On 12th October, the Finance Minister told the media that she is announcing a package to boost demand.
What is the Package?
The package includes Rs.10000 Festival advance to central government employees, LTC cash voucher, interest free loans to few states and increase in capital expenditure of Rs.25000 crores for road, water supply, urban development etc.
The common man is feeling that the government is giving so much to its employees but nothing for us. So they are all annoyed. You can’t fool them anymore. They are waiting for long for the Rs.20 lakh crore Atma Nirbhar package out of which except some rice and wheat nothing has reached the needy.
Employees too are unhappy
On the other hand the employees are also unhappy. Shri Shiva Gopal Mishra, Secretary, National Council has shot a letter to the government in the same line with various unions including All India Defence Employees Federation, how they are being fooled.
- The government has abolished many advances which existed. The employees were getting one month basic pay as festival advance which was stopped and now they are offered Rs.10000/- as Rupay Card which has to be spent before 31.03.2021 for purchases, which is too less and too cumbersome.
- The employees already have LTC package with provisions for encashment also. But now they are asked to spend Rs.100000/- to get Rs.33000/- that too if they spend another Rs.12000/- on GST.
They are not fools. Now they have raked up their 16 point demand. One of them is to pay the DA due to them which has been freezed for 9 months. The amount is estimated as Rs.37500 crores. They are correctly saying that dearness allowance is neither gratis nor bounty but the compensation given for price rice. If the government controls the price increase then there is no need for DA.
They have also raised their voices against corporatisation of government departments, New Pension Scheme which is No Pension Scheme, settlement of demands agreed in 2016, removal of ceiling on compassionate appointment, sanction of Quarantine Special Leave for Covid-19 and many other long pending issues. They are likely to join the November 26 Strike.
States have not been given the GST dues which are guaranteed by the Constitution. They are suffering. They are asked to increase borrowings at commercial rate. Providing small amounts of interest free loans to few states is not going to help. The demand of the Finance Minister of Kerala to permit them to avail loans at Repo rate (4%) supported by 10 others should be allowed.
Increase in Capital Expenditure
If we see the budget estimates, revised estimates and actual there is huge difference always. So what is announced is pittance. Madam you can fool a few for a short time. You cannot fool everybody for a long time. You have opened up a Pandora’s box. There is going to be no boost in demand as you claim.
Thomas Franco is former General Secretary of All India Bank Officers’ Confederation.