The Hindu, in association with Indian Bank, organises the post-Budget talk

At the post- Budget talk organised by The Hindu in association with Indian Bank at GITAM University, a majority of the panel members were of the opinion that the recently presented Union Budget by the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee lacked focus, was not growth-oriented, offered very little to the ‘aam aadmi' (common man) and has failed to give direction to the Indian economy. The vice-chancellor of the university G. Subrahmanyam in his opening remarks pointed out that the people of India had expected the Finance Minister to raise the income tax exemption limit to Rs. 3 lakh per annum, but Mr. Mukherjee had set it at Rs. 2 lakh per annum which was disappointing. He felt that subsidies in the Indian context could not be done away with in a hurry.

Giving a presentation on the growth of Indian Bank, the deputy general manager of the bank P. Seshagiri Rao appealed to the students to avail themselves of education loans being given liberally by the bank. Delivering the keynote address, the deputy chairman of Visakhapatnam Port Trust G.V.L Satya Kumar spoke on the infrastructure and logistics-related issues in the budget. Earlier, he gave a glimpse of the railway budget and praised Mr. Dinesh Trivedi for raising the passenger fares. He pointed out that the proposal to set up an independent railway tariff regulatory authority was also a welcome move. The VPT deputy chairman noted that the performance of infrastructure bonds was not very encouraging and therefore the public-private participation model should be followed for infra projects.

The pro vice-chancellor of GITAM University D. Harinarayana in his address said that broadly four macro targets had to be kept in mind while judging any budget - growth, equity, employment and price stability. On all four fronts, he said, it was only an ‘incremental budget' and clearly lacking in policy direction. He also said that external factors such as Euro zone crisis, global meltdown and coalition compulsions have played a major role in the formulation of an insipid budget.

Director (commercial) of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and president of the Confederation of Indian Industry -Visakhapatnam Chapter T.K Chand said the emphasis of the budget was more on “fiscal consolidation and price stability rather than growth.” He spoke of the budgetary provisions related to the steel industry and stressed the need for enhancing steel consumption in rural areas.

CEO of Symbiosys Technologies O. Naresh Kumar said the Finance Minister had dealt the cruellest blow to the IT industry, and remarked that MAT on software exports and service tax in the domestic IT sector would stifle the industry. He was critical of the government on removing tax holiday status for IT companies. “Many of the units in IT special economic zones have come up on the promise of tax holiday for 15 years or so and it is simply not fair to change the rules of the game midway. The service tax hike will prove very costly to the domestic IT industry,” he remarked. Chartered accountant V. Chandrasekhar spoke about the taxation issues and said the budget would hit consumption adversely and also savings and many of the proposals of Mr. Mukherjee would not achieve the intended results. He also expressed doubts on the implementation of the proposed Direct Tax Code and Goods and Service Tax. Commerical Tax officer P. Kavitha Rao spoke about tax-related issues and the impact of the budget on women.

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