Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Assembly fails to address burning issues: Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today termed the Assembly passing the appropriation of Rs.103,000 crore towards Government expenditure during 2009-10 without a meaningful and in-depth discussion as tragic.

Addressing the media, Dr. JP pointed out that the budget envisaged a daily outlay of nearly Rs.283 crore. Yet, the Assembly passed all the demands without any debate on the last day of its session by voice vote.

Although most of the members – 147 of them newly elected – were keen on making a meaningful contribution, they did not get an opportunity because the two main parties monopolized the session running down each other.

Dr. JP said that a budget is expected to harmonize the limited resources with unlimited needs by ensuring that every rupee spent is cost effective. For instance, the Andhra Pradesh Government had made history by allocating Rs.20,000 crore for irrigation this year, a feat not accomplished by any State in post-Independence history. But the Assembly had no occasion to undertake a cost-benefit analysis. The State Government planned to spend Rs.110,000 crore on lift irrigation schemes some of which involve lifting of water to a height of 1500-1600 feet which had not been attempted anywhere in the world. The lift irrigation schemes alone would warrant generation of 8600 mw of power. Far from benefiting farmers, the irrigation and power schemes would land the State in bankruptcy in five years. The power subsidy alone would shoot up to nearly Rs.20,000 crore.

Dr. JP said that notwithstanding loan write-offs and cash payouts and power subsidies, farmers continued to reel under a crisis because basic problems like extending technological know-how and quality inputs and loans to small and marginal farmers and tenants had not been addressed. Even as liquor continued to ruin people’s lives, the Government relied on it to fetch Rs.12,000 crore of the total revenue of Rs.53,000 crore. Although the Government spent Rs.1000 a month on every child in school, the results continued to be awful.

Dr. JP regretted that the Government chanted the mantra of privatization and corporatization for every problem and reveled in abdication of its responsibilities.

Dr. JP said the Government should formulate a long-term strategy at least now to eradicate poverty in the next four years and a half by converting the present economic crisis into an opportunity. He also wanted the Government to empower people by devolving resources on them instead of spending every rupee from the Secretariat to ward off funds siphoning in the process.

“All of us in the Assembly, including me, should accept responsibility and strive to meet the hopes and aspirations of people if history were not to judge us as culprits.”

Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao, General Secretary and Mr. V. Laxman Balaji, party spokesman, flanked Dr. JP as he addressed the media.

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