Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
The countdown to the Union Budget 2021 has begun. On Monday, 1 February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is going to present her third, and one of the most important, budgets.
A budget that comes on the back of the devastation caused to the economy, people’s lives, and livelihoods by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown.
Citizens across class and sectors are hoping for relief packages, tax deductions, and liquidity infusion in the market, which will not only put cash in hand but also boost the recovery process.
“With the upcoming budget of 2021 and our honourable finance minister’s remark that ‘this budget is going to be like never before,’ I am sure that this has increased the expectations of every citizen, more than ever.”Shelendra Pawar, Statistical Programmer From Bengaluru
Will The Budget 2021 Spell Relief?
The April-June quarter of FY 2020-21 saw the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contraction of 23.9 percent followed by negative growth of 7.5 percent in the next quarter. The government did disburse Rs 20 lakh crore to revive the economy but was that enough for a poor country of 1.3 billion people?
Salaried, middle-class community, which is one of the major contributors to the economy, is expecting a deduction on the existing tax demands by the government.
“Please cut down on certain taxes, since we are already working from home, the expenditure at our places have shot up. Do not add any kind of additional taxes such as COVID tax or any such hidden taxes that hinder our growth.”Hemal Shah, Lawyer From Mumbai
Will Finance Minister Simplify GST?
GST simplification and exemption of fine over Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been a long pending demand of both small businesses and big corporates.
Many businesses that have recorded the biggest losses in their lifetimes are expecting that their fines over delay in payment of taxes will be exempted.
“My business collapsed during the period of lockdown. The main reason for it was the GST. There should be a correction in the GST because on paper, it looks very nice but for a small businessman, it is very complex.”Amit Singh, Pharmacist From Deoghar
Small retail businesses demand fixation of Market Operating Price (MOP) as they say they are unable to compete with online business giants like Amazon and Flipkart.
“In our area, Amazon is able to sell products at cheaper rates and we are not able to compete. MRP remains the same but there is a big difference in MOP. MOP should be standardised.”Girish Kohli, Electronics Shopowner From Delhi
A Bucket of Demands By India’s Middle Class
The biggest contributor to the economy, India’s salaried and middle class, has a whole list of expectations from the Budget. A class that saw major job losses and business failures, has its eyes hooked at the finance minister, expecting relief in Income Tax and standard deductions in their salaries.
“The tax exemption under 80C should be increased from Rs 1.5 lakh to 2.5 or 3 lakh. The tax on long term capital gain (LTCG), which is currently capped at 10 percent or long term capital gains above one lakh should be removed.”Udit Gupta, Engineer From Noida
Priyam Dutta, a manager at a housing company in Bengaluru, expects relaxation in taxes on severance pay.
Realty Sector in Desperate Need of Revival
The infrastructure or realty sector was already bleeding even before the pandemic, due to the lack of funds. It virtually died during the pandemic.
Hoping for revival, the realty sector is expecting the liquidity crunch to be addressed, higher tax relief for home buyers, and its addition to the priority lending list of banks.
“The government should relax the fundraising norms and ensure the implementation of alternative investment funds, to get liquidity in the realty market to keep up the supply chain. The cap of Rs 2 lakh on housing loan interest under section 24(b) of I-T Act should be extended up to Rs 5 lakh. So, more disposable income in the hands of taxpayers will boost consumption and kick-start the buying mode of buyers.”Swapna More, Co-founder, KĀGAAY Technosolv, Mumbai
Students’ Expectation From Budget
With private education getting more and more expensive, the community of students expects that the government will increase its expenditure in the education sector.
“Quality and affordable public education must be a priority. There has to be more government-funded colleges and universities to make education truly accessible for all, and not a privilege for a few.”Prakshi Saha, Student From Kolkata
Girls dropping out of schools and colleges has remained India’s unsolved problem for decades. One-half of the population expects that the government will include provisions in the Budget that would target girls’ education specifically.
Even though the annual budget is a statement of accounts and not every problem can be solved through the budget, it surely presents an important stage to make a statement that can inspire confidence.
Will the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman deliver on her promises? We will have to wait till 11 am, 1 February.