Budget receives brickbats, a few bouquets
- Proposals to simplify IT procedures, huge hike in healthcare allocations get praise
- Agri cess, static GST slabs criticised as they will push inflation
- Medical experts call for more focus on non-communicable diseases too
Tirupati: The Union Budget 2021-22 is drawing criticism from various sectors who are terming it as most disappointing and regressive in nature. However, certain proposals like huge increase in allocations to the healthcare sector and steps to simplify the income tax procedures are being welcomed.
Noted Chartered Accountant E Phalguna Kumar said that the current budget has further simplified various income tax procedures making it more transparent and efficient. The faceless assessment announced in August 2020 has gone further with the introduction of faceless tribunal. The announcement of a mechanism called dispute resolution committee to address the disputes of having below Rs 50 lakh income is a significant feature.
He added that by abolishing settlement commissionerates, a new system of Interim Board of Settlement was announced which helps in quick settlements of disputes. Also, to reduce compliance burden, the budget provides reduction in the time-limit for reopening of income tax proceeding for three years from the present six years which is another key feature.
Kumar further said that the budget proposed to increase the limit for tax audit for persons who are undertaking 95 per cent of their transaction digitally from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore. This move will incentivise the digital transaction.
IMA Academy of Medical Specialities state chairperson Dr P Krishna Prasanthi termed the 137 per cent hike in allocation at Rs 2,23,846 crore in the current budget for the healthcare sector as highly impressive compared to the previous year's Rs 94,452 crore.
She welcomed the move to set up rural and urban health wellness centres and integrated public health labs in all districts. However, she felt that there should be a differentiation between communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). As the Covid is an infectious disease, the entire focus was on the vaccine and the importance of NCDs is missing totally.
Dra Krishna Prasanthi said budget should also have been focussed more on the geriatric diseases given the fact that the longevity has increased. The emergency and trauma care also need special attention given the fact that the road accidents are increasing which are more of a socio economic burden rather than a medical disease burden. Adult immunisation programme was one neglected area and needs a serious look at it.
Dr D Krishna Murthy, Professor of Economics at S V University observed that the increase in the customs duty on solar inverters from 5 to 20 per cent, cotton from 0 to 10 per cent are expected to boost domestic production of these products under the Make in India initiative.
The cut in the customs duty on imports of gold from 12.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent is expected to please the women who love gold ornaments. The cut in copper scrap imports to 2.5 per cent will help electricity products.
However, he felt that the agri infra cess will result in soaring prices of essential commodities like pulses, edible oil, petroleum products, etc., which will only increase the rate of inflation. When LIC is working efficiently on par with private insurance companies, where is the need to increase FDI limit in it from 49 per cent to 74 per cent, he questioned.
Tirupati Chamber of Commerce president A Manjunath said that the budget has failed to give any impetus to the trading community at this crucial juncture. The GST slab rates were left untouched. There was a long-pending demand to reduce the GST on cement from the existing 28 per cent. This particular commodity is being used by common people to the affluent in the society who want a big relief in it.
As such, no incentives were given to the construction sector which will seriously hamper the economic growth on a whole, he said adding the prices of various commodities had gone up after the pandemic and the trading sector expected big reliefs to bring down the prices.