Staff Reporter

KOCHI: The Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry said here on Wednesday that the Government's steps for fiscal, monetary and supply management were laudable and this indicated the Government's commitment to fiscal reforms.

In a statement, president of the Chamber Jose Dominic said the move to use a part of the foreign exchange reserve for infrastructure development was the right step. This would give a fillip to the need for infrastructure growth in keeping with the growth of the Indian economy.

The focus of the Budget is education and healthcare, said the statement. It welcomed the Government's commitment to increase spending on social infrastructure and services. The Government's renewed focus on areas such as agriculture, information technology, e-governance, textiles and research and development are welcome steps, the statement said.

However, the Chamber expressed "disappointment" that personal income-tax threshold had been raised only by Rs. 10,000 while at the same time imposing an additional one per cent education cess on tax-payers.

The statement said that the Finance Minister had put additional burden on investing in stock market by raising dividend distribution tax from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent.

While the excise cut on petrol and diesel are welcome, the Chamber expressed surprise that the benefits would not be passed on to the consumers in the light of the recent reduction in the price of petrol and diesel.