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

Overhaul and simplify taxation system

Every government lays emphasis on the simplification of the system of taxation, but when the Union Budget is presented, the additions make it more complicated. The suggestions for simplification are many. The rate of income tax for individuals, HUF, AOP and BOI should be revised. Income tax rebate under Section 88 should be revised. Section 88-C, under which a special rebate of Rs 5,000 is given to women assesses, should be scrapped, thus bringing equality between men and women. Section 88-D becomes meaningless, if the exemption limit is raised to Rs 1 lakh; hence, it should be removed with immediate effect. The qualifying amount under Section 88 in respect of re-payment of housing loan should be raised. Deduction in respect of medical insurance premium under Section 88-D should be raised. Deduction in respect of re-payment of loan taken for higher education should be raised. For qualifying as senior citizen, the minimum age should be brought down to 60.



The taxation policies of India have been promoting dishonest attitude among the people. The highest income-tax rate in any reformed economy is 26 per cent, but we charge 35 per cent and above. Kautilya rightly remarked that tax should be such that people are willing to pay it and the government gets its rightful revenue. The Finance Minister has hinted that he wishes to overhaul the system of taxation, but nothing would be achieved by rotating the caps and the heads. The government should have four-tier income-tax rate. It will help India unearth black money and the people will start paying taxes honestly and bring more white money into the economy.



In the last Budget, the salaried-class people were cheated, notwithstanding the income-tax exemption range that was extended up to Rs 1 lakh. If the UPA government really wants to help the employees, it should increase the exemption limit up to Rs 1,50,000. What to talk of assistants, even lower-division clerks have to pay income tax out of their limited pay. Employees should be allowed to feed their families in a dignified manner. That can be possible only if the tax exemption limit is raised. Of course, employees who are getting more than Rs 2.5 lakh per year can and should pay income tax. Besides, other resources may be explored from where income tax can be collected. Compelling lowly-paid employees to pay income tax is a sin.


Promote balanced growth

The Budget for the year 2005-2006, which is going to be presented by Mr P. Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister, should focus on the needs of the common man because it affects the middle class and the poor the most. It should solve our various economic problems, especially unemployment, which is the root cause of all other social and economic problems. The Budget should promote a balanced growth with reforms in various sectors to make India a developed nation in the coming years.

— GAURAV JAIN, Jalandhar City

Make room for housing

The income-tax exemption limit should be raised, but the corporate sector should also be given incentive. We need to see incentives being given for raising employment. Incentive for building housing societies would remove the shortage of living space. Small investors need to be protected from the companies that run away overnight after collecting money from innocent clients and subscribers. Small-saving schemes should be encouraged, as this is the only decent saving option for the middle class. Investors in India need some such scheme where funds are not diverted to any Swiss bank.


Easy Budget leads to progress

A good Budget works like health food. Expectations rise every time in February, but this year, it’s the first full Budget of the UPA government, and we expect it to lay broad contours of comprehensive tax reforms and include rationalisation of tax incentives for savings extended to personal income-tax assessees. Introducing a system of taxation that is simple and easy to understand can enhance public savings. The government has to control the rate of inflation because it directly affects the purchasing power of the middle class. A little part of the country’s income should also be utilised towards development of quality education and buying better incentives for teachers, especially the educators who are serving in rural areas.


Reduce government expenditure

The Budget should focus on reducing the government expenditure and fiscal deficit. I have identified three such departments based on population statistics—the Registrar of Births and Death, Department of Census and Election Commission of India. We can save a lot of government expenditure by merging these departments that require Centre’s control for accurate identification of families and individuals. Computerisation of birth and death records, enumerators and implementors of population policy should come under one roof.

The Departments of Census, instead of sleeping for 10 years, should play an active role in updating and printing the electoral rolls from time to time. They should also supervise and authenticate the registration of births and deaths by keeping a central record. To ensure "one person, one identify", the department should also keep a track and spread of families in the country. We should see the Election Commission of India as the most transparent regulator of the electoral process. Transparency in rolls will also save democracy from political manoeuvres.

Dr B. S. AGGARWAL, Chandigarh

Link Budget with national income

The Union Budget is a regular exercise for the Government of India and a regular source of anxiety for its subjects. This also sets the direction in which the states prepare their annual Budgets. No doubt, the thinking of our political masters has changed for the better during the past decade, but we still have a long way to go. The Budget should be directly linked with the income of the country, so that no gap is left between our earnings and expenditure. Tax deduction at all levels should be simplified, with loopholes plugged and new income slabs added. The salaried class should be given more relief in income tax. The subsidy system will look better if it’s not there at all. The nation has an income which needs to grow, so all schemes should be need-based and not for all.


Tax the rich

Being a salaried person, I want to suggest that the Union Finance Minister should keep two sectors in mind while presenting the Budget—the service sector and the corporate sector. The income-tax exemption limit for the salaried class should be raised to Rs 2 lakh and there should be one slab rate of taxation. Further, standard deduction already given should be abolished. The corporate sector needs to be taxed at a higher rate. Records show that citizens have always donated generously for relief after every natural disaster. In spite of these donations, a special tax should be introduced to raise money for disaster management and relief.


Increase EPF interest rate

The Budget should be agriculture oriented. Subsidy should be continuously given on agricultural items till there is no further need. The rates of interest on EPF/bank deposits should be enhanced to give relief to pensioners. Cottage industry/small-scale industry should be given incentives. Income tax rates should be revised and more emphasis should be laid on the recovery of taxes and tax arrears. As there is no problem of foreign currency yet, the rates of petrol and diesel can be kept down. A more reasonable share of the Budget should go to education. Some strategy should be applied to control black money and election expenditure.


Give more for education, health

The Budget, a tool of socio-economic development, has, of late, turned into a political exercise due to petty politics and coalition compulsions. Making a departure, the Finance Minister should present a humane Budget, responsive to the needs of the man on the street. While all efforts should be made to mop up more resources for development and post-tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction, the allocation under the heads of education and health should also be enhanced. Apportioning more funds for education and health will truly reflect the concerns of the two humble and intelligent men at the helm of affairs. The President has set us a goal: we have to be among the developed nations. While providing the salaried class with some relief by raising the income-tax exemption limit, the Finance Minister should extend the service-tax net to include every type of related activity.


Raise income tax exemption limit

Last year, the Finance Minister played to the galleries while presenting the Budget. He averred that he had raised the income tax exemption limit to Rs 1 lakh and that he could not give anything more than that. But that turned out to be a mirage, as the salaried class soon found to its chagrin that the Finance Minister, with his jugglery of words, had played a practical joke. The reason being that income above Rs 5,000 is taxable. So I would like the Finance Minister to keep his words and raise the income tax exemption limit to Rs 1 lakh. Besides, standard deduction and rebate related incentives should also be retained.

Though the UPA Government claims to be the common man friendly, the prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed during its term. The frequently increasing prices of LPG have upset the housewife’s budget. Even kerosene is being sold at Rs 20 a litre. So the Finance Minister should show his ingenuity to provide the much-needed relief to the common man.

The UPA also boasted that it would carry out reforms with a "humane touch". But that is nowhere to be seen, rather NDA’s approach of privatisation is being followed vigorously and precipitously. The Finance Minister should try to solve these problems through his Budget, which should be non-inflationary and employment generating. He should rise to the occasion to rectify the track record of his government, which has so far belied the hopes and aspirations of the hoi polloi.


Create new job avenues

The way political equations are changing in the world, the Finance Minister should increase the defence allocation in the Budget. Since our economy is agriculture based and farmers have generally remained a neglected lot, the subsidy on fertilisers and the hike in the minimum support price of crops should be maintained in the Budget. Unemployment in India is increasing like never before, so the Finance Minister should create new job avenues for the unemployed youth by giving impetus to small-scale industries. The present-day income tax rules are complex and their language, too, is not easy to comprehend. The Finance Minister should adopt the recommendations of the Kelkar committee on income tax reforms and ensure that the rules are comparatively simple and the language easy to comprehend. The prices of life saving drugs should be brought down. Last but not least, the unprivileged section of society should not be left out of focus. Various schemes and programmes should be initiated to ensure their uplift.

— MONIKA DHIMAN, Katholi (Kangra)

Protect small industries

The Budget should not produce conflict within the UPA government. In Budget, we are expecting particularly the merger of banks and disinvestment of pension funds, which may lead to further confrontation. There would be major policy initiatives on mobilisation of domestic resources, improvement in the Employment Guarantee Act, more funds for its implementation, allocation of the increased 8 per cent of the GDP to higher education, 5 per cent to healthcare and 60 per cent more credit to farmers, among other things. Take steps to protect the small and traditional industries, revive sick PSUs and expand the tax base. In Budget, there would be a special industrial package for Punjab and some other states. In this Budget, there are issues of further liberalisation investment norms for the booming media sector. The VAT would apply to nearly more than 270 items.

MEENU BANSAL, Jaitu (Faridkot)


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