Special Correspondent

``They lack measures to control inflation, do not address unemployment''

  • Ban on futures trading in wheat, rice welcomed
  • Proposals are "a cruel joke on the poor," says Forward Bloc

    NEW DELHI: The Left parties have expressed disappointment over the budget proposals, saying they lacked measures to control inflation and did not address the problems of unemployment. The parties were also unhappy with the low allocation for health and education.

    In the context of the inflationary crisis affecting the economy, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had not exploited the many opportunities available for resource mobilisation, especially taxing the rich whose incomes had increased.

    "He has kept expenditure increases under a tight leash while restructuring it in a way that goes against the interest of the working people and the State Governments. The budget fails to seriously address the problems of unemployment and inflation," the Polit Bureau said in a statement. While welcoming the ban on futures trading in wheat and rice, it said the budget failed to do away with the ad valorem duty structure on petroleum products, which would have helped in bringing down fuel prices.

    Food subsidy

    While the need of the hour was an extension of the public distribution system and an enhancement in food subsidy, the actual increase in proposed outlays on food subsidy was just 6.2 per cent, which actually implied a cut in real terms when inflation of 6 to 7 per cent was taken into account. Similarly, the claim that the focus was on agriculture was not justified in terms of allocation.

    "In sum, the Government has failed to deliver resources to warrant its rhetoric that the budget serves the cause of a crisis-ridden peasantry, the working people and the poor. It has also failed to provide the required impetus to the 11th Five Year Plan," the CPI (M) statement said.

    Describing the proposals as "pedestrian," the CPI said that despite the claims of Mr. Chidambaram on inclusive growth, equity and social justice and the pronounced intentions of giving priority to agriculture, the social sector and uplift of weaker sections and minorities, the budget did not meet the requirements of the situation.

    "The Finance Minister is very much concerned to uphold the Financial Regulation and Budgetary Management Act rather than taking strong measures to control inflation and price rise," the party Central Secretariat said in a release.

    Although 130 more districts had been included in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the allocation had been increased by just Rs. 300 crore. Similarly, provisions for the socially and economically backward classes and Muslims was very low, the CPI said.

    The All-India Forward Bloc said the proposals were an attempt to satiate the corporate houses and "a cruel joke on the poor and common man." "While millions of people are starving and committing suicide, the Finance Minister is talking about the import of food items for cats and dogs," it said.

    "Ritualistic budget"

    The All-India Trade Union Congress general secretary, Gurudas Dasgupta, said the budget was ritualistic, and would not provide any major thrust to the economy. He lamented that none of the suggestions given by the central trade unions had been accepted. "The working class will have to intensify the struggle in order to fight the pro-rich, anti-poor policies of the Government."

    The All-India Agricultural Labour Association said the budget would deepen the agrarian crisis and marginalise the poor further, while helping the big corporates amass huge profits.

    The Congress welcomed the budget, especially the thrust on agriculture, education and health. Party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan expressed confidence that the proposals would control inflation and prices without hurting growth.

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