The finance minister has presented a very practical budget, setting the stage for the government to roll out its development agenda. In particular, the FM?s focus on fiscal discipline is commendable. The intent to reduce needless subsidies and wastages in the system is a big positive and a sign of things to come.
It was also assuring to see the government?s commitment to a stable tax regime, and the budget has outlined some positive steps for bringing clarity on retrospective taxation and transfer-pricing issues in order to create an enabling environment for investors.
Infrastructure has quite rightly received detailed attention of the FM. He has enhanced allocation, particularly towards road development and rural infrastructure.
Despite the state of government finances, the FM has not taken the foot off the pedal as far as infrastructure and social spend is concerned. Social inclusion remains a key underlying theme of the Budget. The FM has not only strengthened investments in healthcare, education and rural entrepreneurship development, but also spelt out the launch of a ?Financial Inclusion Mission? during the year. The decision to introduce a ?Digital India? programme, by providing broadband connectivity to villages, is one more positive that will help in bridging the urban-rural digital divide.
The middle class has clearly something to cheer about. Though income tax rates remain unchanged, by increasing the exemption limit on taxable income and deductions on housing loan, the finance minister seeks to put more money in the pocket of the average taxpayer.
The FM has also smartly tweaked excise rates for some consumer items to give the sluggish manufacturing sector the much-needed boost.
Given the current challenges for the economy, the finance minister has done a commendable job of marrying the imperatives of growth and fiscal stability.
Sunil Bharti Mittal