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Q: What kind of a Budget would you like the Union Finance Minister to present?
This is the first instalment of readers’ response

Pave the way for a better tomorrow

The UPA government’s Budget objectives are unclear. The Budget needs to be predictable for at least one year so that the consumer may plan his overall expenditure accordingly. What we need is proper civic planning. Increasing traffic and multiplying vehicles have ruined the roads in all metros. Infrastructure development should be the highlight of the coming Budget. All highways must have rest places after every 60 km so as to avoid easing out in the open and throwing garbage wherever one liked. The Electricity Department needs to be made efficient and funds should also be allocated for the removal of garbage mechanically, which should be controlled by a waste-management body. With the erratic price rise, the purchasing power of salaries and pensions is eroded. The sixth Pay Commission needs to be convened immediately. Besides, half-year DA/DR review, there should be monthly and weekly stabilisers. The Budget needs to be socialistic, not pro-capitalist.

Nevada, USA

Most Indians depend upon agriculture and they have always been overlooked.
Most Indians depend upon agriculture and they have always been overlooked. 

Keep boosting FDI

Before the Assembly elections in Haryana, Bihar and Jharkhand, the Congress-led UPA government gave a gift to its employees by hiking the interest rate of EPF to 9.5 per cent. This will benefit middle-class families. I have full faith in our Finance Minister. He knows what the common people want. By hiking FDI limits in sectors like telecom, civil aviation and insurance, Mr Chidambaram has indicated the UPA government’s openness towards foreign capital. In order to compete with economic superpowers, we should prepare a solid economic base and this cannot be achieved without foreign investment. The development of Bangalore and Hyderabad into India’s Silicon Valleys should be marketed as an example of economic progress. An even economic growth is what India needs. The rising rate of inflation should be checked before it goes out of control.


Focus on agriculture, education

Let the coming Budget benefit every Indian, irrespective of our class differences. Healthcare should be the focus of the Budget. The price of medicine needs to be checked. The way these are going up, common people will soon find it increasingly difficult to pay their hospital bills. We see social classes living cohesively in India. It is the larger public, the mass, which form the pillar of a society’s economic growth. From a broader economic perspective, thrust should be given to infrastructure development and addressing fundamental issues like poverty, education and healthcare. Most of the countrymen depend upon agriculture and have always been overlooked. Tackling such fundamental issues as agriculture are key to India’s financial progress in the new millennium. With the rise in population, employment opportunities should also be expanded, but all this can never be achieved till we are more honest with ourselves.



Perk up agriculture, Provide education for all, Wait for the day, hold on.

Indian economy will be towering,

And “we the Indians” will stand tall.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) should set a target before announcing the Budget. Here are a few issues, which the Finance Minister should take into account before announcing the Budget. Prices of basic commodities should be within the reach of the common man. Rural development should be the focal point. Though “quality basic education and health” was the motto of the previous government, little work was done on that line. Introduce more schemes like the “100-day employment guarantee”. Senior citizens should be given special attention. More investment is needed in the private and foreign sectors to create more employment. Improve irrigation infrastructure and water harvesting. Disaster management should be made more effective. Issues like control of government expenditure should not be overlooked.


Give aid for water resources

In 1992, Union Finance Minister Dr Manmohan Singh presented a historic Budget, which opened the door of liberal economic policies. So with Dr Manmohan Singh at the helm of affairs as Prime Minister, we can expect a good Budget this time. The Finance Minister should emphasise on liberal economic reforms and prepare a growth-oriented Budget. He should try to mark additional financial aid for water resources, as the water table is declining sharply. The current rates of excise duty on steel and cement should be reduced. Whereas the interest rate on home loans should be increased, additional benefits should be given to export-oriented units, especially to those who earn from foreign exchange. The Finance Minister should enhance the subsidies for the cottage and small-scale industries.

Jalandhar City

Youth are the key to development

It may not be possible for the government to create jobs for every one, but it can push young, educated people towards entrepreneurship by bringing easy-finance schemes and support. The government normally announces many schemes, but the banks are not prepared to finance without any collateral security. What can a young and unemployed person guarantee? Skills? The increasing migration from villages needs to be checked by encouraging corporate investments in villages and bringing rural infrastructure on a par with infrastructure in cities. The agricultural income of big landholders should also come under tax net. Another way of attaining growth is to encourage NRI and domestic investment by creating awareness about capital market, instead of relying on foreign investment alone. Continue tax exemption on NRI deposits. Separate political will from professional projects. Look at the way the cost of investment for the Bathinda refinery has increased because of delay due to political reasons.


Perk up exports, cut imports

I’d like the Union Finance Minister to present a Budget that suits all citizens of India. The minister should keep it simple by just trying to reduce the maximum costs. The Budget should improve exports and reduce imports. At the same time, taxes should be reduced on companies as well as individuals. I’d like the Budget to bring an upward trend in the stock market.


Needed ‘Aam Adami’ Budget

The Budget is one thing for which all sections of society wait, but only a few get the benefit, which is ever the more reason for the Union Finance Minister to bring in equality in allocations. The middle class is the section that suffers the most after every Budget. A rich person is hardly ever affected by it, but a person with low income is practically left with nothing in hand. For the common people, the outlay figures running in crores mean nothing. A common man wants a Budget of the kind that leaves him with enough resources to take care of his family and see that guests are properly hosted, a thought that is reflected in one of Saint Kabir’s couplets. The Budget to be presented should promote democratic culture, but as it brings changes that directly affect the common man, it should not be in the hands of just one man to impose taxes at will on the people. There is hardly any Budget that has resulted in the lowering of prices of petrol and cooking gas, because it’s beyond the control of the even the government. The Budget is a source of income for the government; I hope that the Union Minister, while presenting this Budget, realises what happens to the common man if you sap all his income.


Blend reforms with socialism

The UPA government’s Budget should be a blend of reforms and social concerns. It should focus on development, agriculture, employment, rural infrastructure, health and education, which are the key areas of the common minimum programme of the alliance. A corporate body under Investment Commission can be created for funding infrastructure projects like ports, roads, power plants, housing, dams and bridges, and long-term loans from global players can be attracted to increase the supply of money. A hike in the rate of direct tax, a cut in indirect-tax rates and reintroduction of the VDIS are keenly awaited. Without clear aims and objectives, fiscal and revenue deficits have been far from under control. Deficit is shooting up due to poor tax collection, so Budget 2005 should focus on tax compliance and widening of tax base. Lower taxes would bring greater compliance. The government should propose to cut the pays of parliamentarians for stalling the proceedings of the House.


Spare LPG, kerosene

The Budget is more than a mere statement of estimated revenue and expenditure of the government. It is an indicator of the government’s policies on major issues. It is an instrument of all socio-economic development. The “Dream Budget” Finance Minister should see that subsidies are not reduced on items like the LPG and kerosene. Farmers under the Kisan Credit Scheme, who have to repay the loan within six months, should be given at least two years to pay back the sum. Corporate tax rate should not be reduced more than 35 per cent. Measures should be taken to improve tax administration and to reduce the scope of corruption among taxmen. Implementation of the schemes like the PDS should be handed over to the private sector. Measures like the VDIS should be taken to unearth black money and emphasis should be on developing infrastructure. The Budget should boost reforms in agriculture sector and accelerate industrial growth. By hiking the FDI limits in telecom, civil aviation and insurance, the FM has indicated that the UPA is in line with the CMP.

On e-mail

Soft taxes will improve economy

The biggest curse in India is black money and the present tax system plays a vital role in its generation. Although the money growth is manifold, our moral growth is stunted. We are not prepared to share our profits with the government, since we feel that the rate of taxation is high. The lack of white money in the country is a great hurdle in our industrial and economic growth. At present, the tax rate should be less and less for higher slabs to give economy a chance to generate white money. The tax should not be more than 10-15 per cent in any case. Concessions on savings help only the people from the higher income group. An average class 1 officer gets only Rs 2 lakh per annum; how can he save money, given the present high cost of living. Moreover, the saving fund is globally charged.

On e-mail

Bring down price of petrol

The Finance Minister is steering the economy, and he should remember that not everyone is born with a silver spoon in mouth. His focus should be on the underprivileged and the middle class. The previous Budget considered the initiatives, but not the full-fledged implementation on the fundamental desires of the populace. Now the UPA government should ensure that everything is in the reach of general populace. Instead of dropping prices of luxury cars, stress should be on cutting the price of petrol, so that it is at least affordable. Allow private and foreign sectors to facilitate employment in India. A reduction in entertainment tax will go a long way in removing piracy from the media. Food served in only big restaurants should be taxed. Compulsory, but free education for small families of the poor should get a boost under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Taxing arms will encourage peace. Education loans, fine interest on savings in banks and other policies are immensely required. Those who have not opted for pension should get an opportunity to renew the option. Social security for senior citizens will ensure that they are not homeless after retirement.


The salaried class can only hope

The salaried class has much hope from the coming Budget. The government has proposed a 2 per cent education cess for individual income tax assessees, but on the other hand, no relaxation is being granted to those salaried-class assessees who spend money on upgrading their own educational status. More tax exemption should be granted to this class. The rate of interest on government-administered saving schemes must be enhanced and the saving plans should be scrutinised properly so that these are on a par with saving plans in the private sector.


Keep balance in view

The General Budget is approaching near and the Finance Minister has to do a lot of balancing. For all-round prosperity, we have to take bold steps and bring in drastic changes in the power sector and labour laws. Power is a basic requirement for the growth of industry. Easy finance and reduction in interest rates is urgently need. To compete globally, we have to provide trade and industry in India with infrastructure like power, roads, transport, easy availability of raw material, low custom duties, and abolish the Inspector Raj. Simplification of rationalisation and widening of tax base will serve our purpose well. To generate more employment, rural development is necessary and more stress should be on agriculture and agro-processing industry. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram are both economists and capable of presenting a dream budget.

Rampura Phul

Develop human resource

The Finance Minister, for Budget 2005-2006, should use address common concerns for making it unique. It should not merely be the annual ritual like earlier years. To make the journey from poverty to prosperity, the FM should give top priority to investment in the human resource development (HRD) sector by ensuring higher budgetary allocations for education, health, tourism, environment and vocational training, which have the potential to give ROTI (return on training investment). The ROTI is highest in terms of providing lifetime earnings to the youth. There is a strong case for making our people capable of entering the production process backed by a concrete plan of action. People of India deserve an increased working life. Keeping in view the employment potential in tourism, the suspension of leave travel concession (LTC) to government employees should be revoked. The employment multiplier in tourism industry is more than five and is capable of creating work culture through leisure.

Prof M. M. GOEL,

Think ethics, not revenue

It is that time of the year which the common man dreads the most. With Budget session soon to commence, all eyes are on the Finance Minister to present a people-friendly Budget. The minister would do well to relax the stringent taxes that have been imposed on the service class. There should be minimum tax liability on the service sector. However, the tax liability in case of agricultural income needs a thorough review



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