Principal opposition party, the Congress asserts that welfare schemes like the Food Security Act, MGNREGA and others which are designed to uplift people from poverty are not freebies and alleges that writing off loans is the real freebie.
The party said that based on the Food Security Act 2013, the BJP government distributed free rations to 80 crore citizens during the corona epidemic. Indirectly, the National Food Security Act also obliges the government to buy foodgrains from farmers at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
The party says that small amounts or assistance given to the poor are categorised as freebies, while the freebies that the rich friends of the government are getting through low tax rates, write offs and exemptions are categorized as necessary incentives, that is our question to the government. The results are also out on all this assistance which the UPA government had provided — because of the mid-day meal scheme, the gross enrolment ratio in government schools had doubled.
It said that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, guarantees every rural household a minimum of 100 days of employment in a financial year. During the lockdown, when crores of people were forced to migrate from cities to their villages, MGNREGA provided work.
In May 2022, 3.07 crore families had demanded employment under MGNREGA. Despite this, the government reduced the allocation for MGNREGA to Rs 73,000 crores for the current financial year.
Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh said: “If schemes like Food Security Act, MSP to farmers, MGNREGA, MDM come free of cost and are being widely discussed, when will there be a discussion on the loss of Rs 1.45 lakh crore per year to the government due to the reduction in corporate tax rates.”
The party said that the small amounts or assistance given to the poor are ‘freebies’ (revadi), while the freebies that the rich friends get all the time through low tax rates, write offs and exemptions are ‘necessary incentives’ (Gajak).
Vallabh said, “We are not against ‘Holding the hands of the citizens during the bad times’. We are not against giving 100 days employment to every rural household. We are not against the mid-day meals, by which 12 crore kids are getting breakfast and meals.”
“We are not against the National Food Security Act, because of which, 60 per cent of Indians are getting free ration during pandemic. We are not against giving MSP to the farmers; we don’t consider that as ‘Muft Ki Revadi’, we consider them as handholding, as making them a partner of the growth story of our country.”
The Congress said that it is against ‘Giving Muft Ki Gajak’, which the government is giving through corporate tax cuts, by causing Rs 5.8 lakh crores loss to the exchequer, when public sector banks had transferred Rs 7.27 lakh crores in the loans written off account. So we are against this. We are not against empowering the people.
“So we are not against these things. We are against ‘Jhooth Ki Gathri Culture’, when somebody announces something without proper home work, without proper understanding, just for a poll gimmick, we are against that culture. If you are announcing something, there should be a solid study, solid research and a solid background to give the answers to all the questions. I can’t say, ‘Sabko 5,000 Unit Muft Bijli De Dunga’. I should give the details of finances for that, how this is going to be possible, from where I am going to get the electricity, who is going to be the beneficiary. We are against the culture of ‘Jhooth ki Gathri’, we are against the culture of smoke and mirrors. That is our stand on this.”
The party alleged that loans amounting to Rs 9.92 lakh crore had been written off by banks in the last five years, Rs 7.27 lakh crore is the share of public sector banks.
In a reply given in Parliament, the government admitted that in the last five years, out of the amount written off by the public sector banks, only Rs 1.03 lakh crore had been recovered, that is, the public sector banks recovered 14 per cent of the amount written off in the last five years.
Even if it is assumed that the recovery from the written-off loan will increase to 20 per cent in the coming time, the public sector banks have not recovered the loan of Rs 5.8 lakh crore. It is important here that if the debt of public sector banks sinks, then the money of the country’s taxpayers sinks.