While not likely to spring any surprise on the government at the Standing Committee of Finance’s budget meeting on Friday, the Left is expected to point out that being the first budget under the 11th Five-Year Plan, the government should put renewed emphasis on the promises made in the common minimum programme (CMP).
The financial year between 2007-08 will see the beginning of the 11th five-year plan. The 10th plan was initiated in 2002 under the NDA regime. When the Congress-led UPA took over the reins of the government in May 2004, it had increased 'plan expenditure’ or expenditure that is incurred while implementing central plans and central assistance to state plans, by Rs 10000 crores.
But the 11th plan has been initiated entirely under the UPA regime, with the Draft Approach Paper to the plan being approved by the National Development Council last year. SO, it would be in this context that the Left is likely to emphasise on an increase in 'plan expenditure’.
In this context, one thrust area for Friday’s meeting would be mopping up more resources to fulfill NCMP commitments. CPIM general secretary Prakash Karat and CPI general secretary AB Bardhan had earlier written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggesting ways to finance plan expenditure.
"Total tax exemptions/concessions granted in the year 2994-05 stood at Rs 176073 crores (5.8 per cent of GDP) out of which corporate tax exemptions alone amounted to Rs 57852 crores (1.9 per cent of GDP)," Karat and Bardhan told Singh, pointing it out as an area from where more money could be raised to finance welfare plans.
The Left is also likely to reiterate its demand on streamlining the tax structure on petroleum products and minimise the burden on the common man. The 6th report of the Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas, which was chaired by Janardhana Reddy, in fact, has already suggested a restructuring.
The report had said: "The committee also finds that the percentage share of petroleum sector through taxes and duties to the gross revenue of the Government is 64 per cent. They therefore reiterate that the practice of squeezing the maximum out of the sector without concern for the common man needs to be changed."
The Communist Party of India (CPI) has also suggested the constitution of an `infrastructure development fund’ with the money in the Employee’s Provident Fund (1 lakh 40000 crores) and Pension Funds (70000 crores). "All this money can be invested for social welfare, job creation and building infrastructure," CPI leader Gurudas Das Gupta said.