What about write-offs, corporate freebies?

What about write-offs, corporate freebies?

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Former Chief Justice N V Ramana has stirred a hornet's nest when he agreed to hear the pleas on freebies. Much has been written on this so far and...

Former Chief Justice N V Ramana has stirred a hornet's nest when he agreed to hear the pleas on freebies. Much has been written on this so far and everyone knows that freebies are the in-thing in our kind of democracy and political parties keep doubling their promises to the voters just before elections every time. This is a 'term investment' sort of thing for the leaders of these parties. However, the issues raised by the DMK leadership in the court need to be discussed in greater detail and not the freebies announced to the common man and the underprivileged people of the society.

The Prime Minister called it 'revdi culture' and criticised it. How about the tax cuts and loan waivers for the corporates or subsidies for the rich as freebies, the CPI(M), too, questioned. As the DMK has pointed out in its submission to the court during the first three years of the Modi government (2014-17), Rs 72,000 crore loans of the Adani group had been written off and in the past five years (2017-22) and public sector banks had written off loans worth Rs 7.27 lakh crore. The party goes on to ask: "Are these not freebies for corporates? What is the justification for wanting to prevent welfare measures like food, education and travel subsidies for the poor and downtrodden but continuing to give large tax breaks for corporates?"

Corporates don't launch any agitation to seek the freebies. Those heading such favoured corporates of the government of the day don't sit on dharna either at Jantar Mantar, Ramlila Maidan or at the outskirts of Delhi. They don't have to have a comfortable drive to the homes and offices of the powers that be to settle the issue in their favour. In the name of encouraging industry, the governments, both State and Central, continue pampering those. Not just the Centre, even the State governments compete with one another in offering land, power and water at heavily subsidised rates to them and promise to build all kinds of infrastructure for developing their businesses. Of course, they don't pledge their votes to the political parties nor could they.

It is a different matter that those corporates fund the political parties during the elections and also hold back from giving the same to some. The Left rightly puts it (about the attitude of the governments): "The neo-liberal nostrum that subsidies for food, fertilizer, electricity and such like are all wasteful expenditure of public resources and are called freebies. That is the prevailing wisdom. Instead of transfers to the working people, there should be transfers to big capitalists to promote growth." Banks wrote off loans worth about Rs 10 lakh crore in the last five financial years, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.

During 2021-22, the write-off amount came down to Rs 1,57,096 crore compared to Rs 2,02,781 crore in the previous year, Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat K Karad said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha during the last session. In 2019-20, the write-off was worth Rs 2,34,170 crore, down from Rs 2,36,265 crore, the highest in five years recorded in 2018-19. In all, he said, bank loans to the tune of Rs 9,91,640 crore had been written off between 2017-18 to 2021-22. Fiscal responsibility is important. How about those write-offs, defaults etc?

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