Amidst allegations of tampering and budget leakage, the interim budget presented to Lok Sabha by Piyush Goyal, acting finance minister, who is BJP’s treasurer and hence more close to corporate businesses, has unfolded it as an election speech. For the first time in India’s budget history, the BJP has earned another notoriety of presenting a budget not preceded by the usual Economic Survey for fear of people’s wrath as report on India’s unemployment rate hitting a 45-year high has already come out. After drowning and hiding data from government’s own official statistical sources, Goyal was entrusted with the task of indulging in doctored data to draw out a rosy macro-economic picture based on which he went on a wanton announcement on a series of big-bang sops whose validity is only for a few months as the new govt that comes to power after the election is constitutionally bound to go through a full-fledged budget-making process.
Absence of an Economic Survey, that would have depicted the sorry state of the economy resulting from the biggest-ever scam called demonetization, super-imposition of anti-federal GST and so on, was used by Goyal to announce a number of populist schemes addressed to peasants, urban middle class taxpayers and unorganised sectors without any requisite financial backing, even as the outlay for defence is being crossed the Rs. 3 lakh crore for the first time. While the income tax exemptions granted to middle classes have been positively responded by market forces as is evidenced from the shooting up of the Sensex, vested interests are deliberately ignoring the decline in total direct collection as a proportion of total tax. This is shows that tax burden is increasingly borne by the vast majority of toiling people through GST and other neoliberal steps while wealth and income are concentrating with the super-rich.
Modi regime has effectively made use of the advantage of an interim budget by freely announcing several mega welfare schemes without resorting to making any new ultra-rightist policy initiatives. While the foundations of the economy are shaken due to the unhindered corporate plunder and concomitant corruption of the last five years, and workers and peasants are rising up and such program as “Make in India” are in shambles, and when the entire North-East and people of Kashmir are simmering with discontent, the interim budget has tried to camouflage all such grave issues with bogus claims and several big giveaways.
We appeal to the workers, peasants, youth, students and all oppressed including women, dalits, adivasis and minorities to rise up and expose this farce that is enacted on the backs of people in the guise of the interim budget and unite to defeat the corporate saffron forces in the forthcoming election. n