Jaitley’s largesse raises questions on the private sector

If tax payers have to bail out the private sector time and again, what was wrong with the public sector?

Photo by Rajkumar/Mint via Getty Images
Photo by Rajkumar/Mint via Getty Images

Pallavi Amitabha

The ₹2.11 lakh crore bank recapitalisation scheme with a ₹7 lakh crore roadmap announced by India's Finance Minister on national TV (just to put things in perspective - the Central Government's total Budget outlay for the country 2017-18 is ₹21.47 lakh crores , and total receipts are ₹15.26 lakh crores of which revenue receipts are only ₹12.27 lakh crores) is a spectacular announcement.

But there is no information of any cabinet meeting which may have deliberated and taken the decision; no questions are being asked why such a massive injection of public money is being done by bypassing the Parliament and nobody appears to be surprised at the Finance Minister’s ability to announce such a huge sop without having made any provision for it in the annual budget.

Clearly the Government will have to curtail expenditure or the Government has had a windfall in the meanwhile following imposition of fresh cess, taxes and duty. If so, people and Parliament need to know the details.

But more importantly, is this an example of financial accountability or even political accountability of the Government to the Legislature or to the public that votes the Government into power? Is this what the Constitution of India provides for? The least the Government can do is to explain why it does not have money to write off farm loans but has enough money to bail out a few hundred spoilt businessmen? It is astonishing that the Centre has said it will not help any state that decides to waive farm loans.

If the Government is to pay out such humongous amounts of taxpayers’ money to banks to bail out private entrepreneurs and industrialists who are not able or willing to repay loans that they have taken in the first place out of depositors who are also tax paying citizens , what is the point of having a private sector anyway?

Particularly when we have no control on the number of jobs they create, and whether these jobs in fair proportion go to marginalised sections of society that the Constitution is committed to uplifting (yes, yes, yes, that means Reservations for SCs, STs, OBCs, EBCs and Minorities )?

When we waste so much time, money and energy of Government agencies and banks in running after these big loanees when they run away with the money, and when they do not even pay their taxes by showing losses on their balance sheets, and are the very people who are later found spiriting this money off to tax havens, to Swiss Banks, or to Panama or St Kitts, Aruba or the Virgin Islands--- what really is the point of having such capitalists ?

If this is the level of efficiency of private enterprise in our country, what was wrong with running most of such industry and enterprise in the Government (public ) sector, or under the control of the public sector with very limited participation by the private sector? Why are we in a great hurry to privatise?

Why bank on or even talk of ‘animal spirits’ when we hardly have even ‘human spirit’ left in industry and commerce? When they don’t invest their loans prudently in national interest, or service them regularly, or repay them in time, create jobs the country needs, create value and profit, pay their taxes faithfully and enrich the public coffers, what is the point of having the private sector and entrepreneurs ?

Why do we have to keep on indulgently spoiling these big, bad boys and penalise and even kill our small farmers and farm labourers who employ themselves and even now create the best and highest real value there is in our economy?

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