03/01/2011, 00.00
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For Indian Church, new budget has positive aspects

by Nirmala Carvalho
Fr Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), calls it a “stimulus budget”. Steps taken in favour of education, health care and rural development are praised.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Fr Babu Joseph, SVD, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), has good words for the Union budget presented yesterday by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. “He did what was possible under the circumstances for all sections, right from farmers to taxpayers and senior citizens,” the clergyman told AsiaNews. Other analysts agree that the budget is “pro-poor, pro-farmers and pro-reforms”. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed it instead, saying that it lacked imagination and vision, and failed to “improve infrastructure” or “bring relief to the common man reeling under spiralling inflation”.

“Leftwing parties also criticised the budget, labelling it as the most insensitive in history,” Fr Babu Joseph noted. “The left accused the government of not taking steps to check high prices, poverty, unemployment and corruption. For them, the budget was aimed at burdening the poor and subsidising the rich.”

“The 2011-2012 union budget is not historic by any standards,” Father Babu explained. “As one might expected, inflation is a burden on the economy as is the slowdown in many sectors that are crucial for economic progress. However, the minister must be complimented on several aspects of his budget. Bringing down the deficit to 5.1 per cent whilst maintaining a growth rate at 9 per cent in 2011-2012 is a welcome step.”

“The proposal to raise budgetary support for the agricultural sector is overdue as India’s majority population still depends on it. The vagaries of the weather have taken a heavy toll on Indian farmers.  Similarly, the increase in allocation of funds for education, health and rural development will have a positive effect on the people of India.”

“The budget has also raised the personal income tax exemption limit to Rs 1,800,000, lowered the qualifying age for claiming senior citizen's benefits to 60. These are measures in the right direction that will benefit a cross section of people. The proposed 'Sugam', a simple tax filing system for small taxpayers, is going to make the payment of taxes much easier than the cumbersome system we have now.”

“The Finance Minister, whilst giving concessions to the weaker sections of society has tightened his grip over the well heeled, by increasing taxes on luxury goods and services. This is justified because a growing number of Indians now can afford luxurious goods.”

“In short we can say that this budget is a stimulus budget that does not compromise the basics of an economy that is still growing”.

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