“Madam Speaker, I rise to present the Union Budget for 2011-12”
When Finance Minister (FM) Pranab Mukherjee rose to announce the union budget for financial year 2011-2012 on the 28th of February, he supported the weight of the expectations of 1 billion people. He seems to have done fairly well for the budget is viewed by most as being tax-payer as well as market friendly. The Finance Minister has projected a growth rate of up to 9.25% for the fiscal 2012 and has put fiscal deficit target at 4.6% signaling growth and stability, although concerns remain over high inflation resulting from soaring global fuel prices. Focusing on the education sector, the main budget proposals have allocated a 24% increase for education as compared to last year, revised existing operational norms of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in order to implement the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and proposed the implementation of a revised Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Vocationalisation of Secondary Education” to improve the employability of the youth. A Group of Ministers has been constituted to consider measures for tackling corruption although the specifics of the strategy have not been worked out.
Many DU students used this opportunity to put to use their economic and financial knowledge by scrutinizing the budget and studying government policies in detail and their possible impact on the common man. Jasraj Singh, a 2nd year Eco (H) student from Sri Venkateswara College pointed out :“The estimated fiscal deficit is too optimistic ,and while the FM is saying that the revenue will increase it is unlikely to happen. Also the projected expenditure growth is too less”. Though he also goes on to state, “The inflation indexation of the NREGA and the doubling of wages of Anganwadi workers seem tobe the positives.”
For many others, the main concern was finding out what objects of relevance got cheaper and what costlier. Malvika Tripathi, a 2nd year Eco (H) LSR student seemed skeptical : “The service tax has increased so basically, we are paying more for everything plus they cut subsidies…so does that mean subsidized canteen food will get expensive?” Shopaholics didn’t receive the budget too well, many fuming over an expected rise in branded clothes and mobile phones. Kritika Rai, DU student said: “Govt. inflation toh control kar nahi rahi, phone and kapde mehenge kar diye.”
There was disappointment over the fact that education loans hadn’t been made any cheaper and a general discontentment regarding the fact that the government hadn’t taken any decisive steps toward corruptio nand black money.
However, not everyone seemed disappointed and many pointed out significant positives in the union budget. Students contended that the budget was probably the best the government could have possibly drawn out in the given circumstances. They argued that the budget was a balanced one and that the grants given to education were well deserved. Academicians that DUB spoke to stated that an increased allocation for education would go a long way in the implementation of Right to Education (RTE) and achievement of the targeted gross enrollment ratio of 30% with the downside being that there is a marked dip in the amount allocated for upgrading existing facilities. Many believed that the government had adopted a safe approach by not heaping additional burden on the populace and by keeping the budget neutral.
So, what is the final verdict? Is the budget good or bad? Does it get thumbs up or thumbs down? Is the budget truly the ‘Aam Admi Ka Budget’? Pranab Mukherjee may have missed an opportunity there, for the Aam Admi. Certainly there isn’t too much to cheer for us.
How the budget affects YOU:
HOLE IN YOUR POCKET
Hospital and medical bills to rise owing to an increase in service tax.
Air Travel becomes costlier with an increase of Rs 50 on domestic and Rs 250 on foreign travel, due to 2% rise in service tax.
Hotel Stay will become 5% more expensive
Increase in prices of Mobile phones by 1%
Price of fountain pens and ball pens to increase by 10%
Car Repair, renovation and decoration services are now taxable
Branded clothes and jewelry will get more expensive owing to the imposed excise duty of 10%
Food items such as soups, ketchup, coffee and tea mixes, supari, flavoured milk, and other ready to eat items will cost more as a higher excise duty has been imposed on these
Due to imposition of service tax, drinking liquor in air-conditioned restaurants will now cost more
Cost of cars and two Wheelers will remain unchanged as the budget has maintained the previous excise duty on them. Electric cars however will become cheaper in a bid to promote a pro-environment stance.
A 5% excises duty has been imposed on microprocessors and DVD writers. There will be an increase in the cost of personal computers and laptops. Inkjets and laser printers are cheaper though.