Budget-2022: A negelction of Public and social sector
- The budget for 2022-23 is a reiteration of the government’s tilt towards corporates and big business houses.
- It gives a heavy impetus to the private sector and neglects the public and social sectors.
- The state of agriculture is worsening with the Gross Value Added by it in 2021-22 coming down to 18.8 per cent from 20.2 per cent in 2020-21.
- For the smooth functioning of the rural economy and to ensure food security, it is necessary to invest in agriculture.
- However, no measure has been announced to deal with the agrarian crisis.
- The allocation for agriculture has come down to Rs 3,70,303 crore from Rs 4,74,750.47 crore (revised estimate of 2021-22).
- The amount reserved for the procurement of paddy and wheat has come down by more than Rs 10,000 crore compared to the previous year.
- The demands of the farmers’ movement have not been fulfilled and the finance minister said nothing about a legal guarantee to MSP.
- The share of rural development has gone down to 5.23 per cent from 5.59 per cent in the budget.
- MGNREGS shielded millions from destitution during the pandemic with the demand for work peaking in June 2021 at 4.59 crore persons.
- The situation has improved somewhat since then, but the unemployment figures are still staggering.
- Cutting the MGNREGS allocation is, therefore, not just bad economics, it’s bad politics as well.
- The recent Oxfam International report on inequality has red-flagged the widening gulf between the rich and the poor in the country.
- It noted that, “the number of Indian billionaires grew from 102 in 2020 to 142 in 2021, the worst year yet for India during the pandemic”.
- The report proposed some tweaks to India’s taxation policies to correct the situation.
- The report pointed that a 4 per cent wealth tax on the 98 richest families in India can take care of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for more than two years, the mid-day meal programme of the country for 17 years or the Samagra Siksha Abhiyan for six years.
- Unfortunately, the government is so cautious of not hurting rich capitalists the slightest that these measures cannot be taken up, let alone far-reaching redistribution of wealth.
India’s public health infrastructure
- The health infrastructure imploded during the pandemic and exposed the pitfalls of excessive reliance on private healthcare services.
- Last year, health was dubbed as one of the six pillars of the budget.
- But this year, the overall budget of the Health and Family Welfare has increased by a mere 0.96 per cent and the research budget by 3.9 per cent.
- The budget for Covid vaccination has been cut down by 87 per cent, indicating the government’s belief that we are out of the pandemic — that is far from the truth.
- While the country is reeling under poverty, inequality, unemployment and disease, the government promotes “capex” as panacea to bring growth.
- The higher capex amount is largely due to paying the Air India debt and defence expenditures.
- The Air India case is a classic example of “nationalised losses and privatised profits”.