Second Tranche of Financial Package: A Cruel Hoax
CPI(M) Polit Bureau has issued the following statement on May 15
THE much-awaited second tranche of the Rs 20-lakh crore financial package regarding the migrant workers, farmers and the poor has turned out to be a cruel hoax. The finance minister’s speech made false claims of what the central government had done to help people.
Not a single paisa is being transferred from the government to any of the worst effected sections of our people, specifically migrant workers, street vendors, domestic workers, fishing workers etc. This package is mainly provision of loans.
The only direct benefit is a package of Rs 3,500 crores for extension of the provision of free foodgrains. Having cancelled crores of ration cards in the name of corruption making the poor suffer, the FM now makes a grand gesture that all families without ration cards will also get 5kg foodgrains and 1kg pulses free. Repackaging schemes like one-nation-one ration card that will see the light of the day only by mid-2021, is of little consequence to the sufferings that crores of people face today.
The finance minister underestimates the number of migrant workers and has put it at eight crores. Parliament was informed in March 2020 that the current estimate is 10 crores. This means that the allocations for free food will not cover the entire population.
The finance minister misleads the country by claiming that there was a 40 to 50 per cent increase in MNREGA workdays generated. In April last year, 27.3 crore persondays were generated compared to 11.1 crore this year, the lowest in a decade. Thus, unemployment is going to haunt all those lakhs of migrants returning to their villages. The finance minister had dealt with the issue of retrenched workers with callousness. Instead of linking all easy loans to business and enterprises to their protection of the work force and guaranteeing direct financial aid to ensure at least a part of their salaries, the finance minister declared that those who would be retrenched would be ‘skilled’ for other jobs. Such is the anti-worker policy mindset of this government.
Moreover, the central government has no right to give any instructions regarding the use of CAMPA funds. It is for state governments in coordination with local communities mainly tribal, who are affected by projects who will decide how the funds are to be spent.
The claim that the centre had paid for the food requirements of migrant workers in shelters adds insult to injury. The central allocations to the SDRF are a legal mandatory provision which is an annual allocation regardless of whether there is a pandemic or not. It is a 75:25 per cent ratio with state governments. In fact the centre has not given a single paisa extra to any of the states. It is now claiming that this legal requirement is part of the generosity of the centre!
At a time when the single-minded focus of the country and the people must be in combating this pandemic and ensuring a healthy life and livelihood for the people, this government, in the most callous manner, sees the pandemic as an opportunity to carry forward its agenda of economic reforms that enrich the rich and further impoverish the poor.
• When unemployment has grown by fourteen crores since the lockdown was imposed, 80 per cent of the urban poor having lost their jobs, it is essential that the government announce a minimum cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month for the next three months for all families outside of the income tax paying bracket.
• When it is estimated that one-third of the households hardly have any resources to survive beyond a week, it is essential that 10 kgs of foodgrains per individual, per month, for the next six months be distributed free from the stock of 77 million tonnes in our godowns.
• With the deepening of the agrarian distress due to the lockdown, a one-time loan waiver for our farmers is essential for their survival.
• Large scale financial assistance to the states is an urgent necessity.
• Most immediate is to organise free transportation of our migrant workers who have been on the roads for the last fifty days losing lives, suffering deprivation and agony.
The Modi government has failed to meet any one of these objectives.
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) demands that these immediate measures outlined above must be implemented urgently.