Rajya Sabha

July 11, 2019

Sukhendu Sekhar Ray speaks on the Union Budget 2019

Sukhendu Sekhar Ray speaks on the Union Budget 2019


Thank you, Sir. Through you, Sir, I congratulate Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman Ji for assuming the charge of Ministry of Finance and Corporate Affairs. Sir, at the outset, as already mentioned by our distinguished colleague and former Finance Minister of this country, Shri P Chidambaram Ji regarding some misleading and contradictory numbers or information with regards to the receipt and expenditure of the Central Government.

Sir, I may be permitted to quote from an article authored by a professor of Economics at JNU; our present FM is an alumni of that university. The article says that the last column of the Table 2.5 of the Economics Survey of 2018-19 Vol 2 on page A59 provides the provisional factuals; this is the document. This is the document and everybody has seen that and since the survey was brought in July rather than February or March, it was ample time for the Ministry to record actual receipts and spending of the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2019.

Most of the numbers stated as the revised estimates for 2018-19 do not tally with the government’s own estimate of actual revenues and expenditures, as shown in the Economic Survey. Sir, the biggest discrepancy and the shortfall is in the tax revenues, which were actually lower than the revised estimates by Rs 1,65,176 crore or, as much as 13 percent of the revised estimates of total tax revenues. There are so many conflicting figures mentioned in the article that I have referred to. I am sure that this article must have been shown to the FM and if you want, I would like to place a copy of that article. I am not a student of Economics but many people like me may be confused and I would request the FM to respond to this.

Sir, in Para 11 of the Budget speech, the FM has likely lauded the role of private sector industries. But, she did not mention about the decision taken by the central government in regard to disinvestment for privatisation of 42 PSUs, which played a very crucial role in our economy from their very inception.

Sir, this abrupt announcement of death sentence on the 42 PSUs will not only render lakhs of our workmen and their families in utter uncertainty, but this will affect our economy as a whole. Sir, it is necessary to mention in this context that the government has failed and neglected to disclose the names of the willful defaulters particularly the top 100 willful defaulters in spite of the ruling of the apex court twice in succession in this regard.

Sir, eight years back the then FM has published white paper on black money. Thereafter certain revelations came out from Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. What action has been taken by the government in regard to those revelations? This House does not know. So, I demand on behalf of my party that the government should publish another white paper showing what happened in regard to the revelations on Panama and Paradise papers.

Sir, mention has been made in this Budget about Udaan Scheme. Main ek bindu pe charcha karna chahta hoon; the other speaker of our party will speak in detail. Sir, about this Udaan scheme, I would request the FM that the Government should take early steps to ensure air connectivity under this scheme for smaller cities like Coochbehar, Balurghat, Malda and other places in West Bengal that have been already included in the scheme but nothing has progressed so far.

Sir, it has been claimed in the budget that 657 km of metro rail network has become operational. But Sir, the condition of the first metro rail service in the country, which is in Kolkata, is deteriorating fast day by day. Services are disrupted very often due to old and almost junk coaches. The new coaches which were brought from the integral factory of Madras, could not be made operational because they are also defective and are of inferior quality. So, I urge upon the hon’ble minister to look into this aspect. The government should take appropriate steps.

Sir, Budget allocation for railway projects in West Bengal has also been slashed. This is a matter of guilt, regret. Phase 2 of frame which has been mentioned in the budget speech is good provided e-vehicles are manufactured in adequate numbers and made available in affordable prices and sufficient number of charging stations are set up throughout the country.

Sir, in this budget I have not found anything about jute and tea industry. I remember when the present Hon’ble Finance Minister was the Commerce Minister, she visited the tea estates of north Bengal on a number of occasions and made public statements on the fact that the government will take all the required steps for the revival of the tea industry. But nothing has been done so far and the Tea Board, which is a Central Government agency, has done nothing for the development of the tea industry.

Sir, similarly, the jute industry is reeling under severe crisis for a long time and the Hon’ble Textile Minister is present in the House. Although she has taken certain steps, no doubt, for the revival of the jute industry, yet we are not in a position to compete with even Bangladesh. Bangladesh is much ahead in terms of export of jute goods, compared to India. I would request, through you Sir, some more effective steps should be taken.

The Hon’ble Finance Minter has assured 100 per cent FDI insurance intermediaries. I would like to know what would be the impact of this on our public sector insurance companies. That has not been clarified by the Minister, and while she is replying, I would expect that she will clarify on this. Similarly, the easing of local sourcing norms for FDI in single retail, whether this will pave the way for multi-brand retail also? I do not know because I am a bit anxious and worried about what is going to happen.

Sir, a lot of prescriptions have been made for the agricultural sector but it is common knowledge that the minimum support prices that are being announced by the government from time to time, it may help five per cent of the farmers, not more than that. Why? Since there is no proper procurement drive either by the Food Corporation of India or the Jute Corporation of India or the Cotton Corporation of India or NAFAID  or any other cooperative society as such. There lies a problem. The government is announcing many things for the improvement of the our annadata. Bol rahein hai ki annadata hai, annadata ki bhookh mitane ke liye, unko madat dene ke liye, schemes  toh bahut hai lekin implementation nahin ho raha hai.  Aur implementing agency jo log hain woh kuch nahin balki chori kar raha hai.  Sir, this is why the farmers are being exploited by the moneylenders and the middlemen. This is a hard reality.

Sir, the current growth rate of farmers is only two per cent and a little more than that. The target of doubling farmers’ income cannot be achieved by 2022 as has been assured. It may take time up to 2040 if the current growth rate of the farmers at the rate of two per cent continues. Not before 2040 can the target be achieved. That is our apprehension. My state West Bengal, under the stewardship of Mamata Banerjee, has tripled the income of farmers in the past seven years between 2011 and 2018. The government is talking about cooperative federalism. West Bengal should be rewarded and should get more funds on agriculture because we have tripled the income of farmers under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee.

Sir, the massive programme of railway station modernisation has been envisaged in this budget in paragraph 725 of the speech. Jab Vijay Goyal ji yahan mantri the, Sports Minister,  he had announced a programme ‘Khelo India’. Ab toh yeh “Becho India” aa gaya. Bikau sarkar. Kaise? Railway privatisation in the name of PPP model. After auctioning off Habibganj railway station, 23 stations including Howrah, Kanpur Central, Prayagraj, Lokmanya Tilak terminal, Pune, Vishakapatanam, Kamakhya, Faridabad, Udaipur City, Secunderabad, Vijayawada,  Ranchi, Chennai Central, Bengaluru Cantonment, Mumbai Central, Bandra terminus and Indore will be auctioned to the private parties.

Aap jaiye humare international zones mein jahan se humare international flights jaate hain, ya domestic mein bhi, chaaro ore sharab ki dukaan hain, koi bhi videshi India mein aayega aur jase hi pair rakhenge, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata kahin bhi ho, airport mein woh sochenge shaarabi desh hai. Sharaabiyon ka desh hai! Chaaron or sharaab ke dukaan nazar aate hain aur kuch nahin. Aise hi railway station bhi hone wala hain. Humare bacchon ke liye bahut acha hoga yeh? Sir, in this way 400 railway stations have been targeted to be auctioned. Those are in the pipeline. Woh zamana tha, middle of 19th-century jab East India company the humare deshe mein, us samay saare private railway companies the. Woh humare ghari ko us samay ke piche leke jana chahtey hain. So, yeh ‘Becho India’ ke aur ek kahani sochiye.

Sir, as per the report of United Nations World Food Programme published in June 2019, in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation of the government, almost one in three Indians under five years will be stunted by 2022. Over the last decade child stunting have been estimated to have reduced in our country about 1% per year, the slowest decline among all emerging economies. Foodgrain yields have risen by 33% over the last two decades, but the consumer’s access to rice, wheat and other food and cereals have not increased by the same rate or even at a moderate rate due to population growth, inequality, food wastage and exports-the report emphasises, It very vital that the government must come out with a time-bound comprehensive programme to arrest the situation.

The budget does not raise any hopes to the vast army of unemployed youths in this country and also senior citizens. While job opportunities are minimal, job cuts are rampant and declining rate of interest have added salt to the miseries of pensioners and large section of senior citizens. In this budget only Rs 50,000 deduction on interest income from deposits have been provided to senior citizens and deduction limit for medical expenditure for critical illness have been increased from Rs 60,000 to Rs 1 lakh. But this deduction limit on expenditure for critical illness should be at least Rs 5 lakh; I would like to appeal to the government to consider the limit should be increased to Rs 5 lakh.

Sir, this budget shows 7% reduction in the total expenditure on social security and social protection. This will further push down disposable incomes resulting in reduction of consumption and in turn lowering the investments, wages and employment, all of which will only weaken the economic crisis of this country.

Sir, additional tax on diesel and petrol shall see a sharp rise on the prices of essential commodities keeping in view the inevitable rise in the freight trucks and goods train.

Sir, it was high time for increasing the defence budget but nothing has been said about this. Particularly when the economy of a neighboring country is in shambles, it would have been very good option for this government to increase our defence budget. It would have a cascading effect on that country which is abetting terrorist activities in our country.

Sir, I have seen that the Hon’ble Finance Minister has made a departure from holding briefcase and used a red cloth folio to bring the budget documents. In our college days, Mao Zedong’s ‘The Little Red Book’ was very popular but it seems to me that this budget document brought in the red folio does neither reflect any revolutionary steps nor any remarkable proposals to boost our economy.

Sir, like many people of our country, I witnessed on television the Hon’ble Finance Minister was treating halua to Anurag Thakur Ji and other senior functionaries of the Finance Ministry. So, I hoped that some halua should also be there in this budget for the common people. But that is not there in this budget. It is absent in this budget.

Abhi yeh bataya gaya jo log badget ko birodh kar rahe hain woh log ‘nirashabadi’ hain. Main ‘nirashabadi nahi hoon. Main jo kuch be bol raha haaon, desh ke hit ke liye bol raha hoon, sarkar sune yea na sune. Yeh bolne ka adhikar mujhe hain, maine isliye bola. Lekin phir bhi mujhe agar nirashabadi kahe raha jate hain, to main unko ek purana geetke chayen kaliyan sunana chahta hoon aapke ijazaat se.

Yeh Anand Bakshiji ka likha huya hain aur Laxmikant-Pyarelal Ji ne sangeet diya tha. Film ka naam hain ‘Asha’ aur Lataji ne gayi thi.

Duniya ek tamaasha hain,

asha aur nirasha hain,

thode ful hain, kaante hain,

jo takdir ne baate hai,

apna apna hissa hain,

apna apna kissa hain,

koi lloot jata hain,

lab tak aate aate haath se sagar chhut jata hain.

To main sarkar ko yeh is liye sunana chaha kyun ki yeh dhyan me rakhna chahiye ki kaheen aisa na ho ki lab tak aate aate haath se sagar chhut jata hain.