A mixed dish for industry
The Union budget 2008-09 has received a mixed response from the industry here. While the import duty on the steel scrap has been welcomed along with the reduction of central excise (16% to 14%) by manufacturers, exporters in hand tool industry, hardware, diesel engine and other related sectors, still, they feel that most of their genuine demands have remained unaddressed. "Personal income tax exemption limits have been increased but little has been done for the simplification of tax payment procedures. It is good that CST has been reduced from 3% to 2% and service tax exemption limit has been increased from Rs 8 to 10 lakh, but little has been done in terms of reducing the rate of service tax & Cenvat, the main demands of industry," said Ashwani Kumar Kohli, senior vice president Punjab Chamber of Small Exporters. "Nothing has been done for exporters, especially those hit by huge rupee appreciation during 2007. It has increased the total loss of exporters considerably. Though FM has expressed deep concern on currency fluctuation and loss to exporters, but no income tax relief under section 80 HHC has been given to struggling exporters, who are exclusively into export production. Their request to get full income tax exemption under Section 80 HHC from 2007 to 2011 has been turned down, on the other hand 100% EOU's are getting full income tax exemptions under Section 10A & 10B," he said. Meanwhile, Gursaran Singh president of Federation of Jalandhar Industrial and Traders Association said, "While cheaper import of steel scrap would help hand tools, hardware and auto parts manufacturers, but there are hardly any effective steps to bail out small & medium enterprises, who are struggling due to huge tax imposed on them." Ban on steel export could have been much more effective step to help domestic and export oriented units. Freight Equalization Policy and some relief package for small industry was expected but budget has been disappointing in this regard. "We welcome the help extended to small farmers by announcing a package for them but finance minister has not imposed any tax on big farmers, which could have widened the tax net," he said. SPS Virk of Punjab Leather Federation said, "The budget has been presented in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections. There are sops for majority of people, but leather industry has not received any substantial help this time. Wehad been demanding export duty drawback and reduction in import duty on machinery, especially when R&D support was needed, but none of our issues have been addressed," he said.