Farmers' group not impressed with Union Budget 2020-21

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published Published on Feb 2, 2020   modified Modified on Feb 3, 2020
-Press released by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) dated 1st February, 2020

Delhi, February 1st 2020: Budget fails to increase rural demand and purchasing power which would have boosted the economy - instead, the Budget only boosts the profits of big corporates and MNCs, said AIKSCC.

When the crying need in India’s economy is to increase the demand and purchasing power in rural areas, and hence rural incomes, the Budget offers no boost to rural sector. Total budget allocations for Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development was 2.68 lakh crores in 2019-20, which has been nominally increased to 2.83 lakh crores. In real terms, taking inflation into account, this amounts to zero increase.

This will not lead to any improvement of peasant incomes, savings, food security or employment - which are all essential to pull the economy out of its current slump. The allocation for the biggest rural employment program MGNREGS has been slashed from Rs.71,001 crores (Revised Estimate 2019-20) to Rs.61,500 crores in 2020-21, a cut of Rs.9,500 crores when the total demand from states amounts to nearly Rs.1 lakh  crores. The flagship PM-KISAN program was supposed to benefit 12 crore farmers - but even the meagre annual support of Rs.6000 reached only 6.12 crore farmers. Tenant farmers and landless agricultural workers are not even included in the scheme. Meanwhile, agri input costs have risen by 33-100% in the past five years and cost of living has more than doubled.

Budget 2020 proposes increased penetration of MNCs and Corporate Giants in Agriculture inputs supply, procurement of crops, storage, agri-processing, insurance and marketing of crops. It gives no relief to peasants from high input costs, low crop prices, distress sale, crop losses. Their exploitation by companies will increase through leasing in their land, indebting them, buying their crops cheap and earning huge profits in food processing and marketing.

Budget documents reveal that there is a huge gap between announcements and actual expenditure. In 2018-19, it was promised that 22,000 rural haats will be upgraded to Grameen Agriculture Markets (GrAM) - but after two years, the implementation has not begun and only 0.5% funds spent. In 2018-19, Finance Minister promised that MSP will reach every single farmer and PM-AASHA scheme was instituted. In 2019-20, only Rs.1500 crores was allocated and only Rs.321 crores was spent. The allocation has now been slashed to Rs.500 crores. During the past two years, in most of the crops, farmers did not get the MSP declared by the government. This was the time for Market Intervention and Price Support, but the government completely failed. In another glaring example, in 2017-18, the Budget speech announced "Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund" of Rs.10,881 crores to be spent within 3 years. Actual expenditure so far has been only Rs.440 crores. Current Budget has only Rs.60 crores under this head. Similarly, PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana allocation for Micro-irrigation was Rs.3500 crores. Only Rs.2032 crores spent in 2019-20. Allocation has been reduced to Rs.2000 crores in 2020-21.

The Budget has assured help to states which enact the 3 Model laws relating to Land Leasing, Farmers Produce & Livestocks and Contract Farming and for investments in marketing, food processing, storage and transport. It has proposed single crop clusters in each district for marketing and exports. However, no actual allocation has been made for these grand schemes.

There is no concrete proposal on MNREGA, on rural wages, pension, irrigation and subsidies for diesel, electricity, seeds and fertilizers or on any worries of the landless peasants, agriculture workers and sharecroppers.

Though Finance Minister repeatedly spoke of Economic Development and Caring India, she did not even address the rising problem of unemployment.

The Govt has increased farm credit to Rs 15 lakh crores, but this is not a Budget item of Central government - it is just a target for the banks to meet. It is the banks which give loans to whoever they please. But there are no structural changes which ensure that the credit goes to small and marginal farmers, tenant farmers and adivasi farmers, who are left out of institutional financing, pushing them to indebtedness and suicides. Therefore much of this credit will go to big agri-businesses, promote sale of costly inputs and machinery of the Companies. There is no support to peasants or measure to prevent their land from being mortgaged. This is when only recently the govt had waived off more than 2 lakh crores of bad debts of corporations and had given them additional tax concessions of Rs. 1.45 lakh crores.

It was expected that budgetary support will be given to ensure remunerative MSP of at least 50% profit margin over the comprehensive cost of production C2 and PM-AASHA scheme will be furthered. There should have been measures for relief from debts, for compensation for crop loss, protection from stray animals and Fasal Bima. But these have not been touched. During last 3 years private companies have earned Rs 18830 crores from crop insurance, while farmers have suffered.

All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) came down heavily on the Modi government and has said “We are very disappointed. This is clearly a Budget that has no space for farmers of this country. The Modi government is yet again communicating to farmers that it is the companies and not the farmers who matter to this government”.

AIKSCC has called for a nation wide protest on February 13 against the pro corporate proposals in the Budget and failure to address the problems of rising peasant debts, rising cost of inputs and failure to secure remunerative prices from sale of crops.

Press released by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) dated 1st February, 2020

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