Kolkata, Feb 1 (IANS) The proposals of the Union Budget 2023 squeeze the scope of government expenditures to reduce the fiscal deficit while giving further tax concessions to the rich, the CPI-M Politburo said on Wednesday.
“This comes at a time when an Oxfam report shows that the richest 1 per cent in India have cornered 40.5 per cent of the wealth generated in the last 2 years. It is, thus, a contractionary budget which will only aggravate the economic crisis,” a statement issued by the party Politburo read.
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It has pointed out that the proposed increase in total government expenditure for 2023-24 over the revised estimates for 2022-23 is a mere seven per cent when the increase in nominal GDP, which includes inflation, over the same period is estimated to be 10.5 per cent.
“Thus, as a percentage of GDP, there is a reduction in government expenditure. If interest payments are excluded then this expenditure is only 5.4 per cent more than last year. Once the implicit inflation rate of four per cent and increase in population of around one per cent are accounted for, this so-called ‘people-centric’ budget only mounts further attacks on the livelihoods of the vast majority of our population,” the statement read.
The party has also criticised Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for proposing a reduction in the MGNREGA allocation by 33 per cent, while also cutting the food subsidy by Rs 90,000 crore, fertiliser subsidy by Rs 50,000 crore, and petroleum subsidy by Rs 6,900 crore.
The party Politburo had also been critical about the huge unspent money under budgetary allocations for the healthcare and education sectors. “Despite the devastation caused by the pandemic, Rs 9,255 crores of the last year’s allocation for health remained unspent. Likewise, Rs 4,297 crores remained unspent in the education budget,” the statement said.
According to it, the relief brought by raising the tax exemption limit from Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 7,00,000 for those opting for the new tax regime will be offset by inflation and cuts in social sector expenditure making people spend more on essential services including health and education.
The party also announced that they will organize nationwide protests against the budget proposals from February 22 to February 28.