An Imperialist Agent in Pro-people Garb

Globalization and ‘Left’ Front Government — A Fact-sheet



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Rural Credit

The West Bengal finance minister let us know that Rs 10,000 crores of annual rural credit is necessary for the peasants of Bengal. But, agricultural loan is available to the tune of Rs 800 crores. The rest amount of Rs 9200 crores is mainly available through the rich peasants and private moneylenders. The State government remains a mute spectator to an annual rate of interest to the tune of 120% to 150%. But, in this set up, there is also the option of a RBI/NABARD direct credit line through credit co-operatives. The government, supposedly committed to the peasants’ cause, does not bother about the plight of the peasants.

The plight of the peasants is further aggravated by the increasing price of inputs. The Left Front government from the very beginning is an ardent supporter of a liberalised economy despite some sporadic protests. On 11.5.97 Anandabazar Patrika, a Bengali daily reported, Jyoti Basu as being in favour of utilising the scope of a liberalised economy. This has multiple effects on the depleted economic scenario of Bengal.

The government has patronised the use of high yielding varieties of seeds, fertilisers etc in line with the principle of the green revolution. Consequently the cost of agricultural inputs has increased because the cost of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, irrigation has increased many-fold. In only the chemical fertilisers sector the rate of increase is 78.36%.52 All the increases in price of agri- inputs are attributed to the central government, but what the left front government’s contribution in this hike in prices remains hidden.

The Bengal Government through imposition of cess and excise duties increased the prices of agri-inputs. The price of electricity necessary for running water pumps is the highest in the case of Bengal. In case of shallow tubewells of 5HP, the yearly cost of its running in 1985 was Rs. 3904. In 2001 the proposed increase was to the tune of Rs. 2504.53 The state government with its ‘limited’ power, imposes indirect tax on diesel and some daily necessary items to add fuel to the fire of the increasing trend in prices. The peasants, burdened with such huge expenditure for survival are forced to bargain away their last hope, that is their land. Poor peasants and sharecroppers are gradually dispossessed of their lands. The recent 10th Finance Commission has dictated that it will recommend more grants to the states that would carry on the programme of liberalisation. The Bengal government is a fore-runner to implement the reforms to have a share in the loot, rendering more and more increases in prices.

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