India’s first woman Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget received a mixed response at the Tricity.
Present at a programme held by the PHDCCI to analyse the budget, experts called it a mixed bag. Experts present at the programme included Principal Commissioner of Goods and Services Tax, Kishori Lal (IRS), former Chief Commissioner of Central Board of Direct Taxes, Sudha Sharma, former Chairperson of Central Board of Direct Taxes, R S Mathoda, former President of PHD Chambers, Ashok Khanna and Regional Director of PHD Chambers, Madhu Pillai.
Kishori Lal said, “I must congratulate the Finance Minister. The focus is on rural sector, youth, education and ‘nari to Narayani’. The custom duty on gold and other precious items have been increased.”
“Budget was presented by keeping in mind the holistic approach. The government has taken care of the non-banking financial institutions, liquidity in the economy, digital transactions, GST and trade related responses. The housing for all initiative is important and it has been declared in the budget,” said Ashok Khanna. He also said that he was hopeful and positive that the slow growth of the economy will be cured.
Mathoda said, “It is really difficult to predict the impact of the budget without reading it. Overall, the government has to improve the other sectors so that the industrial sector improves.”
“This seems to be a professional budget. One can see the focus is on e-vehicles, affordable housing, start-ups and Make in India. So, critical areas that were discussed have been touched upon by Nirmala Sitharaman,” Sudha said.
One of the members of the PHDCCI said, “They have taken care of everything but the Finance Minister did not reveal the defence and national security budget. At least she should have given the outlay of the defence budget.” Co-founder and MD of an ecommerce business, K S Bhatia said, “The government did not show how it will become a $5 trillion economy.”
Naveen Manglani, President of Chamber of Chandigarh Industries, said, “It is a growth oriented budget. The Finance Minister has touched upon many topics. The budget will give boost to the housing and industrial sector. The government has also proposed to take forward e-vehicles and give impetus to the automobile sector. However, the Finance Minister did not talk much about job creation. The focus of the budget is on startups. The change to the GST regime had left many litigations pending. The goal is to waive off these litigations also. I am a little apprehensive about how these litigations will be tackled.”
Prof Upinder Sawhney, Department of Economist, Panjab University, said, “Though the budget tries to solve many problems, there are several loopholes in it. Recapitalisation of Rs 70,000 crore for public sector banks will not be beneficial for the common man. It is not a good idea to recapitalise the banks, as on the other hand, turbulent transactions go on. The disinvestment in public sector undertakings has no strategic plan. If one PSU buys stake in another, that is not technically disinvestment.”
Sneha Singh, an educationist and social worker, said, “This budget seems to give the taxpayers some relief. However, too much has been allocated for rural areas, farmers and husbandry. These expenditures come with a concern, as India is still reeling under a fiscal deficit of 3.3 per cent, and no light has been put on that. There is a hike in major consumer goods’ prices. It is the middle class, again, who has to bear its brunt. The budget seems to be development-oriented, but only time will tell. Moreover, there is no proper allocation for defence, education and health sectors.”
Kamal Mahli, teacher of mindfulness meditation, said, “Rise in petrol and diesel prices will have an inflationary impact and the cost of household budgets will be impacted too. It will have a snowball effect. The government should not have increased the tax on gold as well, as it does not have any intrinsic value. I am disappointed that they have not mentioned waste segregation in the budget, how will they tackle the mounds of rubbish? The wellness of my family is linked to clean air and green environment. I am hoping that I will see many people using e-vehicles.”
Government employee, Vijay Anand, said, “With the increase in the prices of the petroleum products, besides the price rise in the consumer goods, this Union budget is bereft of any reforms that are required in our economy. There is no change in income tax slabs as well.’’