Budget Is Just A Jugglery Of Figures, Alleges Uttam

Hyderabad: Stating that the state government has shown the demands by enhancing the figures, the TPCC chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy has alleged that the Budget was a jugglery of figures.

Participating in the debate on Appropriation Bill introduced by the Finance Minister Etela Rajender on Monday, Uttam said that the state’s debts were Rs 69,000 crore and expressed concern over the increasing debts.

He alleged that the debts were more in the last four years than the state did in the last 60 years and warned the state government that it was not good for the state. The state government also shown GSDP growth rate by enhancing it, he claimed and expressed doubts on the 10 per cent growth rate.

The state government was in a plan to increase the debt limit by showing enhancing growth rate. The state government was showing Rs 20,000 crore additional revenue and the interest burden was increasing with the phased wise loan waiver.

The government was saying that it will bear the increasing interest burden but the government was not releasing the same to the banks, he said.

The crop produce fell down drastically in the last three years, he said and revealed that the Swaminathan Commission recommended that the minimum support price to be increased. But the state government did not distribute the input subsidy sanctioned by the Centre to the farmers, he alleged.

He questioned the state government to tell as to why the state government failed to give bonus along with minimum support price given by the Centre. He informed the House that the Karnataka government was giving bonus to all crops but the farmers’ condition in Telangana was very bad and the chilli farmers were experiencing losses due to the downfall of price. He demanded that the state government give Rs 1000 as bonus to the paddy farmers. 

COURTESY: NSS

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Budget full of fallacies & illusory: Jana Reddy

Hyderabad: Alleging that there were more fallacies than facts in the TRS government introduced Budget for 2017-18, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader K Jana Reddy said that the budget was confusing, full of illusion to make the people to travel in litter of hopes.

Participating in the debate on Budget in the Assembly here on Thursday, Jana Reddy opined that the programmes of the government should be in tune with the aspirations of the people. The governance should in a manner that it should uphold the aims and beliefs of the people, he suggested.

The ruling party has to consider the suggestions given by the Opposition parties and initiate steps to implement them, he said and made it clear that the suggestions to the ruling party was only to run the government in a proper way.

It was not correct on the part of the ruling party that the Opposition parties have to listen whatever ruling party says in the House, he said and asked the ruling party to extend its cooperation to the opposition parties to see that the meaningful debate should take place in the House.

More debts than assets

Jana Reddy said that there were more assets than debts in the state from 1956 to 1994 but the debts doubled from 1994 to 2000. He said that the per capita in the state was more than national average till 2014.

But the growth was increasing in terms of industries but agriculture sector was downing. The food products in 2013-14 were 107 lakh tonnes but it was reduced to 72 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 and it was further reduced to 51 lakh tonnes in 2015-16. He expressed concern saying that the conditions in the state seem that the agriculture sector was falling in crisis.

He said that there was nothing wrong in bringing debts for the sake of development of the state but the development would be stagnated in case the debts were more than assets. He stated that the Congress waged a big war for the creation of Telangana State. He said that it was not proper to the state government to suppress the voice of the opposition parties.

“The people would think that the Opposition were in dock with the ruling party in case we would not question the government. But the government is saying that the opposition has to prove their allegations if they made any. How it is?”, he questioned sarcastically.

Finding fault with the removal of Dharna Chowk at Indira Park, he asked the state government that ‘No Dharnas’ means ‘Lifting Dharna Chowk’ from Indira Park? He warned the state government that the people and Opposition were observing every move of the state government and the people would teach a lesson as they taught to the Congress in 2014 elections. (NSS)

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SIO demands State Govt. to Increase Budget for Education

Hyderabad: Dr. Talha Faiyazuddin, Department of Education for Students Islamic Organization (SIO) of Telangana, criticized the State Government that it failed to allot proper budget for education.

Talking to a press conference today at NSS, Faiyazuddin said SIO demands government to come up with a vision document on KG to PG education in this budget session; government allotted only 10 per cent of its budget for education, but Kotari Commission has recommended 30 per cent budget essential for education. Social Welfare Residential schools in State, where the students were living, have lack basic amenities like clean drinking water and hygienic living conditions, he said.

Allocate a separate fund for them and form a committee, headed by a cabinet minister to suggest reforms, SIO demanded. Government should immediately issue common fee regulatory guidelines to aided, private, corporate schools, engineering education system, as they failed to improve students’ skills, form a committee to look into the matter of engineering education and suggest reforms.

SIO State president Layeeq Ahmed Khan, Secretary Kaleem Ahmed Khan, Media Coordinator Farhan Sumbul and others participated, and they released a book, “Education in Telangana,” which represents real education condition in the State.

Speaking on the occasion, they criticized the State government’s education processing methods, and they demanded government to declare its stand on education policy.

There were nearly 60 Lakh school-going students in the state, they said, and alleged that out of which nearly 32-lakh students were going to private schools, and that it depicts the failure of the state government in providing quality education in its own schools.

The overall dropout rate in the state is 38.21 per cent among the students who are studying from 1 to 10 standards, they said. State government has started hundreds of residential schools for oppressed communities, they said and stated that they were appreciating it but at the other side it has neglected its own day-scholar schools.

The government must not neglect the already running government schools in thousands of villages of the State, they demanded. (NSS)

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A Budget of Boasts & Hopes .. and a bit of good luck

Vithal Rajan

In the Economic Survey strategically released a few days before the Budget, Arvind Subramanian, its architect and the government’s Chief Economic Advisor, had already prepared us for the Finance Minister’s boastful elation. However, unlike Arun Jaitley, he had added other reasons than good governance in the preceding few NDA months to help India reach a ‘sweet spot’ for economic growth. Crude oil prices had fallen dramatically from above $ 100 a barrel to less than $ 60 a barrel under American and Saudi joint action to bring political pressure on Russia and Iran, both oil producing countries with higher costs. Low inflation resulting from expected food grain production, and a normal monsoon were the other volatile factors contributing to Indian economic stability. If these turned against Indian economic forecasts, as they have in the past, the ‘sweet spot’ could disappear in bitter political wrangling. But the moment was with the Finance Minister and he made the most of it.

Vithal Rajan PhotoHis confident speech started with a long list of what needs to be done, reminding an older listener about a very similar list prepared by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr Mahalanobis at the dawn of independence. What had not been done in the last sixty odd years, Jaitley confidently expects would be accomplished by 2022 when his government hopes to celebrate the Amrut Mahotsov of India. Nor was this the first time that an Indian politician has promised that all Indians would get jobs, houses, schools, hospitals, happiness – not just yet…but soon.

With a dark thunderstorm brewing in parliament over the land acquisition bill, he started with the government’s commitment to farmers. He led with his determination to increase irrigation, as many of his predecessors had done. From the time of Pandit Nehru, politicians have not been able to see beyond the interests of the large farmers with land in command areas and under ayacuts. Mr. Jaitley, to do him justice, made passing references to organic agriculture, soil improvement, micro-irrigation, rural infrastructure, and farm credit, but it seemed unclear to all listeners – and perhaps to him as well – who would benefit and to what extent. A national agricultural marketing network is very welcome, but no one is clear how the millions of poor farmers can connect with it. No strategy came to light how help would be given to communities of farmers on rain fed lands, who are the great majority of poor, small farmers in deadly peril, precisely because this government like the rest is clueless about their living and working conditions, or about rural life at the vast bottom of our caste-class human pyramid. Their economists know how to help corporate India, large farmers and landlords who garner votes, and maybe even the middle classes. After Gandhiji, perhaps no Indian politician has thought long about the vast numbers of the poor, except vaguely to send them good wishes.

The Prime Minister has spoken often about single window access to services. His bureaucracy continues to be autocratic, moored to its colonial heritage, with babu satraps defending their turfs. It will take many more years than the seven to Amrut Mahotsov to create a genuine civil service, which is both civil to, and which serves, people, especially the poor. The PM’s and the Finance Minister’s emphasis on the urgent need to build up rural infrastructure is sound in theory, but it lacks experiential detailing at India’s several thousand local levels. Roads and electric poles alone will not do. A cluster of support needs to be created around every poor farming community, and this cannot be done well without local political empowerment. A larger sharing of tax revenues with States’ leaders, in which the government takes so much pride, is far from strengthening the panchayat raj institutions, and their communities.

‘Make in India’ is another sound slogan, and the government correctly focuses on energising manufacturing, which has excess capacity in many sectors, lacking effective demand, even for its major automobile industry. But reducing corporate tax from 30% to 25% over the next five years, or reducing regulatory hassles for foreign direct investment are not enough to increase demand, which ultimately depends on purchasing power of the people. If industry cannot create a wide domestic market, it cannot be competitive in exports either, especially in a global scenario dominated by the Chinese.

The Finance Minister has taken the welcome step of setting up the Micro Units Development Refinance Agency [MUDRA] bank to aid the 5.77 crore SME units mostly owned by SCs, STs, and OBCs. However, if this is not to join other failed well-intentioned schemes, he must also help create a growth climate in the localities where these units are situated.  He can solve his dilemma only by creating strong associations of poor farming communities, that is for the major part of India’s population, and this will require political will, bureaucratic renewal, and the understanding of local difficulties above all.

Kiran Shaw, founder of Biocon, and Keki Mistry, CEO of HDFC, both in television audiences for the Budget speech, pleaded ably for government to help industry increase investment cycles to create more jobs. Arvind Panagariya, the Vice Chairman of the Niti Aayog, the new planning commission with a Hindi name, also applauded the government for its pro-corporate leanings. However, bitter experience in this country and several others has shown that corporate job creation is expensive, and the best use of public money is in the social sector to allow community synergies to create the millions of jobs that are urgently needed for our sizeable youth population from among the poor. The Finance Minister himself stressed a few times the financial squeeze he was under. Coupled with his commitment to keep fiscal deficit under 4% of GDP and inflation below 6%, he should be careful where he puts his money and for what purpose.

 The government can certainly take credit for their excellent Jan Dhan scheme which has extended banking services to the poor, so long denied with impunity. The newly declared insurance and pension schemes for the poor are also good and welcome. A cess of 2% on the income of the super-rich exceeding Rs one crore a year was also announced, with the discontinuation of the wealth tax. Another populist announcement of 7-years imprisonment for hoarding money abroad may have played to the galleries, but sober voices from the TV audiences wondered whether this could be turned into a witch hunt of political opponents. As Sachin Pilot wisely reminded everyone, it is surety of punishment, not its severity, that is needed. Another policy of doubtful merit is the institution of a new Monetary Policy Committee to oversee the RBI which has had an excellent record so far as an autonomous body without much governmental interference.

A slew of yoganas and schemes were announced as was to be expected. Ultimately it all depends on proper implementation as Adi Godrej, past president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, reminded the TV audiences. The Finance Minister is placing a great deal of hope on Public-Private-Partnership not only to pull in investments into large infrastructure schemes but also perhaps to enliven a red-tape bound bureaucracy. The Telangana experience casts doubts on his enthusiasm, since the unique Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas [PURA] PPP project, first conceived by Dr. AJP Abdul Kalam himself when he was President, has so far not seen the light of day in Warangal, even after five years, though it was declared as the best in the country!

Referring to his financial squeeze, Arun Jaitley gestured to parliamentarians and others to give up their LPG subsidies. If he were really serious he would have looked into the structure of under-recoveries by the oil companies. Though they have come down substantially due to the temporary drop in crude oil prices, they could once again reach towards the 150,000 lakh crore mark if oil prices bounce back with a vengeance to make up for lost profits. Brazil, one of our BRICS partners, has hedged against this danger, by fitting almost all of its road transport with ethanol using engines. The technology is well established, with Henry Ford himself first making use of ethanol. India as a major producer of sugarcane can easily supply all the ethanol we need for road transport. A few crore farmers would also benefit since sugar factories can then maintain a steady demand for cane to convert to ethanol when there is over production of sugar. It appears the liquor lobby obstructs such moves for fear of increasing costs.

PDS kerosene cost the exchequer anywhere from Rs 25000 to 30000 crores in subsidies. Solar-powered LED lighting came of age some years back. Despite all governments making polite noises about promoting off-grid solar energy appliances, the regulations of its Ministry of New & Renewable Energy are among the most arcane devised by an obfuscating bureaucracy, hindering solar energy development.

Perhaps the greatest enemies of the Modi government are its claque of supporters at home and in the Indian diaspora. Too many expectations have been heaped on this fledgling government, ensuring disappointment and anger when these fail to materialise within the next five years. Social, political, religious, and historic issues intertwine in this saga of development, as noted long ago by Gunnar Myrdal, and no superman can produce success without painful, long drawn out, negotiations with, and among, several thousand communities. Modi and his ministers should warn the Indian people, as Churchill did to his people in a time of war and crises, that what we have to look forward to is a time of work, sweat and tears. As Modi himself pointed out in his parliamentary oratory the day before the budget, we must all come together to fight against poverty. So, it is not an invitation to a party but a massive social struggle. The Finance Minister should be careful not to paint too rosy a picture.

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