February 8, 2018
Manas Bhuniya speaks on the Union Budget
Hon Chairman Sir, this is my maiden speech in this August House. I heard the deliberations from very famous personalities on my left and right sides and tried to understand the implication of the budget placed by Hon Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley.
Our country is governed by the people. The Constitution was framed for the people, by the people, of the people. Makers of Constitution thought that our great country will be governed for the interest of the people in the rural India or in urban India, for the youths and students, for the kisans or labour, for technologists or agricultural farmers, in the same tune as they deserve.
I served as the member of the Legislative Assembly of West Bengal for 30 years. I took part in the deliberation of the budget not less than 18 times as an Opposition member. But it gave me very strong pain in my heart today, the prevailing situation in this August House when it was not in order.
It is the highest epic House represented by the eminent intellectuals of our country, either from the literary background or from the political background, both are the representatives of the people directly. I came here to learn something, to improve myself and to deliver the goods properly on behalf of my party (All India Trinamool Congress) led by Mamata Banerjee, Hon Chief Minister of West Bengal.
Analysing the basic conceptual thoughts of the budget (I came to the conclusion) that it is against the concept of federalism. The entire concept as I understand (it may be wrong, it may be right) it is absolutely against federalism. We protested, our Chief Minister protested first in a loud voice that demonetisation will be a catastrophic implication in entire economy progress growth of our country. And it happened. Almost 200 people died in India.
Our country have 6,49,481 villages, 935 towns , 4,120 assemblies and the number of people is 125 crore.
In this spread out demographic context, if we analyse, what was the effect of demonetisation? On a sudden stroke – on November 8, 2016 – to the people of India, not to the Government, not to the rulers, not to the important political leaders, but to the people – unprivileged and poor? They committed suicide.
We have 1.38 lakh bank branches spread out across the country while the number of villages is 6.49 lakh, and the population of the country is 125 crore. We have 2.7 lakh ATMs when the population 125 crore. The result was the long queues where people stood hour after hour. The people were crying, the old became helpless, they died on the spot, they died at home, they died on agricultural fields by committing suicide. It was not thought out properly by the Government. Starting from the Hon Prime Minister to the Finance Minister, an entirely proud Government did not listen to the voice of the people and the Opposition. This is not a healthy signal of parliamentary democracy.
We protested that hasty implementation of the GST will not have any positive effect on the revenues and on the budgetary provisions of the country as a whole and on the states. What was the effect? The Government is lacking more than Rs 50,000 crore in revenue. It is not my version, it came out in the Economic Survey. So our Chief Minister, the Hon’ble Mamata Banerjee along with others – all important political leaders including one of the best economists of the world and ex-Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh – said categorically that it was a monumental blunder but nobody listened to them.
They were moving like Spanish bulls. They did not bother about what the Opposition was saying. And the effect is also the inability to mop up proper revenue, affecting SGST in the States, CGST in the Centre and Integrated GST. The result is that agricultural growth has come down from 4.44% to 2.1%, industrial growth has come down to 4.4%; only the service sector has seen a little rise. Employment is in the negative. I was listening to the ex-Finance Minister. He pointed out many important aspects. When growth is coming down how will employment generation be high? This is a basic question.
I am from the medical profession, I am not an economist. But I study the economy. I belong to a farmer’s family. I live in a village. I’m a medical professional. So, I see (the economy) in three angles – the people, the society and the problems. Hon Finance Minister’s mission is – strengthen agriculture, kisans, health, education, employment, MSME and infrastructure. Where is the money? Where will it come from? From sky or from other countries as donation? It is not reflected properly. It is not explained.
Sir, I come from West Bengal which has got the best health infrastructure. I was comparing the parameters and data given by the Central Government’s CSO, how the Union Government with the help of the state government is running the show for the benefit of the people for prevention and treatment of patients. The approach of the Central Government is ambiguous, confused. I cannot understand what they are thinking and what they are going to do.
Hon Finance Minister has proposed ‘Ayushman Bharat’. It sounds good. I appreciate if it is implemented properly. Nobody can protest but it has become very much doubtful because of the previous year’s announcement has gone to black hole. It was not implemented at all in time. One lakh scheme – completely non-existent. So, I ask humbly to the hon Finance Minister, please clarify and please enlighten us, how he is going to implement this ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme. And from where will he get the fund?
I appreciate the version of the Hon Member who was speaking just before me that it will be great benefit to multinational insurance companies, not for the benefit of the people. Because, I being a doctor, when I practice, I see that when a patient has gone to the hospital, they will check first have you got the insurance card. If the answer is NO, then (the hospital will say) get lost. If they have the insurance card, they will take them in. Get admitted and within two-three hours the bills will jump and jump to a few lakhs.
But the patient is lying there without any treatment. Doctors are visiting, blood is taken, all parameters of examination in pathology, biochemistry, radiology are completed. No treatment (will be given) but the bill will go up and up, giving benefit to the insurance company. Then the insured amount is over. Where from this money will come. Does the Reserve Bank of India have a special reserve fund for this scheme of Hon Finance Minister? Then tell it. We will be pleased to learn it. We will accept it.
Sir, in agriculture, he has given a rosy picture that the income of the farmers will double in 2022. Today, when we are delivering our speech in front of you, Sir, in this August House, the growth of agriculture is 2.1%. To provide the farmers double income, in this present context, by 2022, the growth of agriculture will have to be 12%. These are basic economic concepts. Sir, I shall be grateful to the Hon Finance Minister if he enlightens us with his agriculture arithmetic and economic arithmetic to convince me, and everybody else in this August House, how he will bring this effect in the agriculture sector.
I have heard the speeches from the Assembly chamber in West Bengal, the 2014 budget speech, the 2015 budget speech, 2016 budget speech, and the 2017 budget speech. And I am here today to hear it personally in this August House. I read it thoroughly, in between the lines. I got the points. Where is the employment? (They promised) 2 crore in a year, which is supposed to be 10 crore by the end of 2019. So at least in 3 years there should have been 6 crore jobs. Sir, 6 lakh appointments huye hain? And this budget, again he reiterated that the situation is such, study is such, the effect is such that there may be employment of 70 lakh. From where will it come?
I was really enlightened by the explanation of Mr Chidambaram that employment and job means permanent in nature, continuity in nature and fixed salary and benefits as given by the Ministry of Labour. So if that is the reality how will it be implemented? If we consider employment generation under MGNREGA, and consider 100 days’ jobs as permanent jobs, then the percentage created is good, but still lagging in many States. Our State, Bengal, under the leadership of the Hon Chief Minister, got first place in the creation of 100 days’ jobs in Bengal.
In this oppressive federal situation, and I mean that – it is oppressive because we are not getting help under the Constitutional privileges within the concept of federalism – in Bengal we started with Rs 2.03 lakh crore debt burden. The Central Government has got an enormous debt burden, I understand that, I studied it. We prayed for some moratorium from the Central Government and it was not granted, it was not considered. A minimum sympathetic consideration was not paid to the state government by the Centre, but Bengal is running.
Hon Chairman Sir, Hon Finance Minister has given us a rosy picture of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. Beautiful, it sounds beautiful. Sir, I should give you the information that our State lead by Ms. Mamata Banerjee as the Chief Minister has implemented for the last 6 years, which has been recognised in the world forum, in the city of Hague. Under the “Kanyashree” scheme, nearly 45 lakh girl students were provided with scholarships. And you will be astonished to know this year in school final examination 1,23,700 girl students are in more number than the boy students.
This is the effect of Kanyashree. The rate of girl trafficking has been less, child marriage has become less. I humbly submit to the Hon Finance Minister forget about Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, follow the line of Ms Mamata Banerjee, the Hon Chief Minister of West Bengal. Kanyashree has become “Bishwashree”. She has introduced this year, Sir, another beautiful programme for the girls. Underprivileged, poorest of the poor girls, during their marriage will be provided Rs 25,000 by cheque to protect the poor family from any embarrassment during the marriage ceremony. I humbly suggest to the Hon Finance Minister to take up this programme.
MSME. Yes, it is a very important component in the industrial development. Other than the service sector, the entire small, micro, medium industrial growth has come down to 4.4%. Manufacturing sector has come down majorly. So, where is the growth of economy, where is the rosy picture, where is the green revolution, where is the blue revolution, from where will it come? I am watching only saffron revolution, nothing else.
The FM has given reference that structural reforms will be achieved, in the tune of 8%. Where is the relief to the middle class, salaried people? Everyone expected Arun Jaitley Ji will come with a specific, positive proposal to give them a remedial measure in this inflammatory condition of inflation. The inflation has reached to the inflammatory level, unbearable situation has been created in the market. Sabzi, chawal, dal saab kuch ka daam badh gaya hai, Sir. Hon Chairman Sir, there is no remedy to that, instead this Government and the Hon Prime Minister is very sympathetic to the industrial sector, very sympathetic. The 50 crore limit has been extended to 250 crore corporate tax. How can I term this government as farmer-friendly, middle-class-friendly, poor-friendly? This government will be termed as big industrialist- friendly.
Now if we come to the banking loan – the credit limit to the farmers. Last year the target was Rs 10.5 lakh crore to be given to the farmers. What was the achievement? Just Rs 5 lakh crore; merely 50%. This year with great aspiration and dreams Hon Finance Minister has given a picture that credit will be given in the tune of 11 lakh crore. Chairman Sir, the entire country is witnessing the sad death of more than 12,000 farmers in our country. It reminds me the previous government came with a positive proposal for waiving of debt of the farmers in the tune of Rs 72,000 crore in the farming sector. I am asking why our Hon Finance Minister is not coming out with a concluding speech today. I will be waiting with full eagerness to salute Finance Minister on behalf of all the farmers if he announces that he going to waive the debt of all the farmers of this country and if he does not do it, it shows this government is anti-farmers and anti-poor. These are my feelings.
Sir, let’s talk about MSP (Minimum Support Price). I come from a village and I have my own land. We are getting paddy. So, we have an idea how the Food Corporation of India, Jute Corporation of India (and other agencies) are operating in the villages of my State. I cannot speak about other States. Sir, when the farmers are in a very difficult stage and in a very precarious economic situation, compressed in between the market and the hoarders, the village money lenders and the hoarders came to them as saviours and took the paddy in a lesser rate. The FM said MSP will become 1.5 times.
What Dr Swaminathan had suggested that 50% of the higher rate of the cost of the production should be given. Should we not give minimum respect to the advice of Dr Swaminathan, the internationally famous agricultural economist? We should, and I humbly submit to the honourable FM, kindly consider, pay respect to the suggestion of Dr Swaminathan and give your declaration in your concluding speech.
Sir, Bamboo Mission. It is dangerous to listen. We have three missions in India: Jute Mission, Coir Mission, Bamboo Mission. Sir, I was for one year, state cabinet minister of Irrigation and Waterways, and MSME and Textiles. With the suggestion and advice of my leader Ms Mamata Banerjee, our chief minister, I came to the Planning Commission, and met honourable PM Dr. Manmohan Singh Ji. I suggested the thoughts of my CM. What is that? To establish a Natural Fibre Mission.
There are so many fibres in the nature they should be brought under a single umbrella. Why are we concentrating only on Bamboo Mission in this budget speech? It does not sound good. Natural Fibre Mission will help all the States, all the beneficiaries, particularly women for their economic earnings, and also it will safeguard the environment. I humbly submit this proposal to the honourable FM. Instead of allocating Rs 1,290 crore to Bamboo Mission, give approval for the Natural Fibre Mission for all natural fibres.
Sir, I will comedown to concentrate a sense of deprivation, sense of oppression, the attitude, the mindset of the Central Government to the state of Bengal in relation to railway budget. Our entire railway projects are neglected. The expansion of the east-west metro, from Barrackpore to Barasat, from Joka to Diamond Harbour – everything was surveyed in consultation with the State Government for months together. But, in this Budget, there is no reflection. A letter was written to the Chief Secretary that eight local trains will be withdrawn. How it can be done? in the scarcity of petrol and diesel, train is good for commuters and passengers. The Central Government with the negative attitude are going to withdraw them!
So, in conclusion, I am grateful to you, Sir, for giving me this opportunity. if I could get a little more time, I could speak more for my State. But, this budget to me is a dream, not the reality. The budget to me is a rosy gossip while in reality it is tears from the both eyes of the people of India.