From increasing healthcare spending to extending social security benefits to gig workers, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Monday, announced a slew of measures in her third budget speech to revive the pandemic-hit economy. There is, however, some criticism that her latest budget does not do much for the middle class in terms of tax breaks.
The Malad-based Bhatia family, which shared its expectations from the 2021 budget with the Free Press Journal, claims it to be 40 per cent in favour of the common man.
Vinita Bhatia, 42, who lost her job with a media conglomerate during the lockdown, said, "In a year where there were unprecedented job losses, not just at entry levels or in PSUs, the budget did not have any direct provision for job creation. On the other side, it was good to see that the government has increased FDI in insurance from 49% to 74%. But this might help only smaller insurance companies who will seek FDIs. The larger ones might shy away from it. As such, it will not benefit people like me who are associated with large listed insurers for health and general insurance. It is quite surprising that the government has not increased FDI rates for other industries, which were badly hit during the pandemic - like hospitality or media. These are two domains that employ lots of skilled labor and permitting more investment here would have helped in boosting job opportunities. It is also unfortunate that the income tax slabs have not been increased for salaried professionals."
She added, "I am happy that electricity consumers can now choose between providers. During the lockdown, we ended up paying inflated bills. Trying to transfer to another provider was a troublesome affair. Another positive thing was that, if a company delays depositing employee PF contributions, then they will not get the deduction, which will encourage companies to deposit the PF in the employees’ account on time."
Vinita's husband Manoj, 45, called the budget as a big bang budget for the big corporates, with just little in it for the common man and small entrepreneurs. He said, "The biggest downer was the imposition of Agriculture Infrastructure & Development Cess (AIDC) of Rs 2.5 per litre and Rs 4 per litre, respectively. This will increase costs for all commodities in the near and long term. On the upside, I am happy that the Finance Minister has decided to incentivise digital payments and to reduce the compliance burden of the person who is carrying almost all of their transactions digitally. This will help in the sale of high value consumer electronics and consumer durables I feel."