July 8, 2019
Kalyan Banerjee speaks on the Union Budget 2019
Thank you Madam for giving me the chance. I will give more thanks at the end if you give me reasonable time for giving this speech.
Madam, in comparison to all the Budget speeches I have heard, the speech delivered July 5 was lengthy. I have never come across such a lengthy Budget speech which does not have any indication regarding how its objects will be achieved. This Budget is completely visionless. On top of that, not only does the Budget imposes cess but also additional excise duty on petrol and diesel leading to increase in their prices. Combined with an increase of nearly Rs 2 per litre and with VAT and cess, the total price increase comes to around Rs 2.50 per litre. Therefore it will have a tremendous effect on the daily lives of all the people in the country. All will be affected, each and every one.
Although the international market price of crude oil has not increased, due to imposition of surcharge and additional excise duty, the price of petrol will increase by Rs 2.50 per litre and that of diesel by Rs. 2.30 per litre. In the global market, during the last three months, the price of crude oil has decreased. But during the last five years, nine times has the rate of petrol increased and two times has it decreased.
Madam, this Budget is not at all a growth-oriented Budget. The Honourable Finance Minister had given thanks to the honest tax-payers. If the tax-payers deserved thanks from the FM, why has tax relief not been given to those earning more than Rs 5 lakh? A 3 per cent surcharge have been imposed in case of income of Rs 2 crore.
We are asking that the people of this country, the students of this country, the youth of this country should be more educated, so that they get more employment and so that, for them, a Rs 2 crore income becomes nothing. However, it is that they are not rich – they are only upper middle class. They do not come within the category of the rich people. Building up the nation is the responsibility of not only the tax-payers but also the ministers.
When you are saying priority is building up the nation, why are you imposing additional tax on income of Rs 2 crore? The ministers are not saying that they will not take salaries for the sake of building the nation. You should leave out taxing the salaried for the sake of building the nation. Why it would not be done?
Madam, the FM has said, “Naari tu narayani”, and we Bengalis think women embody the power of the goddess. We believe that ‘Om sarvamangala mangalle shive sarbarto sadhike swaranne stambhike gauri narayani namastute, srishti sthiti vinashanay shaktibhute, sanatani gunasyai gunamayee, narayani namastute, swaranagoro vinartho parotrano parayane, sarvosathi hare devi, narayani namastute.’ But what you have done?
But what you have done with respect to women’s empowerment ? In the case of women’s empowerment, the revised expenditure was Rs 1,156 crore in 2018-19, which you have increased to only Rs 1,330 crore. Where are the effective steps which were supposed to have been taken?
Madam, this is a Budget which speaks about nothing but corporates. Corporate tax limit has been extended from Rs 250 crore. Those who are dealing with revenue between Rs 250 crore and Rs 400 crore have been given the benefit of tax relief, but no benefit of tax has been extended to a person who earns more than Rs 5 lakh. This budget is completely for corporates because of the more than Rs 1 lakh crore that would be earned by reason of disinvestments. Therefore you are selling the nation’s properties. You are selling the country itself. You are trying to bring only foreigners in insurance; because of disinvestment, employees’ services will be under threat. Each and every person will be under a ‘hire and fire’ policy, they would not be sure whether their jobs will be there the next day or not. By disinvesting, by bringing in foreign investors, by selling the assets of the country, you are keeping employees and their services under threat.
Sir, I have had a few opportunities, being a representative of this Parliament, of going to foreign countries. Everywhere they praise Air India – it is compared with British Airways, it is compared to every country’s national airline. But today you are going to sell off Air India. What will remain? And will everything now go to the Adanis and other industrialists? This will ruin the country.
So far unemployment is concerned, the Budget has no roadmap to create jobs for the youth. A report by the National Sample SurveyOrganisation states that ‘unemployment in this country has touched a 45-year high.’ This is the condition now. Unemployment has gone up to 6.1 per cent for the financial year 2017-18. In West Bengal, it is 4.6 per cent lower than the Centre, as per the former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India. In labour-intensive industries like leather, gems and jewellery, petrochemicals, etc. more jobs have been created under the leadership of our Chief Minister.
India is undergoing jobless growth now. Only a million jobs were created in the last five years when need more than a million jobs every year. The Modi Government is failing to keep its promise regarding employment, something which would be dangerous for the country’s security as well. The level of unemployment is irrespective of agriculture and associated activities, in which around 40 per cent of the workforce is engaged in.
A total of 60 per cent of the population is dependent on agricultural income, according to the 2011 Census. The Government is proposing zero budget natural farming. What is the meaning of this? The policy of ZBNF also does not mention whether zero budget involves zero input or not. During the last three years in our country, 12,000 have committed suicide- this is what their agricultural policy has led to. Nothing has been indicated in the Budget speech, nor given in any Budget document, regarding the cases of loans taken by farmers.
It has been said regarding house loans that if any house is purchased for Rs 45 lakh or less, only then will tax relief will be granted. The poor and the middle class people who would want to buy flats in metro cities will not get tax relief. Why such discrimination?
Now let me come to cutting of interest rates on PF and other small savings instruments. We have 104 million elderly people in India and in every Budget you are cutting the rate of interest in PF and small savings. So how will they survive? Sir, you are a lawyer and so you will be knowing that in case of divorce, a woman has to depend all the rest of her life on the permanent maintenance she gets at the time of divorce; and day by day, you are decreasing the interest itself. So what kind of relief is this? Slogan se kuch nahi hoga, nari ke relief ke baare me aur bahut kuch karna padega. Today even a child is entitled to getting a maintenance, and so, when the child grows up, how much would he be able to get at this low rate of interest? How will he survive with this kind of reduction in rate of interest year after year? The government is taking away the right to livelihood as protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The most ignored area in this Budget is education. We are far behind in implementing the Kothari Commission’s report on spending 6 per cent of the GDP on education. There is nothing mentioned about school education. We need a clear plan about funds that need to be spent to educate each and every child of this country, but the Government is making education a commodity. If the cost of engineering education in some premier institute is now Rs 10 lakh, after 10 to 15 years, it will increase to Rs 40 to 50 lakh.
Now let me come to about how GST killed the small-scale industries of India. As per the law related to GST, power looms have banned from citing any input tax credit (ITC) refund. Last year’s protest by Surat’s textile businesses against GST, because of the adoption of this kind of assessment, for a period of 20 days resulted in the loss of over Rs 100 crore.
Workers involved in zari-making, which is a famous industry in West Bengal, have been badly affected because of the imposition of GST. Biri, crackers, beverages, biscuits, pickles, confectionaries and so many articles of everyday use have been affected because of GST.
And look at how the tea industry is suffering. The draconian proposal to levy a 2% tax on annual cash withdrawals exceeding Rs 1 crore will affect Bengal’s tea industry as most gardens disburse wages in cash. Around 3.25 lakh workers are employed in 2,076 tea gardens, and around 90 per cent of whom are still paid their weekly or fortnightly wages in cash. If this tax is imposed, how much tax would have to be paid per month by the tea industry with respect to cash withdrawals for paying wages? Rs 7 crore. And it will be borne ultimately not by the owner, but passed on to the employees.
After the Centre demonetised 1,000 and 500-rupee notes in November 2016, it laid stress on the digital mode payment. But it could not be implemented in tea gardens because of the weak banking infrastructure in those areas. So they have to pay in cash. Have you given any serious consideration to bringing e-banking services in rural areas? Do you seriously consider if you go to the rural area you will not get delayed? Digital India has failed.
The amounts allocated to commerce and industry has been reduced from Rs 28,394 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 27,043 crore. The allocation for North-East Development has been increased. Electricity RE It was Rs 43,150 crore. The budget allocation has been increased but to only Rs 44,638 crore. The same is the state of allocation for Schedule Caste Development. It was Rs 3,778 crore RE, it has been increased to only Rs 3,810 crore.
This is the first time a women finance minister has frustrated us. She has not given anything to us. She has frustrated others in her entire budget. You talk about cut money and point to our chief minister but what about the cut money taken with respect to the Rafale deal? Will you return the cut money of Rs 2,500 crore?