Kolkata, Dec 19 West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress, and opposition Congress and CPI-M on Monday lashed out at the central government's decision to lower the interest rate on Employee Provident Fund deposits, accusing the Narendra Modi regime of helping the big organisations while "punishing" the middle, lower middle and lower income groups.
Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on Monday reduced the interest rate on Employee Provident Fund (EPF) deposits to 8.65 per cent for 2016-17 from the current 8.8 per cent. The agency claimed the government would face a deficit of Rs 383 crore if the interest rate on EPF deposit is kept the same.
"This is not governance. This is hooliganism on the life and livelyhood of common people. This government has already heckled the common man by demonitising the old notes and now they have increased the misery of the working class by reducing the EPF interest rate," said Education Minister Partha Chatterjee.
"This is just the begining. The government will surely reduce the interest on fixed deposits. The way this government is going, it seems the working class, the farmers and the employees of unorganised sector would not be able to live in this country anymore," said Chatterjee, who is also the ruling Trinamool's Secretary General.
Virtually echoing the Trinamool leader, the opposition Left Front apearhead Communist Party of India-Marxist alalged the government was protecting the interest of big organisations at the cost of the middle and lower midle classes.
"This government could allow the loot of Rs 11,50,000 crore to protect the interest of 1,000 rich citizens, but could not afford to spend Rs 383 crore for the benefit of almost four crore employees," said CPI-M Central Committee member Shamik Lahiri.
"It is clear that the government is snatching from the common man's pocket and making the rich, richer," he said.
Rajya Sabha member and former state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said the EPFO decision would impact a large number of retired persons.
"Many retired persons from the lower and middle class families, who solely depend on the interest of their deposits to run their livelihood, would face major problems for this decision," he said.
"The government has not increased the taxes on big businessmen, but they have reduced the interest on common man's savings. This polarisation would be dangerous for India's economy," he added.