Staff Reporter

KOCHI: The Ernakulam Merchants' Union has termed the Union Budget a "harmless product."

Union General Secretary K. Venkitesh Pai said here on Wednesday that the emphasis laid on education was laudable. Several initiatives had been announced in the health and agricultural sectors. He welcomed the allocation for rural and urban development.

The prices of several items such as umbrella, edible oils, watch, plywood and medical equipment would come down as a result of the reduction in excise and customs duty. But the relief to income tax payers was grossly inadequate. Extension of service tax to rental income was not justified, he said.