Worldwide, not too much of significance is given to the budget. But in India, it is one of the most significant government exercises of any year. Preparing a budget for a coalition government is an excruciating task, but our current finance minister P. Chidambaram, seems to enjoy the event. This year Chidambaram had asked for suggestions on the budget (although not from bloggers like me). So here’s my 2 pence.
1. Improve infrastructure: (DUH! I don’t think I need to explain this)
2. Create job opportunities in rural areas: Provide incentives to MNCs to set up more industries there. (You will need to look at #1 for that as well). Provide electricity to the villages. Ensure more initiatives like e-choupal.
3. Encourage English education: A large English-speaking population is our strength. Ensure that it stays that way. There should be enough supply to ensure cost-effectiveness of the BPO industry. (An appeal to people: please get out of linguistic parochialism and send your children to English-medium schools)
4. Abolish (or at least modify) FBT: Genuine expenses are being taxed under Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT). FBT also acts as a disincentive for being employee-friendly. The tax is also being deemed unconstitutional, as this is the first tax on expenditure, while the constitution allows taxation only on income.
5. Tax agricultural Income: Read this.
6. Reduce the burden on the Oil companies, as well as the housewife: By cutting taxes on Petro-products, rather than subsidizing them to keep prices low.
7. Don’t listen to the left: Privatise, Globalise, Sign more free trade agreements. Give the Industry some breathing space.
8. Increase expenditure on sports: We don’t want the same comments after every Olympics/Asiad. And sports go way beyond cricket.
9. Introduce inheritance tax: Isn’t inheritance a genuine source of Income?
10.Please do not mask old schemes as new ones: This is what you did last year, and pulled wool even over expert’s eyes.
The above suggestions are my thoughts on how to improve the conditions of the common man in the next fiscal. Readers, please post your suggestions as comments