New Delhi, 11 December 13: In the light of the extremely adverse statement made by the Finance Minister Shri P Chidambaram that there will be no consultation or compromise on fiscal consolidation, all campaigns came together at the Constitution Club to tell the Finance Minister that budgetary deficit must be addressed by increasing taxation and not curtailing the social sector expenditure.
Leading economists from Jawaharlal Nehru University Dr. Jayati Ghosh and Dr. Praveen Jha stated that it was “absurd” and “illogical” to suggest that fiscal consolidation must be done at the cost of millions of socially deprived and marginalized population.
Explaining this Dr. Ghosh said that the Finance Minister’s statement on budget deficit is not acceptable especially in the light of the fact that the social sector gets so little and old age pension must be given highest priority and any savings made on any expenditure is to be allocated for it.
Shivananda Tiwari, MP, JDU strongly criticized the proposed move and asked how the government can take recourse to budget cuts without consulting the Parliament.
The irony in the situation was best brought out by Prashant from CBGA when revealed that while the government expended Rs. 1,65,000 crores as pension for government servants, the total expenditure for all social security pensions across the country was a mere Rs.14,000 crores.
Prakash Javedkar, Rajya Sabha Member and official Spokesperson of BJP said, “All elderly citizens, above 65 years of age deserve a pension of Rs. 2000. It is their right and it is only fair that they are given their benefits. Pensions must also be linked to inflation and must be periodically reassessed. I will take this issue up with my Party and make sound recommendations.”
Comrade D. Raja, Member of Rajya Sabha, CPI stated, “Since the early 90′s successive governments have allowed a small section of people to emerge as billionaires, this has given way to huge economic inequalities. Corporate houses are being given huge concessions, but the poor and the marginalized have not been getting their due social cover. The CPI is committed and will continue to fight for social upliftment schemes regardless which party forms a government. Pensions are the lifeline for dignity of the poor old and we have been in support of the Pension Parishad since its inception and will fight to ensure that this cause gets the attention and redress it deserves.”
“India is a country which has ensured respect and security to our elderly as a part of our customs. But in the new era there has been a divide between the elderly and the young, this has lead to their neglect. Countries like Japan which poineer in social justice consider the elderly as a part of their national fabric and acknowledge their contribution and take care of them. If our government can give tax cuts to the tune of 1,80,000 crore rupees, it can and definitely should provide for pensions. I accept the demands of the Pension Parishad and pledge my complete support.” Bhausaheb Wakchaure member of Rajya Sabha from Maharshtra.
Other eminent spokespersons were Bharat Kumar Raut, MP, Shivsena, Maharashtra, Shri Tripathy, JDU, Kumar Shailabh from HAQ who spoke on child rights, Sudheshna from Mobile Crehes on Children under 6, Dipa Sinha on Food and Health, Kiran Shaheen on Water, Children Education and Health. Every campaign decided to file RTIs with all ministries including Finance Ministry to find why, when and how the budget cuts were done.
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