NEW DELHI (TIP): Demands like doubling of existingincome tax slab, interest-free loan to small farmers andplugging leakages in the expenditure of funds for Leftwing extremism areas were made at a pre-budgetconsultation held by Finance Minister P Chidambaramtoday with AICC leaders.In his opening address, Chidambaram talked at lengthabout the financial constraints before the governmentbut expressed the hope that the growth rate will furtherimprove from the existing 5 per cent rate of GDP,sources said.
The overall refrain in the consultationswas that the budget has to be people-oriented with equalfocus on farmers as well as the middle classes aselections are approaching.Amid indications that the budget will be a “please all”exercise, the finance minister told the AICC leaders thatthis budget, being the last one before the next Lok Sabhaelections, will be a major financial exercise. Touchingupon the issues of global meltdown and recessionparticularly in the Eurozone, Chidambaram underlinedthe importance of fiscal consolidation and howimprovements can be made in the current accountscenario.
“The finance minister told us what are the difficultiesand how the Indian economy was kept at a balancedespite the tough global economic scenario. 32 of the 46office bearers present spoke on various issues like thoserelated to farmers, weavers, education, health andincome tax,” party general secretary Janardan Dwiveditold reporters after the meeting.