Union Finance Budget for Financial Year 2007-2008, Government of India… (India is Shining)

Union Finance Minister (Govt. of India) P Chidambaram presented the Union Budget for 2007-08 in Parliament on Wednesday, 28th Feb. 2007.

The Following are the Highlights:

While Chidambaram kept income tax limit unchanged, he increased the threshold limit by Rs 10,000 giving every assessee a relief of Rs 1,000.

Deduction in respect of medical insurance under Section 80 (D) increased to Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 for senior citizens.

Exemption limit for women was increased to Rs 145,000 and for senior citizens to Rs 195,000.

Dividend distribution tax raised from 12.5 to 15 per cent.

ESOPs to be brought under FBT.

Expenditure on samples and free distribution items to be exempted from fringe benefit tax.

Additional revenue from direct taxes to yield Rs 3000 crore and indirect taxes revenue neutral.

Tax exemption on aviation turbine fuel sold to turbo prop aircraft extended to all small aircraft less than 40,000 kg.

Withdrawals by central and state governments exempted from Banking Cash Transaction Tax. The limit for individuals and HUF raised from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000.

Two lakh people to benefit out of service tax exemption. Govt to lose Rs 800 crore as a result.

Service tax on Residents Welfare Associations whose members contribute more than Rs 3,000.

Surcharge on Corporate income tax on companies below Rs one crore removed.

Tax free bonds to be issued by state-owned urban local bodies.

Five year tax holiday for two, three, four star hotels and convention centres with a seating capacity of 3,000 in NCT of Delhi, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gautam

Minimum Alternate Tax being extended.

Benefits of investment in venture capital funds confined to IT, bio-technology, nano-technology, seed research, dairy among some others.

Excise duty on cement reduced from Rs.400 per tonne to Rs.350 per tonne for cement bags sold at Rs.190 per bag at retail market. Those sold above Rs.190 will attract excise duty of Rs.600 per tonne.

Corporate tax: No surcharge for firms with a taxable income of Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) or less.

E-governance allocation to be increased from Rs.395 to Rs.719 crore.

Indian investors to be allowed investment in overseas capital markets through mutual funds. Mutual funds to set up Infrastructure Fund schemes.

Any requirement for security of the nation to be provided.

Backward Regions Grant Fund to be raised to Rs 5800 crore.

A high-powered committee report aimed at making Mumbai a world class financial centre submitted.

Public suggestions will be invited.

Rs 50 crore provided to begin work on vocational education mission for which Task Force in Planning Commission is chalking out a strategy.

1,396 Indian Technical Institutes to be upgraded to achieve technical excellence.

An autonomous Debt Management Office in government to be set up.

Government to create one lakh jobs for physically challenged. Government will reimburse the EPF contributions of employers in the case of physically challenged people taken on rolls of the company and included in the PF scheme. A fund of Rs 150 crore to be started which will go up to Rs 450 crore.

An Expert Committee to be set up to study the impact of climate change in India.

Rs 150 crore to be given to Ministry of Youth and Sports for Commonwealth Games and Rs 350 crore to the Delhi Government for the purpose. Rs 50 crore to be provided for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune.

Rs 100 crore for recognising excellence in the field of agricultural research.

VAT revenues increased by 24.3 per cent in the first nine months of 2006-07.

A national level goods and services tax to be introduced from next fiscal.

Fiscal deficit to be 3.7 per cent in the current year and revenue deficit two per cent.

Fiscal management enabled States consolidate debt to the tune of Rs.1,10,268 crore and 20 states availed of debt waiver to the tune of Rs.8575 crores. The share of States from the revenue expected to touch Rs.1,42,450 crore during 2007-08 as against Rs.1,20,377 crore during 2006-07.

Total expenditure estimated at Rs 6,81,521 crore.

Increase in gross tax revenue by 19.9 per cent, 20 per cent and 27.8 per cent in first three years of UPA government. Intend to keep tax rates moderate.

Peak customs duty rate on non-agricultural items reduced from 12.5 to ten per cent.

All coking coal fully exempted from duty.

Duties on seconds and defective reduced from 20 to ten per cent.

Customs duty on polyster to be reduced from ten per cent to 7.5 per cent.

Fiscal deficit for 2007-08 pegged at 3.3 per cent of GDP at Rs.1,50,948 crore. Revenue deficit at Rs.72,478 crore which will be 1.5 per cent.

Total expenditure during 2006-07 estimated at Rs.6,80,521 crore including Rs.40,000 crore for SBI shares.

Duty on pet food reduced from 30 per cent to 20 per cent.

Duty on sunflower oil to be reduced by 15 per cent.

Duty reduced on watch dials and movements and umbrella parts from 12.5 to five per cent.

Import duty of 15 specified machinery to be reduced from 7.5 per cent to five per cent.

Economy grows 8.6 per cent in third quarter of this fiscal compared to 9.3 per cent in the year-ago period

Three per cent import duty to be levied on private importers of aircraft including helicopters.

No change in general CENVAT rate.

Ad valorem duty on petrol and diesel to be brought down from eight to six per cent.

Export duty on iron ore and concentrate at the rate of Rs.300 per tonne. Export duty on Cromium proposed at Rs 2000 tonne.

Small-scale industries excise duty exemption raised from Rs one crore to Rs 1.5 crore.

Manufacturing sector grows at 10.7 per cent, agriculture at 1.5 per cent during October-December 2006-07.

Excise duty for plywood reduced from 16 per cent to eight per cent.

Food mixes to be fully exempted from excise duty.

Excise duty for plywood reduced from 16 per cent to eight per cent.

Bio-diesel to be fully exempted from excise duty.

Water purification devices, small and big, fully exempted from excise. Specific rates of excise duty on cigarettes increased.

Excise duty on Pan Masala without tobacco as mouth freshners reduced from 66 per cent to 45 per cent.

PAN to be made single identity card for all securities/stocks/MFs related transactions.

Insurance companies to launch a senior citizens scheme in 2007-08.

Defence budget increased to Rs 96,000 crore

Tourism infrastructure to get an allocation of Rs.520 crore as against Rs.423 crore last year.

The ceiling of loans for weaker sections under deferential rate of interest scheme will be raised from Rs 6500 to Rs 15,000 and in housing loan from Rs 5000 to Rs 20,000.

Regulations would be put in place for mortgage guarantee company for housing loans.

Regional Rural Banks, which are willing to take up greater responsibilities, to undertake aggressive branch expansion programme. One RRB branch for each of 80 districts so far uncovered. RRBs to accept NRE and FCNR deposits.

FDI inflows between April and January this fiscal touched $12.5 bn while portfolio investment reached $6.8 billion

Technology Upgration Fund in textiles to continue during the 11th Plan. Rs 911 crore to be provided for this.

Allocation for National Highway Development programme to be stepped up from Rs 9,955 crore to Rs 12,600 crore.

Work on Golden Quadrilateral road project nearly complete. Considerable progress made on North-South, East-West corridor and likely to be completed by 2009.

Northeastern region will get Rs 405 crore for highway development. Road-cum-rail project over Brahmaputra in Bogibil, Assam.

Health insurance cover for weavers to be enlarged to ancillary industries. Allocation increased from Rs 241 crore to Rs 321 crore.

A scheme for modernisation and technological upgradation of choir industry for which Rs 23.55 crore has been earmarked.

Manufacturing growth rate estimated at 11.3 per cent.

9.2 per cent GDP growth rate estimated in 2006-07.

Average growth for last three years is 8.6 per cent.

Saving rate of 32.4 per cent, investment rate of 33.8 per cent will continue.

A number of proposals to perk up agriculture to be announced.

Average inflation in FY’07 to be 5.2-5.4 per cent; govt confident of managing inflation

Bank credit rate grew by 29 per cent during first ten months of 2006-07

Inflation during 2006-07 estimated at between 5.2 and 5.4 per cent against 4.4 per cent during the previous year.

Abhijit Sen report on forward trading to be submitted in two months’ time.

Additional irrigation potential of 24 lakh hectares to be implemented, including nine lakh hectares under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme.

Economy in a stronger position than ever before.

15,054 villages have been covered under rural telephony and efforts to be made to complete the target of covering 20,000 villages by 2006-07.

Allocation on Healthcare to increase by 21.9 per cent.

Allocattion for education to be enhanced by 34.2 per cent.

Two lakh more teachers to be employed and five lakh more classrooms to be constructed.

Secondary education allowance to be increased from Rs.1,837 crore to Rs.3,794 crore.

Government committed to fiscal reforms.

Foreign exchange reserves stand at 180 billion dollars.

Allocation under Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Mission stepped up from Rs 4680 crore to Rs 5850 crore.

Government concerned over inflation and would take all steps for moderating it.

Already a number of steps on fiscal, monetary and supply management side have been taken.

Annual target of 15 lakh houses under Bharat Nirmal Programme to be exceeded.

Allocation for National Rural Health Mission stepped up from Rs 8207 crore to Rs 9947 crore.

Gross budgetary support in 2007-08 raised to Rs 2,05,100 crore from 1,72,728 crore in 2006-07. Of this, budgetary support to the Central plan will go up to 1,54,939 crore against 1,72,728 crore.

School dropout rates high. To prevent dropout, a National Means-cum-Merit scholarship to be implemented, with an allocation of Rs 6,000 per child.

Rs 1290 crore to be provided for elimination of polio. Intensive coverage will be undertaken in 20 districts in UP and 10 districts in Bihar. This will be integrated into NRHM.

National AIDS Control Programme to achieve zero level disease.

Measures for significant improvement of health care in rural area.

Allocation for ICDS programme to be increased from Rs 4087 crore to Rs 4761 crore.

30 more districts under NREGA. Additional allocation of Rs.12,000 crore for it.

Rs 800 crore for Sampoorna Gram Rozgar Yojana in districts not covered by NREGA. Swarna Jayanti Swarozgar Yojana allocation increased from Rs 250 crore to Rs 344 crore.

Computerisation of PDS and integrated computerization programme for FCI.

Allocation for schemes only for SCs and STs to be increased to Rs 3271 crore.

Rs 63 crore for share capital for National Minorities Development Finance Corporation following Sachar Committee recommendations.

Allocation for SC/ST scholarships enhanced from Rs.440 crore to Rs.611 crore.

Scholarships programme for minorities students to be of the order of Rs 72 crore for pre-metric, Rs 48 crore for graduate and postgraduate.

Total Budget for the Northeastern region raised from Rs 12,041 crore to Rs 14,365 crore.

New Industrial Policy for the northeastern region to be in place before March 31.

Women’s development allocation will be Rs.22,282 crore.

Rs 7,000 crore allocation for better tax administration to be used for social schemes.

Rs 2,25,000 crore farm credit proposed in the new budget. A target of additional 50 lakh farmers to be brought under farm credit.

Farmers’ credit likely to reach Rs.1,90,000 crore as against the targeted Rs.1,75,000 crore during 2006-07.

Special Purpose Tea Fund to rejuvenate tea production.

Rs 100 crore allocated for National Rainfed Area Authority.

One hundred per cent subsidy for small farmers and 50 per cent for other farmers for water recharging scheme.

World Bank signed agreement for revival of 5,763 waterbodies in Tamil Nadu. Loan component Rs 2,182 crore. To have a command area of four lakh hectares. Similar agreement with Andhra Pradesh in March for recharge of 2,000 bodies. Command area 2.5 lakh hectares.

Bonds worth Rs 5,000 crore to augment NABARD to be issued.

Death and disability cover for rural landless families to be introduced, known as ‘Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana’.

70 lakh households to be covered under a social welfare scheme with LIC and with support from state governments.

50 per cent of the premium at Rs.200 per household to be given by the Centre. Rs.1,000 crore fund to be maintained by LIC for the purpose.

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The Hot Air Prime Minister

What would happen to a hot air balloon if you poked it with a sharp object? It would deflate and fall to the ground. Well that’s like anti-American Prime Minister (PM) Paul Martin. Paul Martin came into office vowing to improve Canadian/American relations that were strained by former PM Jean Chretien. Chretien was anti-American. Chretien would rather support America’s enemies then to stand with Canada’s long time friend.

Martin is the mini-Chretien. He hasn’t improved relations between the two countries. Martin has faced scandals in his own leadership and has come under investigation. So how does a Canadian politician try to regain support? The politician criticizes the U.S. and challenges her on every level. The Canadian public eats this up and then thinks you’re the Messiah.

This Canadian PM has has no backbone. He’s like a hot air balloon that is ready to deflate. Martin was a good finance minister but doesn’t have the leadership skills to lead Canada. Martin is more liberal on social policy then Senator Ed Kennedy.

It’s unfortunate that Canadians define their identity this way as being anti-American. What a wonderful way to identify yourself.
I’m able to comment about this because I’m Canadian. I grew up in a country that defined itself by the hatred it had for America.

Canadians view America as a murderous nation (their murder rate) with no family values or morals. I don’t know how Canada has come to be viewed as a country with moral values. Its rampant liberalism is almost unparalleled.

If you live in Canada and you are a conservative you are ridiculed and shamed. You are even called a Nazi. Yeah, a proud conservative Jew like me is really a Nazi. What has Paul Martin done to counter this behavior? He’s done nothing. Martin actually fuels this hatred.

Martin continually attacks America. He isn’t living up to his pledge to to improve Canadian/American relations. If he was serious, he would defend America from the bogus claims and assertions that many Canadians have about this great country.

So Paul Martin is full of hot air. He can’t be taken seriously. Instead of improving relations with America, he has attacked her to try and improve his popularity. If I were the President I wouldn’t trust Martin. I wouldn’t even deal with him

So why is Martin so upset with America? He claims that America is violating NAFTA by imposing tariffs on soft lumber. What’s he talking about? Canada does things to protect it’s culture from America and has implemented laws about how much Canadian content must be shown by Canadian media.

Canada has also attempted to implement laws prohibiting Canadian advertisers from buying advertising in Canadian editions of American publications. This was attempted in Bill C-55 in 1999. When it was first introduced, Clinton warned that it could spark a trade war. This was the latest of similar laws dating back to 1965 (Miami Herald).

After negotiation the Bill was amended slightly.

So now Paul Martin is crying foul. It was Martin’s Liberal government who was the sponsor of the bill. Now they must reap what they sewed. They had no vision and couldn’t see how their anti-American ways would have a negative impact.

For many years Americans admired Canadians and would even take their criticism. In recent years as Canada’s anti-American attitude has worsened, Americans are starting to resent their neighbor.
Many Americans now believe that Canadians hate America and would rather support her enemies.

Until Paul Martin leads Canada in a different direction, Canada/American relations will be strained. It’s up to Martin to live up to his words and start improving relations with America.

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UK Finance Minister Outlines Thinking on Bonuses

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has been intimately involved in the creation of the modern British regulatory landscape, but all this may be about to change with a General Election due within 10 months. He also succeeds arguably one of the most successful Chancellor’s in the 21st Century – the current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown – just as Tony Blair has been a tough act to follow, Darling has had to step into Brown’s shoes at The Treasury. Darling has remained silent all week since the announcement of the opposition Tory party’s proposals for the abolition of the FSA; handing prudential financial oversight to the Bank of England, a general carve up of the FSA and probable delay on RDR commitment. Today, that changed with an interview published in a leading, left-wing publication, The Tribune.

Darling on Bonuses

Bonuses are going to be a sticky issue for regulators, politicians and employers – “Bonuses are Back!” may be the cry on the Square Mile, after all, if it’s being earned they’re going to be paid or risk losing competitiveness. Darling’s response is that many bank and financial sector employees only have a job today because of the taxpayer monies used to bail out the sector and shore up the banks. For banks now owned by the UK Government, there will be no bonuses this year;

First, we do have restrictions on the banks we own in terms of bonuses; they can’t get cash bonuses this year, it’s got to be deferred, it’s got to be capable of being clawed back, the people who failed can’t get rewards and they always have to be linked to long-term success.

The interim Walker report on working practices and pay structures including bonuses, published a couple of weeks ago, seems to simply state bankers should worry about doing the job they are already being paid to do. Darling disagrees in that Walker is going further; bankers did not do their jobs to begin with which is why we ended up in the global economic mess culminating in the near-miss, banking collapse. As Darling states,

One of the causes of the trouble is that they were not doing what they were supposed do be doing. Too many of them patently didn’t even understand what was going on in their own banks.

When pressed on disclosure of who actually is paid a bonus, Darling rightly concedes that naming the recipient poses issues outside of transparency and financial regulation; after all, I certainly would not like my name published anywhere with a big number printed after it – there is a dividing line between personal security and public disclosure, though directors at the Co-Operative Bank have been making personal identity disclosure without issue. With the FSA under political fire from the Conservatives, who announced they would dismantle the regulator if elected, Darling’s responses give some insight into why Labour wants the FSA to remain and enjoy enhanced power. For instance,

A lot of these people have got to realise they just would not be working today if they did not have the insurance policy provided by the British and American taxpayers and others. That’s why it is right that the Financial Standards Authority now has the power to say to a bank that they don’t like the pay structure of a bank, it’s too risky, you can’t do it.

Also when questioned on Walker’s proposal for a voluntary rather than statutory regime, Darling’s response was,

We have gone beyond that with the FSA and its new power to say we don’t like your pay structure, it’s too risky. That’s not voluntary, because ultimately the FSA can put you off the road.

This fundamentally underlines the difference between Labour and Conservative thinking on who will regulate the banks and financial sector – Labour clearly envisages an FSA with a very wide-ranging remit and the power to assert itself in virtually any aspect it sees fit. The Conservative focus beyond dismantling the FSA is yet to become clear, but it is reasonable to assume at this stage that they see a return of the Bank of England as the banking regulator and not as an “academic” body as Labour Minister Lord Myners recently put it. The Tribune article focused on pay structure and especially bonus payments, it’s to be expected from a socialist paper, but Darling fielded answers which did take the position that pay and bonuses are actually one commercial factor to be taken into account when dealing with banks who received bail-out monies. As he went on to say,

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