February 6, 2020
From triple murders of the economy to Becho India: Abhishek Banerjee speaks in LS on budget
Salient points of his speech in parliament
- The nation had watched with great expectations when the Finance Minister rose to present the Budget, and held aspirations that conditions for its 1.3 billion people would improve at a time when the economy and unemployment were in a precarious state. We had hoped the Prime Minister and his team would spur the much needed breakthrough with the presentation. But at the end, what did the people all over this country get – a big zero!
- This was still a historic Budget, in many ways. Historic 160-minute long presentation, historic 11-year low GDP, historic 17-year low in investments, historic 15-year low in manufacturing, historic 4-year low in agriculture, historic 8-year low in household savings – historic for so many wrong reasons! Forget the common Indians, even eminent economists of the nation and global experts failed to understand, and were left rattled. The Government had a clear motto. And what is the motto? If you can’t convince them, then confuse them.
- The century’s biggest triple murder has taken place. Demonetisation was the first, GST implementation was the second, and now Budget 2020 is the third. Warnings were given for the first two by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, from Draconian decision to hurried implementation. But the warnings were not heeded, and now more than Rs 70,000 crore in GST compensation is due to the states.
- The third murder is made up of a series of killings: the first was Privatisation. Was the budget a presentation of the Govt of India Pvt Ltd? It began with BSNL, then railways, then Air India, then the big blow LIC, and very soon FCI. Why? Because the Budget has slashed food subsidy funds by Rs 70,000 crores, and the FCI, which ensured poor Indians don’t go hungry, will now have to borrow to sustain itself. All this at a time when consumer food price inflation is at a six-year high of 14%.
- From Khelo India, it has become Becho India. The mother must be protected at all times and cannot be given away. The family jewels cannot be sold. Selling shares in LIC has stung the lakhs of staff and policy holders, who now wonder why the country’s biggest insurance organization did not have a policy for itself.
- The killings continue: Federalism, from co-operative to operative. The number of centrally- sponsored schemes has been cut from 66 to 28! And the Centre’s contribution has been reduced in 58 schemes. No funds have come to Bengal for Cyclone Bulbul rehab. Federalism means targeting federal opponents. To this is added the ED and CBI personnel who are after political opponents from different states. But these caged parrots cannot get at the major defaulters like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya.
- Instead of selling the country’s jewels like Air India, BPCL, Railways and LIC, why did the government not consider Austerity when it is most needed? Nothing is being done about the Raj Bhavans. They have become local offices of the party in power at the Centre. Our chairperson does not preach austerity, she practices it. Whereas the CM of Gujarat has just bought a private jet for Rs 190 crores.