Dont blame poor for food inflation: Left

New Delhi: By attributing the rise in prices to increasing consumption by the poor, the government is putting the blame for food inflation on poor and asking the common man to live with it, the Left said today.

Participating in the resumed discussion on the General Budget in the Rajya Sabha, CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said the government is linking food inflation to higher purchasing power among the poor resulting from employment programmes like MNREGA.

"What kind of an argument is this when there is so much malnourishment in the country," she asked.

Karat said the same argument was given by former US President George W Bush when global food prices had increased in 2008.

"I request the Finance Minister not to blame the poor for eating more. This is Bush`s language," she said.

Despite a drop in the last few weeks, food inflation at 9.52 per cent for week ended February 26 is still high for the comfort of the common man.

Describing price rise as "unlegislated tax", the CPI-M leader said the budget favours only the rich and the corporates while the resource mobilisation has been shifted to the working class.

She said this is clear by increasing contribution of indirect taxes (which are distributed to all – to both poor and the rich) to the total tax kitty.

Referring to the "outrage" on the proposal to levy five per cent service tax on health diagnostics, Karat said that in India "do not dare to fall sick even your sickness is going to be taxed."

She said even the school children have not been spared as their stationery has been made expensive. On the other hand, Rs five lakh worth of taxes have been foregone for the rich and the corporates, she said.

Karat said government`s policies were leading to crony capitalism and "huge concentration of wealth…class bias becomes absolutely apparent" in raising resources.

She said rising petroleum prices were adding to the woes of the common man and the government was giving "selective and misleading" data on the sector from which it earned a tax revenue of Rs 1,11,000 crore. Tax revenue under this head is going to increase by Rs 24,000 crore to Rs 1,35,000 crore the next fiscal.