Mixed reactions mark Budget 2008-09

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (UNI) Expressing mixed reactions on the Budget 2008-09 by the industry bodies, ASSOCHAM today said it exceeded the trade expectations of the corporate sector, while PHD chamber stated that the political considerations have clearly dominated the economic decision-making.

The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) said the Finance Minister has presented a comprehensive, balanced and growth-oriented budget.

FICCI said that this is a balanced budget that has taken care of both the growth of the economy and the political compulsions of out time.

''The Finance Minister has even exceeded expectations of Corporate Sector in his budget proposals,'' ASSOCAM President Venugopal Dhoot and its President Elect Sajjan Jindal said.

It said the budget has laid strong foundations for a sustained inclusive growth including double digit economic growth, particularly by focusing on building Human Skill Development Bank', There is tremendous boost to agrarian economy paving way for PPP in education and health.

The Chamber in a statement said that Finance Minister P Chidambaram has provided succor to small and marginal farmers who were groaning under heavy debt burden and struggling hard for survival, is a much needed step in right direction.

The statement added that waiving off loans is not the ultimate solution and therefore, strongly suggested for creating a mechanism to monitor various laudable schemes announced to ensure that their deliveries reach the targeted groups.

Likewise, allocations have been increased for health and education particularly for opening of 3 IITs would help India create a huge human pool of knowledge and skill workers' that will contribute towards stronger growth element.

Mr Jindal, however, said that it would have been better if heavy export duties were imposed on exports of mineral resources and surcharge on corporate tax withdrawn, besides, announcements made for infrastructure investment bonds in which corporates would have been called upon to investors their equities investment by granting them certain tax benefits.

Commenting on the Budget Proposals for 2008-09, PHD Chamber President L K Malhotra said President, PHD Chamber said that political considerations have clearly dominated the economic decision-making,particularly while writing off the huge debt of farmers. ''The economy should be insulated from the possible adverse effect of this largesse to enable it to take advantage of the across the board reduction in General CENVAT rate,'' he said.

The reduction in General CENVAT rate from 16 per cent to 14 per cent is a step in the right direction and will have twin advantages - stimulate industrial activity through demand and a step towards convergence of CENVAT rate with service tax rate for implementation of GST.

The continuation of peak rate custom duty at 10 per cent due to rupee appreciation is welcome step and also reduction of duty on project imports to 5% will bring down the cost of projects, he said.

The industry was expecting that concrete road map would be announced in this Budget as lot of work has been done by joint Working Group and Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, he said.

The Finance Minister has managed to address the triple challenge of growth inclusiveness and sustainability very astutely, said the CII President Sunil Mittal.

The budget proposals would go along way in building people and building India, he added.

The beneficiaries of the budget vary from farmers to industry to the average salary earner. And all this without making the budget fiscally irresponsible, said the CII release. However, CII hoped that the expected proposals of the Sixth Pay Commission have been kept in mind while balancing the budget, since any provision for that did not seem apparent from the Finance Minister's speech.

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