Government plea for re-look on subsidy regime angers Left

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New Delhi Dec 16 (UNI) Putting both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the dock for their plea for a're-look' at the subsidy regime and further reforming financial sector, the Left parties today said it is indeed the failure of the delivery system and the government's apathy towards the poor.

Talking to UNI, the top leaders of the CPI, CPI(M) and Forward Bloc said India being a welfare state, it is its duty to take care of the interests of the weaker and the marginalised sections and continue subsidy regime and not give tax holidays and concessions to the corporate world in the Special Exports Zones, the IT and other sectors in the name of economic liberalisation.

The Left leaders' strong reaction came a day after Dr Singh called for review of Indian experience with the ''mixed economy'' to pave way for ''a new middle path of development'' that combined the efficiency considerations of the market with the equity considerations of a liberal policy and the need to ''re-look" at the subsidies that had failed to achieve the objectives of reducing ineqalites.

They also took strong exception to Mr Chidambaram's plea for furher opening up of the capital market, banking, insurance and pensions.

CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said it seemed both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister were trying to blame the administrative system for the failure of the government policies and programmes.

''In place of cursing the subsidy regime, they should look into the policies being pursued in consonance with the economic new liberalism that caters to the well being of the miniscule minority,'' the CPI leaders said.

CPI(M) senior leader and Polit Bureau member M K Pandhe said, ''only last month Mr Chidambaram announced a subsidy of Rs 1,400 crores to the exporters after the rupee value went up. But when it comes to the poor, the government talks about doing away with the subsidies being given in food, fertiliser and petroleum, which affect millions of masses.'' Forward Bloc National Secretary G Devrajan said the government was actually out to dismantle the subsidy regime, the Public Sector and bring about private monoply in the financial sector under the dictates of the World Bank.

Mr Bardhan and Mr Faizi said even the subsidy of Rs one lakh crore as told by Dr Singh in food, fertilisers and petroleum was ''highly mismanaged and misappropriated.'' They said what subsidy the government gave in petroleum was taken away in the form of excise and other duties. ''It is a known fact that over 60 per cent of the fuel prices have a component like the Excise, VAT and other local taxes.'' On the Prime Minister's terming the mixed economy as ''mixed up economy'', the CPI leaders reminded that India should learn from the disastrous experiences of countries like Latin America and South Africa who treaded on the path of economic liberalisation and became paupers.

On the ''cry'' of the Finance Minister for further reforms in the financial sector, the CPI leaders said the whole exercise was meant to put all the national assets at the altar of the stock market. ''He wants the financial reserves of banks, LIC Pension Funds and even the small savings in post offices to be invested in the speculative market.'' Mr Pandhe deplored that the government was ignoring its own warning to the investors which it has given in the advertisements.

Mr Devrajan wanted to know why the subsidy did not reach the poor.

''Why cannot the government do something on it?'' The Left leaders also catuioned the government against any move for ''marginal hike'' in petroleum prices saying that this would further increase the cascading effect of price rise on the poor, the lower and the middle classes.

The government has set up a GOM headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the possible hike, they said, adding that the Left parties would oppose the same.


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