PC gears up to 'please all'

Written by Agencies | New Delhi, February 29: | Updated: Feb 29 2008, 13:47pm hrs
On the heels of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad presenting a populist Budget, Finance Minister P Chidambaram too is expected to come out with a "please-all" budget on Friday.

Since this will be the last full budget of the UPA government, every segment of the society, including individual taxpayers and corporate, can expect some relief.

The skills of Harvard-educated Chidambaram, who by profession is a lawyer, would be put to test when he rises to present in Lok Sabha the Budget for 2008-09 - a year that will see Assembly elections in seven states followed by general elections.

The Budget will offer the last opportunity to the Congress-led UPA government to win the confidence of voters after the party's drubbing in Assembly elections of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. The government is also faced with a growing protests over farmers' suicides in some parts of the country.

With buoyancy in tax collections, Chidambaram is expected to announce bonanza for each constituency through personal and corporate income tax cuts, excise duty relief and

simplification of taxes and massive funds for farm, rural employment and other social projects.

Chidambaram, who will be presenting his seventh budget in Parliament, will have a tough time balancing conflicting interests while presenting the Budget.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has already presented a populist budget which announced cuts in passenger fares and selective reduction in freight rates, while painting a rosy picture on its earnings.

The Economic Survey, tabled in the Parliament on Thursday, has projected fiscal deficit to be further pruned to three per cent in the next fiscal.