Rajya Sabha

February 10, 2020

Dola Sen speaks on the Union Budget 2020-21

Dola Sen speaks on the Union Budget 2020-21


Thank you Sir, for giving me the permission to speak. 

The state of economy in India is in a dire state. GDP growth rate of India slipped to 5% in the first quarter of FY 20, the lowest in over six years. The World Bank has slashed its economic growth forecast for India to 6% for the current fiscal from April projection of 7.5% citing broad base and severe cyclical slow down. The current slowdown has lasted for over eighteen to twenty months and is the longest incident in sluggishness since 2006.

Consumer spending in India, declined for the first time in more than four decades in 2017-18. This has led to a knee jerk reaction by the government, wherein, they have decided to sell off profit making PSUs to earn immediate revenue. For example, BPTCL’s profits have been going up from Rs 5,082 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 8,527 crore in 2018-19.

Similarly for IOC, the profit after taxes in 2015-16 worth Rs 11242 crore which went up to Rs 16894 crore in 2018-19. The net profit in 2018-19 in Bengal Chemical was twenty five crore. CLW (Chittaranjan Locomotive Works) has produced or manufactured 403 railway engines though the order was to manufacture 350 engines only in FY 20.

What is the rationale behind privatising or disinvesting such strategic, profit making PSUs? On one hand the central government talks of “ Make in India ” while on the other it is planning to disinvest a number of PSU’s, public enterprises and defence sector too. Disinvesting government concerns are not the answer. What is needed is to run such profit making PSUs and to revive not so profit making PSUs through planning and strategising.

The Central Government is already planning to disinvest or corporatise crores of rupees towards railways, airports sale which includes VSP Karnataka, SSP Tamil Nadu, ASP West Bengal, Bridge and route Bengal Chemical, Hindustan Paper Corporation, Ordnance Factory Board, Bharat Petroleum, IOC, LIC etc. 

Banks are being merged affecting the employees, workers, clients and the customers. Likewise, Liluah Railway Workshop, Kanchrapara Railway Workshop, Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Burn Standard, Braithwaite etc are going to be disinvested. Government coal sector is opened for 100% FDI. BSNL scenario is very bad as the workers are doing their job but not getting their salaries for the last 9-13 months, whereas the HPC workers are not getting their wages for the last 35 months.

After the order of the Appellate Authority of NCLT, still the Hindustan Paper workers are not getting wages. The Centre has announced the merger and revival package of BSNL and MTNL, but that is a long term issue. Now, workers of BSNL are working and not getting salaries, then how the Government of India will justify this according to the law of the land.

LIC is being sought by the Government of India only by giving debt to IDBI, from LIC itself. And now they are disinvesting LIC. But we have seen earlier that when Hon’ble  Mamata Banerjee was the Union Railway Minister she had given huge orders to revive CLW, Burn Standard, Braithwaite, Jessop, Dunlop etc on behalf of the Government of India. When she took over Jessop, Dunlop, two traditional PSUs, she had given ex-gratia payments to workers on behalf of the State Government of West Bengal. The Government of India is not granting permission for them to be run by the State Government on their own. She gave government jobs to sick spinning mills and tea garden workers. This must be taken as an example and model.

It is very unfortunate, that the Centre is compelling even the profitable PSUs, which are mostly labour intensive too, to be corporatised or disinvested. Despite ample scopes of revival, the Centre is not ready to take up any responsibility on their part for their survival. I strongly differ on principle and oppose these anti-people and anti-worker, anti-Public Sector Undertaking, against Constitution and against the law of the land towards disinvestment-corporatisation budget and policy decision, cabinet resolution of the present Central Government.

I urge upon the Central Government to reconsider its stand on this issue and take effective pro-industry, pro-worker, positive, pro-country, pro-development after rethinking deeply the crisis and turn ‘Make in India’ from just a mere slogan to reality through scientific, practical revival and rehabilitation schemes. It would be unwise for the government to sell off such profit making government concerns, which over the decades have played an integral part in building our nation, to do this for short-term benefits is similar to selling family heirlooms to buy bread.

Therefore, I strongly urge the government to reconsider its decision in this matter mentioned in their budget for profit-making PSUs disinvestment and corporatisation and PSUs and defense sector too.

Thank you, Sir.