Heave ho! Its budget time once again. Time for putting on our scrutiny hats and building up expectations of what will Mr. Mukherjee present to the country on Monday!!
Bursting with enthusiasm, I asked my neighbour Chakradhar Malpani, a quintessential “Aam Aadmi” on what was he expecting from the budget?
He squinted and gave me a glare which was enough to tell me, “Are you out of your head?”
What do you think I should expect for? Look at the prices of aloo, pyaz, dals, pulses and vegetables. I have to think twice these days if I have to take my Bajaj scooter to leave my children to school or shop in the market, price of petrol is sky rocketing. And as if inflation is not enough, I am even worried on how to make sure that, my children; Chintu-Bintu’s education is not affected with all this….
And as he continued my mind drifted and I realized this was indeed the truth for all common people like us. The common man today is neck deep, fighting food inflation, rising prices of petrol and diesel, inflated education costs, et all. In short, trying to make all ends meet within his salary.
Indeed, there is no room for expectations. There is only hope that the budget will be a little realistic and not just an election winning manifesto (considering that the elections are just around the corner).
Gone are the days when India’s booming consumerism was the talk of the town. With inflation and rising costs of essential services, eating into our barely increasing salaries, a little more money in our hands to enjoy those small moments of life is what we are looking for.
With this thought, here is the wish-list if I may call it, of what I expect from the Budget 2011. Mr. Mukherjee please make a note:
1. Please do something about Inflation. This is not only affecting me but my poor farmer brothers and fellow entrepreneurs (small businesses). I am not even talking about luxury items. Please put in measures to alleviate artificial hoarding of grains. Don’t give subsidies which only benefit rich farmers. It is difficult today for a middle class family to think beyond dal-chawal because of the rising costs. Make a sincere attempt to alleviate this inflation misery.
2. Please give a little more money in the hands of the common man. Make the personal income tax structure beneficial to the common man. Let us not wait for the Direct Tax Code (DTC) implementation in the next year. Some proposals of the DTC beneficial to us should see implementation beginning this year.
- There should be a move towards the revised slab structure.
To give you a glimpse the slab structure in the DTC which will be effective April 2012, is as follows
Up-to INR 200,000 (for senior citizens 250,000)
Between INR 200,000 to 500,000
Between INR 500,000 to 1,000,000
Above INR 1,000,000
- Increase in the limit for 80 C investments. Like our wise readers have also suggested, encourage more savings. Realistically, the savings structure should move in line with inflation. The Rs. 1 L limit is completely outdated.
- Increase the limit for Public Provident Fund (PPF) investments, the common man can atleast plan his retirement in peace
- Infrastructure bonds were a good move last year which created a direct linkage between tax payers money and infrastructure growth. We want more options which will help us see the fruition of our hard earned monies for the good of the country.
3. Bring more efficiency in the government management. Fiscal deficit should be brought down. We cannot expect windfall auctions like 3 G last year to bail us out. There has to be effective and efficient management practices in place. The least I can expect is to manage my (tax payers) money better. Let me, an honest tax payer not incur hardships to pay for corruption, inefficient governance and dishonest non-tax payers.
4. Mere reservations have not benefitted anyone. Let’s create an open environment to encourage meritocracy. Sarva Siksha Abhiyan is good, but there has to be focus on us middle class people as well. We work hard to ensure that our kids get the best education, that they no longer are the victims of poverty, that education is their bailout towards a better life. But the cost of educating our children is sky rocketing. Fees seem higher than household salaries. Better infrastructure and reforms in areas of healthcare, roads, electricity, education, water and sanitation is the urgent need.
5. Create an environment for industry growth. Let not monopolistic intentions lobby and mar the environment for growth. Make it a fair playing ground for all.
In short, we as the citizens of this glorious country, look eagerly for better control measures, reforms and policies that will lead us onward and channel us back into the fastest growing economies of the world.
Mr. Mukherjee, it is our earnest request not to let this budget be an election manifesto, but a strong strategy map to lead us onto our desired growth path.
We look forward eagerly.
The common Man.
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