The general public in Madurai say there is very little to rejoice over the Union budget delivered on Thursday. A day after the budget was unveiled, members of the public expressed their views to The Hindu . They ranged from apprehension over service tax to scepticism about the Nirbhaya scheme. Some felt very positive about the budget

PIC AVAILABLE S. Srinivasan, a public sector bank employee said, “The deduction of Rs one lakh interest for housing loans above Rs 25 lakh is good for middle class people. The prices of all products are indirectly hiked. The income tax ceiling could have been raised. Nobody is going to buy mobiles for less than Rs 2000”.

According to L. Ramani, an employee of Life Insurance Corporation the budget is not just for the middle class people because the prices of essential commodities have already been hiked. “Families go out to dine once in a while and the hike in service tax in air-conditioned restaurants is a blow. The Nirbhaya scheme seems like eyewash and how it works will be ascertained only if the details are etched out and implemented”.

J. Chandrasekaran, financial advisor of Hi-Tech Arai, said several factors on economic development have been disregarded. “No details have been spelt out to contain inflation. Nothing has been announced to boost exports and reduce imports, to increase agricultural production and to boost production in smaller industries”, he said.

PIC AVAILABLE G. Josephine Nansia, a MCA graduate said, “When most people dream of owning smart phones and i-phones, it is inappropriate that the service tax for mobile phones above Rs 2000 has been hiked. The budget, in general, does not seem to benefit anybody”. “The common man who does not know the exact details of service tax might be exploited under the pretext of service tax hike every time he eats in air-conditioned restaurants or whenever he buys a mobile, she further said.

PIC AVAILABLE “The budget has nothing for the poor and the middle class people. The educated and the working class people might benefit. There is nothing to boost the industrial sector, to enhance employment opportunities or to boost economic growth”, said K. S. Veeranan, an auto driver.

PIC AVAILABLE “There is nothing noteworthy about the budget. The Nirbhaya scheme is quite laudable, but we have to wait and watch how it is going to shape up. Like most other schemes it should not just remain on paper and most of the time the government conveys something but implements a different thing altogether”, said N. Kathiresan, a tender coconut vendor.

P. Shankar Narayanan, a postal employee said, “We expected a hike in the interest rates of postal savings scheme because the deposits are falling. It appears as if the budget has the election in mind”.

PIC AVAILABLE J. Dhivya Jothi, a II year B.B.A. student from Lady Doak College said, “More finance could have been allocated to the health sector to enhance the facilities in government hospitals. There are no adequate facilities in several government hospitals and the economically downtrodden who go there are treated as if they do not deserve to live”. “The hike in central sales tax will affect the retailers and no plan has been announced to control inflation and price hike. However, the scholarships announced for marginalised students are to be welcomed”, she added.

PIC AVAILABLE M. Deepthi, another II year B.B.A. student from Lady Doak College said, “By allocation of funds to infrastructure, agriculture, power and manufacturing sector, it has ample scope to reduce unemployment. Allocation of funds for women under the Nirbhaya scheme is very positive for women”.“I feel we are used to shelling out a few more bucks for food in air-conditioned restaurants and therefore the hike is not going to affect us much”, she added.

PIC AVAILABLE G. Nirmala, a home-maker said, “The budget is disappointing. For the agriculture sector, definite schemes could have been announced to promote organic farming. That way we can get quality vegetables at a reasonable price”. “That the government failed to raise the income slab for tax payers is also disappointing. And we seriously hope some positive steps are taken under the Nirbhaya scheme to ensure safety of women such as installing surveillance cameras in public places and displaying the phone numbers of police officials in public for the benefit of women”, she further said.

G. Beulah, associate professor in Sri Meenakshi Government Arts College for Women said, “Every year we lose two months by paying tax alone. A lot of middle class people are suffering because the income slab for tax payers has not been raised for several years. The income slab should be raised from Rs 1 lakh to at least Rs 3 lakh per year”.

PIC AVAILABLE Salai Selvam, a women’s rights activist and educationist questioned the rationale behind setting up a separate bank for women. “When there is so much to be done for the uplift of women, why has the government announced a bank for us?”, she asked. “Instead, training institutes for women could have been set up. Instead of preventing incidents of violence against women, the Nirbhaya scheme has been announced and it seems to be aimed at securing the votes of women”, she concluded.