Just like every producer waits for a Friday for his film to release, the common man waits for the budget every year to know what additional burden has been placed on his already drooping shoulders.
The Current Account Deficit (CAD) narrowed down to 0.2% of the GDP, which is a remarkable recovery as compared to the extremely high 6.7% a year earlier. But more than the CAD and the Fiscal consolidation, the common man will wait with bated breath as to what will finance minister Arun Jaitley will unleash from his briefcase on July 10.
The biggest implementation that the entire business community will be looking forward too is the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST). It has to be admitted that the Indian Tax regime is in tatters. Value added Tax, Local Body Tax, Octroi, Sales Tax, Service Tax, and many others; it is just all over the place. The GST will replace all the indirect taxes imposed on goods and services by the state and central governments. (Octroi and LBT)
Since PM Narendra Modi had the backing of the entire Gujarati business community, the government should be keen to implement this reform as soon as possible so that the businessmen all over the country are benefitted. Moreover, a report by the Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited (CRISIL) has stated that the partial introduction of the GST could boost growth by 1.7% during the next fiscal.
Another major issue which the common man would likely to be addressed is that of the tax slabs. For a really long time, there has been no increase in the income tax slabs; although inflation has shot through the roof, there has been no rise in the slabs as a result of which the savings of the common man has dwindled at a rapid pace over the years. Just like Napoleon had no word called ‘impossible’ in his dictionary, the word ‘savings’ has consistently been erased from our dictionaries.
There is a reason as to why there are wide-spread agitations take place on every instance of price rise. The railways recently made a plan to increase passenger fares by 14.2% and freight fares by 6% across categories. The four day buffer period before the rise was implemented saw the Railways make a fortune considering the people who queued up to get their passes made. Just like any other government, this one too crumbled under pressure and a partial rollback was announced. What a fantastic April fool’s joke in the month of June!
Unfortunately, inspite of the countless amount of price rises; there are no results to show. The recent increase in rail fares had no impact whatsoever. Railway safety is still like a banana republic as evident from the Rajdhani Express accident today, people still travel in inhuman conditions in trains, facilities is just a word in general compartments; the list is endless. If there were results and quick implementation of plans, people would certainly not mind paying the extra bucks. This is surely something that the railway minister will have to keep in mind when he presents his budget on July 8.
Subsidies are another key issue which has plagued the Government over the years in the name of populism. The fertilizer and petroleum subsidy itself accounts for over 1,630 billion rupees. The government needs to make a conscious effort to ease the subsidy burden of its shoulders so that they can save some precious foreign reserves which would help in boosting growth.
India for the past three years has suffered from severe policy paralysis which has brought the growth to near halt. It is something that the current government needs to take into account and practice what they preach. They have shown a lot of hope to the people and it’s time that they implement them.
This time around, it’s not Friday the 13th, but Thursday the 10th that will decide the fate of us common people.
Hormaz Fatakia is a media student and sports buff. He tweets at @IHarbuBhai