THE TALE OF TWO BUDGETS!

BRIDGES: The contrast between the Central budget and the State budget is that while the Centre builds walls between communities like Donald Trump, the Goa CM builds bridges for the khaas aadmi

BY RAJAN NARAYAN

Despite not imposing any taxes and the steep fall in revenue due to suspension of mining and decline in tourism, any unskilled labor can get a minimum wage of 500 per day in Goa. The Modi government cannot assure the aam aadmi whom they promised achhe din, even100 per day. The Income Tax rebate for income less than `5 lakhs a year takes effect from the coming financial year and is not applicable to the financial year 2018-2019. No additional tax benefits this year…

In two successive days we had a vote on account in amche Goa and the Union Budget. The vote on account was for the first five months of the year. Finance Minister Parrikar, in a cap with the Ashoka Chakra at the centre and a food tube running through his nose, heroically presented a very brief seven minute summary. He did the rope trick more often than the magician Gogia Pasha. Although the State is bankrupt he presented a surplus revenue budget — despite the fiscal deficit crossing 1500 crores. There was nothing much to say anyway as it was not a proper budget. There were no Ladla Laxman schemes, no maternity allowance for parents, no food allowance for husbands who are bad cooks and most importantly no unemployment allowance for the lakhs of Goans unemployed (at least as claimed by the Employment Exchange). This was in sharp contrast to his first budget in 2017 when Manohar Parrikar presented the Ladli Laxmi budget promising1 lakh will be deposited in the accounts of 18-year-old girls to enable them to study further or get married. There were no Griha Aadhaar scheme which provided a monthly inflation of allowance at a time when it was most needed with the price of petrol and fish at a new high.
Parrikar seems to be content with the number of bridges he has built and did not propose any fresh bridges in the new budget. May be the next bridge will be in the sky as it is difficult to go higher than the new Mandovi bridge. Since there were no schemes there were no taxes. In fact, the significant development in the three day budget session was the passing of the law whereby domestic tourists who cook or drink on the beach or public places will be fined 2,000. If they do this in a group they will be fined20,000.
Interestingly, there have been strong objections from the Tourism Ministry to the law against drinking or cooking on the beaches. The only other major development were the strong objections by MLAs who wanted the Sentinel scheme scrapped as they thought that it could be misused to trap MLAs.
Under the Sentinel scheme, the brainchild of Dr Muktesh Chandra, ordinary citizens who take photographs of traffic violations are rewarded. Everything worked fine as long as the identities of the sentinels or guards were not revealed. When it was found that a mobile dealer in Shiroda had sent more than 500 images of violations his shop was burned and he was beaten up.
I’m not sure why the MLAs are against the sentinels. Perhaps they are worried that their wives will divorce them if pictures of them with other women in their cars are sent to the police.
The highlight of the interim Union budget, presented by Piyush Goyal, acting as Finance Minister in the absence of the sick Arun Jaitley, is the assurance that every citizen of the country would be promised a minimum wage or salary of 3,000. The concept is not new since several European countries, and recently even the state of Sikkim, have implemented a universal welfare scheme whereby every citizen will be entitled to a fixed amount. The first country of course to implement the scheme through comprehensive rations from fish to toothpaste was the communist state of Cuba. It has been pointed out that3,000 per month means just 100 per day. The proposed dole is for the household and not for an individual family. If there are four members in a family, effectively the amount of the dole is25 per day. One can imagine what one can get for 25 per day per person and it’s even more difficult if it is a child who needs schooling, etc. It is like the joke in the television ad where a young executive Mr Krishna Murthi is called by the boss and commended for his very good work. As a token of appreciation the boss gives him a measly bonus of10. When the shocked employee asks him what you can get for 10, the employer tells him that he could get an entire package of Discovery channels for10. May be all those who get 3,000 per month as a minimum guarantee subsidy will help the television industry flourish! There is an interesting contrast between the Goa vote on account presented by Manohar Parrikar and the interim budget by Piyush Goyal. Perhaps Piyush Goyal is not aware of the fact that the minimum salary or wages that any unskilled labourer can get in Goa is500 per day — five times the 100 that is offered by the minimum benefits in the Union budget. The National Rural Employment Agency Scheme which was meant for the benefit of indigent landless farmers guaranteed 240 days work at an average of350 per day. Even this is far less than what Goa offers unskilled workers. Among the most highly paid agriculture labour in the country is in Goa where the minimum wages can be even 1,000 per day, inclusive of lunch and drinks. So why are the wages in the rest of the country, including neighbouring Belgavi, so poor compared to Goa? This overpaying is mainly for manual work. The girls who do binding and switching on books for a leading publishing company which has a monopoly in Goa get between2,000 and 4,000 per month for a 12 hour shift. The irony is that Goa does not have any IT complex which offers lakhs of jobs every year to new engineering graduates. It does not have huge industrial complexes which can offer big salaries for unskilled person. There is no dangerous or hazardous industry over-paying higher salaries in Goa. It is just a question of supply and demand. Goans do not want to do manual jobs in Goa even for the relatively high prices they get. When I see the smile on the face of Fatima when she come to collect our garbage, I can understand that Goa is the only state which pays18,000 per month for garbage cleaners, even though they are contract workers. They occasionally get leave and got half a day’s holiday for Republic Day.
Goans who are willing to do manual work prefer cleaning toilets in the Heathrow Airport in London where they get 20 pounds which is 1,800 per hour. If they work for ten hours they can make18,000 per day. So why should they work in Goa even if they can earn 18,000 per month, unlike in other states where they may find it difficult to get a job even for5,000.
Perhaps in a sense the Portuguese decision to permit Goans to secure Portuguese passports even after Liberation is a blessing in disguise. They did it for their own reasons as they did not want to recognise the humiliating defeat they suffered at the hands of the Indian army. The result is they permitted not only those who were resident in Goa before Liberation, but their children and great grand children to get a Portuguese visa, which until recently was an entry ticket to the UK. There are reportedly seven lakh Goans working in London who may now be affected by the UK decision to quit the EEC.
It is an irony but the fact is unlike in India and Asian countries, manual and semi-skilled labour is very expensive abroad. To hire a plumber, electrician or gardener can cost you more than your entire salary. People in the UK and the US paint their own houses. They do not employ house maids or cooks, as a maid has to be paid 15 pounds an hour. A female diplomat from India was punished in the US for underpaying and overworking a maid servant.
In India it is the opposite. The skilled and semi skilled worker get very low wages. It is the useless pen pushers, called babus, whose jobs is to delay your papers till you bribe them, who get the most salary. And security of tenure and pension. We are referring to government jobs where even nurses justifiably get starting salaries of 50,000, and primary school teachers,30,000. Those who do an advanced diploma can get even more. So maybe we should make everyone a government servant. Including me because if I am a government servant all my medical expenses will be paid for and then I won’t have to worry about Mediclaim or Oriental Insurance.

THE TALE OF TWO BUDGETS!
SUBSTITUTE: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is ill in London and the budget was presented by substitute Piyush Goyal who does not seem to understand much about finance. Piyush Goyal was made temporary finance minister just a few days before the interim budget
THE TALE OF TWO BUDGETS!

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