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Why hoi polloi indifferent to Union Budget live

Union Budget 2021
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Union Budget 2021

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Budget 2021-22 is getting ready to be announced next week

Budget 2021-22 is getting ready to be announced next week. This budget assumes importance because this will be the first budget in the corona pandemic year. While the government is getting ready with its policies and programmes and details pertaining to revenue and expenditure, a random survey indicates that the general public does not display great interest in watching the budget live though they have their own expectations and wish list.

That is because no Opposition party had ever tried to know what the aspirations of the common man are and what they expect from the budget. No government has ever made any effort to create awareness among the common man about the importance of the budget and how he can influence the government to prepare a real people's budget.

The general impression is that budget is full of figures and lengthy speech and ruckus in Parliament and all kinds of comments by the Opposition which makes no sense to them and in any case they have to bear the brunt of hike in prices of different commodities and services. Hence, they prefer watching their favourite programmes on TV. Who is to be blamed for this? In India, we do not have a system where the Opposition parties come up with alternative budget. Both budget presentation and the reactions have become a routine affair.

The government indulges in rhetoric and claims that their budget is the best ever and the opposition comes out with same old comments, "old wine in new bottle," pro industry, anti people, nothing for the common man etc. Neither during their reactions nor during the discussion on budget proposal in Parliament, the Opposition had ever presented alternate budget proposals. It is not they do not have access to information on revenue earning and expenditure, Ministry wise, sector wise allocations and expenditure, possible deficit etc. Some of the parties particularly the Congress has been in power for long time since Independence and has top wizards like Dr Manmohan Singh.

There are also many former RBI Governors. Never has the Opposition bothered to interact with the industry, the farm sector, the common man and the employees to find out what they feel about the budget proposals. What their party feels is projected as the wish of the common man. Anyway, a quick look at the possibilities of what ingredients the FM's halwa would have indicates that the domestic toys sector would get a boost to create a strong ecosystem for the industry and attract start-ups. Our share in international toy market is just 0.5 percent.

Experts say that there is not much scope for increase in Customs duties and there is no possibility for a reduction in Excise duty on petroleum products. Furniture and cell phones may cost more as the government may increase the Customs duty. Tax experts expect reasonable changes in the most popular section to claim deductions against various investments and expenditures, Section 80C of the Income Tax Act in the Budget. At present, taxpayers can claim exemption up to Rs 1.5 lakh under this section for investments made in public provident fund (PPF), equity-linked savings scheme (ELSS), insurance premium, payment of home loan principal and children's tuition fee among others.

As Covid-19 has exposed the poor state of medical infrastructure in the country, the government may also increase its expenditure on rural health care as well. Experts feel that the Union Budget would be expansionary, with the total expenditure of the government likely to increase to Rs 32-33 lakh crore from Rs 30.4 lakh crore in 2020-21. With no fiscal space available for major capital outlay, the Union Budget 2021 is likely to focus on attracting more foreign direct investments (FDIs) into India to create more jobs and spur growth impulses in the economy.

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