China has “begun to realise” its mistakes on the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Morarji Desai stated in the Lok Sabha today. “But it will take time” (for the Chinese to change their stand), Desai added when replying to the debate on the President’s address. He spoke in the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha where motions of thanks in the President’s address were adopted without any amendments. Defending the visit of the external affairs minister to China, Desai said it was made clear to China that the problem of “land taken from us” had to be solved “to our satisfaction.” There could be no compromise on it.
Taxes in Budget
The deputy prime minister and finance minister, Charan Singh today announced stiff duties and imposts on a wide range of consumer goods. A host of items from the lowly bidi and household washing soap to cosmetics, cars and luxury hotels came in for new taxes as the first “kisan” finance minister gave shape to his professed objective of “ruthlessly curbing luxury expenditure and adoption of a more austere life style”.
Presenting his first budget to a packed Lok Sabha today, Singh started outlining his tax proposals by announcing a five per cent increase in the surcharge on all categories of personal income-tax. “This is a small sacrifice I am asking,” he said, and went on to detail a long list of sacrifices, the total burden of which would cripple the middle class and cause a general spurt in prices.
Reactions to Budget
The varied reaction of the MPs to the budget covered a wide spectrum — from “a bold effort” to “a pickpocket budget” and “a 100 per cent anti-people budget”. C M Stephen, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, described it as an “inflationary budget”. He said that to have a deficit of Rs 1,400 crore after collecting Rs 600 crore as tax revenue was “an act of absolute fiscal irresponsibility”.