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India: Union Budget 2021 - pro Big Business, pushing privatisation, taxing the working class, undermines public education | Statements by AITUC, AIBEA, NTUI and AIFUCTO (Feb 2021)

2 February

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[Statements released by national trade unions AITUC, AIBEA, NTUI and AIFUCTO on the announcement of India’s Union Budget 2021]

[1]

अखिल भारतीय ट्रेड यूनियन कांग्रेस
ALL INDIA TRADE UNION CONGRESS

Founded on 31.10.1920
Founder President, Lala Lajpat Rai
President: Ramendra Kumar, Ex. M.P.
General Secretary: Amarjeet Kaur
Working President: H.Mahadevan

01st February, 2021

Press Release

The following statement was issued to the press on 01st February 2021 by AITUC Secretariat.

AITUC dubs this year’s budget another exercise to encourage corporate loot and sale of national assets

The budget is repetition of the already announced packages by the Finance Minister in the month of May, friendly to Indian and foreign Corporate with huge concessions, reduction in tax for them and increase in the cess on common man, burdening them more when there is crisis for their livelihood itself. The workers and farmers are ignored in favour of looters of our national assets.

The budget continues in the direction of selling our public sector banks, disinvesting LIC upto 75 percent, and pursuing the disinvestment and privatisation moves in the already announced profit making public sector enterprises and further adding in the list. The stated target of raising upto Rs. 1.75 lakh crore from disinvestment of profit making Public Sector Enterprises exposes the motives of and bankruptcy of the government.

The allocation in the MGNREGA is actually reduced whereas this had proved to be a great relief to many of the people in the lockdown period who had walked for miles to their villages after loss of jobs and livelihood. There is nothing to suggest for job generation which is the dire need of the time for revival of economy. What is talked about is the indirect job creation through projected Investments, which is no guarantee. The urban employment scheme like MGNREGA is the dire need ignored by the Finance Minister.

This budget actually follows the policy to allow the loot of Indian people’s money instead of recovery of huge NPAs. Rather the Finance Minister has declared that the files of more than three years period of income tax defaulters will not be opened. It is clear invitation to the looters of people’s money to continue looting as well as it is giving green signal to those whose loot should be recovered in the interest of common masses.

The Finance Minister indicated that the government is going to review 400 already existing exemptions and would make changes. One doesn’t know what is in store. There is another tax holiday year for the Start Up projects as well as concessions on their capital gains. Service sector and specially the hospitality industry which suffered during this period heavily, does not get attention in this budget. The excise duty in the service sector has been doubled since 2014. Once again the myth is repeated that with growth, jobs will automatically get created. The experience of the past is that the jobs could be generated even when there was no growth rate and there were times when the growth was there but it was jobless growth. While talking of migrant workers, none of the necessary concerns of theirs was taken note of but the only statement comes about credit relief for housing for another year. The budget doesn’t address the issue of fishing community but rather talks of only harbor development.

The anti-worker labour reforms which are being vehemently opposed by the trade unions find favour with the Finance Minister.

All announcements on infrastructure spending as in the past do not give any guarantee of things getting implemented and the five states are specially targeted keeping forthcoming elections in mind.

The budget on health allocation is not only inadequate, but ignores the ground realty of our public health system at all levels needs immediate serious attention.

MSME sector was worst affected during pandemic with workers losing crores of jobs but there is no serious attempt by the government for its revival. Here and there some statements in regard to custom duties is neither going to help our general industrial scene nor much help to MSMEs.

There is no relief to the farmers’ rather the government has only announced the increase of threshold for taking loans. It is a cruel joke on the farming community which is already finding itself in tight corner entrenched in debt. The demands of the farmers are totally ignored rather the farm laws are being praised by the government as a boon to them, when they are braving all odds seeking their total repeal.

The budget has totally ignored the poor masses and their needs.

Once again this Government is batting for the Corporates and abandoning the common masses pushing Indian economy further into mess.

AITUC calls upon its unions and the working class in general to this anti people budget. On their nationwide protest on 03rd February for burning of labour codes also burn the budget copies.

Amarjeet Kaur
General Secretary, AITUC
Mob: 9810144958

AITUC BHAWAN
35-36, D.D.U. Marg, Rouse Avenue,
New Delhi-110002
Telephones: 91-11-23217320 / 91-11-23220264
Fax: 91-11-23222427
E-Mail: aituchq[atgmail.com

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[2]

ALL INDIA BANK EMPLOYEES’ ASSOCIATION
Central Office: “PRABHAT NIVAS” Regn. No.2037 Singapore Plaza, 164, Linghi Chetty Street, Chennai-600001
Phone: 2535 1522 Fax: 2535 8853 M- 984 00 899 20 Web: www.aibea.in
e mail: chv.aibea[at]gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE

1-2-2021

Budget – more rhetoric again – away from realities.
Privatisation of Bank and insurance retrograde

Bad Bank is bad idea and meant only to remove corporate defaulters from the books of the Banks.

AIBEA will launch agitations and strike actions shortly

The Budget present by the Finance Minister is once again full of claims and rhetoric and far away from ground realities. It was expected that with the experience gained during the pandemic period, there would be some sensible measures to take our economic forward. But this Budget is again another exercise beating the same track.

Government’s Economic Survey talks of poverty reduction is the top priority rather than reducing disparity. But figures are coming out that while billionaires have swelled their assets, the poor people continue to grown under poverty.

Economic Survey also talks of people spending less money on hospitalization expenses. But everyone knows that this not the indication of improvement in health sector but the fact that people have no money to access the increasing privatized health care system.
Our country has the largest population of young people and hence creating jobs for them is the main issue. Already about 120 million people have lost their jobs. In this budget there is no measure to create jobs except some meagre announcements.
In this Budget also, the FM has mentioned about doubling the farmers’ income but the Budget does not spell how this is going to achieved. With Govt. insisting on their Farms Laws, the plight of farmers will further worsen.

The Economic Survey also claims that the new Labour Codes are good for the workers. FM has also spoken on the same lines in her speech. But when all trade unions are opposing the adverse changes in the labour laws, the Govt. has not tried to address any of them.

The announcement that FDI would be permitted upto 74% in insurance sector is a retrograde measure and unscrupulous foreign investors will play havoc with our people.
Similarly, FM has also announced that shares of LIC will be sold away to private hands and amendment to LIC would be done soon.
There is also the major announcement that 2 Public sector banks and one general insurance company would be privatized. Banks and Insurance companies deal with people’s money. Privatising them means handing over people’s money to private vested interests.

Bad Loans and NPAs in the Banks have been increasing year after year because of corporate defaulters. Instead of taking tough action on them, Government wants to white wash the Balance Sheets by shifting these bad loans from the books of the Banks to the Assets Reconstruction Company or the Bad Bank. This will only benefit the corporate defaulters and remove all the bad loans from public glare and silently write them off.

As usual this year Budget is also disappointing. There is no concrete measure to revive and improve the economy and ensure better living conditions for the poor.
As regards the Government’s proposal to privatise the Banks along with more FDI in insurance sector, sale of shares of LIC, starting a Bad Bank/ARC, etc. AIBEA will shortly decide agitational programmes including strike actions.

C.H. VENKATACHALAM GENERAL SECRETARY
ALL INDIA BANK EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION

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[3]

NEW TRADE UNION INITIATIVE (NTUI)

Union Budget 2021: Taxing the working class while Corporates profit from the pandemic

February 2, 2021 secretariat

The government’s annual Economic Survey 2020-21 (ES) released three days ago says India has ‘charted its own unique trajectory’. Indeed India has been unique in its unparalleled draconian countrywide lockdown that pushed more people out of jobs and countless more back into poverty than any other county in the world. The Budget Statement of 2021-22 (BS) only confirmed that the government is committed to an institutionalised programme to increase income inequality while allowing for the unbridled growth of corporate private capital. This is the BJP’s growth model – an economy driven by the sheer brute power of private capital on the back of rising mass poverty. Both the key annual government statements on the state of the economy (ES) and its actions in the year ahead (BS) carefully avoid any discussion on the jobs crisis one that existed well before the pandemic.

Who bore the costs of the Pandemic?

Just like in the last one, the Finance Minister felt no need to explain in the BS, how and why the fiscal deficit is nearly twice of what it was in the previous year. The government also felt no need to explain where this shortfall in taxes occurred. These are important questions on who is bearing the costs of the pandemic.

The shortfall in collection of taxes was: 35% from corporate taxes, 29% from income tax and only 15% from indirect taxes (GST, excise on petrol and diesel). This suggests that companies and the rich who pay income tax suffered more from the pandemic as they paid less taxes than expected. But the poor, who lost jobs, suffered the most during pandemic, also paid way more taxes in proportion to their income than the rich. They not just paid GST on every essential commodity they consumed, the high taxes on petrol and diesel pushed the price up of these commodities further, leading to the poor bear a larger cost of the pandemic. We knew that the poorest suffered the most from the pandemic and continue to suffer, but this budget reveals that even the government extracted more from them during the pandemic.

To make it further easier for the rich and super rich of the country, the BS also announced that it will reduce the investigation period for tax evasion from 6 years to 3 years and raise the limit for serious fraud cases to an annual incomes of Rs. 50 lakhs and above. This effectively puts an end to a substantial number of earlier income tax evasion cases.

During the pandemic, government did spend a little more food subsidy and for employment guarantee, but the BS makes it very clear that now it is back to business as usual. In the year ahead government will cut back to 2019-20 expenditure on all social protection measures including food subsidy, employment guarantee, anganwadi, mid-day meal programmes etc.

Where is our economy today?

The assumption that the government is making is that we are where we were one year ago. This is a false claim since the ES’s estimates of economic growth for 2021-22 are questionable. Several independent economists have argued that the scale of economic decline for the past year is far greater than the government claims and the pace of recovery will be slower than what again the government claims. Curtailing government expenditure on social protection will not just hurt the most marginalised but will sharply curtail the recovery of demand within the economy which in turn will keep employment levels down and affect the growth rate. It may be recalled that demand was declining for three years in a row before the pandemic and unemployment was at a 50 year high. The pandemic has only sharpened the economic crisis precipitated by the BJP government’s policies.

The government has only one magic answer to all problems – privatise the public sector and monetise public assets including lands and public works – highways, electricity lines whatever. The BS announced that it will, in the year ahead, privatise two public sector banks. It has decided this without even naming which banks it plans to privatise. This indicates that there is no rationale or reason other than a brazen commitment to the private sector.

The BS makes promises to increase the expenditure on healthcare including a Rs. 35,000 crore vaccination programme. In a country as huge as ours, the financial commitment does not add up. As for the vaccination programme there is no clarity yet on who and how many will be vaccinated.

The pandemic has taught governments across the world to address the concerns of emergency, essential and frontline workers. For us, they are the health workers including ASHAs and ANMs, anganwadi workers, municipal workers, transport workers, teachers and so many others. There is money for the much questioned New Education Policy but no money for getting our schools up and running and our children back to school. There are grandiose plans of building new metro lines without any funds to getting the lockdown curtailed public transport system and railways back to peak capacity catering to working people’s needs.

The message from this BS is if you suffered so be it. Don’t complain, don’t expect anything, just get on with it. This is the BJP notion of self-reliance – self reliance of individuals, not that of the country, and thus, government opened the insurance industry to complete foreign ownership and control.

Election Agenda

The government announced a Rs. 100 crores package for tea plantation workers in Assam and West Bengal. It is a welcomed move for tea plantation workers who are beyond destitution and have been so for decades. But exactly how far will this money go: if it is divided equally amongst the 500,000 tea plantation workers in the two states, it is Rs. 2000 per worker for the whole year. Both Assam and West Bengal go to election in the months ahead. What the BJP understands very well is that if you keep people poor then you can buy their votes on the cheap. The Rs 2,000 per worker pre-election fits this story.

Who benefited from the Pandemic?

The Bombay stock exchange index rose by 5% immediately after the budget speech. The index has risen by 87% since the day the horrific lockdown was announced. The revenues and profits of the largest companies have been growing. And yet the expenditure of these companies on their workers is declining. This tells us a very simple story. Just as the note ban and the introduction of GST did, the lockdown helped large companies take over the business of small and medium businesses and those in the unorganised sector. Small businesses have been wiped out and jobs have been lost while large companies, their super-rich owners and multinationals have gained.

The four labour codes and the three new farm laws will make this divide even sharper, as all working people – workers and farmers – are being pushed further to the margins. Whether it is a worker under the new fixed-term contract or a small or medium-sized farmer with a contract with a large company, everyone, except the few super-rich, are being reduced to the same level of precarity. The BS made several references to that the government is going to double farm incomes by 2022 after in fact cutting expenditure on agriculture. Even if the government’s claims are true, the vast swathes of the farming community could not hear this because they are at protest sites on the margins of the country’s capital city with their internet cut off. But the BJP does not think there is anything wrong with it. It wants others to know what it is doing for each one of us. If you object, then you do not understand what is good for you. And if you protest you are an anti-national.

Calling this budget a crude expression of the BJPs agenda possibly is anti-national too.

Gautam Mody

General Secretary

NTUI Secretariat
B-137, First Floor
Dayanand Colony, Lajpat Nagar – IV
New Delhi – 110024, India

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ALL INDIA FEDERATION 0F UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE TEACHERS ORGANIZATION (AIFUCTO)

Date: 02.02.2021

PATNA

PRESS RELEASE:

Central Budget is a shameless capitulation before corporate and market forces: Anti People and Anti Education

All India Federation 0f University and College Teachers Organization (AIFUCTO) condemns this year Budget as Anti People and Anti Education and a step in the direction to consolidate the forces of corporatization and privatization of our economy. The budget continues in the direction of selling our public sector banks, disinfecting LIC up to 75% and pursuing disinvestment and privatization moves in the already announced profit-making public sector.

In the field of education, there has been speedy implementation of neo-liberal agenda making education more centralized, corporatized, commercialized and communalised. AIFUCTO strongly condemns this Budget on the following grounds;

1.The thrust on implementation of NEP which we consider as an imposition on the collective aspiration of the nation without discussion in the parliament, state legislature and all the stakeholders including AIFUTO will not Save Education, Save Campus, Save Nation.

2. The Budget speaks many things without adequate financing. There has been slashing by 6.13% in the Budget from previous year (Rs.99,300 chores to 93224 crores) Thus relying more on market forces to implement policy matters. Opening of Saint schools through private participation, Glue grant for Research, strengthening of 15000 government schools will ultimately encourage market forces to enter in to the public sector of Education.

3. The announcement to bring Bill for the formation of Higher Education Commissions against all our opposition is a retrograde measure. It is a affront on our federal structure and will centralize all policy initiatives in the hands of the central government. This forum, AIFUCTO apprehends will be an easy tool for ideological and political domination Of BJP Government at the center.

4. There is no measure to fill up the large scale vacant teaching and non-teaching post in the country. There is nothing about the service conditions of contractual, part time and block grant as well as adhoc Teachers.

AIFUCTO is of the strong opinion that this Budget will destroy our public-funded education system and our cherished constitutional ethos of a democratic, scientific, secular and inclusive education. AIFUCTO will continue its structure against the NEP 2020 to save education, save Campus and save our nation from corporate and fundamentalist forces. we oppose this Budget tooth and nail because AIFUCTO is convinced it will open the flood gate for loot and plunder of our national assets including the demolition of Public funded education of our Country.

Prof.(Dr). ARUN KUMAR
General Secretary AIFUCTO

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[SEE ALSO:

India: Statement on Union Budget 2021 | All India Kisan Sabha (Feb 1, 2021) http://www.sacw.net/article14546.html ]