Clarion call to take agriculture as a serious issue
VELLORE: The Union government should take steps to bring back the huge unaccounted money stashed away by Indians in Swiss banks to fund the development schemes of the country, said Era. Sezhiyan, former Member of Parliament.
He was delivering a special address at a discussion on the Union budget 2010-11 organised by the Business School of the VIT University on the VIT campus here on Thursday.
Mr. Sezhiyan said that as per the Swiss Banking Association Report of 2008, the value of deposits by Indian nationals in the Swiss banks was $1891 billion as against $1456 billion in 2006. India topped the list, followed by Russia, which had $610 billion, China $213 billion, the U.K. $210 billion and Ukraine $140 billion. The amount that stands against India in the Swiss banks has gone up since 1947.
S. Gurumurthy, columnist, who moderated the discussion, said that the Budget speech of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee concealed the fact that tax to the tune of Rs.1,17,000 crore, which was sought to be levied in the budget for 2009-10 remained uncollected as on March 31, 2010. Though Mr. Mukherjee claimed that the budget was an ‘Aam Aadmi' (common man) budget, the provision for ‘Aam Aadmi' was only six per cent, while the budget put the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth projection for the year at 15 per cent.
G. Viswanathan, Chancellor of VIT University, who presided, wanted the Union and State governments to synergise agriculture and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to solve the problem of shortage of agricultural labour. Even though the Prime Minister is confident of an economic growth rate of 9 per cent, it is regrettable that the growth of agricultural productivity in the country had been meagre.
“It is high time we took up agriculture as a serious issue,” he said.
Mr. Viswanathan wanted the plan allocation for education to be increased. While the country required Rs.1,70,000 crore for education, the allocation for the sector in the budget was only Rs.42,000 crore, he said.