Mixed response to General Budget

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Chennai/ Gorakhpur/New Delhi, Feb. 26 (ANI): The General Budget present by the Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday before the Parliament evoked mixed reaction across the country.

Though farmers welcomed the reduction in fertilisers and lower priced pulses, many in the local trade and industry sector felt dejected on learning about an increase in excise duty and hike in petrol prices.

Parents concerned about the future of their children heaved a sigh of relief since they believed that the budget would enhance the number job opportunities vis-'-vis the lull period of recession over the past one-year-and-a-half.

"The IT (information technology) sector again is going to boom. Well after a long lull period, there is going to be a lot of activity and lot of job opportunities for the many unemployed youths. And we hope they will be able to take great strides forward and realise their dreams," said Renuka, a housewife.

However, many in the industry sector expressed their displeasure at the increase in the petrol prices and excise duty. They considered such a move as a drawback for small-scale traders and industries.

Few even quoted it as a clever move of the government to give subsidies from one hand and take the double from the other.

"There is nothing very exciting in the budget; I am bit concerned about the inflationary part of the two percent Excise Duty and the fuel price increase. That's what the impact these will have," said R Ramakrishnan, Executive Director Bajaj Electricals.

"I am bit concerned and it's nice to see that on one hand, he was giving incentives for investments, whether they are in the R and D (research and development) or whether they are in institutions which are doing scientific institution or even in the hospitality industry but then he says I will increase MAT (minimum alternate tax) from fifteen to eighteen percent. So, on one hand he gives and from one he took away," he added.

However, a good number of farmers viewed the Budget as agriculture-friendly. They contended that they would be able reap optimum benefits of the budget considering reduction in prices and more subsidies on fertilisers.

They voiced their satisfaction with the new suggestions in the budget by saying it aids the agricultural sector.

"In this budget they have given (reduction) in fertilisers, we are really happy. Secondly, the loan amount, which we used to repay back; its duration is also extended. All these will be very helpful in our agricultural sector. This would certainly increase our crops production. There is also a rebate in dal (pulses). We are very happy with the budget," said Jagdish, a farmer in Gorakhpur region of Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier during the day, Mukherjee highlighted the key challenges facing the Indian economy as he spoke in the Lok Sabha in the capital New Delhi.

He said returning to a growth rate of 9 percent and then for double-digit figures remains a pertinent long-term priority.

Mukherjee also unveiled efforts to lift agricultural production in a country where high food prices have pushed broader inflation to what some economists expect could hit 10 percent next month.

The optimistic growth projections also led to tighter fiscal and monetary policy as Mukherjee announced plans to review stimulus measures.

He said the government also aimed to cut its fiscal deficit further to 5.5 percent of GDP. (ANI)

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