December 14, 2021
Saugata Roy speaks on Supplementary Demands for Grants
Sir, I shall be brief. I rise to speak on the second batch of Supplementary Demands amounting to Rs 3.83 lakh crore, of which the outgo will be Rs. 2.99 lakh crore, the rest to be made up by the savings of the Government. But we may take it that already by the end of October 2021, 52 per cent of the full year’s expenditure target has been completed, so it is highly unlikely that the fiscal deficit will exceed the budgeted Rs 15.1 lakh crore at the rate with which spending is going on. One reason is also that a substantial portion of the ambitious FY22 disinvestment has faded. So ultimately we will land with a bigger fiscal deficit.
Now if we look at the Supplementary Budget, there are four big-ticket items: fertilizer subsidy, Rs 43,430 crore; two pending export promotion subsidies; Air India, Rs 62,000 crore; and expenditure towards food storage and warehousing, Rs 49,805 crore. Now, if we really look at it, this is a budget for disinvesting Air India.
Before I go to that point, I may remind Mr Nishikant Dubey of a mistake he made. He said that the fertilizer subsidy we are giving is for the import and export of nitrate, etc. No, it is mainly for phosphatic and potassic fertilizers, not for nitrate fertilizers. Number two, Mr Dubey also said that Mr Modi is the greatest democratic prime minister. May I ask him, who did the Prime Minister ask when he put the whole nation in a queue during his ill-conceived demonetisation which recovered no black money? And whom did the democratic Prime Minister ask when he introduced the three farmers’ bills which he had to withdraw after a year of agitation and the deaths of 700 farmers? So let us not talk of Narendra Modi and democracy.
Now I will say about Air India. Almost Rs 62,000 crore is being given towards Air India. How is that? Well, Air India had a total debt of Rs. 61,562 crore. The Tata company, Talas will take over Rs 15,300 crore while the remaining Rs 46, 252 crore will be transferred to AIAHL, i.e., the new Air India Asset Holding company. Tab aap dekhiye, Tata will only pay Rs 18,000 crore, which is what the Government will get, and it (the Government) will take a debt of Rs 33,000 crore. Tata is getting Air India but it is as if we are touching its feet and begging it to take Air India, and with this the government is spending Rs 62,000 crore. Can you beat that? You are requesting Tata: You take over; we shall give all the money, we shall take all the debts but please save us and run Air India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had created the national carrier, Air India and Indian Airlines. These people are selling the family silver. In history, the present Finance Minister will be known as the biggest saleswoman because she is selling not only Air India but also two banks, one insurance company—all nationalised during Indira Gandhi’s time—and BPCL. She is disinvesting the biggest insurance company, Life Insurance Corporation of India. And also Vizag Steel Plant, our Andhra friends are saying. So, I say that jo bechte hain zyada usko ‘Bechu Babu’ kehte hain. Uska kya naam feminine gender mein hoga humein pata nahi. Sarkaar ‘Bechu Babu’ ka Sarkaar hai.
What I want to say is that the economy is in a bad state. In 2021, we had a contraction of 7.4 per cent. They are saying that the economy is showing green shoots. The Finance Minister went to some place, Chandigarh or somewhere, to attend a party function. She said the economy is improving, and why? GST and tax collection are rising. Now, why is this rising? This is rising due to inflation. The cost of the thing which used to be sold for Rs 10 is now being sold for Rs 12. You collect the GST on that, you will get more money. What is happening is that inflation is driving the so-called revival path and this will ultimately land the country in a very difficult situation.
Look at the price rise, Sir. You are still a practising doctor; a surgeon, in Ahmedabad. You have to go to the market because you are not a minister. Go to the market and find out \the prices. Leave aside fuel, leave aside LPG. What are the prices of vegetables? What are the prices of edible oils? Inflation has hit the middle-class’s fixed-income people terribly. In this situation, it’s a strange situation because the Minister—and I have read all her speeches—has not given any explanation as to when so many people lost their jobs due to the pandemic, how is that the share market is rising, the stock market is rising? It is because the big companies are functioning with lesser people. That is giving them higher profit margins. And if I may say so, without mentioning any individual’s name, it’s only three to four people in India, three to four companies which are reaping the benefits of this Government. In the name of liberalisation, they are handing over the country’s economic assets, they are selling the family silver. Ultimately, the Adanis will have all the airports, Tata will have Air India, and the Minister will also do the same thing. Sir, you as an independent doctor, you must intervene, put your voice, say that I don’t like the country’s assets being sold to the Tatas, Ambanis and Adanis. They are not the arbiters of the nation’s income. That’s why, the Supplementary Budget who have to pass, but the country has come to such a pass, the economy has come to such a pass. A contraction of 7.4 per cent last year and no signs of positive recovery yet. Unemployment is showing no signs of receding. That’s why I totally criticise the Government and its attitude of rampant sale of public-sector assets to a few industrialists.