New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS): Farmers' body Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Wednesday expressed shock and bewilderment at the Union Budget 2023.
"While it is universally known that farming and farmers have been economically neglected by the BJP-led Union Government, the SKM had expected that after the sustained and determined protest of the farmers at Delhi, the party in power would appreciate the importance of the farm sector and the need to secure income and future of the rural farming community, who form the bulk of India's population. Instead, the Union Budget 2023 is the most anti-farmer budget," it said in a statement
It said that the allocation on agriculture and allied sectors has been reduced from 3.84 per cent (BE 2022) to 3.20 per cent (BE 2023) of the total budget and the allocation on rural development has also been reduced from 5.81 per cent (RE 2022) to 5.29 per cent (BE 2023) of the total budget.
"With such massive reductions, the intent of the government is clear: to squeeze out the lifeblood from farming sector and thereby the farmers of India. Union Budget 2023 also hides more than it reveals but the truth is glaring and cannot be camouflaged. Union Budget 2023 is silent on doubling farmers Income. There were no figures given in the Budget," it added.
SKM said that Union Budget 2023 is silent on the status of minimum support price (MSP) on crops as per recommendation of M.S. Swaminathan Commission and what shall be done to ensure that farmers get legal guarantee of MSP.
"While the government has irrationally resisted the demands of farmers for MSP and its guarantee, this Budget has removed even the fig-leaf with which the govt was trying to cover its meagre efforts to ensure that farmers get MSP. Flagship schemes like PM-Asha have seen a steady decline in allocation," it said.
The farmers' body claimed that the Price Support Scheme (PSS) and MIS (Market Intervention Scheme) was reduced from Rs 3,000 crore to Rs 1,500 crore in 2022 and this year it is an unimaginable Rs 10 lakh. "In effect, the govt has buried ASHA, PSS and MIS and with that the fate of farmers getting MSP has been buried."
About PM Fasal Bima Yojna, the SKM said that in 2022, the allocation was Rs 15,500 crore but this year it has been reduced to Rs.13,625 crore.
"The government is drastically hacking the allocation for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) that provides critical income support to rural workers. In 2022, the budget allocation was Rs 73,000 crore but in the face of rural joblessness and restless demand, the government was forced to spend Rs 90,000 crore. Since the general economy and especially the rural economy is still in deep crisis, it is unbelievable that the government has hacked down the allocation of MNREGS to Rs 60,000 crore, a dramatic cut of Rs 30,000 crore," it said.
SKM claimed that the Government is grandly announcing new funds like Agriculture Accelerator Fund even as earlier announcements have been forgotten and lost. "It may be recalled that the government had announced with much fanfare the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund of Rs 1 lakh crore; after 3 years it was found that only 10 per cent of this fund had been actually disbursed," it claimed.
"SKM demands that the government stops fooling farmers and seriously focuses on resolving the critical issues of farmers like legal guarantee of MSP, crop insurance, reduction of input costs and steady availability of inputs," it added.