Monthly Press Briefing : Press Note on Union Budget, Corporate governance, Judges appointment, Governors vs state Govts

February 4, 2023

Union Budget 2023

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) would like to reiterate that the Union Budget is a very important exercise that drives the economic policies of the country and should be used to cater to the needs of the common man along with stabilizing the macroeconomic challenges. In this regard, the Union Budget 2023 presented by the Finance Minister can be credited to being focused on economic growth and fiscal consolidation (bridging the negative gap between revenue and expenditure). Now, those having income up to Rs 7 lakh per annum will not have to pay any income tax. Earlier those earning more than 5 lahks were under the tax bracket. This change will help the salaried class. One more positive is the boost given to capital expenditure which is now budgeted at Rs.13.7 lakh crore i.e. 4.5% of GDP. This will help in easing the funding of infrastructure projects. Despite these positives in the Budget, it appears as if it is aimed at benefiting only one class of society while ignoring the country’s poor and those living in rural areas. While the push for fiscal prudence is good, it has squeezed government expenditures even further resulting in a decrease in allocation for the social sector. For example, the MGNREGA scheme allocation has been slashed by 33% when unemployment is historically high. Another worrying aspect of the Budget is that various subsidies have been cut. For example, food subsidy has been cut by Rs 90,000 crore, fertilizer subsidy by Rs 50,000 crore and petroleum subsidy by Rs 6,900 crore. Also, Rs 9,255 crore remained unspent in the health sector and Rs 4,297 crore remained unused in the education sector. This non-utilization of allocated funds happened at a time when both these sectors required special focus in the post-pandemic era. Despite the increase in health allocation this year, it is still 2.1% of GDP. Again despite an increase in the allocation to education, it is just 2.9% of GDP. Jamaat demands that the allocation to health and education should be at least 3% and 6% of GDP respectively. The Budget falls short of addressing the core issues of inflation (price rise) and severe unemployment. The Budget has been insensitive to the call of the Prime Minister of “Sab ka Vikas” as it has reduced the budgetary allocation to the minorities from Rs 5000 crores to around Rs 3000 crores. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind feels that the decision to reduce the tax on income above 5 crores from 37% to 25% is not correct. This will further increase wealth inequality as pointed out by the latest Oxfam report. Overall the Budget appears to cater to the interest of corporates and not the informal economy and the common man.

Corporate governance in India takes a beating
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind expresses grave concern over the manner in which corporate governance in India has taken a beating in the last few days. A very large business house has suddenly lost more than $ 100 billion in market value at the mere publishing of an evaluation report by a foreign research firm. Investors have lost more than Rs 10 lakh crores in 10 firms owned by the corporate house. This has raised uncomfortable questions over the standard of corporate governance in India with the RBI forced to check the exposure that banks have with the business house. Jamaat feels that the government should clarify and explain its position on the issue. The government must take the necessary steps to calm the markets and restore confidence in the investing community both within the country and abroad. The government should seriously consider the Opposition’s demand to set up a JPC or a CJI monitored probe into the issue so that the confidence of the people is restored and the taxpayers money is secured. The economy should become welfare-oriented and not corporate-focused.

Appointment of judges
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is concerned about the recent exchange of views between the law ministry and the judiciary regarding the appointment of judges. In a democracy, the judiciary should be independent. The appointment of judges must not be influenced by Parliament or politicians. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind concurs with the position of the judiciary that the collegium system may not be perfect but it is the law of the land and based on the principle of meritocracy. Jamaat feels that the collegium system should not be tinkered with at present by saying that it has not been able to achieve “social diversity” and does not have adequate representation of backward, marginalized and minority communities. If the composition of the judiciary is based on any other consideration besides merit then its impeccable standard will be compromised and it will have a very negative impact on the overall system of dispensation of justice.

Governors and State Governments
JIH also expresses concern over reports of tussles and tension between elected state governments like Kerala, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra and their respective governors appointed by the Center. The governor is the custodian of the Constitution but in some cases, the governor is acting as a political representative of the Central government. There have been instances in which the governor has acted in a partisan manner to help a certain political party. Elsewhere the governor of a state issued a show-cause notice to five Vice Chancellors on grounds of procedural violations and demanded their resignation who were appointed by the state government. As per the Constitutional norms, the governor is expected to function as per the advice of the Council of Ministers. Experts say that the governor can offer advice to the government but cannot insist that it be followed. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind feels that governors must remain within the role that is duly assigned to them by the Constitution. They should not exceed their remit and try to play politics. Their allegiance should be only to the Constitution and not some political personality or political party.

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