Good intentioned budget : Muthuraman

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Jamshedpur, Feb 29 (UNI) Tata Steel Managing Director B Muthuraman today termed the Union Budget as ''good intentioned'', but regretted that there was little for infrastructure creation, which was the crying need of the country.

The budget would have received better ratings if it had more focus and commitment on infrastructure front, he said adding there seemed to be nothing for ports, airports, urban housing and construction sectors.

'' These are critical for the country to march forward into the global arena. Infrastructure deficit is growing at a rapid speed and needs to be addressed on war footing, '' the Tata Steel MD said.

Mr Muthuraman said one of the positive features had been that the budget provided stability and continuity, which would enable the sustenance of the current momentum.

The growth of manufacturing sector should have been set at around 15 per cent as opposed to below 1ten per cent to tap the full potential of the Indian manufacturing sector, he opined.

Commenting that the budget had been marginally positive for steel sector, and reduction in the peak excise duty and on project import would have positive impact on steel and other capital-oriented industries, Mr Muthuraman, however, stated that reduction of customs duty on steel-melting scrap would not have any impact on Tata Steel.

'' The Finance Minister has referred to steel industry in India as oligopolistic, but I wish to mention that the total steel production of India is less than half of the largest steel producer in the world. Size of each player in India is heavily sub-optimal even now. To meet the future steel demand of a growing nation like India, we need new capacities of global scale and state-of-the-art technology,'' he asserted.

To facilitate setting up of new investments, the Government needed to provide a launching pad for investments in steel production by removing the existing hurdles, Mr Muthuraman said.

He complemented Mr P Chidambaram for containing the fiscal and revenue deficit and said it remained a challenge.

Considering the higher collection of Direct Tax, he said, '' I would have expected relief from the surcharge, introduced as a temporary measure. Also I expected more rationalisation and reduction in the Fringe Benefit Tax. The Government's commitment to introduce GST by 2010 is welcome and this will have positive impact on industry and consumers, when introduced.'' UNI BDG SJC rd 1937

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