Direct taxes untouched n excise duty on cars & consumer durables slashed
New Delhi, 17 February
Bowing to the Army’s long standing demand and in the wake of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi strongly advocating it last week, Union finance minister Mr P Chidambaram while presenting the interim Budget announced the ‘one rank, one pension’ scheme which will benefit more than 2.4 million ex-Defence personnel from 1 April, entitling them to equal post-retirement benefits notwithstanding the year of superannuation. The scheme is to be implemented with Rs 500 crore.
The Defence allocation has been hiked by 10 per cent from Rs 2,03,672 crore in 2013-’14 to Rs 2,24,000 crore in 2014-15. The fiscal allocation of the Union Home Ministry was raised by 16 per cent. The FM allocated Rs 789.08 crore for security-related expenses, and a modernisation plan at a cost of over Rs 11,000 crore to strengthen the capacity of the Central Armed Police Forces. Mr Chidambaram made a deft bid to woo sections that constitute key sections of the electorate. His speech was interrupted by Congress members protesting the proposed Telangana state and Trinamul MPs seeking a moratorium on the Central debt of West Bengal. As he began his speech amid the din, a visibly annoyed Mr Chidambaram was seen asking Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath to ensure that the protesting MPs went back to their seats. An appeal from Speaker Meira Kumar brought down the decibel level somewhat and Mr Chidambaram continued. His proposals focused on the welfare of SCs, minorities, women and farmers. He proposed excise cuts on cars, mobile phones and items of daily consumption.
In the financial sector, he proposed capital infusion of Rs 11,200 crore in PSU banks and said a venture capital fund will be set up to promote entrepreneurship among SCs. He said major subsidies will be slightly higher at Rs 246, 397 crore of which Rs 115, 000 crore is on food, Rs 65, 000 crore is on fuel and Rs 68,000 crore is on fertilisers.