Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s last full Budget before the 2019 general election drew mixed reaction in Pune. While Pune Inc is waiting to read the fineprint to gauge the full scope of the Budget, ordinary people gave it a thumbs down in view of Jaitley’s decision to reintroduce long-term investment tax and raise custom duties on goods like mobile phones. Opposition parties criticised the Budget as a “marketing stunt” with “delivery paralysis”.
Pramod Chaudhari, president of the Maharatta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), said the Budget has lot of length and not much depth as far as industry was concerned. “A number of programms like Smart Cities, Start-up India, Make in India, Digital India, etc., are going on and nothing new has been added… All those continue without any major hurdle,” he said.
The Information Technology (IT) sector, which employs more than three lakh people in the city, had nothing to cheer about either. KPIT CFO Anil Patwardhan said the Budget was neutral to the sector. “Smaller and medium-size IT companies will benefit from the decision to extend the benefit of 25 per cent tax rate for companies having turnover less than Rs 250 crore. Job growth in the sector will be driven by these small and medium-size companies,” he said.
Startups too had nothing much in terms of sops.
The reintroduction of capital gain tax on the stock market was a matter of concern for ordinary people. Pratibha Tore, a homemaker, said the 10 per cent tax was sure to harm their investments in the market. Tore, who invested in mutual funds after banks cut saving rates, said the decision to impose capital gain tax on the stock market was a big blow.
“We were expecting the I-T slab will be increased from the present Rs 2.5 lakh to at least Rs 3 lakh, which has not happened. In addition, consumer goods like mobile phones and other electronic products are going to get expensive,” she said.
Terming the Budget as populist, Ameya Shaikh, a postgraduate student at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, asked from where will the money come from for schemes. “On a positive note, the Budget focuses on higher education, women, infrastructure, agriculture and allied activities, MSP for farmers as well as MSMEs. On an alarming note, there’s not much scope for job creation as well as revenue collection to bring the Indian economy on the right track,” he said.
Opposition parties slammed the Budget. “Basic spending on education and health is still very low. The salaried class is once again hit in comparison to corporates and there are no exciting deliverables,” said Vandana Chavan, Rajya Sabha MP and city NCP chief.
City Congress chief Ramesh Bagwe said the Budget was a big disappointment.
“The wrong policies of the BJP-led government in the last four years have had an adverse impact on agriculture, health, education and jobs, so there are efforts to make corrections in the last Budget before the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
The Budget may not have made specific allocations for civic works in Pune but an increase in provisions under various schemes is likely to benefit the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for creating necessary civic infrastructure. But civic activists did not sound very upbeat.
A 33 per cent increase in allocation for projects under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the Smart City mission provide maximum benefit to the city.
Development of public areas, heritage sites, water bodies and riverfronts will be undertaken under the Smart City mission, providing an opportunity for Pune to take advantage. The PMC also hopes to make the most of allocations under AMRUT. The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) for providing affordable housing to the urban poor is going to gather pace and the PMC has submitted its proposal to the Centre for approval.
But civic activist Vivek Velankar said there was not much for urban areas in the Budget. “The increase in allocation under various schemes is notional…,” he said, adding urban areas won’t gain from the Budget unless the Centre provides unconditional financial support to infrastructure projects.
Activist Prashant Inamdar said the Budget has been ambiguous on urban development as there was no clarity on allocation for infrastructure works for the city.