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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Indian Budget 2013 - 14 - Expectation from P Chidambaram

Northern India would reel under the influence of winter this period of time and in the Capital’s  corridors of power, a well-oiled bureaucratic machine moves into a higher gear, in preparation of India's annual Budget, perhaps the country's most importantly yearly statement.  The  Budget is a complex, expansive set of documents that details the country's income, expenditure and economic policy, among others. People often quote the Great Kautilya as attaching importance to public finance and the taxation system in the Arthasastra – To him,  the power of the government depended upon the strength of its treasury.  That way Nation would wait with bated breath, the speech of  Palaniappan Chidambaram presenting the budget. 

Till a few years ago, people were agog with the budget announcements – there would be crowds at petrol bunks as people would fill the tanks of their two wheelers…… funny, some of them had capacity less than 10 litres … !! Don’t expect magic in 2013-14 budget ~ history repeats itself and remember his 2008-09 budget, which set the country on the path to high inflation and low growth. Prior to Pranab Mukherjee who is often blamed for the slide,  it was Chidambaram’s 2008-09 budget; seen in this backlight, things are not all that rosy. 

For those of us, not so conversant with Finance, the Union Budget of India is the annual Financial Statement of the Nation as represented in Article 112 of the Constitution of India; presented each year on the last working day of February by the Finance Minister of India in Parliament. The budget has to be passed by the House before it can come into effect on April 1, the start of India's financial year. Sure there cannot answers to India’s various problems in one budget exercise but the annual budget is one where Govts try to balance between aiming at growth and maintaining the present costs.
The Union Budget of India for 2013–2014 will be presented by P. Chidambaram on 28th of February 2013. Former Finance Minister Morarji Desai [who rose to become the Prime Minister too]  presented the budget ten times, the most by any. The first Union budget of independent India was presented by R. K. Shanmukham Chetty on November 26, 1947.  Indira Gandhi,  is the  only woman to hold the post of the finance minister and present the budget. Dr. Manmohan Singh became the Finance Minister but presented the interim budget for 1991-92 as elections were forced.

Most salaried people would look eagerly for tax sops.  Presently there is no tax till 2 lakhs; 10% till 5 lakhs; 20% till the next 5 lakhs and 30% for income above 10 lakhs [for that portion which exceeds]; there is the additional 3% Education cess. Life is not all about the little increase in exemption limits……… expect the Govt to take care of better services and good governance.

Until the year 2000, the Union Budget was announced at 5 pm on the last working day of the month of February. This practice was inherited from the Colonial Era, when the British Parliament would pass the budget in the noon followed by India in the evening of the day. Mr.Yashwant Sinha, the then Finance Minister of India in the NDA government (led by BJP) of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, changed the ritual by announcing the 2001 Union Budget at 11 am.

So what do you expect from the budget to be presented tomorrow ?

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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