Union Budget 2008-09 disappoints NRIs

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Dubai, Mar 1: The federal Indian budget has disappointed non-resident Indians (NRIs) here by not offering them anything specific, a panel debate was told.

The participants at a debate on the budget were critical of the five per cent tax on short term corporate gains tax, saying it might impact stock investments from the NRIs. While the NRIs lauded Finance Minister P Chidambaram for reducing excise duties and raising the personal income tax exemption limit, participants felt the populist budget aimed at general elections did not have any sops for them. ''The Finance Minister has totally forgotten the NRIs and possibly they have become 'not-required Indians','' said Sudesh Aggarwal, Chairman, Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), Sharjah.

''As an NRI, I am hopeful that the government will consider the plight of millions of NRIs, especially lower-income workers, and come up with specific schemes for their welfare,'' said Yousuf Ali, Managing Director of EMKE Group and Director, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

''Keeping the upcoming election in mind, the Finance Minister has tried to please a huge spectrum of the population,'' IBPC president Abbas Ali Mirza said. P Krishna Murthy, chief executive of Financial Services Division of Al Rostamani Group, said the budget has made a 'serious attempt' to stimulate consumption by reducing indirect taxes on consumer goods.

''The focus is also on the social sector as it addresses the needs of education, health, senior citizens, women and the middle class,'' Mr Murthy said.

He criticised an increase of five per cent on short-term capital gains, saying it would make people hold investments in the medium term.

''The budget has more of political palliatives than economic incentives. As an election year budget one cannot expect otherwise,'' said Ashique Husain, managing director of Tanzeem International company.

Kamal Vachani, director of Almaya Group, said increasing the income tax bracket and reduction of excise duties would help the middle class.

The waiver of small farm loans was widely welcome as a relief to the weaker section of the rural India.


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