As retail inflation and inflationary expectations remain high, common people want the finance minister to focus on bringing down prices of essential commodities more than anything else when he presents the budget, a survey showed on Saturday.
The poll conducted by market researcher Ipsos India showed nearly 75% respondents wanted the budget to bring down prices of essential commodities, followed by demands to raise the income tax exemption limit to Rs 3 lakh from Rs 2.5 lakh and a higher levy on tobacco products.
Ipsos surveyed 1,047 people across seven major cities. Consumer price inflation — a measure of rise in prices of a basket of goods dominated by food items and fuel — is expected to stay in the range of 4.5-5% in the coming fiscal, the economic survey released on Thursday said. This is despite oil prices having declined 9.21% and manufacturing goods going 1.17% cheaper from a year ago, according to data released in the second week of February.
Food inflation was primarily driven by skyrocketing prices of pulses, the main source of protein for millions of Indians, which shot up 44.91% in January reaching a five-year high in some parts. That was a result of a series of storms this spring and a back-to-back drought that hit the output of pulses.
Asked about their concerns, most respondents identified unemployment and a lack of jobs as the biggest, followed by corruption and scams, safety of women, and poverty and social inequality.
The respondents did not depict a clear trend when asked if they expected the budget to be a populist one. While 35% responded with yes, 38% responded negatively.
“The government should look beyond the obvious on where the money should go,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman and managing director of Technopak management consultancy.