RSS-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) on Monday expressed disappointment over the government's budget proposals with regard to divestment and foreign direct investment, especially in the insurance sector.
The BMS, however, lauded the government for its current efforts on the massive vaccination programme, a special scheme for tea workers in West Bengal and Assam, labour oriented push on infrastructure projects in construction sector and development of five major fishing harbours viz. Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, and Petuaghat as hubs for economic activities etc.
On other Budget proposals, it said in a statement that "mixing the beautiful concept of Aatmanirbhar Bharat with FDI and disinvestment in the Union Budget is disappointing for the employees".
Government's proposals to amend Insurance Act to increase FDI in insurance sector from 49 per cent to 74 per cent, as well as relaxation of foreign investments in the infrastructure sector, will increase foreign dependence and should be reconsidered, the BMS suggested.
Aggressive disinvestment programmes like divesting two public sector banks (PSBs) and one general insurance company, bringing LIC IPO, asking NITI Aayog to list out new companies for divestment, approving divestment in non-strategic and strategic sectors, railway scheme for corporatisation, monetising for 12 lakh crore government assets like land to address fiscal deficit, public-private partnerships etc, will reduce the charm of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and benefits of some good proposals in the budget, it opined.
New efforts on mega textile parks, major fishing harbours etc, are welcome moves, but there is no support to crores of existing workers and fishers in such sectors, it pointed out.
"None of the demands raised by the BMS and other trade unions has been incorporated in the Budget except a special scheme for tea workers in West Bengal and Assam, thus making the consultation process a mockery," it said.
There is no increase in the much-expected Employees' Pension Scheme 95 (EPS) pension amount or medical scheme for pensioners as demanded by BMS, it stated.
The BMS has demanded Rs 5,000 as minimum EPS pension and linking it with inflation.
BMS demands more support to MGNREGA and urban employment guarantee scheme.
"Women workers are being compelled to do the night shift. There are no income tax reliefs in spite of the adverse effect of the pandemic situation whereas corporate tax is reduced," it also pointed out.
"There is no concrete proposal to boost up the demand side like increasing wages or basic income of workers.
"Thus the 'economic vaccine' claimed is more harmful than the disease.
"Such proposals will not be able to increase the growth trajectory or reduce the fiscal deficit in the fiscal year," it added.
The action plans on Budget 2021 will be decided after a detail discussion at the National Executive Council Meetings of BMS to be held at Chennai from February 12-14, 2021, as per the BMS statement.
Meanwhile, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) termed the Budget a repetition of what all has already been announced in the past by the government.
In a statement, the body said: "The budget is the repetition of the already announced packages by the Finance Minister in the month of May, friendly to Indian and foreign Corporate with huge concessions, reduction in tax for them and increase in the cess on common man, burdening them more when there is a crisis for their livelihood itself."
It said the interest of workers and farmers has been ignored as the budget continues in the direction of selling our public sector banks, divesting LIC up to 75 per cent, and pursuing the divestment and privatisation moves in the already announced profit-making public sector enterprises and further adding in the list.
"The stated target of raising up to Rs 1.75 lakh crore from divestment of profit-making Public Sector Enterprises exposes the motives of and bankruptcy of the government," it said.