People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 13

March 28, 2010

                        Alternative Economic Perspective

                        in the Bengal Budget

                         

                        B Prasant

 

THE budget placed in the Assembly for 2010-2011 by the state Left Front  government’s finance minister, Dr Asim Dasgupta makes a precise policy statement that permeates the budget. He notes that in the environment of the price rise affecting the country, the welfare role of the state government, operating as it does in a limited power framework, has to be strengthened. 

The main direction of the budget is thus to increase generation of employment and the income of the common people, especially the poorest of the poor. 

Production has to be increased in both agriculture and industry, and it must be done in such a manner that employment and income of the mass of the people shall be widely increased, special focus being on minority communities, backward classes and women.

In the case of agriculture, land reforms shall continue creating more opportunities for the poor kisans and lessening whatever remains of monopoly control in the countryside.  Dasgupta maintained that the highest employment generation in the rural area continued to be from the land plots of small and marginal farmers. 

Acquisition of homestead land for the poor kisans will continue.  Irrigation facilities shall increase further along with use of improved seeds, organic and bio-fertilisers, and newer agricultural techniques.  The rate of growth of the state-level GDP has gone up to 4.2 per cent as compared to (-) 0.2 per cent for the country as a whole. 

Production of cereals and lentils as well as vegetables and fish and fruits has increased as an ongoing process.  The plan outlay for agriculture has been hiked 28 per cent from Rs 178 crore in the last FY to Rs 228 crore in the present budget. 

The allocation for irrigation has been increased, as has been that for forestry.  The credit system for the rural banks has been made more user-friendly with adequacy of funds flow.  The procurement price for agricultural products has bee widened.  The average daily wage rate in the villages has gone up to Rs 83 and is increasing further.

With the demand emanating from the internal market increasing, including from a powerful rural market, industrial development has grown apace.  The potential for a take-off has been created for sectors related to small, medium, and large industries. 

The investment last year in the industrial sector, Rs 7000-odd crore has been realised from 121 industrial units and has created more than 45,000 additional employments.

However, in the realm of employment generation, the self-help groups that number 10.46 lakh top the list.  They have created an additional 3.5 lakh employment last year. 

Other highlights of the budget are:

·        Poor APL people supplied with rice at Rs 2 per kilo

·        Wage for unemployed workers of closed units increased

·        An additional 44 sector workers added to the pool of unorganised workers’ benefits

·        Minorities’ development budget head has been doubled

·        Assistant teachers, para teachers’’ pay increased

·        Newer employment schemes in the cities in the pattern of rural employment planning

·        4200 additional schools to be set up

In concluding his budget statement, Dr Asim Dasgupta said that in the path of development being chalked out by the Left Front government from 1977, the honour and privileges of the mass of the people had always been held high. The masses shall overcome as always the obstacles created by the urban and rural stakes, and the ‘people shall create history’ in the days ahead.