Special Correspondent

14-point "Peoples Charter" for higher allocation to meet CMP commitments

  • Withdrawal of standard deduction for salaried employees put the category at a disadvantage
  • Increased public investment sought in agriculture and irrigation

    NEW DELHI: The Left Parties plan to suggest a 14-point "Peoples Charter" for the 2007-08 Budget that would stress on increased allocation to meet the commitments of the National Common Minimum Programme, and raise resources by taxing the corporate houses and the rich.

    "The list of Indian billionaires show that within one year, i.e. between August 2005 and August 2006, the wealth of the richest Indian grew by over Rs.32,000 crore, which is nearly one per cent of India's GDP. One wonders why in such a backdrop, the wealth tax collection of the Government remained at a paltry Rs.265 crore in 2005-06, and exactly the same amount was budgeted for 2006-07.

    Wealth tax rate

    The wealth tax rate should be increased from one per cent to three per cent without further delay and initiatives need to be taken to broaden the wealth tax based by bringing all the urban as well as rural crorepaties into the wealth tax net," the six-page draft paper, under discussion by the Left parties, said.

    The party said the withdrawal of standard deduction for salaried employees along with raising the basic income tax exemption limit to Rs. 1.50 lakh in the last budget put this category at a disadvantage compared to business people. Demanding reintroduction of standard deduction, it said, this would help the salaried class since the business people were able to book expenditures like travel, depreciation etc as business activities. .

    The draft calls for increased public investment in agriculture and irrigation; reduction of interest rate on farm loans to 4 per cent; checking price rise of essential commodities; increased application of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act from present 200 districts; increased expenditure on education to meet 6 per cent of the GDP; increased expenditure on health to two to three per cent of the GDP; allocation of funds to initiate social security; commencing national programmes for minor irrigation of lands owned by dalits and adivasis.

    It also emphasised the need for a sub-plan allocating 15 per cent of the total resources on all development programmes for minorities, especially Muslims. Reduction in duties on taxes on petro-products, reduction in prices of petrol and diesel; increased customs duties on sectors being hit by cheap imports from Nepal and Sri Lanka as also in rubber and television; and reduction of excise duties for small scale industries.