Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented the Union Budget for 2023-24 (Apr-Mar) in the Lok Sabha. Team FPJ spoke to industry experts from various fields. To gauge the reaction we spoke with Vasantasena Srinivasan, a senior citizen, to get her perspective on the budget. Here's what she had to say.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should be thanked for giving certain concessions to the senior citizens. She has hiked the maximum deposit level of the Senior Citizens Savings Scheme from Rs15 lakh to Rs30 lakh. The interest rate for this scheme has been hiked by 20bps from the earlier 7.4% to 7.6%. Also, the increase in maximum deposit limit for the Monthly Income Account Scheme has been increased from Rs4.5 lakh to Rs9 lakh for single accounts and from Rs 9 lakh to Rs15 lakh for joint accounts.
Concessions not substantial enough
While these concessions are most welcome, they are not substantial enough. In fact, the concessions offered by Ms Sitharaman are minuscule in nature. Senior citizens are the ones who have contributed to the national exchequer by way of taxes spread over several decades. This ought to be factored in whenever a budget is prepared. They need every possible tax concession given the fact that they run up medical bills to treat their various ailments.
Apart from that, for most senior citizens, the interest from their savings is the only source of income. I am not asking for a total tax exemption. We are a self-respecting lot and would like to contribute to national development till our last breath. But, surely we deserve to be treated better than what it is being done at present.
The FM surely has shown her genuine concern for senior citizens, but that alone is not sufficient. We were expecting much more from her since she herself comes from a middle-class background and she is well aware of the pains and problems of this class, including senior citizens. And one thing which needs to be remembered about senior citizens is that we are in the sunset years of our lives. We cannot wait long for the government to come to our rescue. Time is of the essence. We may not be a vote bank, but that is no reason to ignore us. We are as much a part of the citizenry as others, said Srinivasan.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)