Trade union leaders in the pre-Budget consultation with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday demanded reigning in prices of essential items and increasing exemption limit on income tax to Rs 2 lakh (Rs 200,000).
"Price rise of essential commodities should be contained through appropriate corrective measures and improved public distribution system besides containing speculation in the commodity market," Centre of Indian Trade Unions president M K Pandhe said after the meeting.
Besides all the trade unions unanimously demanded that the income tax exemption limit should be raised over Rs 2 lakh in view of rising inflation, he said.
Currently, the exemption limit for individuals is Rs 1.6 lakh (Rs 160,000), while for women tax payer it is Rs 1.9 lakh (Rs 190,000).
According to All India Trade Union Congress General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta, the bank advances for foodgrain business should be stopped "as we have been told there is about 300 per cent profit being made by people doing business in food."
At the same time, the government should desist from consolidation in the public sector banks and also stop disinvestment of the profit making public sector units.
Dasgupta said All the trade unions have decided to have Satyagrah and 'jail bharo' on the 5th of March through out the country opposing economic policy of the government.
While the government has taken several measures to bailout the private corporate sector during the crisis "millions of working people who are the victims are left in the lurch," Pandhe said, adding appropriate measures should be taken to protect and create more jobs.
On the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Direct Tax Code, Dasgupta said, the tax proposals are not progressive they are regressive.
"We shall study GST and also the Direct Tax Code and also give our views. We believe that the tax revenue is not progressive; it is a regressive tax system. There should be more tax on the rich and affluent people and there should be more exemptions for the people down below," he said.
Expressing opposition to the Exempt Exempt Tax (EET) under the Direct Tax Code, he said, EET is not acceptable, especially the proposals on taxing the withdrawal on provident fund and other savings.
The scope of NREGA should be extended to urban areas as well and employment for minimum of 180 days, as recommended by International Labour Organisation, should be provided, unions demanded.
Unions further demanded increase in gratuity for the workers and asked for social security and protection for the workers in the unorganised sector.
"We also urged the finance minister to hold post Budget discussion with the trade unions as is held with industrial associations," Dasgupta said.