Union Budget evokes mixed reaction from Bengal industrialists

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Kolkata, Feb 29 (UNI) The Union Budget for 2008-09 evoked a mixed reaction from Bengal industrialists, who described it as 'populist' as well as a driver for 'inclusive growth'.

Observing that there was nothing surprising in the budget, Confederation of Indian Industry (Eastern Region) said the Rs 60,000-crore agricultural loan waiver, annouced by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram was welcome, but the Government would have done better if farmers were given the cash amount.

'' The budget is by and large populist. It has been prepared keeping an eye on the next election,'' former Chairman Amit Mitra said.

He said the budget also had no mention about creation of infrastructure like connectivity of roads which could have come to the benefit of the rural poor.

However, appreciating the enhancement in budgetary allocation on education, health and agriculture, CII Vice-Chairman Sandipan Chakraborty said it would ultimately benefit the country at large.

He also welcomed more tax relief for the salaried people.

Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) senior vice-president Sanjay Budhia said the debt relief should not be a regular package and wondered why there was no new cut on interest rate on exporters.

He said it was a major disappointment that there was no change in Corporate Tax Rate while short term capital gains tax had been increased instead of being reduced.

However, it welcomed reduction of customs and excise duties on various areas, Increase in Export Duty on chrome ore, increase the threshold exemption in personal income limit and the benefits proposed for the social sector, including education and health.

'' ICC feels that the budget is very balanced and it would promote inclusive growth in the country through its strong focus upon Agriculture and Social sector,'' Mr Budhia said.

While observing that the 'good intention' has to be translated into reality, Tata Steel Managing Director B Muthuraman regretted that the budget had 'not done enough' to address the 'crying need' for infrastructure creation even though it provided some impetus to power and automobile sectors.

'' The Budget would have received better ratings if it had more focus and commitment on infrastructure front. There seems to be nothing for ports, airports, urban housing, construction sectors etc. except for some. These are critical for the country to leap frog into the big league in global arena,'' he said in a statement.

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