Ludhiana, February 1
Attractive incentives and rebates in the new income tax regime, steep hike in capital investments, creation of new jobs, biggest outlay in railways, greater emphasis on the rural sector, social-sector schemes, infrastructure creation, and the middle class has brought cheers to taxpayers and the business community in Ludhiana.
The industrialists, self-employed, employees, students and lower, medium to high class in the state’s business and industrial capital have hailed the urban planning reforms and actions to transform cities into ‘sustainable cities of tomorrow’, credit guarantee for MSMEs, new skill India digital platform to will link students with entrepreneurship opportunities and jobs, focus on expanding Capex, and law amendments to protect customers, reduction in basic customs duty rates from 21 to 13, announced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Union Budget for 2023-24 in the Parliament on Wednesday.
However, the common man on the street found nothing lucrative or on offer for ones looking for some relief from the rising inflation.
A cross-section of the local residents, including agriculturists, to whom The Tribune spoke to elicit the Budget reaction, also welcomed 100 laboratories to be set up to develop 5G solutions, smart classrooms, precision farming, promotion of alternative fertilisers, circular economy and intelligent transport but lamented that the Narendra Modi-led Central Government has again ignored the “aam aadmi”, who was finding it difficult to make both ends meet due to skyrocketing prices of daily need essentials in the present times.
“There is nothing for us to cheer for in the Budget as we are again left to fend for ourselves with no relief offered to the poor and marginalised sections of society, who are on the verge of extinction,” rued Ram Lal, a tea vendor outside the railway station.
A leading infrastructure promoter, Anagha Singh, said: “Big boost to the Capex, which has been increased by 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore, has shown that the Union Government’s priorities are building roads, highways and railway lines.”
“The middle class has been given some relief in terms of tweaks in the new income tax regime, clearly pointing out that the Centre wants a shift towards the new regime from the older one,” a tax consultant, Sahil Gupta, felt.
A skill developer, Ramneet Kaur, said the next phase of the skill development programme with 30 new skill India centres, new skill India digital platform, which would link students with entrepreneurship opportunities and jobs, and new apprenticeship scheme with stipends through the DBT would help create more jobs and boost skill development.
“Incentivising states and cities to undertake urban planning reforms and actions by spending more on infrastructure to transform cities into ‘sustainable cities of tomorrow’ is a welcome step,” said a leading realtor, Amit Garg.
A financial analyst, Natasha Suri, said: “Changes in personal income tax slabs, small savings scheme for women, national cooperative databases, centres of excellence for artificial intelligence and green credit programme financial information registry will lead to financial prudence.”
“Plan to promote research and development in pharmaceuticals will help the sector to compete with global challenges,” drug manufacturer Vibhor Singla said.
A progressive agriculturist, Rajwinder Singh, said the agriculture accelerator fund, promotion of alternative fertilisers, 500 compressed biogas plants at a total cost of Rs 10,000 crore, and precision farming would open new avenues for the new age farming.
“Hundred labs to develop 5G solutions, smart classrooms and 157 new nursing colleges will augment the modern-day learning,” a software developer, Neha Baria, remarked. A bank manager, Heena Kanal, said: “Amendments in the Banking Regulation Act, Banking Companies Act and RBI Act will protect customers.”
“Credit guarantee for MSMEs with Rs 9,000 crore more infusion in corpus to allow additional credit of Rs 2 lakh crore will give succour to the ailing industry,” a leading industrialist, Rajesh Gupta, said.
A hosiery importer, Anuradha Kaul, hailed the new regime of indirect taxes to reduce the number of basic customs duty rates from 21 to 13.
“Continuation of concessional duties on mobile components and reduction in custom duties on TV components will boost the local electronics manufacturing,” manufacturer Surinder Singh felt.
A homemaker, Bhavya Bhatia, welcomed the duty increase on cigarettes after three years.
“Support for old polluting vehicles and Rs 35,000 crore spend to work towards net zero for energy transition will promote green growth,” an environmentalist, Sudha Solanki, said.
A leading criminal lawyer, Rajesh Gupta, said phase 3 of the e-courts project with Rs 7,000 crore corpus was another effort to streamline the judicial process and reduce pendency.
What the leaders say
“The Budget has failed farmers, rural, poor and youth, besides failing to do anything to revive agricultural and industrial sectors in Punjab. Farmers were promised that agriculture income would be doubled. Far from doing anything to realise this goal, the Centre has not ensured procurement for all foodgrains on the MSP. The government has failed to fully implement its promise to ensure pucca houses for all by 2022. Youth have also not got 16 crore jobs as promised at the rate of two crore jobs per year.” — Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD chief
“The Budget has touched every group of society and provided the best possible relief to all. The increase in income tax exemption limit and changes in tax slabs would benefit employees and other taxpayers. The MSME industry, small businessmen, financially backward classes and women have been provided with several facilities and relief to grow. The Budget has again proved that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to provide opportunities to all to grow and develop as he is a common man himself.” — Anil Sarin, chief spokesperson, Punjab BJP
“The Budget has again proved how far the BJP government was away from the people and their concerns about life, livelihood and the growing inequality between the rich and the poor. The Finance Minister has not even mentioned words unemployment, poverty, inequality or equity anywhere in her speech. However, she has mentioned the word poor twice. The people will take note of who are real well-wishers of the common man and who are not.” — Ravneet Singh Bittu, Ludhiana MP
“I am really disappointed with the Union Budget as people were expecting much more. Tax benefits are almost nil if inflation is taken into account. Nothing much has been announced for the industrial sector. Textile industry, one of the biggest employers, which is reeling under huge losses, has been left out of any reprieve, and the same is the case with the housing industry, which failed to get any boost in the shape of incentives. Even markets, after understanding that the Budget has nothing to give, entered into a negative phase today. The only good thing in the Budget is a substantial increase in infrastructure expenses. Health expenditure has been reduced from 2.2 per cent to 1.98 per cent of the GDP. Rather, it should have been at least 3 per cent of the GDP. Punjab has been totally ignored as there is nothing specific about people of the state.” — Sanjeev Arora, Rajya Sabha MP
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