India Today Group
Surfers' comments
The threshold limits on tax need to be increased and tax rates should be spread across more slabs so as not to hurt the salaried class. - Jayaraman

The I-T exemption for men should be Rs 1.8 lakh. Rs 1.5 lakh is peanuts. - Naveen Kumar
More »
Expert comments
Gaurav Taneja,
Partner & National Tax Director says the Finance Minister has stressed on buoyancy in tax collections and on attaining a Tax—GDP ratio of 12.5%.
Motilal Oswal, Chairman and Managing Director of Motilal Oswal Financial Services says the Finance Minister was uniquely positioned to present a landmark Budget.
Srinivasa Rao, Partner & India International Tax Leader, Ernst & Young is of the opinion that Union Budget has lived up to the populist trend.
How this budget affects your
daily life:
Risk Calculator
Future Needs Calculator
Tax Calculator
SIP Calculator
Union Budget 2008-09  »   Story
The campaign begins
Shalini S. Dagar
  Print   Email   A  A  A

Writing off farm loans worth Rs 60,000 crore, increasing Income Tax exemptions, slashing excise duties... Finance Minister Chidambaram's Budget 2008 is aimed at winning votes in an early poll.

It's just a little over four hours since Palaniappan Chidambaram, 62, has presented his fifth consecutive Budget as the Finance Minister of the UPA government, and he's already been through multiple press interviews, including a full-blown press conference.

There are more reporters and editors queued up outside his first-floor office at North Block in New Delhi, and Chidambaram is pressed for time. "Short questions will get sweet answers," he says, but without a smile. It's easy to see why Chidambaram is feeling a bit hassled today.

His 108-minute Budget speech earlier in the day hasn't generated the sort of response—or even understanding—that he thinks is due to it.

The bellwether stock market index, Sensex (a rough and ready barometer of business sentiment) has dropped more than 245 points (it fell more than 500 points intraday, but recovered towards close), and industry is unhappy that it has been cold shouldered, minus a few concessions on the fringe benefit tax and dividend distribution tax.

Reformist Aspects
Least Reformist AspectsMissed Opportunities
  • Reconfiguration of slabs in personal income tax

  • Allowing parent company to set off dividend received from its subsidiary

  • Reduction in excise duty in various sectors

  • Establishment of a non-profit corporation for the Skills Development Mission backed by Rs 1,000 crore GoI equity

  • Establishment of the Irrigation and Water Resources Finance Corporation, risk capital fund in SIDBI
  • Rs 60,000 crore of loan waiver for small, marginal farmers & one-time settlement

  • Imposition of commodities transaction tax

  • Increase in short-term capital gains tax

  • Changes in securities transaction tax

  • No efforts to rein in government expenditure given the rising fiscal deficit
  • Abolish fringe benefit tax

  • Removal of surcharge on corporate taxes

  • Undertaken stronger measures for effective targeting of subsidies

  • Could have taken more measures to address the labour-intensive export sectors such as leather

  • Could have taken more proactive steps towards the improvement of infrastructure

But this year, Chidambaram didn't really set out to write a Budget for corporate India.

His fifth consecutive Budget, which will be the last for this administration this time around, has been written with bigger political exigencies in mind: UPA and its allies have a general election to win next year, and that may be brought forward to later this year to cash in on the largesse the Budget has doled out to key constituencies, namely the farmers, who have been given Rs 60,000 crore in loan waivers, and the aam aadmi, who's been showered with excise duty cuts to make his two-wheeler and small cars cheaper, and higher income exemptions to retain more rupees in his wallet. Will Budget 2008 win UPA and its partners popular votes?

1 2 3 4 5
Sector Analysis
Negotiating a rough patch
Demand growth is expected to be buoyant driven by new vehicle launches, likely softening of interest rates and continued growth on the export front.
More »
Railway Budget
Lalu presents people's budget, slashes fares
The minister announced launch of several new trains and reduction in fares across all classes amid chaos by Opposition in Parliament.
More »
A budget for Bharat
Buoyant tax revenues a lower fiscal deficit and an economy that's in top gear permit the FM to pump big money into agriculture and the social sector. Those efforts might help at the hustings, too.
More »
Economic Survey
'Expand telecom infrastructure, R&D'
"With rapid growth of telecom network, there is a need to further expand the infrastructure and research and development," the survey said.
More »
Surfers' comments
This is a very good budget, especially for agriculture and education. P Chidambaram is the best.
- By Saravanan P (
If you can waive Rs 50,000 crore for farmers what about the tax on housing loan interest? That should also have been reduced.
- Chandra Shekar V (
Please tax the street hawkers and give relief to the salaried persons.
- Rajaram (
This is the worst budget the finance minister has ever presented. The backbone of the country's economy is the transport but he completely missed it out.
- Jayakaanthan A (
The budget is sure to augment growth and will also lessen the volatility of the stock markets.
- Sidharth Paul (
Overall, the budget is satisfactory but the health sector should have been given greater importance.
- Ankit Chaudhary (
More »
Send your feedback
E mail
Business Today's Budget edition
Editorial: Predictably populist budget
Special: Something for everyone...
Column: All for the common man
Exclusive interview with the FM
Maintaining the growth story
The Finance Minister defends Budget 2008 and the Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver doled out to farmers in an exclusive interview to Business Today's Sanjoy Narayan and R Sridharan.
"Total reduction of excise duties by 2% will give a welcome boost to the manufacturing sector. Also, the exemption of specified parts of set-top boxes from customs duties is commendable".
- Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises
More »
Beginner’s guide to budget
Union Budget is an estimate of the Government of India's revenue and expenditure for the end of a particular fiscal year, which usually runs from April 1 to March 31. Read on...
More »
Are you satisfied with Chidambaram's budget proposals for 2008-09?
Can't Say