The expatriate Indian community in the UAE welcomed the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister of India Pranab Mukherjee on Friday as a step in the right direction. They appreciated the deferment of income tax liability under the new Direct Tax Code bill for another year. They also welcomed the thrust on infrastructure and measures to check tax invasion. Dr Bharat Bhutani, president of Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) in Dubai, said that the Finance Minister has done a balancing act in the wake of rising fiscal deficit. He welcomed the deferment of implementation of Direct Tax code by another year. Sudesh Aggarwal, Chairman of IBPC Sharjah, has termed the budget as “inflationary” and will affect the country’s growth. He said that the common man will get adversely affected due to the increase in the indirect taxation such as increase in the excise duty and the service tax. Talking on 7.6 per cent GDP growth targets set for the coming fiscal year, Aggarwal said that the people of India are yet to see ultimate growth. Kamal Vachani, director of Al Maya group and president of the GOPIO Dubai Chapter, said the increase in individual income tax limit to Rs. 200,000 and the 20 per cent tax slab from Rs.800,000 to Rs1 million is a welcome step for individuals as well as NRIs. Vachani, who is also the regional director of Electronic & Software Export Promotion Council, said that the exemption of customs duty on LED and LCD TVs will give a boost to the manufacturing sector and make televisions cheaper. S Venkatesh, chairman of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) Dubai Chapter said that it is more of balanced and realistic budget rather than any reforms oriented or populist budget given the political and other compulsions. The increasing in Excise Duty and Service Tax will impact in increase of prices and affect the inflation. There are good news for Infrastructure development by launching Infrastructure fund. Announcement of GST implementation date is a welcome one. There will be some relief for Power sector companies where Coal has been exempted from import duty. James Mathews, ICAI Dubai Chapter Vice-President, said that one has to keep in mind the fiscal deficit of 5.1 per cent. He welcomed the guidelines to curb the black money, compulsory reporting of assets held abroad and powers to IT authorities to reopen the assessments of cases up to 16 years in relation to assets held abroad as initiatives in the right direction. KV Shamsudheen, director at Barjeel Geojit Securities, appreciated the finance minister for supporting capital market directly by introducing Rajiv Gandhi Equity scheme and tax exemption for small investors. His proposal to increase the agriculture credit and 3 per cent interest subsidy for farmers will boost agriculture sector. Dr Ram Buxani, President of ITL Cosmos Group, said that NRIs would be happy that the Direct Tax Code Bill has not been introduced this year also. He said that increase in the customs duty on gold will help Dubai’s business. The Bank of Baroda CEO for the GCC region KV Ramaoorthy lauded the emphasis on infrastructure funding. He said the measures undertaken are quite realistic and would spur the economy. EMKE Group chief says budget realistic BY OUR BUSINESS BUREAU ABU DHABI: Yusuffali MA, Managing Director, EMKE Group and Director Board Member of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industries said: “I think this is a realistic budget given the fact that India also has a lot of fiscal challenges as rest of the world. I look at four sectors i.e., capital markets, agriculture, infrastructure and aviation where Finance Minister has laid great emphasis. The allocation of INR 50 lakh crores for basic infrastructure development is going to be a big booster for large segment of both rural and urban population with direct impact on the health of Indian economy. Significant allocation in the areas of food security and Rural Health schemes are extremely important steps keeping in mind the huge population which is going to be directly benefitting by this. Allowing FDI in aviation sector and approval to import aviation fuel is sure to help the ailing Airlines industry and will make them more efficient I hope. Though there is nothing much for Kerala specifically barring the allocation of Rs. 60 crores for Cochin Metro and Rs. 100 crores for Agricultural research, I think the all round emphasis on sector such as agriculture, rural healthcare, food security and highway constructions are sure to benefit Kerala also significantly. I agree with Pranab Mukherjee’s quote that “sometimes painful treatments are necessary for long term happiness” and this is reflected in some of the “not so popular” steps like controlling subsidies, hike in excise and service taxes, etc., while keeping corporate tax rates intact. Apart from increasing the customs duty free baggage allowance to Rs. 35,000 which is sure to bring cheers to many a faces, as an NRI and as a member of Prime Minister’s advisory council, the only thing which gives me slight happiness is the deferment of implementation of Direct Tax Code (DTC) which would have adversely affected the large NRI population in the gulf especially the lower income group. This point was highlighted by me during the Prime Minster’s advisory council meeting at the just concluded Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.