Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, on Thursday, called upon the State government to initiate discussions with youth organisations to find a solution to the loss of employment opportunities for the youth following its decision to raise the retirement age to 56.
Winding up the general debate on the budget for 2012-13 in the Assembly, Mr. Achuthanandan said the existing retirement age of 55 had been in existence even prior to Independence. He doubted if the decision to raise it had been taken after necessary discussions. The government should explain the reasons for the decision.
He said the budget proposals had ignored the welfare of the weaker sections of society. While announcing an increase in allocations for various welfare schemes, the Finance Minister had left out an increase in the pension for agriculture workers. There was no mention about farm suicides that had taken place since the United Democratic Front came to power. The government should clarify what steps it took in this regard and what kind of relief it had given to these sections.
He said the Economic Review and the budget documents presented by the Finance Minister had disowned the contentions in the White Paper he had published regarding the financial situation of the State.
He questioned the rationale of promoting high-tech agriculture, and wanted the government to consider if it would be suitable for Kerala.
He alleged that the government had deliberately taken a decision to drop the names of officials accused of corruption in the Malabar Cements case. “This followed the same pattern in the palmolein case,” he said.
Participating in the debate, the Congress leader K. Muraleedharan said the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], the CPI, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party had been primarily responsible for the defeat of the Left Democratic Front candidate in Piravom. The news reports on the schism in the CPI(M) during its State conference and the open sparring between the leaders of the CPI(M) and the CPI on the eve of their respective party conferences had an impact on the electorate.
The former Speaker K. Radhakrishnan alleged that agriculture workers had been meted out a step-motherly treatment in the budget.