Comment on General Budget by CPI (ML) New Democracy

Union Budget 2015-’16 : ‘Comprehensive Bankruptcy Code’

Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley displays total lack of concern for the concerns of the poor and labouring people while granting largesse to the corporate, domestic and foreign. The Budget has lived up to its billing of being corporate friendly. To prepare the ground for this, the GDP growth was shown to be high by changing the methods of calculation and the base year. Growth rate has been slated 7.4% due to these changes despite lower tax collections and sluggish domestic demand. All this is done to please foreign and domestic corporate. The Indian ruling classes throw the burden of difficult times on to the shoulders of the poor and middle classes while showering benefits during better times on the rich. Through this Budget Modi Govt. has tried to pay back its corporate patrons. The repeated moan of the Finance Minister of “drastically reduced fiscal space” has not prevented him from showering these benefits on the corporate.

The Govt. has made a lot of noise of development particularly of infrastructure sector. However, its execution has largely been left to private sector through PPP mode. PPP mode in infrastructure being an utter failure has been admitted by the Union Finance Minister who has now come up with the Govt. taking the major part of the risk in PPP enterprises. It was known to be private profit and social deficit, and now the Govt. has officially moved to make it official. With profits guaranteed and risks covered it would virtually amount to raising of loans at high interest rates. For the foreign corporate, the distinction between portfolio investments (Share market) and direct investments is being obliterated thereby allowing foreign corporate to milk the existing enterprises rather than investing in new ventures. The lowering of corporate tax (from 30% to 25%) which had been a longstanding demand of the corporate, has been announced. Further sops have been given to Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs). Though Finance Minister has not spelled out disinvestment target in his budget speech but he referred to necessity of strategic disinvestment, showing the intent of the Govt. He also mentioned about public sector undertakings like ports to include private players, a new route for privatization without formally privatizing. All these measures are in the service of the corporate. This has been the major thrust of this Budget.

The concerns of the poor like rise in prices of food grains and other essential commodities, generation of employment, lack of housing and backwardness have been given short shrift in the Budget. The question of job to at least one member per family and houses for all has been postponed to 2022 i.e. into the next term. Despite sharp drop in the international prices of crude oil, Central Govt. has not passed this to consumers instead raising taxes to realize higher income. There has been no attempt to address the rise of prices of the essential commodities. On the other hand tax burden on the poor labouring masses has been increased as evidenced in increase of indirect taxes (by Rs. 23,383 crores) and decrease in direct taxes (by Rs. 8,315 crores). The increased taxes include increase in service tax to 14%. No concession on taxes has been announced for the common people and the income tax slabs have also been kept unchanged.

Union Budget 2015-’16 also shows that ‘Make in India’ is a mere slogan. Finance Minister noted decrease in the share of manufacturing from 18% to 17% of the GDP but no steps have been produced to spur growth. Rather excise duty has been increased in the name of rounding off. With no plan for industrial growth job generation has been left to the self-employment. Workers have been given a raw deal in the Budget. While no relief is given to govt. employees, ESI and EPF has been made optional for workers. This is despite the fact that overwhelming majority of the workers are not covered by PF and ESI and Govt. is further downscaling the machinery to get these implemented. Some tears were shed by Mr. Jaitley on MSME which account for bulk of industrial employment but meagre allocation (Rs. 3000 crores) for redressing the problems faced by them shows that Modi Govt. is totally non-serious in addressing the problems of industrial sector.

Rural India, particularly rural poor have been given a raw deal. With farm credit being increased (Rs. 8.4 lakh crore) Govt. has shown utter callousness in deepening crisis in the agrarian sector where small and medium peasants are committing suicides due to rise in indebtedness. Allocation for MNREGS has not been increased despite rise in wages which will result in lowering the coverage. Total Rural development budget is 79 thousand crores which is a pittance considering nearly 70% of the people are living in rural areas. The problem of rural poor and backwardness of the countryside has been left unanswered by Modi Govt.’s budget. Meagre allocation to irrigation and other development works in rural areas also point to the same. This gross disregard of the peasant masses along with serious drive of Modi Govt. to forcibly displace them from land and livelihood is a big attack against peasants and agricultural labour.

For the energy sector Finance Minister announced five ultra large power projects which are known to cause big displacement and serious environmental damage. The emphasis on solar power and other renewable sources of energy was missing.

Arun Jaitley, voicing concern about “rationalizing subsidies”, has sought to target them through cash transfer. This puts a lot of pressure on poor who have to first pay the amount before receiving the same in their accounts besides harming the food intake by the poor. Modi and Jaitley shamelessly talk about subsidies’ burden but remain silent over huge sums involved in revenue foregone. In the year 2013-’14 this concession to rich amounted to Rs. 5 lakh 72 thousand 923 crores while total subsidies for that year were only 2 lakh 20 thousand 972 crores (Fertilizer 65972 crores, Food 90,000 crores and Petroleum 65000 crores). Total silence on the concessions to big capitalists exposes the real nature of Modi Govt. not unlike its predecessor Manmohan Singh Govt.

The utter disregard of the social sector and other issues concerning the common people of the country is also evidenced by meagre allocations to education, health, women and child development, ICDS, minorities. The issues relating to health and education can not be addressed by promoting profit seeking privatization but only through Govt. hospitals, medical care centres, schools and colleges. Finance Minister has only announced exemption on premium or such measures without addressing the basic ills affecting health care and education systems in the country.

Modi had claimed that his Govt. would bring back black money stashed abroad. In this Budget speech, Arun Jaitley has virtually ruled this out instead rolling out measures to prevent black money generation through a proposed act. He repeated the Congress Govt.’s refrain about agreements with foreign countries, a bogus alibi to protect owners of such black money. Further in this Budget, Jaitley proposed that off-shore companies will not forego such status even if they operate from the country. Putting such defenders of black money in charge of recovering it will surely bring no black money back to the country.

Union Budget shows deep economic crisis with revenue deficit alone running to 2.8%. Non-plan expenditure of 13.12 lakh crores is more than central share of taxes and non-tax revenue of the Govt. The plan expenditure of the Govt. (Rs. 4.65 lakh crore) is same as that of Revised Estimates of last year. This comparison with RS in place of BE is tested mechanism of Indian rulers when they wish to lower the allocation. So much for intellectually honesty which has been in particularly short supply with this Govt.

Union Budget has been an orchestrated exercise to serve the foreign and domestic corporate. It marks abdication of the Govt. in addressing the social concerns. This particularly at the time when there is increased opposition to neo-liberalism and increased opposition to leaving addressing the problems of the people to the market forces. Modi Govt. has demonstrated its comprehensive bankruptcy in meeting the aspirations of the people of the country.

Central Committee,

CPI(ML)-New Democracy

February 28, 2015


Statement on Rail Budget

Railway Budget 2015-’16 pitches for Foreign Technology, Private Funding

Railway Budget for 2015-1016 presented by Union Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu, is short of any idea of how to address the woes faced by Indian Railways. He highlighted minor details while obfuscating the major aspects of the problems faced by the railways. He has prescribed a panacea of mobilization of funds through PPP mode, joint ventures, multilateral financial institutions and even pension funds. The Railway Minister even sought to dig into MPLAD funds and state budgets. With low budgetary support for plan expenditure all the plans announced by him sound hollow and only an act of playing to the gallery. Imitating Modi’s vacuous style by coining 4 goals, 5 drivers and 11 thrust areas, the Minister was woefully short of details of how to achieve them. In an attempt to mislead he compared his figures of plan expenditure with last year, which was a year of plan holiday.

Railway Budget reflects deep economic crisis plaguing Indian economy in meagre allocations despite crying need for improvement in passenger service by Indian railways. While lopsided emphasis has been placed on some select routes, the plight of passengers has been increasing on major passenger routes. Lack of adequate coaches force overcrowding to the physical extreme. There has been little increase in railway connectivity with only 20% of the routes added over the last 67 years since 1947. The Union Minister has not announced any new train or increase in frequency of existing trains despite severe passenger load on a number of routes which shows utter disregard for the concerns of common people. The expenditure on passenger comfort and safety is minimal while all the services like catering including base kitchens, modernization of stations, dedicated freight corridors etc. are being privatized. Modi Govt. has outsourced all plans of development including that of railways to private players.

Union Minister has not announced any increase in passenger and freight charges to avoid public anger. Any way Modi Govt. had affected sharpest ever increase in passenger fares and freight charges last year. This had resulted in lowering passenger traffic and decrease in railways’ share in freight transportation. While crude prices have fallen steeply in the world market, this fall has not been transferred by Modi Govt. to the people. Govt. cited increase in these prices for affecting increase in fares and freight charges but fares have not been reduced despite sharp fall in their prices. Moreover, Railway Minister has not made any commitment not to raise fares or freight charges during the year, a practice which has become a norm over the years.

Union Minister has announced speed enhancement on certain routes but with low investment on new tracks, track maintenance and repairs, this would only be either only an announcement or invitation to increased accidents. Railway Minister’s announcement of increasing ‘axel load’ i.e. load per carriage, is also a recipe for increasing load on already poorly maintained tracks and smacks of mentality of short term results while increasing long term liability.

Railway Budget for 2015-’16 shows utter contempt of Modi Govt. towards the problems faced by the people. It is not the bankruptcy of railways but bankruptcy of Modi Govt. who only parrots private funding as panacea for all ills. Technology from abroad and funds from corporate may have propelled Modi to power but cannot propel the growth engine of the country nor can address problems of Indian people.

Central Committee,

CPI(ML)-New Democracy

February 26, 2015

Vote for NOTA in the Current Delhi Assembly Elections Reject the Pro corporate, Anti people, Anti national Policies

The Battle Between Faces is to Conceal Consensus in Policies

Vote for NOTA in the Current Delhi Assembly Elections

Reject the Pro corporate, Anti people, Anti national Policies

Dear Fellow citizens of Delhi,

The electoral battle for winning the Delhi Assembly polls is on in the city. The major parliamentary parties are making tall promises to the electorate and enticing their vote by projection of leaders with high profiles in corporate media. These parties are no longer even pretending that money does not play a decisive role in elections and the city is emblazoned with larger than life photos and banners; there are also advertisements in metros, on TV channels, radio and social media. Where BJP leads in this and Congress is also present, AAP is showing similar ability quite belying its name of ‘aam admi’. As there is no basic difference in policies, on the path before the country and hence Delhi to solve the real problems facing the people, so the focus is on different faces of leaders. Each is credited with magical powers- in the Lok Sabha elections it was Modi whose very advent was to drive away price rise, corruption, unemployment, and bring home black money. Now it is Kejriwal who will make electricity cheap, regularize contract workers, bring down prices drive away corruption. In all this hype is drowned the policy consensus. While it was Modi Govt. which brought bills for what trade unions across described as anti-worker changes in labour laws, it was Congress who helped pass them in Rajya Sabha and no protest was voiced by the 4 MPs of AAP or their leaders in Delhi.

At this time there is a BJP Govt. at the Centre. More than eight months of Modi rule have lapsed, yet neither has price rise vanished nor has unemployment, women continue to face insecurity ,black money is where it was and the statements of the Govt. on this score sound similar to those of the earlier UPA Govt. Every state election has been made a referendum on Modi; but in Delhi, BJP hesitated both because the citizens here remain well versed with what the Centre is doing and also because there is a strong regional party in AAP. To cover Modi, Kiran Bedi has been brought and with this step BJP has conceded possibility of defeat. The entire city knows that whatever the promises , every service is being privatized and commercialized, amendments forced by peasant and Adivasi movements and martyrdoms to the colonial Land Acquisition Act are being revoked. Kiran Bedi as a police officer in Delhi was responsible for brutal attacks on agitating lawyers, and this of course goes well with the contempt for civil liberties of the RSS. In Bawana, Trilokpuri, Seelampur and other areas, Hindutva organizations tried to target Muslims to communally polarize the people. The Central Govt sat silent though the BJP ex-MLA in Trilokpuri responsible for the same and police guilty of anti Muslim violence, though its leaders addressed mahapanchayats in Bawana while its elements organized Hindu youth for effecting polarization. On women’s security, the argument of Bedi having been a policewoman is laughable- does Delhi police inspire confidence in women of Delhi? Attacks have taken place out of the blue on churches. Out of the blue attacks have taken place on churches. Prices of crude oil have halved in the international market but BJP does not give the same relief to the people. In the name of defending women’s security ABVP held a programme against Love Jihad in Delhi University but DUSU (now led by ABVP) spoke not a word against the murder of a final year student of Venkateshwar College by her parents just because she married according to her own choice.

The AAP is busy singing praises of its 49 day rule in Delhi. It does not explain why it needed to resign so precipitously on Lokpal when it had already eradicated corruption just by coming to power? Why did the AAP MLA from Trilokpuri refuse to help the Muslims, why did he not go among the people of his constituency and expose the BJP’s designs, why did other AAP leaders not rush to the area if their MLA failed to act there, why did not Kejriwal or any other leader speak up against the same designs in Bawana or Seelampur? How should the silence of AAP on the Muzaffarnagar anti-Muslim violence be interpreted? AAP opposed the ordinance on Land Acquisition only because compensation would decrease, not because it snatched away the right of peasantry to refuse consent. Why in 2013 did AAP provide for electricity subsidy for only two months – and why subsidy when the issue was clear that the corporate suppliers were fudging figures to jack up expenses on paper to justify rate hikes? Why does AAP give certificates of ‘social organization’ to Khap panchayats? Why promise to eradicate contractual jobs when AAP only set up a committee to study the problem after coming to power, when AAP has not opposed the anti-worker changes in labour laws? AAP has no objection leave alone policy alternative to bringing in FDI and corporate demand cheap labour? Kejriwal is going around asking if he ’looks like a naxalite’. Apart from the fact that he needs to explain what naxalites specifically look like, he is totally right on one count-he cannot be mistaken for one. Naxalites and the revolutionary movement have continually sacrificed and given martyrdoms for the real freedom of the people of India.

Imagining that the people of Delhi have forgotten the 15 years of the corrupt, arrogant insulting- to- women misrule of Sheila Dixit, the Congress is also in the fray in all seats of Delhi. Also are other parliamentary parties like Shiv Sena, BSP and others. The official Left parties are also in the fray and while they may oppose the divisive communal policies of Hindutva forces all these parliamentary parties have a consensus on basic policies. That is why they have no answer of how they will curb price rise how will they remove poverty how will they revitalize the economy when their policies are anti people and are meant to serve the interests of foreign and local corporate and of landlords .

There were two opposite paths of development open before India in1947.One was the path taken by the rulers and which all the parliamentary parties implement and stand by. These have brought India to its present situation. The other was the path which the Telangana movement stood for; self reliance, development of local market by land to the tiller and living wage and rights to workers. This is the India that communist revolutionaries are fighting for. Parliamentary parties reject this path and call the revolutionaries as ‘terrorists’ and some do not even want to ‘look’ like one.

None of the parliamentary parties are willing for a path which is pro people- when they serve the interests of a vested section how can their policies be different? When they come asking you for votes question them on parties- they have no solutions ,only promises which will prove to be baseless. When candidates come asking for votes question them on the basic issues of the people and they will have no concrete answers. The only way people can solve their real problems is through building movements on their basic issues.

Friends, express your rejection of the policies of these parties and candidates and to their false promises by voting for NOTA. A vote for NOTA signifies a moral defeat for the anti people policies of these parliamentary parties.

Delhi Committee
CPI (ML) New Democracy

CPI (ML) New Democracy