Monday, 30th October 2017

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Union budget 2019: Disappointing all the way

The budget schemes seem good on paper but how much implementation will happen is questionable

  • Published 6.07.19, 4:20 AM
  • Updated 6.07.19, 4:20 AM
  • 6 mins read
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Every year we go through the two-hour-long presentation of the budget and find that there is nothing for us. Will the budget hold out any hope for salaried individuals?: Brati Sankar Ghosh (in checkered shirt). (Telegraph picture)

Remembering the Legend of Sisyphus

Brati Sankar Ghosh (43) is an architect working with a Software MNC in Calcutta. His wife Sharmistha Ghosh (43) is a system admin and manager working with a software MNC in Calcutta. They have two sons Pinak (13 years) Sagnik (10 years). The couple invests in life insurance and mutual funds. Brati feels it is that time of the year when the legend of the Sisyphus is reaffirmed for every middle class family. “Every year we go through the two-hour-long presentation of the budget and find that there is nothing for us. Will the budget hold out any hope for salaried individuals?” Sharmistha says: “Our biggest ask is controlling inflation. Prices have been reaching for the stars forever. “Our biggest expense is medical expense for parents, self and children. We would love the government to help reduce this expense. Mere tax rebates do not help really.” Brati says: “Our next big expense is children’s education. We would want the supporting cost of education, books, transport, supportive tuition to be less costly. “Finally, we would like the interest rates of public deposit schemes (PPF etc) to be raised so that we can have some guaranteed savings.

Budget reaction:

The budget is a big disappointment. There are no measures for health, medicine, education, income tax or small saving schemes. Gold jewellery prices could also increase as the import duty has gone up and also on some electronic items. And the cherry on the cake? Cess on fuel! 

“More tax relief on money spent for attending conferences will help medical professionals. So will tax relief for money spent on maintaining clinics,”said Dr Subhrojyoti Bhowmick.
“More tax relief on money spent for attending conferences will help medical professionals. So will tax relief for money spent on maintaining clinics,”said Dr Subhrojyoti Bhowmick. (Telegraph picture)

Tax relief for rural diagnostic centres

Dr Subhrojyoti Bhowmick (40) is a clinical research physician and patient safety expert practicing in Calcutta.

Subhrojyoti regularly invests in PPF and LIC policies. He has a home loan which is being paid off. Bhowmick hopes the budget increases the income tax deduction under Section 80C of the income tax act. Increased tax deductions towards healthcare and home loans can be a great help, he feels. “As a doctor I would love to see more taxation on alcohol and tobacco products.

“More tax relief on money spent for attending conferences will help medical professionals. So will tax relief for money spent on maintaining clinics,” he added.

“Tax relief for nursing homes/diagnostic centres based out of rural areas can be considered. Reduction of taxes on solar panels and water re-harvesting machines would go a long way to help the environment,” he said

Budget reaction:

It is good that the excise duty on cigarettes has gone up. The move to ensure water security and adequate drinking water is also welcome. But there should have been more focus on healthcare. Increase in the deduction on home loan will push sales of affordable homes. But there should have been more exemptions to the common man under section 80C. Boost for solar panels will surely further the cause of green energy.

“We need higher academic grants and research funds for social sciences. There is dearth of good research scholarship because of which students are moving out of the country and we are losing out on massive intellectual property,” Anupa Barik said.
“We need higher academic grants and research funds for social sciences. There is dearth of good research scholarship because of which students are moving out of the country and we are losing out on massive intellectual property,” Anupa Barik said. (Telegraph picture)

Employment, education, and environment

Anupa Barik (27) is a media professional and a research scholar working on media and gender studies in Ahmedabad. Anupa feels it is high time to focus on employment, education, and environment for a healthy economy. The growing population needs increased employment opportunities to directly contribute to GDP for maintenance of an equitable distribution of tax. “We need higher academic grants and research funds for social sciences. There is dearth of good research scholarship because of which students are moving out of the country and we are losing out on massive intellectual property,” Anupa said.

Climate emergency is a reality and India is a big contributor. There is a need for sustainable development and awareness across the country for a healthier community. Falling groundwater level, erratic temperature and rampant flooding are a result of irrational use of resources. There is a need to install and invest a good percentage of the budget for an environmentally friendly way of living.

Budget reaction:

The budget schemes seem good on paper but how much implementation will happen is questionable? Instead of concentrating focus on the economic benefits like the $5 trillion economy, the government should allocate a considerable amount for bettering human development index. The ‘study in India’ plan and ‘stand up’ scheme that is initiated seems too far-fetched. More focus should have been given to employment of academicians who are well versed with AI, big data and internet of things topics. Where is the infrastructure to promote such education? 

"Nothing special for women in the budget," said financial adviser Namrata Ojha. (Telegraph picture)

We need more sops for women

Namrata Ojha (35) is is an independent financial adviser and corporate leasing consultant in Mumbai. Namrata wants the basic tax exemption to be raised to Rs 3.5 lakh for general tax payers and to Rs 4 lakh for senior citizens.

“I feel that retired people who have only pension income shouldn’t be taxed as they have earned this money by already paying tax… why should they be taxed again when they retire,” Namrata said. The government should allocate a budget for women’s safety, there should be more security for women in public places, she added. For start-ups, women should be given loans at a lower interest rate or a subsidy could be considered. Income tax deduction under 80C can be raised to Rs 2 lakh. More tax should be levied on alcohol & cigarettes.

Budget reaction:

Nothing special for women in the budget. No changes in the tax slabs is a big setback. Thrust on infrastructure is welcome as the daily commute will become easier in the near future. However, cess imposed on petrol & diesel will increase the cost of transportation. The move to integrate PAN and Aadhar is a good one. The government has taken a very good step to discourage the practice of making business payments in cash. The super rich though will be hit by the surcharge.

"The move to expand the ambit of low corporate tax rate of 25 per cent to companies with annual turnover of Rs 400 crore is a welcome move", said entrepreneur Kanaklata Datta. (Telegraph picture)

Can’t we break out of the burden of saving tax?

Kanaklata Datta (53) is an entrepreneur running a reputed designer label based out of Calcutta. Kanaklata invests in various tax saving instruments such as life and health insurance, ELSS and bonds. However, she feels the burden of saving tax is just too much — neither do you end up saving enough tax, nor do you make your money grow much.

“To save on a little amount of tax we are advised to make huge yearly commitments. I find this really unfair. There is a nagging feeling of insecurity about whether my savings will be enough for the future.”

As an entrepreneur, Kanaklata has to provide for volatility in business. She rues the fact that mid-sized businesses like hers are clubbed with big businesses as far as taxation is concerned.

“Why not make it simpler for us. We can pay a certain amount as tax and the rest we can invest in our business instead of investing in small savings which give measly returns,” she wonders. She feels such a system could increase compliance among entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“We work hard but can hardly enjoy the profits... why not incentivise consumption... instead of running after tax saving instruments. I will invest to make my money grow, not to save tax... Can the FM help me?

Budget reaction:

The move to expand the ambit of low corporate tax rate of 25 per cent to companies with annual turnover of Rs 400 crore is a welcome move. The budget has also focussed on empowering women self help groups which will encourage entrepreneurship. There is not much for the common taxpayer though and the move to increase tax on fuel will only add to inflation.

"There is nothing to rejoice in this budget — petrol, diesel, gold getting costlier," said Kuntal Ghosh . (Telegraph picture)

Higher studies and a new home...

Kuntal Ghosh (28) is a software engineer in an MNC. He lives in Calcutta with his younger brother. Kuntal is interested in pursuing higher studies while working and would like to see the budget allocating more for education. He wants more universities and research institutes to come up along with an increase in R&D programmes and more fellowships for researchers. A larger tax break on interest paid on education and home loans will help young people like him who want to study further and also move out of a rented house.

“Tax exemptions for the middle class as well as small business individuals is welcome. We want a higher rate of interest in PPF, while recurring deposit should be made non-taxable to a certain extent. A good rate of interest on pension schemes is a must.”

Kuntal feels health and job creation should get enough focus in the budget. Cheap loans for farmers and more SEZs for different industries will create more employment. He would like to see electric vehicles being charged a lower GST

Budget reaction:

There is nothing to rejoice in this budget — petrol, diesel, gold getting costlier. I am getting married soon so you can understand my predicament as far as gold is concerned. No change in personal tax rates. Any hopes of having a little more disposable income for middle class people like me goes down the drain. The additional Rs 1.5 lakh tax break on home loan interest for purchase of a house of up to Rs 45 lakh is a boon for a young professional like me who is thinking of owning a pad of his own. The tax breaks on electric vehicles makes buying a car sound like a good idea for me. Measures for education are good. 

Septuagenarian Shyama Pada Gupta feels retired people, especially former government employees, should be given some relief in personal tax.
Septuagenarian Shyama Pada Gupta feels retired people, especially former government employees, should be given some relief in personal tax. (Telegraph picture)

Worry lines: Income, inflation, health costs 

Shyama Pada Gupta (78) retired as an additional general manager from a state power utility. He lives in Calcutta with his wife and son. To save on tax he usually purchases tax savings bond.

Gupta feels retired people, especially former government employees, should be given some relief in personal tax. Higher rates of interest on all deposits, be it post office MIS or bank fixed deposits, will go a long way to help retired people who depend mostly on interest income. Pensioners like Gupta have a fixed income inflow while prices of items of daily use are spiralling out of control. “Something should be done about inflation. Cost of healthcare is another big source of worry for senior citizens like me.”

Budget reaction:

In my opinion this budget is a balanced one though it has nothing special for us senior citizens. Some concessions have been given to investors, which will ultimately help the economy. Focus on agriculture and other sectors is welcome. The push for affordable housing will help those thinking of a second smaller home.