Budget 2019-20 not populist, Guwahatians underwhelmed
GUWAHATI: Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, only the second lady union finance minister after Late Indira Gandhi, announced the annual budget 2019-20 – her first ever - in the Lok Sabha on 5th July, 2019. The budget however failed to be of satisfaction generally as people felt that it was not a populist one. Primarily, Sitharaman, on Friday, raised taxes on the fuels which will directly impact all citizens and sectors in the country leading to general price rise.
Within hours of the union budget announcing a hike in cess on auto fuel prices, petrol prices shot up by Rs 2.50/litre while diesel prices went up by Rs 2.30/litre.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman increased excise duty and road and infrastructure cess on the auto fuels by Rs 2 per litre each to raise over Rs 28,000 crores.
Also, the finance minister levied Re 1 per tonne customs or import duty on crude oil. India imports more than 220 million tonnes of crude oil annually and the new duty will give the government Rs 22 crores additionally.
The government claimed that the budget this year is to reform, perform and transform the country, but people were expecting more after the victory of Bharaiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“After the huge win in the Lok Sabha elections the government has failed to meet people’s expectations,” said city-based social worker and Padma Shri awardee, Ajoy Dutta.
A city-based businessman, Kedar Nath, said that the concept of tax deduction at source (TDS) of 2 per cent on cash withdrawal of more than Rs 1 crore from a bank account is not justified. “There can be withdrawals for various purposes in the northeast India as the idea of digital India is not yet entirely successful here,” said the irked businessman.
A city-based chartered accountant, Manoj Nahata, talking to G Plus said that the government seems a bit confused as all these days it was projected that Aadhar Card would be mandatory but the budget announcement revealed that PAN and Aadhaar cards have been made interchangeable allowing those who do not have PAN cards to file returns. Further, those who don’t have Aadhar can also file returns.
Many Guwahatians felt that the government was a bit too practical for comfort this time. India's upper middle class has been waiting for a tax break for a long time and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has left them disappointed with her Budget 2019 too.
She ignored key demands of the common man as well as industry bodies, be it raising the tax exemption threshold from the current Rs 2.50 lakhs or revising the tax slabs or, for that matter, increasing the maximum deduction limit under Section 80C from Rs 1.5 lakhs. Instead, the higher income groups are staring at an even higher tax outgo.
Saying that those who earn more should also contribute more, Sitharaman announced higher surcharges on individuals with taxable income of over Rs 2 crores. For individuals in the income bracket of Rs 2-5 crores, the applicable surcharge will be 3 per cent while those earning above Rs 5 crores are looking at a surcharge of 7 per cent. For other categories of income payers, the tax rates and slabs remain unchanged.
Therefore, Budget 2019 has been perceived as one that is just not populist.
Senior citizens ignored by govt: Ajoy Dutta
Guwahati-based social worker and Padma Shri awardee, Ajoy Dutta, is upset with Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2019-20 as, according to him, nothing was announced for the senior citizens.
“I have observed that the senior citizens of the country are sufferers these days as they are ignored by their families and thereafter, even by the government,” said Dutta.
He said that in all the banks and even post offices, the interest rates on savings are decreasing; there should be some relief given to the senior citizens at least as far as income tax is concerned.
There is a huge chunk of people in the country who are in the senior citizen bracket and he feels that the government has failed to work for the wellbeing of this bracket of people.
“Sitharaman did not announce anything for the senior citizens and that is disappointing,” said Dutta adding that the government is just trying to be over practical which was not expected.
He said that after the 2019 Lok Sabha election results, senior citizens expected a lot from the government but the same has fallen very short with this budget.
Northeast neglected by BJP: Congress
The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the union budget 2019-20 as it seems that no special packages have been announced for Assam or the northeast.
Leader of Opposition, Debabrata Saikia, talking to G Plus said, “The union budget neither mentioned anything special for Assam nor for the northeast.” The government even failed to discuss or propose any new investment policy for the state.
APCC president, Ripun Bora, said that other than flowery language, the budget did not have anything. Bora said that the government spoke about clean rivers but only mentioned the Ganga. “Brahmaputra and Barak are not rivers?” questioned Bora.
Describing the union budget as insipid and old wine in a new bottle, the Congress alleged that Sitharaman belied the expectations held of her and gave no meaningful relief to any section.
Bora said that the BJP’s dream to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2024 is good but there is no road map. The government failed to explain how to create jobs for the youths, said Bora.