Tax sops leave Upper Middle Class disappointed

The union budget, combined with railway budget, presented on Wednesday is a welcome administrative step, was the sentiment echoed by many in the city. Terming the separate presentations as ritualistic, Kapil Chandrayan, member of Vidarbha Development Board said, “For decades we have wasted time, money and energy in presentation and discussion of two separate budgets. This is a very rational step.”

Describing the budget as one with lots of substance, Chandrayan said that it is in line with the policies initiated by the government. “Be it digitalization, promotion of agro economy or attempting to give a push to sluggish spending, the budget takes all into account.” Welcoming the move to construct one crore houses by 2019 for homeless under the PM Awas Yojana, architect Ashok Mokha said that it will give a boost to the housing sector. “The real estate prices have shot up to unrealistic levels and are settled there. A middle income person today cannot afford to buy a decent house. This scheme will be a great help provided the government ensures that push and pull factor does not come into play,” he says.

But for industrialist Meeta Shaw, the budget brings no good news. “I would have welcomed higher tax reduction, which would have helped the upper middle class segments which were worst affected by demonetisation. The budget brings no cheer for us,” she said. Slashing the tax rate for individuals earning between Rs2.5 lakh to Rs5 lakh to 5% from the current 10% is a small step in the right direction, feels Lalit Khullar, director of a management institute. “The government should have increased the salary deduction slab to Rs6 lakh,” he added.

Happy with the 5% reduction in tax rates for entrepreneurs having annual turnover less than Rs50 crore, brand consultant Bhanu Rajgopalan said, “Strong focus on promoting a digital economy with initiatives on digital transactions will provide impetus to digital revolution. It will increase the scope for digital advertising and create more jobs in the vertical,” he said.

But for some, the removal of service tax on e-ticket bookings is a misplaced move. “Effectively those who are booking manually are more in need of this Rs40 relief instead of those who do it online,” says educationist Prabodh Vekhende.

The budget lacks a broader vision and only looks at the lower income groups, feels entrepreneur Sadhana Jha. “After demonetisation we were expecting some relief from the government in terms of tax sops. But exemptions for those in Rs3 lakh slab is not of any use as majority in lower income group don’t even pay taxes,” she said.

Troubled by the fact that the budget makes no provision for old age homes, Ravindra Gandhe, who runs one such establishment in the city, says, “The need for old age homes has been increasing over the past few years but in the last 12 years since I am running Maitraban, no government has ever made provisions in the budget for such institutions.”