The CPI-M on Friday described the first budget of the second Modi government as a payback gift after the elections to corporate India and foreign financial interests.
“The Budget and the speech (by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman) were full of several promises and commitments that would help big corporate capital and the wealthy to strengthen their grip on the Indian economy and foster greater integration of the Indian economy with international financial markets,” a CPI-M statement said.
“Nothing, however, was there for India’s working people – kisans and workers who would be left to fend for themselves in a world of shrinking opportunities for employment and livelihood,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist said.
The finance minister’s speech listed a long menu of pro-corporate ‘reforms’
It listed the opening up the Indian economy even more to foreign portfolio and direct investment (including the pension sector), creating a ‘financeable’ model for highways, promoting PPP in several areas including railways and metro development.
There were no references, however, to the issues of remunerative prices and debt relief that India’s farmers were in desperate need of. On labour, the creation of a more anti-labour labour code was also presented as a ‘reform’, it said.
“While all of these were talked about, the FM’s speech was generally short of any real details regarding the revenue measures and expenditure commitments of the Union Government for 2019-20 and was completely silent on the problems of economic slowdown, agrarian distress, industrial stagnation and joblessness that everyone knows currently afflict the Indian economy.”
“The budget shows very little increase in spending for people. Total subsidies as per cent of total expenditure have remained almost unchanged at about 12 per cent,” it said.
“The Union Budget reflects the complete denial by the government of the real economic situation of the country, which is living proof of the inability of a private capital led development process to either address the agrarian crisis or create employment opportunities outside it.
“This budget, therefore, is bound to mount further economic burdens on the vast majority of our people,” it said.