New Delhi: Income tax exemptions and the focus on women’s safety and senior citizens has put a smile on the common man’s face.
The maiden budget of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saw the IT exemption limit for those below 60 raised from Rs.2 lakh to Rs.2.5 lakh and from Rs.2.5 lakh to Rs.3 lakh for senior citizens. It also proposed to use the huge amount of money lying “unclaimed” in saving schemes for the welfare of senior citizens.
“For a change the government has given us importance. I welcome the announcements and hope that the government will take proper care of us,” said Kailash Nihalani, a 72-year-old retired teacher living in west Delhi.
However, some complained that Jaitley failed to give them any relief from the inconvenience they face at government hospitals and dispensaries.
“At times, it’s difficult for the elderly to get proper access to medicines or treatment at the government-run hospitals and dispensaries. There is no provision for getting proper access to medical facilities for us,” rued Dev Singh Bajaj, a 65-year-old writer based in Mumbai.
The allocation of Rs.150 crore to improve safety for women in larger cities was applauded by all especially the women in the wake of the horrific Dec 16, 2012 gang rape in the national capital.
Jaitley announced Rs.50 crore for the surface transport ministry to make road transport safer for women in addition to setting up of a crisis management centre for women in Delhi, the money for which will be provided from the Nirbhaya fund.
“I hope this money is spent properly on protecting our mothers, daughters and sisters and making our cities safer for them,” said Rajan Singh, a 32-year-old businessman from Chandigarh.
While the allocation of Rs.1,000 crore for implementing one rank, one pension scheme was welcomed by those in the armed forces, the raising of the FDI cap in the defence sector from 26 percent to 49 percent evoked mixed reactions.
“I am not sure if increasing FDI is such a good step. I think we should promote our indigenous private and public defence industries. The focus should not be on importing equipment and weapons but exporting them,” said V. Kurien, a retired Navy officer from Kerala.
Meanwhile, the decision to increase excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco products as well as aerated drinks is a step in the right direction, felt many.
“Who needs these colas and cigarettes? They are poison for our health. I know it’s tough to ban them but the next best thing to do is to make them expensive,” said Vivek Sethi, a 30-year-old dietician based in south Delhi.
The news obviously upset smokers, many of whom said that they had no option but to curtail the number of sticks they smoke or kick the butt altogether.
“I guess I will have to cut down on the number of cigarettes I smoke daily as there are other important expenses in life,” said Zahid Jibran, a 40-year-old ad film maker from Mumbai who smokes around a dozen cigarettes a day.
Other announcements like allocation of Rs.500 crore for the rehabilitation of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, total sanitation in every household by 2019, e-visas at nine airports, cheaper cars and televisions too were appreciated.