Working class let down by PM Modi’s interim Budget; say no job generation guarantee, no hike in minimum wage

The central trade unions representing both organised and unorganized workers of the country are angry at the interim budget, state NDA govt has once again attempted to throw jumlas at those suffering

Photo Courtesy: PTI
Photo Courtesy: PTI

Nitya Chakraborty/IPA

The central trade unions representing both organised and unorganized workers of the country are seething with anger at the step motherly treatment to the entire working class of India in the interim budget of the Modi government presented on February 1.

Only the BMS belonging to the BJP hailed in a limited manner the budget proposals but the overwhelming opinion among the trade unions was that the budget has been a disaster for the struggling workers who have been worst hit in the recent years due to the policies of the NDA regime.

The AITUC in a statement said that the BJP led NDA government has once again attempted to throw jumlas on the face of suffering people of India through its vote on accounts (interim budget). The announcements made are with forthcoming elections in mind, just throwing statistics without any basis.

On one hand side it is a cruel joke on the marginal farmers who hold land up to 2 hectares which number about 86% of total farmers in the country offering rupees 17 per family per day. The rural landless poor who work in the fields and related agricultural activities have been offered nothing.

According to AITUC, there is nothing in the budget statement to address unemployment which has reached highest in last 45 years. Nothing offered for job creation, no steps announced to fill up the already sanctioned central and state government posts. Hence the youth is once again cheated.

Further, those who should be covered in EPF in India should be about 10 crore workers which actually are yet not fully registered and hence all of them not been covered for pension. It is those registered only who are already being covered for pension that the pronouncement in this budget to be benefiting with pension of rupees three thousand where as demand of these workers is for pension not less than 7500.

There is nothing in the budget for about 35 crore of unorganized sector workers other than the 10 crore workers who are covered under EPF. The working class is also betrayed contrary to the claims being made by the prime minister and the finance minister in regard to providing dignity to the workers. Nothing announced about the demand of ₹18000 minimum wage to workers about 45 crores of them who were hoping against hope.

The false claim of control on price rise is another insult on the people who are finding it too difficult to run their kitchens in the face of steep rise in the prices of everyday essential items, AITUC said.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) termed the 2019 interim budget presented by finance minister Piyush Goyal misleading and “a fraudulent exercise before elections”. The statement by CITU came hours after Goyal announced a slew of populist measures in his budget speech, including tax rebates, a minimum income scheme for farmers and a monthly pension scheme for labourers above the age of 60 who are employed in the unorganised sector.

CITU has called the pension scheme an ‘exercise in deceit’. “The allocation of a meagre ₹500 crore itself is an indication of the lack of seriousness and honesty in covering the more than 40 crore unorganised workers in the country. And they will receive this pension only by contributing continuously up to the age of 60, which most of them cannot do,” CITU president Hemalata said in a statement.

“The real fraudulent intention behind announcement of this programme becomes clear when the cow-protection receives a bigger allocation of ₹750 crore,” the statement said.

The strongly worded statement accused the Modi government of “feigning sleep” and said it forgot the workers and peasants who had created wealth for the country. CITU added that the government was “busy aggressively implementing the so called ‘reforms’ to serve their corporate master, domestic and foreign, and fill their kitty looting the people and national resources.”

The budget, which was expected to be a vote on account, or an interim one, saw the government come out with sops for farmers, labourers, middle class and even cows. Opposition parties have called the budget an attempt to woo voters ahead of Lok Sabha elections. Former finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram said, “Instead of being a vote on account, it’s an account for votes.”

CITU also called the budget a “desperate bid to attract votes when defeat in the ensuing Parliament elections is staring at its face.”

The statement noted that the budget did not address the topic of unemployment and sagging economy at all. A Business Standard report citing leaked National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data said on Thursday that unemployment had reached a 45-year high in India.

According to the report, unemployment stood at 6.1% in 2017-18. Hours later on Thursday evening, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar and CEO Amitabh Kant called a press conference and proceeded to defend the government over the jobs report by saying the leaked data was ‘not verified’.

“There is no concrete proposal except the rhetoric of ‘job seekers becoming job providers,” the CITU statement said, adding that the interim budget had done nothing to improve wages of workers and incomes of peasants and ignored the demand for loan waivers.

CITU also criticised the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, which guarantees ₹6,000 yearly payment to farmers with less than two hectares of land holding, by calling it ‘cruel’ towards farmers. “There is no intention to address the agrarian crisis in a meaningful way,” CITU said.

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