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New Delhi: Inflation and job insecurity continue to worry urban Indians with a majority of consumers seeking swifter measures by the government to rein in higher prices of goods as well as protect jobs, according to a poll conducted by data and analytics company Kantar.

“3 out of 4 people are worried about the rising inflation and want the government to introduce decisive measures to tackle the same. Every 1 in 4 Indian is also concerned about the threat of job layoff. This is relatively higher in the affluent (32%), older 36–55-year-olds (30%) and salaried classes (30%)," according to the findings of survey released by Kantar on Wednesday.

Kantar conducted the second edition of its India union budget survey. In all, it polled 1,892 consumers between 21 to 55 years of age. Those polled belonged to socio-economic classes A and B living across 12 Indian cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Indore, Patna, Jaipur and Lucknow. Those surveyed were a mix of salaried class and business owners as well as mass and affluent consumers all with savings accounts across various banks and sole or joint decision makers with respect to household finances.

With no clear end in sight of the Russia-Ukraine war, an expected slowdown in Europe and the US and with nine Indian states heading into assembly polls in 2023, the mood of the nation is one of cautious optimism, Kantar said.

At a macroeconomic level, those polled held a positive outlook—50% believe that the Indian economy will grow in 2023 as against 31% who feel there will be a slowdown. Non-metros at 54% are more optimistic as compared to metros. 55% believe that Sensex will hover around the 70,000 mark by year end. A sizable or 40% expect it to potentially cross 70,000 as well. This is more amongst the affluent (58%) and older (36–55-year-olds), according to the survey findings.

However, the global economic slowdown and the threat of covid infections are key areas of worry for Indians.

In fact, even as the pandemic enters its fourth year a majority (55%) of those surveyed still want the government to focus on healthcare in the upcoming budget. This number is significantly lower than last year’s (66%).

“Indians are largely positive about the macroeconomic performance of the country in 2023. Belief in the India growth story amongst older and affluent class is quite strong. However, the global economic slowdown might play spoilsport. Most expect the government to play the role of a protector and take stringent measures to curb inflation to prevent the economy from slipping into a recession, as it directly impacts their household budget as well as their job prospects," said Deepender Rana, Executive Managing Director, South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar.

Those polled also expect changes with respect to income tax. Increasing basic income tax exemption limit (from current 2,50,000) is the most common expectation among consumers followed by the increase in the threshold limit of highest tax slab rate of 30% (from current Rs10,00,000). The former is notably higher amongst the salaried segment (42%) while the latter is expected more by businessmen or self-employed (37%) and older (42%) segments. Two thirds also want to see an increase in the tax rebate for investments under 80C.

With rising healthcare costs coupled with high inflation an increase in rebate on medical and health insurance is the next big ask among the consumers (45%). This is voiced more by the salaried segment at 49%.

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