The union budget 2013-14 presented by finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday has had mixed reviews from the industry and experts in Bhopal, ranging from 'neutral', 'no gain, no loss budget' to a 'comparatively good budget in the present economic scenario'.
The industrial bodies stressed that though a status quo on excise and service rates had been maintained, there were no specific measures to address economic slowdown.
Many experts claimed that there was no major initiative that came out as a major policy decision or a highlight, apart from taxing rich people.
RS Goswami, chairperson, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) MP State Council, did not mince words when he said, "The budget lacks clarity on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and has not made any changes in income tax rates or slabs, and there is no relief to the middle-income groups except the Rs 2,000 rebate. A stronger stance on taxation was expected."
CII MP State Council has welcomed the budget, emphasising that "the budget correctly addresses the immediate problems of a high fiscal deficit; reliance on foreign inflows to finance the current account deficit; lower savings and lower investment; a tight monetary policy to contain inflation; and strong external headwinds."
There was a panel discussion on the impact of budget at a hotel in New Bhopal. Some of the industrialists lauded the budget for being investment oriented, addressing fiscal consolidation, enhanced outlay on healthcare, education and skill development, and announcement of 15% investment allowance to kick start capital formation.
Chairperson of CII Bhopal zone, K Vaidyanathan, said, "Though the government has fulfilled our major expectations regarding direct tax code, GST and infrastructure, we have to look into the fine print to see what it means finally at the delivery level."
Industrialists rued that there was no commitment or hint from the finance minister as to when the GST will be implemented. "There is no dateline for implementation of GST, which is disappointing," said Amarjeet Singh Khalsa, group director, Institute of Professional Education and Research, Bhopal. Some industrialists termed the budget as average.
"The finance minister has tried to cover every sector with few changes. Women bank, money for skill development and youth are positive steps.
"On taxation front, less changes or progress are there. But, for the first time, we welcome the decision to grant an additional tax deduction of interest of up to Rs 1 lakh for a person taking a home loan up to Rs 25 lakh," said Pradeep Karambelkar, managing director, Vision Advisory Services Private Limited, Bhopal.