NATIONAL CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE
OF PENSIONERS ASSOCIATIONS..
(Registered undder the T.U. Act.No. RTU01/2021.Dated.7.01.2021
PAN NO AAEAN8586F
Website: nccpahq.blogspot.in.E mail: email@example.com.
13.c Feroze Shah Road, New Delhi. 110 001
PRESIDENT: COM.SHIV GOPAL MISHRA.(97176 47594)
SECRETARY GENERAL: COM.K.K.N.KUTTY. (98110 48303)
Dated: 2ND February, 2022.
The Union Budget 2022
On 1st February, 2022, (the customary date fixed for Union Budget) Ms. Nirmala Sitaraman, Finance Minister, Government of India, presented the budget for the financial year 2022-23 to the Lok Sabha at 11.00 AM. The Budget is an instrument from which the common people expect the Government of India to extend its helping hand to remove their agony. They normally glue to the TV sets or listen to the Radio broadcast to know whether the empathy has been translated into tangible terms. The people had expected a lot from this budget as they thought that the Government was aware of the deprivation suffered by the common multitude due to the still-not-abated pandemic, covid 19. The continuing pandemic situation for the last two years had affected severely the life and means of livelihood of the people at large. It was during the period of pandemic, the Indian people realised the worth of public health system and how disastrous had been its concerted destruction over the years by the Government.
Most of the time in the year 2021, the country had to face several lock downs as the only way to arrest the severity of the pandemic. The sudden halt of all economic activities had its terrible toll. Many families of the people at the lower strata of the society had been driven to the shores of penury and poverty during the period. It is, therefore, necessary that the budget proposals are seen through their eyes.
It is difficult to discern any positive features in the budget, viewed from the common man’s perspective. With the rising tax revenue, mostly from indirect taxes, like GST, Customs and excise duties, nay even from the corporate and income tax, the Government could have announced certain welfare measures benefiting the poor and suffering people. In fact the allocation on health, education, employment generation schemes, food and fertilizer subsidies, agriculture (for MSP, Crop insurance,) child welfare etc. has either remained static or got reduced. A major share of the excise duty has come from the systematic and continuous increase in the petroleum products. The cost of LPG gas cylinder had almost been doubled by this Government between 2014 and 2021. The phenomenal increase in the cooking gas alone brought distress to a large majority of the people in the lower and middle segments of the society. The announcements like developing 25000 KMs National highways and 2200 KM new Railway tracks, 400 super-fast trains and above all the introduction of an official digital currency were in fact mocking at the poor people. The total expenditure of the Government estimated in the Budget for the year 2022-23, despite a nominal increase is actually down from. 17.1% of GDP in 2020-21 to 15.3.%
Without raising resources no government would be able to either increase the long term capital expenditure to create infrastructure asset base nor look after its people at lower strata. In the difficult situation the people are placed, due to the un-abaiting covid and periodical lock outs, the Government ought to have raised resources from those who has the ability to pay. Such a proposal must have been a must in the budget. The Oxfam report, India supplement, which has just been released tells us the sordid story of the vast majority of the Indian people. Amongst the poverty stricken Nations, India has further fallen from 94 to 104. It also tells that the top 10 rich persons in the country had been able to double their wealth during the covid period. Most of the Indian corporate houses have increased their profit ratio. Why then the Government could not have raised the corporate tax rates or the rate of income tax at the super profit level, obviously elicits only one answer. In fact, the Government had reduced the rate of corporation tax from 33% to 22% as part of the covid specific bail-out package. The least the Finance Minister could have done was to restore the old rates.
Pensioner community is no different from the common people. The senior citizens suffered immeasurably during this period. Almost every one of them was afflicted with the covid virus. Being old they were more prone to the pandemic. Some of them despite being in self- proclaimed house arrest, still suffered from the virus infection. The private hospitals in the country charged exorbitantly for the treatment. Having almost dismantled the public health care system, they had no alternative but to be at the mercy of the private hospitals. Pensioners and the senior citizens still suffer the post-covid health complications. No concession has been granted to the old people in the Budget, whereas the Govt. has unashamedly taken crores of rupees from the pensioners by denying the Dearness relief due to them for 18 months. Rather some of the facilities like air and train travel concessions were withdrawn . Many expected that the Government would take note of the huge hospitalisation expenditure incurred by the pensioners and old people and would increase the ceiling limit of medical expenses in the Budget.
Almost all of the Pensioners and retired personnel had invested their retirement benefits on fixed term deposits in the Nationalised Banks. Crores of rupees had been collected by the Banks from the pensioners and the fund has obviously been used to advance to rich and corporate entities. A good chunk of such loans has now become non- performing assets and now a new Bad Bank to deal with such assets has been set up. From 2014 onwards, this government had been systematically reducing the interest rates on term deposits to facilitate the business enterprises. The fall out has been terrible loss to the pensioner community. Not only the real value of their income has been eroded but even in quantum terms, the loss had been unbearable. According to an estimate a person who had invested in Fixed Deposits, say 20 lakhs in 2014 would suffer a loss of Rs. 87,120 in the year 2021-22 due to interest rate reduction. That is precisely Rs. 7260 per month. While the income had a drastic reduction, the expenditure due to inflation and effected price rise on petroleum products has almost doubled.
The 2022-23 Budget has, despite having increased revenue collection, sought to reduce its outflow on welfare measures ,exposing clearly where the empathy of the rulers are. It refused to tax the rich who has increased their profit during the covid period. It continues to proclaim to raise resources by selling away the Public Sector Units and lease out the infra structural assets for pittance to private enterprises. Privatisation and crony capitalism had been the hall mark of the policy of this government. How far they can go could be evidenced rom the fact that the company to whom the contract for the production of the Vande Bharat coaches has been given, is permitted to manufacture it inside the ICF/RCF coach factories owned by the Government.
The Budget is, therefore, not only disappointing but in a way reflects the insensitive mind-set of those in the governance of the country towards the suffering people. There must be and will be strong reaction from the people at large to this anti people budget.