Union Budget 2016-17 through the eyes of the common man

mid-day visits the Santacruz home of a 45-year-old tax consultant and his family to gauge their reaction to the budget

Even as the Union Budget is scrutinised by financial pundits and political parties, the bottom line lies in how it will affect the common man. So mid-day visited the house of a citizen, Rajesh Mehta, a 45-year-old tax consultant, for an assessment by him and his family members as they watched the Budget announcement live on TV yesterday.

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(From left to right) Devansh, Padma, Rajesh, Naima, Kannan and Harsh. Pic/Rane Ashish

Health insurance for senior citizens had been marginally increased to R1.3 lakh. This is a welcome step, but I feel it should be raised to at least Rs 2 lakh, because medical bills are much higher at private hospitals. – Rajesh’s 84-year-old mother, Padma

As a professional dealing with indirect taxes, my job is to read between the lines when a budget is announced. Overall, I am happy with it, as it is a dream budget for farmers and rural areas. It is also the best time to buy a home due to tax incentives. We were thinking of buying a second car, but with the proposed rise in prices, we might postpone this decision or settle for a second-hand car. – 45-year-old tax consultant Rajesh

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I run the household on a fixed monthly budget, so I am happy that farmers have been offered special packages, as this will bring the prices of vegetables and pulses down. On the other hand, I am fond of purchasing jewellery but might not be able to do it as frequently because of the Excise Duty. I give tuitions to children in the neighbourhood, but with rising expenses, maybe I will request my budget be increased as well. – Rajesh’s wife, Kanan 44

The initiative of the government for registration of a company in a single day will go a long way to boost the economy and create new jobs. Tax benefits to start-ups 100% FDI for the food processing industry is a positive trend too, as I hope to start a food processing and hospitality business. We are now awaiting the GST, as it will ease the taxation format. – Rajesh’s 22-year-old nephew, Devansh

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I am not happy about the increase in the cost of branded clothes. I will shop at Fashion Street or from hawkers at Linking Road instead. – Rajesh’s 15-year-old daughter, Naima

I am a national level TT player, so I’m a bit disappointed there are no exciting packages for the sports community. I’m also concerned about the proposed increase in prices for gadgets. There is a certain amount of peer pressure for all college students to be seen with latest smart phones and other gizmos. Eating out with friends, too, is set to get even costlier. – Rajesh’s 17-year-old son, Harsh

Other points

Income tax slabs: There is no change in the income tax slabs but that could mean the inflation and increase in labour cost in the future. Those whose income is less than R5 lakh could now get an additional rebate of Rs 50,000.

Late refund: Rajesh said it would make taxpayers like him happy if the interest was increased on late IT refunds. “If we get an interest of 9% instead of 6%, there will at least be some compensation for late refunds by the Income Tax department,” he added.

Travel: Kanan was concerned about the increase in air fares, which will make family vacations dearer. “Families have limited time for vacations, so air travel is more of a necessity than a luxury. But at the same time, I am happy that new roads are being built, which means alternate means of travel can be considered,” she said.

Rural SOPs: The family was also pleased with the news of basic infrastructure such as electricity being improved in villages as they have had to face poor facilties at their native place.

Swachh Bharat: The Mehtas were equally impressed with the R9,000-crore package for the cleanliness mission, and said they were already seeing effects of the drive at railways stations and across the city.

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