NEW DELHI – Opposition members, cutting across party lines, in the Lok Sabha on Thursday expressed their disappointment that the Union Budget for 2023-24 has failed to provide adequate funds for significant components like education, health, and agriculture, with some terming it “anti-people” and “anti-poor”.
Participating in the discussion on the budget, Trinamool Congress member Sougata Roy criticised the budget, saying that it had no roadmap for tackling unemployment, inflation and inequality, and also described it as anti-poor and anti-people.
NCP’s Supriya Sule said that topics such as unemployment, recession, poverty, inflation, growth versus inflation and imbalances in import and export were not touched upon in the budget.
BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab observed that though the revised estimate of 2022-23 for the PM-KISAN scheme was reduced to Rs 60,000 crore, but in 2021-22, an external expenditure of Rs 68,825 crore, was incurred on it.
“The figure is there for all of us to see (of reduced allocation). Should we believe that people have moved from farming to some other avenues for better? Or, should we believe that they have been pauperised and have become daily wage earners?” he asked.
Referring to MGNREGA, Mahtab said that “this generated an all-time high of 389 crore person days of employment in 2021-22, and 363 crore person days in 2020-21. Even this fiscal’s projection of 290 to 300 person days will exceed the 265 crore plus generated in 2019-20 and 2018-19. It is a demand-driven scheme. Whenever we make this point, it is always said that ‘it is a demand-driven scheme.’ But here, the figure shows how it has met. The budgeted amount this year is Rs 60,000 crore. The question is how realistic is the assessment? If the next South-West monsoon is normal, and the non-farm economy recovers timely, the MGNREGA may not require any additional funding. Till then, do we have to keep our fingers crossed?”
DMK’s A. Raja stated that the components were being undermined and expressed concern over primary education, adding that notwithstanding the recruitment of 38,000 teachers which was promised under the Eklavya scheme over the next five years, not a single new school has been opened under the scheme.
RSP member N.K. Premachandran said that the proposals in the budget did not address issues such as unemployment, poverty and inflation. He said that the budget speaks about inclusive growth but minorities have been “deliberately avoided” in the Finance Minister’s speech and also in the President’s speech.
Premachandran further said that the growth rate in all labour intensive sectors, except telecommunication, has remained the same and sought to know from the Finance Minister as to how the government intends to tackle unemployment. -IANS