JD -U wants agriculture, farmer-friendly Union Budget

Kolkata, Feb 27 (ANI): Ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget 2011-12, Janata Dal-United (JD -U) chief Sharad Yadav on Sunday said his party wanted an agriculture and farmer-friendly budget.

"The thrust of the budget should not be only on high-tech cities and industries," said Yadav, while speaking at a convention of Janata Dal-United's West Bengal unit in Kolkata.

The JD -U President further said his party wants the agriculture sector to be strengthened and fertile land should not be acquired for the purpose of setting up high-tech cities and industries.

Further lauding Mamata Banerjee's Railway Budget for not raising passenger fares, he said: "Some projects announced in the last budget have not gone ahead due to lack of funding and this should be looked into."

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will present the Union Budget 2011-12 proposals in Parliament on Monday, and it is anticipated that its focus will be on infrastructure and tax liability.

According to informed sources, Mukherjee is expected to lighten the tax burden due to the increase in cost of living in the last few months.

He is also likely to announce steps to boost the infrastructure sector with a view to sustaining the over nine per cent growth in the coming years.

According to an Economic Times report, initiatives could include raising the limit for investment in tax saving infrastructure bonds and providing special thrust to plan expenditure for sectors like road, energy, ports, airports etc.

Currently, investments up to Rs.20, 000 per annum in infrastructure bonds enjoy tax exemption.

Mukherjee may also announce setting up an Infra Debt Fund (IDF), as was suggested by an expert panel headed by HDFC chief Deepak Parekh in June, 2010 to resolve financing issues of the sector.

The Parekh Committee had recommended setting up IDF with an initial corpus of Rs.50, 000 crore for financing projects in this crucial sector and was to be managed and regulated by market regulator SEBI.

The fund, aimed at providing longer-term capital to infrastructure, could provide a boost to the public-private partnership (PPP) projects, thereby pushing investments in key areas like roads, ports and power, among others. (ANI)

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