The presentation of the Finance Bill 2015, by the Hon’ble Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitely, has elicited a guardedly positive response from the public at large; guarded for the reason that the primary concern is on the execution. With the post election euphoria gradually subsiding, there seems to be a growing perception that while various announcements made by the Modi government have been for improving the economy are truly encouraging, the execution of these plans and bringing it to fruition within a reasonable time frame could be the real challenge. While there is no denying that there is going to be a gestation period for many of the projects before they can be seen to be bearing fruit, the entire cross section of the country is eager to pluck the low hanging fruits, which they are presently unable to sight.
Coming to Mr. Jaitely’s budget, it has elicited a positive response from those who hold no bias against the Government. The budget, apart from the customary proposals in the area of taxation, has significant proposals covering education, infrastructure and welfare schemes. The Government’s continuing resolve to introduce GST from April 2016, is being eagerly awaited with bated breath. Also, the decision to defer GAAR by two years and to remove tax terrorism, by way of retrospective tax amendments, would certainly go a long way in restoring investor confidence, particularly foreign investors. Seen in the light of Mr. Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, such measures had to be a pre-requisite.
Some of the noteworthy proposals in the budget are abolition of wealth and substituting with a higher tax rate for the super rich, allocating Rs.70,000 crores on infrastructure, setting up of 5 ultra mega power projects of 40,000 MW, reducing corporate tax rate to 25% over a four year period, 100% deduction for contribution of Swachch Bharat, Housing for all by 2020, upgradation of 80,000 secondary schools, among others. The speed with which the Government is able to get the Land Acquisition Bill passed in both houses of Parliament, particularly in the Rajya Sabha where it does not enjoy a majority, will go a long way in putting many of the significant budget proposals on track.
All one can do at present is wait and watch and hope for the best.