Budget sops welcomed by young and old alike

February 28th, 2011 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Raising the income tax exemption limit to Rs.1.8 lakh, lowering the threshold age for senior citizens to 60 and creating a special income tax category for 80-plus citizens — the union budget proposals were welcomed by the aam aadmi Monday as also its promise of cheaper air conditioners and mobile phones.”If you think of the middle class, the budget is average to our needs. This time the finance minister has been pretty generous considering the tax norms and relaxation,” said Abhitej Kaul, 43, a government-school teacher in Delhi.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s proposal to create a special category of very senior citizens of those above 80 and giving them an exemption limit of Rs.5 lakh per annum was widely welcomed.

T.V. Venkitachalam, 82, former editor of the National Herald, said: “This is a very good move, a major relief for senior citizens like me.”

The union budget raised the exemption limit for personal income-tax from Rs.1.6 lakh to Rs.1.8 lakh a year, effectively saving tax-payers Rs.2,000 annually.

“For the tax-payer of the country, this is a much-needed move,” said Kaul.

The threshold age for senior citizens - who enjoy a higher tax-exemption limit of Rs.2.4 lakh - was lowered from 65 to 60, bringing a large number of older people into the bracket of tax beneficiaries.

“This was indeed a surprise for the senior citizens who come under the tax exemption limit of over Rs.2 lakh. Relaxation by 5 years is a huge benefit as this coincides with the retirement age also,” Mahesh Krishnani, 63, a private serviceman, told IANS.

The government’s decision to maintain the peak rate of excise duties and service tax at 10 percent, so that all items already at that level do not become more expensive has also pleased the common man.

“This is likely to help car makers as well as car buyers, who were prepared for an increase in prices. What is expected not to go down well with the upper middle class is the widening of service tax net to cover more services,” said Subrat Das, executive of the Centre for Budget and Governance Acountability.

“This will raise the cost of air travel, hotel accommodation and those who eat and drink in AC restaurants,” added Das.

While the budget drew varied responses from different quarters, experts had their own take on the how the budget will shape things for the common man.

“Much depends on how well the innumerable schemes — central or state — are actually executed. That the economy is on a growth path is understood, but it is more important to carve a planning process on the distribution and implementation of schemes,” said Praveen Jha, professor of economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

“I think it’s all about the give and take policy. Tax payers’ got some goodies, air travel, healthcare in private hospitals saw a hike,” said 25-year-old Deeksha Modwal, pursuing her Master’s from Delhi University.

“I feel there should have been something for women tax-payers also. It should have moved beyond the encrypted parameters of growth,” added Modwal.

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