Nagpur: This morning Jaitley, our FM, really worked hard on polishing his budget speech, creating, not just learning ‘shayari’ to intersperse with the dry budget speech, but all his efforts have been lost on our city people at least!
I called some Nagpurians in 15 minutes after the budget – an industrialist, two BJP politicians (both MLAs, one Minister), a hotelier, a lawyer, an old Nagpur luminary, a lady doctor who is known for her GK and grasp of things non-medical too, a farmers’ leader from Warud – and they ALL said they had not followed the budget, ” was it any good?” they asked me!!
The two BJP politicians were both ” in meetings” and I was told to send SMS which would be replied immediately – but no such luck!
The first reaction I received was from a local industrialist who is also President of his MIDC estate… ” it is very, very disappointing for SMSE sector” he opined.
“We were expecting some real reductions in interest rates of loans, where is that? Just reducing our tax burden marginally does not help – we should be in a position of making profits first! When we are expected to pay 12% – 16% on bank loans where as big fellows can negotiate and get 4% – 6% and still default, where is the level playing field?”
“If a SSI unit defaults on loans, he is hounded – his properties attached; a big player faces no such harassment. He just goes abroad!”
On the other hand, even the Big industrialists do not seem very happy. Kiran Shaw Mazumdar speaking on TV said ” it is a tame budget. We expected very radical things, nothing of the sort has happened. Jaitley has not come out of his comfort zone.”
Diliprao, the farmers’ leader I spoke to said he had more important things to do than watch budgets… but when I informed him that NABARD had been allocated more funds for more credit to farmers he scoffed.
“Yes, they want us to be in debt for ever… take loans, pay interest, sell at losses – keep subsidizing urban India forever! So what is new?? The farmers of the country are being enslaved and exploited by all parties. Not one understands what we need – remunerative prices. When will that happen?!”
Rahul Gandhi, Congress V.P. asked ” where are the jobs in this budget?”
The Railway budget being combined with general budget hasn’t gone down well with Railway officials, who naturally do not want to be named.
“The focus has been removed from Railways” said a senior officer, who is from IRS cadre.
“The British had a special budget for the railways because they thought Railways were very important and the backbone of a country’s development; this government does not seem to think so. We needed a complete re-haul of our old and obsolete infrastructure; we needed a serious look into why accidents are happening; our ticketing and pricing needed to be logically done – all that has been by passed.”
He does not rate Prabhu as a good Railway Minister either.
“The customer will not pay commission on on-line ticketing; he can have immediate access to ‘safai kamgar’ to get toilets cleaned while travelling… etc. etc. Such superficial, cosmetic things – how are Railways helped basically in this?”
(Not many of us know this, passengers travelling by trains have been decreasing quite rapidly year on year – ever since air travel became accessible to middle class; there is concern about this in Railways management – but not shared by the Ruling class it seems!)
So while on the one hand, the PM, speaking immediately after the budget speech was over gave very high marks to his Finance Minister others were tepid or luke warm to it.
“A elections’ time budget – sops to all!”
Does nothing radical, changes nothing at all, opine too many.