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Budget 2006 is short-sighted: CSE

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 1 (UNI) The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) today described this year's Union Budget, unveiled in the Lok Sabha yesterday, as a ''short sighted'' one.

On the excise duty cuts on small cars and soft drinks announced in the budget, the CSE said,''these so-called excise reform initiatives in the Budget 2006 should be recognised for what they are: short-sighted, retrograde measures. By reducing the excise duty on small cars and soft drinks, the Union finance minister, P Chidambaram, has actually chosen to encourage the manufacture and consumption of two key public health threats.'' Describing the government's "thumbs-up" for small cars in the budget as ''a rude joke on the environment'', the CSE said,''even though traffic congestion and poisonous air today mark almost every Indian city and town, Chidambaram has slashed excise on small cars from 24 per cent to 16 per cent: this can lead to an explosion in car numbers, especially in diesel cars that will worsen pollution and congestion in cities already caught in the traffic gridlock.

This, when the share of small cars in the total car sales has already increased phenomenally from 54 per cent in 2001-02 to 61 per cent in 2004-05.'' ''The government, on the other hand, has made no efforts to stimulate investments in different mix of public transport systems in cities. The tax cut on small cars is reprehensible and unjustifiable,'' Anumita Roychoudhury, associate director, CSE said.

This move threatens to destroy public transport in cities and works against pollution and congestion reduction measures. With the excise cuts on small cars, the total and unfavourable burden of taxes on buses will get more skewed in cities, it said.

The budget also came in for flak from the All India Kisan Sabha.

''The Union Budget has failed to address adequately the ongoing agrarian crisis. The reduction in short term interest rate for farmers and the proposed increase in farm credit are welcome measures, but these are inadequate to address the problems adequately,'' the AIKS said in a statement issued here.

''Most of the recommendations of the National commission for farmers, which submitted its final report in december, 2005, have been completely ignored in the budget,''it said.

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