July 11, 2019
Manas Bhunia speaks on the Union Budget 2019
Sir, the debate on the Budget is continuing for a long time and I am hearing the speeches of the stalwarts in our August House, including the former finance ministers and honourable speakers from the treasury benches. Sir, Honourable Minister of State, Finance is here and we are missing the Hon’ble Finance Minister Madam Nirmala Sitharaman Ji.
Sir, I am perplexed, because of my long experience in the Assembly – and then I came to this August House – regarding the presentability and the form of presentation of the Budget. I am really astonished. The financial figures are not tabled in the Budget Speech and the Hon’ble FM has requested, rather directed, it will be available in the other documents. In my 40 years of parliamentary career in the Assembly and two years in this August House, I have never experienced this sort of directive principles from the Finance Ministry, that has come to us and we have to swallow. This is something very interesting.
So, what is happening? One figure is quoted in the Budget Speech and another is reflected in the second volume Economic Survey page number A59 and both are confronting each other. I request, through you, kindly come out with the explanatory note during the reply of the Budget Speech. Why it has happened? Is it a jugglery of statistics or, a suppression of the real facts of the sad economic situation and drowning economic situation of our country?
I am quoting from page number A59 of the Economic Survey second volume, “here in 2018-19 budget estimate, the revenue receipt is Rs 17,25,738 crore; revised estimate Rs 17,29,682 crore”. Very interestingly, this is the first time I am watching in a financial document in my 40 years of experience the term provisional actuals. I had the experience to read actual but I never read provisional actuals. This is the first time in my life. From where did this terminology come in the Budget document? Provisional actuals? Rs 15,63,170 crore. Which is correct? With which data and document I will proceed with my Budget speech? I am confused. I’m really confused. This is something that I’m requesting, through you, to the Finance Minister, Madam Nirmala Sitharaman Ji. Are you suppressing something to hide your disastrous economic situation of revenue mop-up and expenditure? Kindly clarify on an economic standpoint, not literary or academic standpoint. This is my first submission.
Second, is regarding the unemployment. The budget has got four engines; we have heard that from Mr Chidambaram, Mr Kapil Sibal and other speakers. They had spoken in that context very nicely. Sir, I’m concerned about the serious situation of our agriculture and farm sector, industry sector and manufacturing sector and unemployment problem. I will concentrate on water crisis.
Sir, agriculture sector growth has come down to the bottom level, 2.9%, and in the fourth quarter of 2018-19 it has come down -0.1%. But to have aggregate effect it has attended 2.9%. Never before did India witness such sort of low percentage of agricultural growth in our country. The result is the suffering of the farmers and the labourers who are associated with the farm sector. In the last five years, Sir, for three years NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) are not releasing their records. They have suppressed it, this government. The figures are available up to 2016. Every year on an average 10,000 farmers and associated labourers committed suicide. It amounts to 30,000 minus those three years.
Sir, it is not a question which state is witnessing, which government is not protecting. The question is our farmers are committing suicide. What is the remedial measure? Rs 6,000 in a year, only? What is the cost of the production of the crops? What is the MSP? What is the sum up to help the farmers who are in distress. The government should think and let us know about the issue.
Sir, industrial growth has come down to 4.2% from 8% in 2017-18. Sir, manufacturing sector growth has come to 3.1% from 8.6% in 2017-18. Sir, as a result, the dream of 5 trillion economy of India, I do now know where from it will come and where from it will be reflected, but the GDP growth rate has halted at 6.8 per cent. This is the situation. We have to accept the reality.
For our great country, India, the Global Hunger Index stands at 31.1 and India ranks at 103 out of 119 countries. This is such a pitiable situation, such a precarious situation of the Indian economy. With respect to malnutrition and stunted growth of children, where does India stand? India has 46.6 million children under five years of age who are stunted, out of the world’s 150.8 million. India, Pakistan and Nigeria are together home to almost half of the world’s children with stunted growth. And here we are discussing the dream of achieving a $5 trillion-dollar economy! Sapna dekhna achha hain lekin reality badi cheez hoti hain.
In 2015-16 there was a National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 53 per cent of women in the age group of 15 to 49 and 50 per cent of pregnant women in India are anaemic. And we are thinking about a 5 trillion-dollar economy! There is one doctor for every 11,000 patients, and we are thinking of a 5 trillion-dollar economy.
Now let me come to unemployment. A result of the precarious situation of the manufacturing sector and industry is that the automobile sector has been particularly strongly hit, and of course, other sectors too. The unemployment in the post-demonetisation period, of those who were in the service sector and were retrenched, was to the tune of 1.10 crore people, according to a study conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), and CMIE data is accepted worldwide, not only in India.
Sir, unemployment rate has reached its highest peak 6.1 per cent, which was suppressed by the government for four months, but ultimately came out in the public domain. I am not criticising anyone; I am just giving the facts, the data to the public and also to make the government conscious to take care of the situation because we are going towards a disastrous situation.
Sir, economists and technologists have observed ‘the lack of new projects and poor employment elasticity coupled with the crisis posed by the attempt to build a cashless economy are the reasons for the employment loss. Indian politicians and institutions like NITI Aayog should accept the fact that the employment elasticity in the country is less than that of African countries or middle income countries and neither proper method nor any correction mechanism has been suggested by the authorities appointed by the Government of India. No economic advisor pays any attention to the finance ministry which completely ignores the facts. Such manufactured ignorance is the root of the cause of social and economic inequality in the country’.
Sir, I am repeating the word ‘manufactured ignorance’ and this the real cause, and avoidance with high pride like we know everything and the rest know nothing; this is the problem of our present situation. Sir, Hon’ble Finance Minister proudly announced that Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 crore will be pumped into the banks for their normal work and credit delivery. Sir, as on 31st March 2015, NPA level was Rs 1,92,809 crore, it reached to Rs 4,62,114 on 31st March 2017 and on 31st March 2018 it reached to Rs 6,15,86 crore even after this people are eating up the money also destroying the nationalised banks which is the property of the people of India.
The Finance Minister, with all the blessing to the bankers, is pumping Rs 80,000 crore to the banks. Why Sir? The people who have taken money have flown out of the country and some are even living in this country but farmers’ debt burden is yet not relieved. They are not thinking about waiving off the debt burden of farmers. As a result, the farmers and the associated labour with the farm sectors are committing suicide every year. I want to know from the government, though you, what are the reasons for not publishing the NCRB, National Crime Records Bureau, reports for the last three years? Because they have to come out with the number of suicides in the farm sector in the last three years which will reach 60,000 (old data – 2017) and our country’s prestige, dignity, integrity, fame will be at stake if they publish this document.
Sir, my submission in this context is, they are very proud of the introduction of GST, no doubt about it. GST has three components, CGST, IGST and SGST. I want to know from the Hon’ble Finance Minister, very categorically what is the amount of GST mopped up for the last two years and what is her view to mopped up the GST in the present financial year? It is linked with the State’s interest. The state governments are very dependent on their share of GST to run the economic show in their own state. I am not talking about my state.
They are talking about so many things about the farm sector; I want to exhibit two things, My Chief Minister, Madam Mamata Banerjee, has already declared that if any farmer aged 18-60 years dies, the members of the family will receive Rs 2,00,000. Farmers will not give any mutation fee and Rs 5,000 per acre of land will be given to farmers every year for farming. It was announced one year back. Ultimately central government thought of it in this Budget Session.
I should press upon the Government, through you, that think about unemployment, think about the farm sector, think of the manufacturing sector, don’t go by inflated economic figures for dreaming of a 5 trillion economy.