Left favours Budget for 'aam admi'

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New Delhi, Feb 21: The Left parties today asked the Manmohan Singh government to make substantial allocations in the coming Budget to grapple with agrarian crisis and check price rise while taxing the rich and rolling back the hike in fuel prices.

The CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc made a strong case for increasing the gross budgetary support for the Central Plan by at least Rs 60,000 crore to fulfill the commitments in the Common Minimum Programme(CMP) on education and health and to generate job opportunities for the rural and urban poor. CPI leaders A B Bardhan and S Sudhkar Reddy said they expected the budget proposals to address the concerns of the farmers, 1.5 lakh of whom had committed suicide because of debt burden in recent times.

Mr Bardhan and Mr Reddy made a strong case for setting up of the Farmers' Debt Relief Commission and writing off the loans of the small and marginal farmers across the country. They also asked for bringing down the interest rate on farm loans to simple four per cent as recommended by the National Commission of Farmers.

CPI(M) Floor leader in Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia said the government would have to take certain measures to contain rising prices of all essential commodities and spend more on rural infrastructure to generate employment opportunities there.

Mr Acharia said the government should also establish a price stability fund for petrol products which could be done with resources generated through the oil cess.

He further asked the government to do away with the ad valorem duty structure and replace it with specific duties to ensure price and financial stability.

However, CPI Floor Leader in Lok Sabha, Gurudas Dasgupta seemed to be much annoyed with the government's successive budgets and remarked, ''We do not expect anything from the budget. This government never came up to our expectations. The 'aam admi' had been cheated in all the general budgets presented by the UPA government.'' ''We know that they are facing the elections. It is most likely to be an election budget. A stunt is bound to be contained in it,'' Mr Dasgupta added.

On taxing the super rich, the Left leaders reiterated their long standing demand for reintroducing the long-term capital gains tax in the budget proposals. They deplored that the government was going out of the way to give tax concessions to the ''real estate agents'' and the corporate sector in the name of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Mr Reddy said the subsidy on agricultural inputs like fertilisers, better marketing and credit facilites with availability of hybrid seeds, irrigation and improved farming practices could go a long way in mitigating the sufferings of the farming community.

The CPI leaders said the budget proposals should tax the super rich so that the national wealth is not concentrated in few hands only. These should plug the loopholes as several corporate houses were saving their taxes by way of showing their headquarters in Mauritius and other places.

In terms of quality of life of an average Indian, Mr Reddy deplored that India stood at the 126th rank in the Human Development Index. Basic education was being denied to millions of children while only one per cent of national budget was being spent on health care, the CPI leader added.

UNI

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