Congress Lok Sabha Election Manifesto: Wealth and welfare are the two key promises made by the Congress in its manifesto released on Tuesday by party president Rahul Gandhi. The party has promised Rs 6,000 per month basic income to 5 crore poor families under Nyay scheme and the scaling up of the NREGA to provide 150 days of guaranteed work in a year.
The Congress has made tall promises in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections as the party was looking for ways to neutralise BJP’s advantage after Balakot terror camp bombing and implementation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana that entails payment of Rs 6,000 per year to 12 crore small and marginal farmers.
However, arranging the money for these welfare programmes is not easy for any government. Unlike loan waivers, these election season welfare announcements are not one time special measures.
The challenge becomes even more daunting as the Congress has clarified that if it is voted to power then these new promises will be implemented without closing down the existing schemes. Basic calculations suggest that the central government will need Rs 17-18 lakh crore every year on recurring basis to implement the promises made in Congress manifesto while continuing with the existing schemes.
Basic arithmetic suggests that implementation of NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) will require Rs 3.6 lakh crore a year. Similarly scaling up NREGA from present 100 days to 150 days will require additional Rs 30,000 crore, taking the total figure to Rs 90,000 crore.
Three subsidies, food, fuel and fertiliser, require additional Rs 3 lakh crore a year to implement. Taking the total figure to Rs 7.6 lakh crore, which is Rs 60,000 crore more than the total estimated borrowing of the central government for 2019-20.
Rahul Gandhi has also promised creation of 22 lakhs new jobs a year that will put a recurring burden on the central exchequer for next 30-35 years. Rahul Gandhi has also promised increasing expenditure on education, health and defence in a big way that will require huge amount of additional money.
According to interim budget 2019-20, the total budget for central sector schemes and centrally sponsored schemes was Rs 8.6 lakh crore and Rs 3.27 lakh crore respectively, nearly Rs 12 lakh crore.
As per conservative estimates, implementation of the Congress Party manifesto will add another Rs 5-6 lakh crore, taking the total figure to Rs 17-18 lakh crore a year, which is more than the total estimated net taxes to be collected by the central government in the current fiscal.