What’s good about this year’s budget?
The annual Budget of India, which is presented by the finance minister in Parliament lays down the proposals for estimated income and expenditure of the Union government for the coming financial year, and has to be passed by the Parliament before it can come into effect on April 1.Budget 2013, like always, has its highs and lows. We bring to you 13 things that we think are good about this year’s budget.
1. Higher excise duty on cigarettes and cigars: Smokers will feel the heat rising through their burning pockets as the excise duty on cigarettes and cigars has been increased by 18%. The task that warnings on cigarette packs couldn’t achieve maybe MRP will!
2. Next generation online ticket booking system : If you have ever experienced the adventure of booking a ticket through IRCTC, this is definitely going to bring a smile. The upgraded IRCTC website will be able to handle 120,000 users at a time. The new technology will also allow 7,200 tickets to be booked every minute as against 2,000 tickets now. The website will also be made accessible through mobile phones.
3. Tax break for housing loans : In order to boost low cost housing and construction sector the Finance Minister announced an additional tax break , besides the present Rs. 1.5 lakhs deduction, for fresh housing loans sanctioned upto Rs. 25 lakhs, where the value of property does not exceed Rs.40 lacs and the individual does not own any other house on the date of sanction of the loan.
4. Lifeline for unprotected monuments: The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage(INTACH) has been granted Rs. 100Cr. Intach, set up in 1984, works towards conservation of the country’s natural, cultural, living, tangible and intangible heritage, documenting unprotected buildings of archaeological or historical significance, and provides expertise in conservation, restoration and preservation of specific works of art, among other activities.
5. Fueling the renewable energy sector: Though we need a much more aggressive approach for empowering the renewable energy sector to meet our energy needs, industry experts aren’t complaining. And here’s why:
i. Reintroduction of ‘generation-based incentive’ for wind energy projects with grant of Rs 800 crore to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for the purpose
ii. Low interest bearing funds provided by the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) will be given to the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) for five years.
iii. For promoting energy generation through garbage municipalities will be encouraged to implement waste-to-energy projects through different schemes.
6. Promoting healthy habits among Indians: Basic customs duty on de-hulled oat grains reduced from 30% to 15%. Service tax has been levied on all air conditioned restaurants. If this doesn’t deter Indians from eating out, then only a tax for being overweight can do the trick!
7. Shop more, walk more: Overall the government seems to want Indians to look better in the coming year. After ensuring a leaner population now it is time to dress them up. While readymade garments have been exempted from excise duty, the custom duty on leather and footwear has been reduced. Both of these items are set to be cheaper as a result. This will definitely increase the footfall in the ubiquitous shopping malls that sometimes are the only place where people walk.
8. Marginal relief to small taxpayers: A credit of Rs 2,000 will be made for people with income up to Rs 5 lakh. The proposal is expected to benefit 1.8 crore taxpayers.
9. Hint of India’s first fabrication lab: Indian government will waive customs duty for plants and machinery in the semiconductor sector. While India is home to semi-conductor designing, very little manufacturing is done in the country. Even if 50% of the demand can be met through domestic manufacturing by 2015, it will create additional direct employment of 2 lakhs.
10. Women centric schemes: All Women’s Bank to be set up via public sector. In order to ensure better safety for women citizens, the Government has proposed to set up ‘Nirbhaya Fund’. While the schemes sound promising, how effectively they will be implemented is what will make the difference.
11. Bolstering infrastructure: Areas like infrastructure has been accorded a lot of importance and a series of measures like setting up a regulatory authority for road construction, two new ports in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, up-gradation of a port in Tamil Nadu, building industrial corridor along Chennai – Bengaluru and then in the Bengaluru – Mumbai sectors have been announced.
12. Skill training for youth: Allocation of Rs 1 lakh crore has been made to expand the skills of the youth. They will also be given Rs. 10,000 award on completing the course, the details of which will be chalked out by National Skills Development Council.
13. Promoting new investment: Additional discount of 15% has been proposed for investments over Rs. 100cr on new assets over the next 2 years for manufacturing companies.