Budget 2022-23: Betrayal of People’s Interests

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The Finance Minister presented the Budget 2022 in the backdrop of an economic scenario when majority of the people are facing job loss and huge cuts in real income. GDP in the current financial year is estimated to marginally cross the pre pandemic levels. The private consumption expenditure is still short of the pre-pandemic levels and industries are facing low capacity utilisation and rising inventories primarily because of very low demand in the economy. In such a scenario what was needed in the budget was a big push towards job creation and increasing domestic demand. The budget fails patently in addressing these issues. What was required was introducing an urban employment guarantee scheme. On the contrary, it has cut down expenditure by Rs. 25000 crores in MGNREGS and reduced food, fuel and fertilizer subsidies and also in allocations in health and rural development.

The budget has proposed a growth in total expenditure by Rs. 174909 crores from the revised estimates of  2021-22 but as percentage of GDP the total expenditure has come down from 17.8 per cent in 2020-21 to 15.3 per cent in 2022-23 budget estimates.  The growth of revenue receipts has primarily grown as corporates were able to accumulate profits during the pandemic reflected through increased corporation tax realisation and also garnered through GST and hike in petroleum prices from indirect taxes levied upon common people. However the growth of expenditure is far short from the growth of revenue receipts and in real terms is even less than what it was in last year’s revised estimates.

The squeeze on expenditure is not merely in the Central Government expenditure. By squeezing the transfer of resources to states, the state governments are also being forced to do the same. These transfers are to come down from 6.91 per cent of GDP in RE 2021-22 to 6.25 per cent in 2022-23.

Allocations of all major schemes for farmers have seen a budget cut. The allocation for procurement to FCI and under decentralisation procurement scheme has been reduced by about 28 per cent at a time when farmers are struggling for a legally guaranteed MSP. Allocation of funds for fertilizer subsidy has been reduced by 25 per cent.  Under PM-KISAN, 12.5 crore farmer households are supposed to be provided Rs. 6000 each which requires an allocation of Rs. 75000 crores.  However, only Rs. 68000 crores have been allocated. Allocation for the crop insurance scheme has also fallen by about 500 crores.

In all the recent years, government has not spent even the meagre allocation for welfare of children. The revised estimates for expenditure on welfare of children is Rs. 5700 crores less than what was budgeted. Nothing has been done to help children cope with the devastating impact of closure of schools and anganwadis.

Allocation of funds for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes  shows a marginal increase in absolute figures but factoring  inflation it has come down in real terms. Similarly, the renaming of mid-day meal scheme as PM Poshan could not raise the allocation from Rs. 10,234 crores  despite of 35 per cent of children not receiving MDM during the last year. The Finance Minister talked about Narishakti upgrading 2 lakh anganwadis but the allocation is frozen at the revised estimates at Rs 20,000 crores.

Over the last two years, there has been a huge cut in LPG subsidy. Last year, allocation was cut by 60 per cent and another 60 per cent cut has been inflicted in the budget for 2022-23. No new allocation has been budgeted for the unorganised workers who were registered through e-shram portals.

During the last two years of pandemic, the rich have become richer.  According to Oxfam, wealth of India’s richest families reached a record high in 2021.  The top ten percent people in India hold 57 per cent of the income.  Yet, there is no proposal to impose tax on these super profits and use these resources to provide relief to the vast majority of suffering people.

Therefore, the budget 2022-23 has completely failed in identifying the priorities to provide relief for the common people.  It is a betrayal.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) calls upon the people to protest against this anti-people pro-corporate budget demanding direct cash transfer of Rs. 7,500 per month to all families outside the income tax bracket and distribution of free food kits.