July 9, 2019
Sisir Adhikari speaks on the Union Budget 2019
Madam Speaker, the Finance Minister announced that the current budget is laying a long 10-year road map for the economy. A dream of making India a five trillion dollar economy by 2024-25 is shown by the government. In its own admission, India’s GDP must grow at a rate of 8% per annum to achieve this target. Like a typical totalitarian government it is shifting its goal post by changing its projection just to fool the people.
Now, after completion of five years in government, no minister or no government document is talking about achieving a double digit growth. Now, the new goal is five-trillion dollar economy. Even the former Economic Advisor of government who wrote about achieving double digit growth is now admitting that real GDP growth is nearly 4.5% during the last five years. Thus, this government thinks it can announce anything and get away without providing any evidence.
If you ask any person in the street, or in the locality, throughout the country, you will have a uniform answer that lack of employment is the biggest concern of the country, especially among the youth. India is a country of young people and the failure of the government to generate employment, rather disconcerted effort of the government to make employment for people, through whimsical actions like demonetisation had created a grave situation where unemployment reached a 45-year high as per the government’s own statistics. The government tried very hard to suppress NSSO report before the elections. In fact, they discredited their own officials who were involved in preparing this NSSO report.
Now, can we see any acknowledgment of the fact of highest unemployment in the last 45 years in the Budget speech? The answer is a big no. In the entire budget speech, there is only one paragraph, para 447, where some definite number of employment needs to be generated, where government action has been provided. It says that the scheme of upgradation of regeneration of traditional industry should enable 50,000 artisans to join economic value chain. Further, the scheme compliments to set up livelihood business in LBIS and 20 technology businesses incorporated in 2019-20 to develop 75,000 skills in agriculture, rural industry sector. Even if we accept these figures as gospel truth, only 1,25,000 employment may be made in the best case scenario in a country of a population of 130 crore; it is a figure worth a meaning.
Time and again, this Government has shifted gospel, manipulated figures, suppressed independence, evaluation and cast aspiration of independent Indian economy and thinkers. Thus institutions have been attacked, their independence undermined and any voice mentioned in the name of the nation. The Reserve Bank of India, which always maintains the highest standards of independent decision making, was not seen in the last five years. We have seen two of the RBI Governors who were forced to move out of office. Recently, a Deputy Governor, who consistently opposed government interference in RBI matters, left prematurely before the completion of his term. What message does this government want to convey to the nation?
Coming back to the data and figures, the government’s credibility has reached rock bottom. Many a times GDP growth rate figures were revised retrospectively to show that things were well, despite the worldwide acknowledgement that India economy has been passing through a serious downslide. However, the government cannot fool everybody at all times. One of the major cases of concern in the figures of fiscal deficit, outlined in the Economic Survey, based on the figures of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), and Union Budget speeches portray different pictures.
I would like to draw attention of this August House to chapter two volume two of the Economic Survey, which was tabled in the House one day before the Budget speech. The table one of the speech shows that revenue received as a percentage of GDP is 8.2. In medium term fiscal policy statement, Union Budget page 12, total revenue received in Budget in 2019-20 as percentage GDP was shown as 3.9%. What magic has been done? In one day, the revenue received by the Government increased to 1.1 of the GDP and then a sudden jump to 3.3. I demand a thorough probe in the matter by the Union Government.
Lastly, I oppose the decision of disinvesting the 42 PSUs. We have serious objection on this issue. I want that the petroleum product rate and cess which has been imposed here should be withdrawn. I want the “ Kaju ” import duty to be reduced. Now it is at 40%, it has gone to 70%. At least one crore of kaju workers will be unemployed if further tax is charged there.