The Great Expectations from Budget 2015

The Union Budget 2015-16 is just around the corner and everyone, from the elite class, industry honchos, service class, middle class, business class, students, housewives to the common man have immense expectations from finance minister Arun Jaitley and the Modi government.

The moment of truth is almost here, as the government will be presenting its full Budget on February 28th and everyone has their eyes set on it. The government has made many promises since the NDA government came to power in May last year and now is the time for it to come through with their actions.

The backdrop for this year's Budget is set and is a tad soft as the retail inflation has softened to around a 5 percent level. It has also been seen that the global crude oil prices have fallen drastically at around $50 per barrel of late. But the substantial advantage of it is not being passed on to the general public. The government should follow in line with the global trend and slash oil prices.

Oil price is the driving force for most of the things and is inter-linked to many aspects. It has a cascading effect, right from the transportation costs to prices of raw materials, vegetables, fruits and many other things which affect the common man. However, the government is increasing the excise duty because of which the benefit of falling crude oil prices has not trickled down to the public.

In addition, the foremost expectation from every citizen is having an increased the tax exemption limit. Increasing the basic limit will mean a higher disposable income, spending power and savings.

Many people feel that the tax exemption limit should be increased from the present Rs 2.5 lakh limit to atleast Rs 3 lakh keeping in mind the inflationary scenario. The working women of this country need their tax exemption limit to be raised to at least Rs 4 lakh p.a.

“I feel that it is unfair that the middle class is taxed at 30 percent as it affects people like me who have an annual income above Rs 10 lakh pretty badly. My wife isn't working and I have two kids. And I am left with very less disposable income after my tax deductions,” says Arjun* (name changed) who works with an MNC. “The 30 percent tax slab should be applicable on people who have at least an annual income above Rs 15 lakh.”

It is seen that the gold imports are declining and hence the government may reduce import duty by around 2 to 4 percent. At present the import duty is 10 percent and reducing it to around 4 to 5 percent should make prospective buyers happy.

Sahiba who works in an MNC resonated similar feelings. “I have to purchase gold jewellery for my wedding which is in July. I am hoping that the gold prices will be softened in the upcoming Budget. As we all know, Indian weddings are incomplete without gold and even a minor slash in the prices can help save me thousands of rupees,” she quipped.

The 'Make in India' agenda of the government to emerge as a global manufacturing hub should be given thrust in this Budget and as promised it should help in creating jobs for the youth of our country. The whole purpose of envisaging this campaign is to boost our local manufacturing sector for domestic and global markets. The government should buckle up and start acting on its promised roadmap.

For speeding up and setting up various businesses the people should have access to low cost finance, softening of interest rates and ease in setting businesses or units.

The education sector, especially students, is keeping a close track on what the FM may have in store for it. More and more students are applying for education loans, thanks to higher professional educational costs and for studies abroad.

Deepti,(22 year old) for instance wants to go to Australia to pursue her Masters degree in accountancy. She shares her thoughts, “The rate of interest for education loan is sky high. I have to do all the calculations before taking the final plunge. The loan repayment period should also be increased to at least 12 years, as I belong to a middle class family and getting some extra years to pay off the loan always helps.”

Reduction in service and excise tax rate is also on the wish-list of people. At present, the rate of service tax and excise duty is 12 percent each. Ginny (28 year old) says, “Service tax needs to be lowered as it burns a hole in our pocket every time I go out to enjoy food and drinks. I usually end up going out at least once or twice a week and giving so much money as just tax pinches me.”