Common man let down

Common man let down

Dashed Hopes

The days running up to the announcement of the budget witnessed mixed reactions from the public — while a few optimists suggested that its provisions might actually have a positive impact on their pockets, a majority dismissed these hopes and remained rather skeptical of the ultimate result.

Disillusioned : Many feel that the budget does not meet their expectations.

Now, it would appear that the latter group was right. Although the raising of the tax-payer exemption limit has been hailed as a step in the right direction, Bangaloreans remain critical of most of the other provisions in the budget — including the increase in service tax, the hike in custom duties on luxury items and the doubling of oil cess. Metrolife caught up with a few to find out their reactions to the budget.

Raghuram, an advertising professional, points out that given the circumstances, the changes in the tax exemption limit – now raised to Rs 2 lakh for men, and Rs 2.2 lakh for women – do nothing to balance out an otherwise bleak budget.

“The government doesn’t care about giving relief to the salaried class. The assumption is that people are making a lot of money, but consider inflation and price hikes and it’s obvious that this isn’t the case. What’s more, there’s been no change in corporate tax as well,” he complains, adding, “income taxes might have been slashed, but given that taxes on other commodities have been hiked, the budget is extremely disappointing.”

Raghuram isn’t the only one who is critical of the budget. Ranjit, another professional, points out that it doesn’t address many key issues.

“I had high hopes, but to no avail. It appears the government has just tweaked the last budget and presented it to the public. The government hasn’t tackled the issue of fuel prices or investment rates in the least, and seems unconcerned about the plight of the common man.” Neither is he enamoured by the new tax structuring. “It may seem an attractive proposition for the salaried class at first, but whatever one saves in direct tax will be negated because of the indirect ones,” he observes.

Jayachandran, a sales professional, agrees with this view, “None of the decisions taken by the government have made any difference. Everyone was expecting a huge shift in the basic tax slab – maybe to about 3 lakh – but this didn’t happen. The changes in health insurance and infrastructure might be there, but they
aren’t going to create much change.”

Others, however, believe that the new income-tax divisions may actually be a blessing. Nithya, a professor, belongs to this school of thought. “All professionals have to worry about their take-home package, and I think the budget has, to a certain degree, alleviated the burden of taxes. In terms of the other provisions – including the hike in service tax and excise on luxury items – they come as no surprise. Given that the cost of every other deliverable is going up these days, this was pretty much expected,” she suggests. 

Ashwin, a professional, picks on the issue of excise duty as being rather partial to the richer section of society.

“The way it is structured right now, it wouldn’t effect anyone buying a car – but for people who are dependent on two-wheelers, there’s a huge burden. The budget has done nothing for the common man,” he concludes.