All eyes and ears are now on the Finance Minister and his budget for the fiscal year 2011-12. Almost every citizen of the country has his/her own set of expectations that they would like to see being fulfilled in the coming budget.
But there is a conundrum for the government this year: it needs to provide near-term income support for the poor without compromising medium-term fiscal consolidation, in order to maintain its power while pursuing efforts to tame inflation.
We certainly expect the budget intentions will focus on walking this tightrope, but implementation may be tougher as efforts could be hampered by corruption probes and external pressures such as commodity prices and liquidity bubbles.
Below is a list of expectations from the common man that he would like the FM to implement:
Without doubt the Indian Housewife wants the FM to do something and anything to ensure that the prices of basic food and vegetables (a.k.a onions, drumsticks, garlic) do not go high as they have done in the last few months. Onions have literally caused tears in most households and there is a great expectation that the FM would come up with some good ideas to curb the rising prices. Many housewives would also be eagerly hoping that the price of Domestic LPG remains untouched. There is constant pressure on the FM to reduce the burden of subsidy on LPG and he could look at increasing prices of domestic LPG cylinders.
Tax paying people
With the inflation at a high, the tax payers would like to see a progress to the proposals of the new taxes code which envisage raising the first slab (10%) to Rs 10 lakh instead of the current 1.6-5 Lakh slab. This would be beneficial to a big chunk of the working populace as most people in the middle-middle class and upper middle class have an income in excess of 5 lakhs per annum.While the lowest tax bracket at 10% under the DTC regime aims to envelope Rs.2-5 lakh taxable income range from FY 2012-13, the current no-tax limit up to income of Rs.1.6 lakh still provides scope of improvement by another Rs.20, 000 at the lower end income group.
The much touted National Rural Guarantee Scheme has played havoc with Farmers. Easy jobs with a guaranteed salary from the NREG have made big numbers of farm labor to migrate away from the hard work and low pay of agriculture work. This has resulted in a very acute shortage of workers and is seen as a major cause for the rise in prices of farm products.
Even a good monsoon has not brought any cheer to the farmer as he does not have labourers to harvest his crop! The farming community is expecting the FM to scrap this populist scheme or ensure that migration of farm labourers is plugged.
An unending and over ambitious expectation from all owners of automobiles is the hope that prices of Petrol and Diesel will come down. Each budget has only brought disappointment and with the current state of crude prices it seems far-fetched to expect any relief. But it does not cost to expect and so we shall!
The last budget had promised a greener land with over 40% of total outlay on Infrastructure. But, sadly nothing much has happened apart from all the so called development at Delhi (that was for the commonwealth games anyway!). The aam aadmi expects the FM to keep the same focus by allocating more funds to infrastructure development along with a framework to ensure that his good intentions are implemented at the ground level.
The student community expects that the FM will declare a loan waiver for Educational Loans. On that note most common Indians expect the FM to bring about a sea change in the education system (indirectly of course) as school fees and college fees have started rocketing skywards for no Rhyme or Reason. The common perception is that easy availability of educational loans has tempted colleges to demand higher fees as they are sure that the parents will anyway find a way to pay!
The recent spate of mis-dealings by employees of Banks and Financial services has created quite a fear in the minds of the common man about the safety of his investments and finances while dealing with the zillions of companies which have flooded the financial services domain. It is expected that the FM will come up with a long term strategy to ensure that there is stability and a stronger sense of safety prevailing in the Financial Services and Capital Markets domain.