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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

RSS affiliates say government acted responsibly with budget

The government is contemplating permitting 100% FDI for insurance intermediaries, and in sectors such as media and aviation. Sitharaman proposed easing local sourcing norms for FDI in the single brand retail sector.

budget Updated: Jul 06, 2019 08:05 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
On Friday, Sitharaman said, “Mahatma Gandhi had said the soul of India lives in its villages. This year I submit that the government keeps ‘gaon, garib and kisan’ at the centre.”
On Friday, Sitharaman said, “Mahatma Gandhi had said the soul of India lives in its villages. This year I submit that the government keeps ‘gaon, garib and kisan’ at the centre.” (Bloomberg file photo)
         

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliates that work in the economic, farm and labour sectors have welcomed Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget announcement that “gaon, garib and kisan” (villages, poor and farmers) will be the focal point of policy making.

These affiliates have been pushing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government to ensure that domestic production gets a fillip vis-a-vis dependence on imports, more incentives are given to small and marginal farmers, and policymakers revisit foreign direct investment and disinvestment policies. The RSS is the ideological parent of the BJP.

On Friday, Sitharaman said, “Mahatma Gandhi had said the soul of India lives in its villages. This year I submit that the government keeps ‘gaon, garib and kisan’ at the centre.” She said foreign direct investment (FDI) would be allowed only after discussion with stakeholders. This was welcomed by Sangh affiliates such as the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), which have traditionally opposed FDI.

“The earlier finance ministers used to just announce the FDI policy. The fact that Sitharaman said the issue of FDI will be discussed with stakeholders is a welcome change. It means the government is acting responsibly and trying to understand the concerns of the people,” SJM national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan said.

The BMS, the labour arm of the RSS, too welcomed the move to discuss FDI with stakeholders. Saji Narayanan of the BMS said the government should take on board trade unions to discuss issues such as FDI policy and its impact on the economy.

“PPP [public private partnership] and disinvestment plans for public sector enterprises, proposals for the new department of the fisheries sector, which may affect fish workers in the value chain, recurring increase in petrol or diesel prices — all need further discussion,” he said.

The government is contemplating permitting 100% FDI for insurance intermediaries, and in sectors such as media and aviation. Sitharaman proposed easing local sourcing norms for FDI in the single brand retail sector.

The budget announcements seem to have assuaged these affiliates, which have in the past flayed the government for failing to bail out the medium and smallscale sectors, check trade deficit and protect small entrepreneurs.

Mahajan said it was a relief the government had not taken up the proposal to withdraw incentives from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that did not take off as proposed in the economic survey. “The failure to take off was because of the government’s policies, how can they be penalized?” he said.

Badri Narayan Chaudhary, general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), said strengthening rural infrastructure would improve the living conditions of farmers. “In rural areas, if small and marginal farmers get houses with toilets, running water and power, that will automatically change their lives,” he said.

First Published: Jul 06, 2019 08:05 IST

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