For many a farmer, the FM has proven to be more than just a Finance Minister, he has been the Santa Claus in the white robes. Within hours of the Budget-08 being announced celebrations ensued outside 10, Janpath street. While it surely is the farmer's time to heave a sigh of relief over the 60,000 crore loan waiver, here's my take on what this budget might mean to the common man.
Proposal: Five year tax holiday for setting up hospitals in tier II and tier III regions for providing healthcare in rural areas from April 1, 2008.
Dont be surprised if many very good hospitals run by some of the most efficient corporates shift house to TIER II and III. My take : Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, Chandigargh, Mysore , Madurai, Jalandhar, Patna, Baroda and similar places will breed new medical conglomerates, making healthcare easily accessible to the common man. International medical companies,will eye theone billion population, majority of who are outside the Metros and provide for better facilities , in the countryside.
Proposal: Five year tax holiday for promoting cultural tourism.
I should expect more phone calls from the Country Club or Golden Palms telemarketing agency, offering a dirt cheap package for 2 ppl for 3 nights at Hampi or Thanjavur instead of the regular Goa or Shimla package. Interesting to know whether cab drivers dropping people from thier hotels to Meenakshi temple at Madurai can be classified as promoting cultural tourism.
My take: I think this is a loop hole for brats in the business to make some quick money. So much for cultural tourism.
Proposal: For women, the income tax limit goes up from Rs 1.45 lakh to Rs 1.80 lakh. In case of senior women citizens, it increases from Rs 1.95 lakh to Rs 2.25 lakh.
The annual after tax income of many wives will soon exceed their husbands' in the urban areas.
With cities like Bangalore , Pune and Noida clamouring female employees into their IT folds just as much as men, this could mean that it could be cheaper for the urban family to have the wife go to work and let the husband do the household chores. In rural India though, it might actually prompt an increase in the working population of women. My take: Unmarried guys in metros fill find it more difficult to impress their prospective brides with the paycheck!!
Proposal: New tax slabs will be: 10 per cent for Rs 1,50,000 to Rs 3,00,000, 20 per cent for Rs 3,00,000 to Rs 5,00,000 and 30 per cent above Rs 5,00,000.
The Income tax payer can now invest more and will have a considerable savings in the kitty after each year. My take: A good move for the regular guy who hasn't read "Rich Dad Poor Dad."
Proposal: Excise duty on small cars reduced to 12 per cent from 16 per cent and hybrid cars to 14 per cent.
Ok, now you can have that imported small car that you always dreamed of. And the Japanese hybrid cars will be more affordable. My take: Lesser traffic congestions and a clean environment!
Proposal: Cigarettes to be taxed more.
With the ever increasing rate of taxes on cigarettes, one might hope that active smokers will have to be content with passive smoking alone. My take: Will have no effect on smokers.Since when has the tax been able to change habits?
With debates ranging far and wide as to whether this was an "Aam Admi's Budget" or a Communally driven one (LK Advani actually thinks so!), this budget has surely created a sufficient stir. Whether this is merely a play of vote bank politics or not, will depend on whether Chidambaram can continue to stage a consistent GDP growth even in 2008, even after having made the common man, the "Aam Admi" happy!