Govt urged to reconsider move to cut social sector spending
Matter raised in Lok Sabha; activists take to the streets
New Delhi, Dec 1:
The Narendra Modi Government’s reported move to slash expenditure on social sector schemes, such as MGNREGA, was raised in the Lok Sabha, even as The People’s Assembly, an umbrella of over 100 non-profits from over 15 States, began a campaign on Monday.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Congress leader Mullappally Ramachandran said, “reduction in social sector spending will lead to social unrest” and asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to reconsider the decision.
He flayed the Government’s move to reduce expenditure on education by Rs. 11,000 crore, and the budget for the Department of Panchayati Raj, Rural Development and Sanitation by about 25 per cent.
CPI(M) member PK Biju accused the Government of trying to “dismantle” the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) by limiting it to select blocks in a few States and slashing allocation.
Meanwhile, hundreds of activists belonging to Pension Parishad, Rashtriya Mazdoor Adhikar Morcha, Right to Food Campaign, National Alliance of Peoples Movements, Ekta Parishad among others began a campaign “Abki Bar, Humara Aadhikar” (This Time, Our Rights) in the Capital.
“We are here to forge a united front of all movements and campaigns and raise our voice in unison against the frontal attacks unleashed by the new Government to undo the hard- fought rights mandated by the legislature, such as the right to employment or MNREGA”, said Abhay Shukla of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.
Food rights activist Nikhil Dey of Jan Awaaz said “drastic cuts in Budget outlays for social sector only confirms our worst fear about the intent of the Government who while in opposition supported all the progressive legislations but now having come into power are brazenly reneging on their commitments.”
Trade union activist Gautam Mody said recent labour law “amendments will squeeze wages further and undermine the right to freedom of association pushing workers to destitution in safe and unsecure jobs.”