Excellent Budget, says Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Panaji, Feb 29 (UNI) Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) president Nitin Kunkoienker has described the Budget presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram as an ''excellent'' one.

Mr Chidamabaram has ''succeeded in artfully balancing the demands of economics with compulsions of politics,'' he said.

This budget, he said, was the culmination of the hard work put in by the Finance Minister.

Firstly, the efforts on reforms, which, though have not been at a very fast pace, have shown a calibrated approach. Secondly, the revenue intelligence gathering has increased as a result of which direct tax collections have shown a large increase. This has allowed the Minister to give relief to the average tax assessee whose income tax limit has been substantially increased from Rs 1.10 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh. Thus, for the common man, a huge relief has been provided, he said.

The corporate sector, by not increasing the rate or any surcharge or cess, has received a great relief. Excise duties have been reduced from 16 per cent to 14 which was unexpected.

When this proposal was announced, it was expected by the industry that on the matching side, the service tax rate would also be increased from 12 per cent to 14 so that both the rates would be merged.

On the side of Customs Duty, the Finance Minister has not done much though he could have reduced the peak duty. However, the huge decline in the Dollar value has compensated that and hence the peak duties have not been reduced, Mr Kunkolienker said.

Banking cash transaction duty, which was a nuisance to the small businessmen who could not withdraw large amounts of cash, has been withdrawn providing a big relief, he said. Overall, on the taxation front, there are sufficient reliefs.

Goa, though has not got any specific reliefs, will indirectly benefit in a major way on account of the reduction in excise duty on Pharma products from 16 per cent to 8.

Hospitality industry in Goa will be a major beneficiary because both South Goa and North Goa have UNESCO aided sites. These benefits will be extended to entire Goa and one could start a hotel in Goa after 2008 upto 2013 and enjoy all the benefits of a new unit.

Goa has great scope to emerge as a good educational hub and could have greatly benefited from establishment of seats of higher education like an IIT or an IIM, Mr Kunkolienker said while urging the state government to take up this matter with the Centre.

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