Congress calls for dumping cess, raising wages, taxing richest

Besides stating that empowering the poor should be a shared responsibility of govt and private sector, resolutions adopted at the Congress Plenary provide an alternative plan of action on the economy

Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

Besides stating that ensuring social justice and empowering the poor should be a shared responsibility of the Government and the private sector, resolutions adopted at the Congress Plenary provides an alternative plan of action for future Congress Governments. It also pledged to tax the top 1% of the rich to fund the education of the poor.

Here are 10 important takeaways from the resolution on the economy and on agriculture and poverty alleviation:

  • Faith in a robust public sector Inclusive economic growth through a competitive and viable public sector is necessary. A strong public sector and state ownership of businesses in critical sectors such as defence production, mass transportation, natural resources and financial services is both needed and justified.
  • Doubts over ‘cashless’ society and ‘Digital’ economy Contrary to BJP’s vision and mission of a cashless society, cash in circulation has reached ₹17.06 lakh crore, which was the level before November 8, 2016 when ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes were withdrawn, points out the economic resolution. It also notes that the push for a digital economy is unmindful of the impact on a labour-abundant developing country.
  • Abolition of cesses outside GST The resolution bats for a moderate and reasonable standard rate of tax, abolition of cess outside the GST structure and a more transparent mechanism for revenue sharing with the states.
  • Favours Public Sector banks Pinning the blame for the banking crisis on state ownership of banks is a gross over-simplification. The resolution advocates better oversight and external regulation and notes that banks have written off in the last three years ‘four times more loans’ than in the entire 10 years of UPA. Pointing out that banks have also restructured ₹4.5 lakh crore of corporate loans in the last three years, the resolution blames the crisis to the crony capitalism promoted by the BJP.
  • Alarming fall in exports Despite low oil prices and a healthier global economy, under the Modi Government India’s exports have fallen from US $314 billion in 2013-14 to $275 billion in 2016-17, it notes. A renewed emphasis on exports will be necessary to arrest joblessness as well, it adds.
  • A robust safety net Deprecating the Modi Government’s decision to reduce allocation for Education and Health sectors from ₹75,000 crore in the last year of UPA to ₹55,000 crore in 2017, the resolution comes out in support of a comprehensive safety net.
  • Education and Health Government’s responsibility UPA’s education loan programme with interest subsidy has been stopped by the Modi Government, dealing a cruel blow to poor and middle class students. The resolution emphasises that the role of the state in both the sectors is paramount and ‘cannot be wished away to the private sector alone’.
  • Congress against tax terrorism Accusing the Modi Government of unleashing tax terrorism, motivated litigation, veiled threats and an ill-conceived GST, the resolution speaks of protecting entrepreneurs from harassment.
  • Land of the farmer would not be auctioned Promising that land of the farmer would not be auctioned even if he/she is not able to repay the loan, the resolutions promise all possible help to farmers switching to animal husbandry, floriculture, poultry farming, etc.
  • MGNREGA wages to be brought at par with minimum wages The resolution calls upon the Congress to increase average earnings under MGNREGA from ₹7,200 to ₹18,000 per annum by raising wages under MGNREGA.

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