Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday presented a Budget that affirmed the Government's commitment to social welfare programmes with something for everyone in it. However, it lacked long term stimulus for infrastructure and growth. Markets reacted sharply to the Budget, which lacked major annnouncements and tanked over 750 points.
What becomes dearer
What becomes cheaper
Electric bulbs, CFLs
Drugs for heart diseases
Mobile phone accessories
Branded jewellery for women
Pranab Mukherjee promised all that his government can do to ensure inclusive growth and address the growing aspirations of the country's young population.
Dressed in a spotless white bandgala suit, the 73-year-old politician said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government would push forward an agenda that will ensure 12 million new jobs each year and reduce poverty by half by 2014.
"The government recognises the challenges," he said, referring to the global slowdown and the decline in India's high growth rate in the past year to 6.7 per cent from over 9 per cent in the preceding three years.
"The first challenge is to bring back the GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate to over 9 per cent per annum," he said, setting the tone of what is his fourth career budget. "There are signs of an economic recovery."
He said the other challenges included better governance and to ensure that the fruits of development reached across regions to touch the lives of every citizen.
The government will work towards simplifying the tax structure in the next four years, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.
The Income Tax Department has also been asked to introduce the simplified version of the tax filing form Saral, called Saral 2.
Bowing to the long standing demand of India Inc, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has abolished the Fringe Benefit Tax and Commodity Transaction Tax.
However, Minimum Allocation Tax (MAT) on book profits has been increased from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, but with a provision of carrying forward the tax credit on MAT to 10 years from the current seven years.
Budget proposed to increase the income tax exemption limit for senior citizens by Rs.15,000, for women and others by Rs.10,000 each, while keeping the corporate tax rate unchanged.
The exemption limit will now be Rs.240,000 for senior citizens, Rs.190,000 for women and Rs.160,000 for others.