UNION BUDGET 2013: PC PLAYS SAFE

 

MUMBAI: Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday presented his eighth annual budget in Parliament, which in Indian history is the second highest number following closely the record made by former Prime Minister Morarji Desai who presented a total of ten budgets in his lifetime. 

The 82nd Union Budget, since Independent India came into being, saw substantial weightage given to the womenfolk of the country. Three major decisions in this area were announced by P Chidambaram. Other than that, the Budget speech is being seen as 'balanced' and 'well-presented'.

The country is all set to get an all-women bank by the end of this year, for which an initial capital of Rs 1000 crore has been announced. The Finance Minister said he hoped to obtain the necessary approval and banking licence by October this year. This bank will lend to women and women-run businesses thereby effectively addressing gender issues, thus empowering women.

Next, the FM highlighted issues related to safety of women and acknowledged drastic increase in reports on women safety issues. It is keeping this in mind, that the government has announced a Nirbhaya Fund that will look up the security & safety of women with Rs 100 crores set aside for it.

Adding to the above initiatives for women, the limit for bringing in goods duty-free after a foreign trip has been upped to Rs 1 lakh for women and Rs 50,000 for men, as declared in this year's budget. So now, all those ladies returning from a foreign tour can now fill their shopping bags with more stuff than before, without having to worry about shelling out more at the Customs.

In the field of Education, the Finance Minister has proposed to lend Rs 100 crore each to Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences-Guwahati and the Indian National Trust for Arts & Cultural Heritage.

As for the Sports category, a National Institute of Sports Coaching (NISC) is to be established in Patiala, Punjab.

The most awaited were the decisions with regard to taxation policy of the government, with the common man expecting some respite from the tax slabs, enabling them higher salaries and increased savings. However, it was a major disappointment when no revision in tax slabs came. Instead, the reason did. “In a constrained economy, there is little room to raise tax rates or large amounts of additional tax revenues. Equally, there is little room to give away tax revenues or the tax base. It is a time for prudence, restraint and patience,” Chidambaram said as a matter-of-factly. Albeit, an allowance of Rs 2,000 for those earning upto Rs 5 lakh annually was announced. Treading cautiously on taxation of industrialists, the Finance Minister announced an increase in surcharge for the rich whose yearly income exceeds Rs 1 crore. There are only 42,800 individuals, Chidambaram noted, who have admitted to being in this category, and then urged the others to come forward and declare their IT returns. 

The total tax changes will earn government Rs 13,300 crore from direct taxes, and Rs 4,700 crore from indirect taxes, making it Rs 18,000 crore in all. 

What will cost more this year on:

  • Restaurants – Service tax to be levied on all air-conditioned restaurants
  • SUV Cars – Excise duty on all SUVs, except those registered as taxis, increased from 27 per cent to 30 per cent
  • Set Top Box – Duty increased from 5 per cent to 10 per cent to encourage domestic production of set top boxes
  • Mobile phones – Excise duty increased to 6 per cent on mobile handsets priced at more than Rs 2000
  • Cigarettes – Excise duty has been hiked by 18 percent
  • Foreign Cars and bikes – 100 per cent duty to be levied on imported high-end vehicles 

What goods/services will now cost lesser:

  • Diamond – Duty to be reduced from 10 per cent to 2 per cent
  • Shoes, bags – Duty on leather to be reduced to 5 per cent
  • Jute, woollen clothing – Total exemption on handmade carpets and textile floor coverings of coir or jute from excise duty
  • Cinema and films – Request for full exemption of service tax was granted on copyright on cinematography accepted

 

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