So this was the Big B.
Having to do an assignment non-stop till 7.00 pm, I got my first view of the budget at 8.00 pm on B Day.
My first impression : The only Big B - Big Government. Anything named after Nehru, his daughter and her son was to get an increase of atleast 50% ! And in the present government, that just about covers everything from Roads to Tribal Archery competitions. I would be surprised if the fiscal deficit as % of GDP does not reach double figures by the time the next election is due.
The Finance Minister did well to abolish FBT, something his predecessor was in total denial about. Also, by removing the surcharge and upping the exemption limits, he has put in a little more into the middle class pocket.
That he did not fiddle with taxes on investments (STT, Dividend Distribution Tax and Capital Gains Tax) is also good news. Anyway, a new Direct Tax code is on its way, which should make interesting reading. GST should be operational from April 1, 2010, which is again good news.
NPS would remain EET, which is a letdown. It does not bring about parity with EPF and PPF as well as ELSS.
I am extremely uncomfortable with Big G having to handle so much of our Big M. Maybe that’s why the Big S had a bad hair day and decided to swoon down to 14K.
But hey, Industry honchos have to sit and give it a ranking. Narayan Murthy gave it a 7, and everyone else in the panel said a relieved ‘Ditto’. Media pundits have to hype this as an event and Anchors have to sport a new wardrobe. I saw an eerie similarity in poses between Budget anchors and T20 captains. Everyone tried to look like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. But I suspect Rakhi Sawant would have taken a fancy to a couple of them.
Bottom line : Rest easy, this Big Bee has no sting.