Hyderabad: With the country going through an economic slowdown and Budget 2020 approaching, it is essential to know what citizens want the upcoming budget to address. The Finance Ministry recently conducted the pre-budget meetings and invited the relevant stakeholders to present their expectations from the forthcoming budget. Many are hoping that the upcoming Budget 2020 would turn out to be a balancing act.
To get the citizen perspective, LocalCircles, a community Social media platform, conducted an extensive survey among 80,000 citizens from across the country.
Government has already announced there will be a corporate tax rate cut in September 2020. Many hope the budget will also bring down the burden on individual tax players.
Currently, for citizens who are under 60, there is zero tax up to an annual income of 2.5 lakhs. LocalCircles asked people how they want Government to change this going forward.
Around 69% said the minimum annual income should be increased to 5 lakhs, and 18% said it should be increased to 3 lakhs. Only 7% said it should be kept at 2.5 lakhs only and 4% said it should be instead reduced to 2 lakhs from the current rate.
When asked what sector according to them should get a top allocation in budget 2020, 30% said they want the Central budget to focus on environmental factors such as air, water and waste management. Meanwhile for 26% infrastructure was their priority and for 16% agriculture.
Only a mere 14% of the surveyed group demanded focus on rural development and skilling. Similarly, women & child safety was preferred by just 11%.
Studies have revealed that India has some of the most polluted cities and towns in the world. During the months of October-November, the country witnessed the AQI (Air Quality Index) touching a record high. When demands are arising for immediate measures to bring this situation under control, 51% said the budget should invest in enabling a stubble collection & recycling infrastructure.
Meanwhile, 22% said investment should be made in minimising the need for stubble burning by ensuring enough groundwater for farmers. Only 4% said Government should not invent in this area through the upcoming budget.
“Increasing consumer spending will be a key to bringing the economy back on track,” says the report. When asked for the best way to boost consumer spending via Budget 2020, around 28% believed a tax rate cut across the board would do the trick.
Meanwhile, 29% also said the Government should incentivise the taxpayer to spend it within a year.
When the remaining 13% preferred a domestic tourism deduction, 10% said a deduction of up to Rs. 25,000 per year should be provided on school or professional education.
The 2018 budget had introduced a standard deduction of Rs. 40,000 in place of medical reimbursement and conveyance allowance. This rate was further increased to 50,000 in the interim budget of 2019.
During the survey, 53% of citizens said standard deduction for salaried taxpayers should be increased to Rs. 75,000 per year in Budget 2020. 9% said it should be kept at the current Rs. 50,000 per year, while 18% said Government should do away with Standard Deduction and allow receipt-based deductions.
In 2015, the National Green Tribunal passed an order prohibiting 15-year-old petrol cars and 10-year-old diesel cars from plying on the roads. The ban impacted lakhs of people. Citizens were asked how should the Government provide a subsidy to replace older cars with newer ones.
15% demanded a flat subsidy of Rs. 50,000 towards new car purchase and 34% said a subsidy of 20% of old car invoice price. 39% said no grant should be provided at all.
When asked about the GST rate tier structure that should be effective from 1st April 2020, 48% respondents said it should be a Three Rate Structure (Basic Essentials, All Others, Sin/Luxury Product). While 20% said, it should be a Two Rate Structure (All product and Sin/Luxury Products). 10% said it should be a single rate structure.