Trade unions and agricultural experts have urged the Government to usher in pro-agriculture and pro-people economic policies at pre-budget meetings with Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday.
"We strongly urge that the coming budget should be people oriented addressing the issues of poverty, unemployment and social infrastructure. It should make serious attempts at mobilising huge additional resources by broad basing the tax net targeting the rich and affluent," the trade unions said in a joint memorandum.
``Such a meeting – which lasted for one-and-half hour -- should not be ritualistic and the government should act on our suggestions. We want the government to use the Rs 70000 crore in the pension fund and Rs 1.5 lakh crore in profident fund for building long-term infrastructure. There is enough fund within the country – include the money evaded in tax – to fund this,’’ All India Trade Union Congress’s Gurudas Das Gupta said.
The Indian Trade Union Congress’s Sanjeeva Reddy suggested that before sick public sector units are sold to outside bidders, it should be offered to the workers. Centre for Indian Trade Unions Varada Rajan accused the economic policies of the government of ruining the government and urged the finance minister to reverse the trend.
In an earlier meeting on Friday with experts on agriculture, the FM was asked to accord highest priority on resources for small farmers and provide incentives to enhance productivity of the farm sector in the next year's budget.
In a pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the experts expressed concern over the spate of farmers' suicides and said the focus of the 2007-08 budget should be on ways to alleviate the lot of small peasants.
Ashok Gulati of International Food Policy and Research Institute said the government should allocate resources for taking up irrigation projects, which were on the verge of completion to solve the water problem for farmers.
Gulati said that the support price should take care of the actual expenditure incurred by the farmer in producing grain.
Farmer leader Sharad Joshi said that the government should implement the recommendations of the National Farmers Commission on providing crop loans at 4 per cent interest.
He said financially feasible exit route for farmers, including those who are selling land to Special Economic Zones developers, should be provided. Besides, ways should be found to educate farmers about the WTO framework.