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Indian businessmen in Gulf countries welcome budget

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Dubai, Mar 1 (UNI) Indian businessmen and investors in Gulf countries welcomed Finance Minister P Chidambaram's populist and pro-reform budget but lamented that there was nothing for the NRIs, particularly the large number of low-paid workers in the region.

Expectations of some customs duty relaxations on household items, particularly to those in the low-income brackets were belied.

NRI investors said they expected more tax incentives and retention of non-resident status for people returning from the Gulf for a few years more back home.

They said as the rupee is tipped to get stronger in the days to come due to huge inflow of funds from foreign institutional investors, it would harshly affect the labour class in Gulf countries making small remittances home.

Several NRIs, however, appreciated that the balanced budget could help take India on the high-growth trajectory of 10 per cent or more in the years to come while it attempts to contain fiscal deficit to 3.8 per cent of GDP in 2006-07.

Dubai-based businessman Dr Ram Buxani reflected the sentiment of a large number of middle and lower income NRIs when he said that the budget had not offered any assistance for the struggling labour force.

He suggested that there should be a special fund for the rehabilitation of the labour force when they go back home because of financial troubles.

Most Indians in the Gulf praised Chidambaram for not raising corporate and personal income taxes.

UNI XC ARB DS1543

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