Ignoring the poor, yet again

The “Continuing Budget of the United Progressive Alliance-II” is a slow and steady march towards crony capitalism without declaring the country a “capitalist nation”.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget 2011 will lead the country nowhere but towards the path on which the American and European economies got beaten black and blue.

Firstly, liberalisation of the finance sector will one day leave the Indian economy in tatters, and it is unlikely to ever recover. The attempts openly being made by the UPA towards getting foreign direct investment in the insurance sector and opening up the corporate private sector banks will reduce the resilience of our public sector banks (PSBs) and insurance companies. Instead of expanding PSBs and providing confidence to people, as well as jobs, the government is running after private players. This is surprising as the aam aadmi has always been duped by private banks. The private players will either declare bankruptcy or run away with people’s money. Will the government then pay for the follies of the private sector?
Despite opposition to the disinvestment of PSUs at `40,000 crores, I am surprised that the government is keenly pursuing it. The micro-finance sector is also getting increasingly corporatised and emerging as another kind of money lender with exorbitant interest rates.
The farmer and the agriculture sector — whose growth is anyway just half of the services sector — have again been neglected. More suicides are sure to follow.
The revenue foregone for concessions to private sector in exports is `58,590 crores and from corporate taxpayers it is `88,263 crores; the government has also foregone `1,98,291 crores of excise duty and `1,74,418 crores of customs duty. With such an enormous benefit, the private sector should implement reservation for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes or just pay up the revenue foregone. The scholarships announced for SC/STs do not balance the Budget’s tilt. Somebody rightly said today, that the UPA 2 is reverse Robinhood — rob the poor and pay the rich!

D. Raja is the CPI national secretary and a member of the Rajya Sabha

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