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   If I may fashion a new description for myself ó I am a budgetignoramous. I cannot tell a good budget from a bad budget. (January 3, 2001)

If I may fashion a new description for myself - I am a budgetignoramous. I cannot tell a good budget from a bad budget.

For instance, I do not know whether the budget is to be welcomed or looked at with suspicion. Do I celebrate the budget or push it under the table and pretend that the finance minister has not announced his budget proposals yet.I do not know whether it has been downsized, privatised and revitalised, or whether it has been left as it was, and whether DPR (downsize, privatise, revitalise) is good or bad.I am not sure whether to go ga-ga over the proposals, thus raising the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index to 177 points (4.4 per cent) in post-budget trading, or to wait and watch and be cautious before making my next move.Do I cheer the reduction of dividend tax, the abolition of the Kargil surcharge on individual and corporate income-tax, the extension of the tax holiday for infrastructure projects and special economic zones, and an across-the-board reduction in excise duties on consumer products. Or do I get angry about it and come out in the street in protest

with Communist (Marxist) comrades.I am also not confident whether I should celebrate the continued protection of customs duties for domestic producers, not even when these duties have been lowered for industrial raw materials. Or should I be a hard nut about it. And should I give out my reactions instantly or wait and find out whether foreign investors are bullish with the proposals that may further liberalise the investment regime.I have to first find out whether I belong to the PSU staff or organised labour, which may have reasons to be perturbed, or to the middle class which works hard and pays its taxes. And check whether farmers, landless labour and the poor stand to gain on balance.

And somebody will have to explain to me what exactly is insufficient increase in allocation, targeting Rs. 12,000 crore from privatisation, raising tax deduction on interest to Rs. 1.50 lakhs, cutting rates by 1 to 1.5 per cent.And I know nothing about the budget's effect on the stock market that prompted the Sensex to zoom to 177 points, over the previous close of 4077, a gain of 4.36 per cent, and the analysis that the trend will continue till the Sensex crosses 4500. Or the Nasdaq falling to a two-year low and Nikkei plunging to a 15-year low. Now, is that right or is it wrong. And, for that matter, is it proper that the market should be moved by the fungibility permission so that companies may now convert their ADR and GDR stocks to domestic shares.Basically, what I want to know is whether it is a good budget or a bad budget.

 
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