The Union budget presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was clearly an election-year exercise. The waiver of loans for small and marginal farmers amounting to Rs.60,000 crore and offer of one-time settlement to others, and increase in the income tax limits are clear pointers in that direction. The budget, otherwise, had nothing new. Of course, one cannot expect a “dream budget” year after year.

N. Ramakrishnan,

Chennai

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No budget in the recent past has given such a strong thrust to the farm sector as budget 2008-09. The waiver of farm loans and debt relief to the extent of Rs.60,000 crore deserve universal praise. Whether or not it is an election-oriented budget, it has pleased every section. The Finance Minister and his team deserve appreciation.

Lvb. Selvaraj,

Chennai

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The Union budget shows the UPA’s anxiety to face the elections. The hike in income tax limits is truly a populist measure. The loan waiver for the farm sector is welcome. The cuts in excise duty for the auto sector will further boost auto sales and augur well for an industry waiting for such sops.

Salin Thomas,

Kottayam

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Mr. Chidambaram deserves a pat on his back from senior citizens for enhancing the IT exemption limit from Rs.1.95 lakh to Rs.2.25 lakh. The budget proposals are pragmatic and will be welcomed by all.

The expected slowdown in GDP growth rate is a matter of grave concern. The budget has been drawn up with an eye on the elections.

A.R.K. Pillai,

Mumbai

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A please-all budget. The waiver of loans for small and marginal farmers, making them eligible for more loans, is disappointing. Our farmers will forever remain in debt-trap if their debts are waived. Farming should be scientifically monitored and the prices for what farmers grow fixed in a more rational way.

K.S. Someswara,

Bangalore

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Congratulations to the Finance Minister on presenting a reasonable budget with an eye on the next elections. Moderate concessions in personal income tax are likely to be wiped clean with the submission of the Sixth Pay Commission report. The most alarming aspect is the writing off of farmers’ debts to the tune of Rs.60,000 crore. It will put banks under great strain as most of the farmers will try to make a virtue of the default in anticipation of another bonanza. Instead of tackling the scourge of moneylenders in the villages, the Finance Minister has put the banks in an awkward position.

Col. Ram Gulrajani (retd),

Chennai

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Mr. Chidambaram has increased the IT limit for men to 1,50,000 and for women to 1,80,000. In most of the families, men are the sole earning members but they have to pay more tax than women — most of whom work for the additional income of their families — who get the same salary. Isn’t this funny?

In fact the tax exemption should be more for men or at least equal to that of women. It is time for men to demand equal treatment.

C.R. Mohan,

Salem

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As the Sixth Pay Commission is round the corner, the government has been forced to raise the tax limit. Once the report is implemented, despite the tax threshold, everyone will have to pay more tax than what he or she paid last year. There is no rationale behind discriminating among taxpayers on the basis of gender.

B.S. Selvakumar,

Vellore

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Rs.60,000 crore have been waived. If the government was really interested in farmers’ welfare, it could have stemmed farmers’ suicides by distributing relief to the tune of Rs.60,000 crore over the last five years. One wonders what could be the reason behind the sudden shower of love for farmers.

V.R. Hothur,

Bangalore

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One should welcome the waiver inasmuch as it benefits those who have undergone much suffering. But many farmers might have borrowed from moneylenders at usurious interest rates. They might have even lost their lands through foreclosure. They will gain nothing from the government scheme.

The farmers who committed suicide did so because, apart from their inability to service their debts as a result of crop failure, they did not have any source of income to feed their families.

M.S. Parthasarathy,

Chennai

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Loan-waivers go against a sound financial system and fundamental principles of lending. The expectations among farmers will be to get more of such concessions.

If the Finance Minister intended to do something good for farmers, he should have created healthy avenues to increase their disposable income and the general standard of living by removing the hurdles of middlemen. A loan waiver is a step in the wrong direction. One will never know how many rich are set to become richer by this announcement as many of our affluent sections, including politicians, own sizeable parcels of land.

K.S. Ramachandran,

Chennai