the name of bad debt – by the public banks, Franco said.
The losses that the banks incur are due to the provisions kept aside for bad loans which eat up the net profits of the banks, he added.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) – an organisation that claims to be voice of India’s businesses and industry – has welcomed the announcement of capital infusion to public banks which would help in “improving the credit flow to the industry”.
Railway Budget: No High Hopes Attached
With ruling government hinting towards privatisation of major resources of Railways in recent past, the Railways budget was, without any doubt, the most awaited one.
With a focus on public-private partnerships, Railways received a budgetary allocation of Rs 65,837 crore and highest ever outlay for capital expenditure amounting to Rs 1.60 lakh crore.
NewsClick spoke to Shiv Gopal Mishra, general secretary of All India Railwaymen’s Federation. According to him, no high hopes can be attached to the Railway budget and there was nothing novel in the announcements that were made.
Speaking on the question of privatisation, he reiterated the unions’ stand of opposing every such move that would lead to privatisation of the railways.
Cutbacks in Women-oriented Schemes Show the Real Character of the Government, says AIDWA
In a press statement issued on July 6, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) expressed anger towards the Union Budge.
Though women found special mention in Finance Minister Sitharaman’s Budget speech, according to AIDWA, the government fails to “increase public expenditure to boost the rejuvenation of the agrarian sector which has seen a massive displacement of women’s livelihood”.
The allocations for women-oriented schemes have decreased from 0.66% of the GDP in 2018-19 to 0.64% of the GDP in 2019-2020. The allocation for the Ministry of Women and Child Development has decreased from 5.1% to 4.9% of the total expenditure between 2018-19 (revised estimate) and 2019-20 (budget estimate).
“All the purported ‘good intentions’ of the government to benefit women are therefore not backed by its actions,” added the statement.
Implementation of NEP: Mockery of Democracy?
NewsClick spoke to Rajib Ray, president of Delhi University Teachers’ Association, to get his insights on the Union Budget that was presented yesterday. According to him, the budget allocation in education sector does not consider the increase in number of students in recent past. In addition to that, the announcement of implementation of New Education Policy, without any discussion, came as a ‘policy thrust’.
The Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) had extended the deadline for the public to present their suggestions till July 31. However, Union Budget 2019, even before the deadline, laid down the roadmap for implementation of the New Education Policy.
Students’ Federation of India (SFI) has, in a tweet, termed it a “mockery of democracy.”
NEP 2019 is implemented even before the last date of feedback collection.What a mockery of democracy! @nsitharaman#BudgetForNewIndia#SFI
— SFI (@SFI_CEC) July 5, 2019