The Association of Small Industries of Union Territory of Puducherry (ASIUTOP) is of the opinion that the duty hike on natural rubber would affect the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Reacting to the Union budget, the association said duty on natural rubber had been increased by 1.5 times, which would affect SMEs engaged in the manufacture of footwear, glove and moulded components. At the same time, duty-free limit on gold had been raised to Rs. 50,000 for men and Rs. 1 lakh for women. Similarly, countervailing duty on ships and vessels has been abolished. Though minor sops were handed out to leather, gems, jewellery and others, it would not make much of a difference considering the crisis-ridden global market for exporters.

K. Parthasarathy, secretary, ASIUTOP, said the Commodities Transaction Tax being made applicable on non-agricultural products could push up the cost. These were the basic inputs for SMEs and, therefore, would increase the cost of products. Similarly, the cost of hedging on futures market might go up by three times. It would ultimately encourage trade to shift to unregulated channels or international markets.

With non-performing assets (NPAs) bogging down the status and performance of commercial banks, especially those in the public sector, infusion of Rs. 14,000 crore was of course a relief but not a substantial one. In one stroke, agricultural loans to the tune of Rs. 60,000 crore were written off by the Union Finance Minister during his last stint. Compared to that, the present effort of recapitalisation was far from exciting for the banks.

Mr. Parthasarathy added that skill development programmes for youth, special fund of Rs. 1,000 crore for empowering women, scheme of generation-based incentives for wind energy, low-interest rate finance for green projects, schemes in PPP mode for converting municipal waste into energy were silver lining in the budget.

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