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Focus should be on people's welfare: Left

NEW DELHI, FEB. 24. Observing that the thrust of economic reforms should shift from capitalist profit to people's welfare, the Left parties today sought an increase of Rs. 50,000 crores in the Central plan outlay to step up public investment in agriculture, employment generation and education and health.

After a two-hour meeting of the Left-United Progressive Alliance Coordination Committee here, the CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, Sitaram Yechury, said: "The thrust of reforms must shift towards people's welfare rather than capitalist profit and this shift, we hope, will be reflected in the budget."

The Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, said his Government had "greatly benefited" from the discussion with the leaders of the Left parties on a 12-point note they had submitted on the budget a few weeks ago.

Asked whether the issues of foreign direct investment in banking and real estate sectors or patents came up for discussion, Mr. Yechury said these were not discussed as they did not form part of the budgetary exercise.

12-point note

In the note submitted to the Government earlier, the Left parties had sought a hike in spending on rural infrastructure, irrigation and credit by Rs. 14,000 crores, allocation of an additional sum of Rs. 20,000 crores for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and an additional allocation of Rs. 8,000 crores each for the education and health sectors.

They had also suggested bringing down defence spending and measures to increase the tax-GDP ratio by around 1.5 per cent, which, they said, should be sufficient to meet the additional expenditure of Rs 50,000 crores that was being suggested by them.

The Left suggested doing away with corporate tax exemptions and fixing of specific targets for realisation of tax arrears and recovery of non-performing assets of banks and financial institutions to meet the expenditure. — PTI

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