Not many MPs bother to read the small print. But Veerappa Moily had clearly done his homework before delivering his critique of the Interim Budget in the Lok Sabha. Much to the discomfiture of acting Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, he focused on little-noticed aspects of the budget.
At 79, Moily does not have to try too hard – with his experience as a former chief minister and central minister, the Congress veteran has headed enough parliamentary committees to effortlessly correlate figures and facts.
This is what he did on Monday while contrasting the Modi government’s tall claims with small allocations. And he went about his demolition job of some of the government’s most trumpeted welfare initiatives with his characteristic wit and wisdom.
The main thrust of his assault was on major burning issues of the pre-election season - corruption in defence deals, fudging of employment statistics and neglect of agrarian distress. But in the process he uncovered some inconsistencies in a wide range of flagship schemes as well.
For instance, regarding the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, he said it was examined by the Standing Committee on Finance. A windfall gain of ₹3,000 crore for private players was paid. This includes the Reliance insurance company. As per the annual report of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, an amount of ₹11,906 crore was collected by 11 private sector insurers whereas they faced claims of only ₹8,832 crore.
In other words, a sum of ₹4500 is virtually unaccounted for. “It was locked away in the name of the PM. There is no insurance in PMFBY - there is only PM. It is an insurance scheme for the insurance companies, and also political insurance for the PM. Do you think that the money for the party’s election expenditure is coming from somewhere else? This is direct benefit scheme for the ruling party”.
In July 2015, he said, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana announced with an outlay of only ₹50,000 crore for irrigation projects. None of the irrigation projects have been taken up. As far as rural development is concerned, funding of employment guarantee scheme saw a decrease of 1.7 per cent. It should have increased. It is a demand-driven programme. It is not an allocation. It is the demand of the farmers and the landless labourers.
But the Centre has not made the payment of nearly ₹60,000 crore – which is overdue both on the labour component and the material component.
At this point Moily was interrupted by Bhartruhari Mahtab: It cannot be ₹60,000 crore. That sound like too much.
Moily: In the last 45 days, I reviewed it in my own constituency, not even a single payment towards labour has been made by them. Karnataka’s outstanding due alone is about ₹7,000 crore. Karnataka MPs called on the Minister and he promised that he will provide money in the Supplementary Budget. Not even a single paisa has been provided till now. The same is the case with Andhra Pradesh. There is 4.5 per cent reduction in the allocation.
On the women and children welfare, this is what Moily revealed - Only 1.04 per cent of the total Union Budget has been spent in 2019-19. Now they have made another new allocation for the next year. The Government had provided ₹29,164 crore in the current year but they could spend only 1.04 per cent of it.
Turning to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Moily said: I think, Madam, you should be concerned about it. They do not even care about women.
They have even reduced the allocation under the Nirbhaya Scheme. I have culled out all this just for the benefit of you, Madam. Rashtriya Mahila Kosh also has a paltry sum of ₹1 lakh.
A BJP member Nishikant Dubey objected: This is an interim budget.
Moily was quick with his retort. “No, this is what you have stated you are going to do, if re-elected. If it is an Interim Budget, you should not have mentioned allocations for 2019-20”. He added: “Please read what your acting Minister has presented - Rashtriya Mahila Kosh has got just a paltry sum of ₹1 lakh. It is a micro-finance project. There are lakhs and lakhs of Self-Help Projects for which you are providing money. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana has seen a 50 per cent cut. Women will definitely curse you. You are slashing the funds from ₹2004 crore in 2018-19 to ₹1,200 crore. This is what you are going to do.
Dubey: This budget is only up to June.
Moily: No, it is not. All figures are from your own Budget document. Of course, if you do not believe in the sanctity of the Budget. I cannot blame you. But let me tell you more, since you have not read it.
The fund for Women’s Helpline has been reduced from ₹28.8 crore to ₹17.78 crore. There has been a reduction of 38 per cent.
Wherever women are concerned, there is a cut everywhere. Support of Training and Employment Programme for Women has seen a reduction in the allocation from Rs.40 crore to Rs. 5 crore. Five crore! This means that there has been nearly 99 per cent cut on all the women programmes. They have no faith in their own mothers, forget about others. Also, no faith in their wives, if at all they have any wives, because some people may not have wives.
Also, there has been no change in the allocation to the Nirbhaya Fund. Definitely, it was the UPA-II which came out with the Nirbhaya Fund. This government has not increased it. It still stands at ₹500 crore which is a mere 13.8 per cent of the total corpus of ₹3,600 crore.
As for allocation for your most favourite ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, it is only a slogan. It must be noted that most of the funds are diverted towards advertisement. This is not Beti Bachao Beti Padhao but this only ‘PM Bachao’.
In 2018-19, out of Rs. 280 crore which were allocated for Beti programme, only ₹70.63 crore were actually released to the States and districts and the rest ₹155.71 crore were spent on Media activity.
So, this is all PM bachao. They have faith in some chosen media and chosen channels. It is all because they need to prove that this is a clean Government. When they are not clean, they need more advertisements. This means 55 per cent amount was spent on Media activity out of this allocation and 20 per cent of the funds have not even been spent. So, they have not spent any money at all.
As regards Social Justice and Empowerment, they speak much about it and about Training and Skill Development programme. In Karnataka, we do it according to the population of the State. It is mandated by a legislation. But you have not brought any legislation, forget about allocation, because you have no faith in this programme. “Your justice is the only justice. Social justice is foreign to your Party and your theme”. A paltry sum of ₹50 crore from ₹7550 crore to ₹7080 crore were given on this.
Regarding the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana – the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, ₹75,000 crore have been allocated for 2019-20. The farmers came to Delhi and asked, “When will achche din come to farmers?” You can waive the loan but what is this ₹6,000 direct money transfer you are going to give to them? This amounts to just ₹3.33 per person per day for an average household of five.
This is your big achievement. In the MGNREGA programme which was implemented by the UPA-I and UPA-II governments, the wage was ₹225 per day and if five people came, they would get ₹225 x 5, whereas giving three rupees and claiming it is a big money transfer. The UPA-I and UPA-II governments waived off loans worth ₹72,000 crore of 13 crore farmers in this country. These loans were from nationalised banks as also from the cooperative sector. The entire money was repaid by the Government to the banks including the cooperative banks within three months. We did not keep it pending.
But what has happened now? The annual indebtedness of farmers stands at ₹47,000 crore and the provision for the MGNREGA is also reduced. Agricultural growth and productivity have been declining without any alternate source of income for farmers. The Government has not addressed this serious problem.
Regarding caste census, for the first time after 80 years, a caste survey was ordered to identify the backward classes. It was ordered by UPA-II. That report is not out. In fact, the report has been sent back for reconsideration. That means your government is afraid to identify people whom social justice will have to be given. Your topmost priorities are Advertisements and Rafale.
As regards allocation for Post Matric Scholarship, again it has been reduced to 50 per cent. All this money has to be saved and given to Reliance or Rafale. This is what is being done. The Post Matric Scholarships for SCs are at a three-year low, forget about increase.
The participation of under-privileged, SCs, STs and OBCs of the society in the PMMY Programme is 50 per cent in terms of number of loan accounts but just 34 per cent in terms of loan amount sanctioned. So, there is only 18 per cent participation. The Minority Category of borrowers accounted for only 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively in terms of number of accounts. Of course, that is understandable because you have no faith at all in Minorities. But even as regards other OBCs which you claim to be their supporters, there is only slogan support.
Look at the provisions for Health and Ayushman Bharat. There is big talk but zero progress. Ayushman Bharat scheme is meant to be highlighted only in speeches and for making tall claims. This Government announced setting up of four new AIIMS, followed by seven more in 2015, but none of these have become functional.
On Swachh Bharat, the actual situation in terms of allocations is similar. So also with respect to MSME and all other things. Look at Mudra.
If I do not speak on the performance of the Mudra, then I would be doing a great disservice to the youth of this country. If this Government was so enamored by this concept of Mudra, then why is there stagnation in employment which saw a fall in total employment in 2017-18 to 41.5 per cent from 42.59 per cent 2016-17?
The annual report on Mudra says that no money was available and at least 40 per cent of the Mudra funds are lying idle. The Prime Minister keeps talking about Mudra in very great detail. Most of the funds out of Mudra have already become NPAs. As reported by Public Sector Banks and PSPs, total Non-Performing Assets has increased from ₹2 lakh crore to ₹12 lakh crore during the last five years. If this Government is given another five years, the banks would be totally liquidated.