The budget presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is an all-round disappointment. There is no tangible plan to end the agrarian crisis. As for inflation, price rise, unemployment and poverty, the budget has not delivered anything other than extending lip service. In sum, it has betrayed the hopes of millions of ordinary people and proved that the much-touted slogan of inclusive growth is only a mirage.
Although it seeks to sustain the present growth rate while controlling inflation, the budget has failed to deliver on the promise of increasing the spending on education. Investment in the ailing agriculture sector has not been stepped up considerably. Inclusive economic growth will continue to be a dream as long as the state does not increase its investment in the social sectors.
The increase of Rs.10,000 in the income tax exemption limit is an affront to the salaried class. With rising inflation and prices, a Rs. 50,000 increase would have been reasonable. The fact that the UPA Government has no fear of general elections in the near future seems to have prompted the Minister to neglect the class that pays IT to the last rupee, unlike many professionals.
Hats off to the Finance Ministry for identifying inflation-causing items such as watch dials, pet food, and umbrellas for corrective action.
At a time when parents are concerned over desertion by their siblings which has even led to the proposed introduction of a Bill to rein in the callous offspring the budget proposal to cut import duty on pet food comes as a great solace. The parents can now shower undivided love on the pets. For this proposal, the parents and pets will forever remain grateful to the Minister.
Mr. Chidambaram has presented a fair budget. The social sector has been adequately addressed for the first time in many years. The huge increase in the outlay for healthcare, education and agriculture speaks for this government's commitment to the well-being of the aam aadmi. Of course, the corporate sector has little to cheer about. It is only fair not to provide any more concession to the sector given the relaxations it has been enjoying over the past decade. A GDP growth of 9 per cent could have provided the Minister with the much-needed break to concentrate more on the social sector.
G. Ashok Vardhan Reddy,