Calcutta Chamber of Commerce: the oldest chamber of commerce in IndiaCalcutta Chamber of Commerce: the oldest chamber of commerce in India
 




 
Press Releases
 

UNION BUDGET 2017-18

UNION BUDGET 2016-17

RAILWAY BUDGET 2016 -17

RAILWAY BUDGET 2015-16

RAILWAY BUDGET 2014-15

UNION BUDGET 2015-16

UNION BUDGET 2014-15

UNION BUDGET 2013-14

STATE BUDGET 2013-14

UNION BUDGET 2012-13

RAILWAY BUDGET 2012-13

UNION BUDGET 2011-12

RAILWAY BUDGET 2011-12

UNION BUDGET 2010-11

RAILWAY BUDGET 2010-11

UNION BUDGET 2009-10

RAILWAY BUDGET 2009-10

UNION BUDGET 2008-09

RAILWAY BUDGET 2008-09




UNION BUDGET 2017-18

Calcutta Chamber of Commerce welcomes the budget proposals 2017-18, as it has given focus more on the sectors like agriculture, rural, infrastructure, housing, MSMEs, youth, job creation by providing substantial budgetary allocations and other fiscal benefits.

The Budget provided tax relief to individual assesses between income of Rs.2.5 lakhs to Rs.5 lakhs by reducing the tax rate from 10% to 5%. It will be a great incentive to the middle income groups.

It has given boost to affordable housing, as affordable housing will be given infrastructure status.

Risk absorption capacity of Public Sector Banking (PSBs) may improve, as government has clearly mentioned that apart from proposed 10 thousands crores capital infusion in PSBs for FY17-18, government is open to infuse more capital, as and when required.

The companies which have a strong presence in rural and agriculture sectors will be benefited more, as the government has increased its fund allocation for rural, agriculture and allied industry by around 24% YoY to Rs.1.87 lakh crores.

Adhering to fiscal consolidation roadmap, the government has targeted to bring down the fiscal deficit to 3.2% for 2017-18. Revenue deficit will be reduced to 2.1% for 2017-18 from 2.3% in the ongoing financial year. It may be positive for the Indian rupee as well as bond market.

Announcement on steps to bring transparency in political funding is a welcome step. The Chamber feels that the budget in general appears to be satisfactory.


DINESH KR. JAIN
PRESIDENT
Kolkata
DATE: 01.02.2017

 
 
UNION BUDGET 2016-17

Calcutta Chamber welcomes budgetary allocations made for Transforming India divided into various categories. It is not clear from the budget speech that where from the allocated funds will come. It might be covered in the annexures.

On taxation front, a lot of expectations were there by small taxpayers, but very few relieves have been granted in the shape of tax rebate and deduction for payment of rent for persons not receiving HRA. However, increase of limit of presumptive taxtion U/s 44AD of Income Tax Act is welcome and its extension to professional incomes up to Rs.50 lacs is also welcome, but the rate of 50% tax seems to be higher which should have been in the range of 33.33%.

The recommendations of Easwar Committee for tax reforms appear to have been accepted in the Union Budget which is another welcome step. Introduction of Voluntary Disclosure Scheme on payment of 45% tax & penalty is not expected to give the desired result.

However, on direct and indirect tax front, Union Budget does not give any direction.


Pawan Kr. Agrawal
PRESIDENT
Kolkata
DATE: 29.02.2016

 
 
RAILWAY BUDGET 2016 -17

The Rail Budget 2016-17 presented by Shri Suresh Prabhu is overall positive in its intent and future direction. The budget is devoid of any major populist measures and is focussd on developing and improving railway infrastructure as well as increasing passenger amenities. There is no revision in passenger fares.

We appreciate that substantial outlays have been earmarked for improvement of safety measures and infrastructure in Indian Railways viz. commissioning of 2500 kms broadgadge lines, commissioning of 1600 kms of electrification, network expansion, new completion and expansion of railway tracks in North East and Jammu & Kashmir, high speed rail and station redevelopment. The proposals for improving facilities and amenities would make travel more comfortable.

A host of other initiatives have been announced viz. commissioning of Wi-Fi in 100 stations in the current year and 400 other stations next year, introduction of automatic ticket vending machine, mobile Apps, introduction of optional travel insurance, increased quota for lower berths for senior citizens and women passengers so on and so forth. This will benefit the people at large.

The Rail Budget has focussed on developing new frameworks for PPP to make it result oriented. The Cabinet has approved joint ventures with state governments and 17 consented. These initiatives are laudable in so far as augmenting resources and generation of more employment are concerned.

The Chamber feels that the rail budget can be termed as moderate one and overall development have been the focus with particular emphasis on safety, technology adoption and commercialization.


Pawan Kr. Agrawal
PRESIDENT
Kolkata
Date: 25.02.2016

 
 
RAILWAY BUDGET 2015-16

Unveiling a mix of populist measures, including no hike in passenger fares and freight charges, the rail budget 2015-16 presented by Shri Suresh Prabhu clearly reflects the government focus on inclusive growth. This year rail budget has emphasized on commitments like social responsibility and expansion of railways. A deserving budget ideal for the nation’s lifeline e- prime mover of Indian economy. Particularly commendable are the accent on safety, modernization, capacity expansion and construction of new lines.

We appreciate that substantial outlays have been earmarked for improvement of safety measures and infrastructure in Indian Railways viz. network decongestion, network expansion, new railway lines in North East and Kashmir, IT, rolling stocks, passenger amenities, high speed rail and station re-development. The proposals for improving facilities/amenities would make travel more comfortable.

PPP cell of railways will be revamped to make it result-oriented. Joint ventures will be set up with states for focused project development, resource mobilization, land acquisition and meet the requirements of new lines. These initiatives are laudable in so far as augmenting resources and generation of more employment are concerned.

A host of other initiatives have been announced viz. developing satellite railway stations, availability of Wi-Fi at selected railway stations, addition of more general class coaches, introduction of integrated ticketing, 200 more stations under Adarsha Station Scheme, increase of speed of nine railway corridors so on and so forth. This will benefit the people at large. Unfortunately for the people of West Bengal at large, the budget has no provision in so far as new trains or extension of existing trains is concerned.

The Chamber feels that the Rail Budget 2015-16 is unique in way of inclusivity and overall development have been the focus without losing emphasis on safety, technology adoption and commercialization. The Chamber wishes that the Government must make sure that it fulfills its promises for taking ample steps to ensure safety & security and that the other steps declared will be implemented in time.


S.P. SAHARIA
PRESIDENT
Kolkata
Date: 26.02.2015

 
 
UNION BUDGET 2015-2016

Calcutta Chamber welcomes the budget proposals in so far as it has given boost to agriculture, infrastructure, housing, MSMEs, job creation in the form of budgetary allocations and other fiscal benefits. Increased allocation to infrastructure forms a part of the fiscal stimulus the government aims to provide this year and is a step in the right direction.

The Chamber welcomes the proposals announced viz. Social security system- New Pension scheme for everybody, increase in Health Insurance from Rs.15000/- to Rs.25000/- & for sr. citizens From Rs. 20000/- to 30000/-, Introduction of GST from 1st April 2016, boost in infrastructure and tax free infrastructure bond, abolition of Wealth tax and time limit for taking CENVAT credit on inputs & input service from 6 months to one year, deferment of GAAR by 2 yrs and transport allowance from Rs.800/- to Rs.1600/- for salaried people.

On the contrary, raising the rate of Service Tax from 12.36% to 14% is a deterrent step in the budget.

Announcement on steps taken for unearthing black money in the form of assets held abroad is a welcome step provided it is faithfully implemented.

To sum up, it could well be stated that this is a status quo budget.


S.P. SAHARIA
PRESIDENT
Kolkata
Date: 28.02.2015

 
 
UNION BUDGET 2014-2015

Calcutta Chamber of Commerce welcomes the Hon'ble Finance Minister's balanced budget in the overall present situation. We welcome the proposal for the increase of FDI limit on Insurance and Defence sector to 49%, allocation of Rs.10,000 crore for MSME sector, to address the problem of Black money, river connectivity & reintroduction of Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP). However, providing investment allowances to manufacturing sector for making investment in plant and machinery in excess of Rs.25 crore is against small scale and MSME sector.

We were expecting announcement of the date of implementation of Direct Tax Code (DTC) and Goods Service Tax (GST) in this budget. But Hon'ble Finance Minister has not made any commitment for its introduction.

Although all tax rates have been kept at same level, increase of tax from 10% to 20% on Long Term Capital Gain on sale of Debt Mutual Funds and increase of holding period from 12 months to 36 months for Long Term are not investor friendly proposals and may adversely affect the stock market.

We expected more in so far as income exemption limit and deduction U/s 80C are concerned. In place of removal of retrospective Tax provisions, introduction of setting up of a high level committee by CBDT to study such cases appears to be a half hearted step.

Our Chamber feels that the Health care Facilities in rural area had not attracted attention of our Finance Minister. Allocation of Rs.5000 crore for Farm Warehousing should have been coupled with PPP projects for faster movement. Renewable Energy Power did not receive adequate allocation of Hon'ble Minister.


R.K. CHHAJER
PRESIDENT
Kolkata
Date: 10.07.2014

 
 
RAILWAY BUDGET 2014-15

The Railway Budget 2014-15 deserves our thanks for courageously withstanding the ever increasing pressure on costs and finding ways for employing resources. However, the new government has already increased passenger fares by 14.2% and the freight carriage charges by 6.5% thus burdening the people, business and industry. The Budget is particularly commendable due to its higher emphasis on safety, modernization and capacity expansion.

The highest ever plan outlay of Rs.65445 crore has been proposed for passenger safety, security and amenities. We appreciate that substantial outlays have been earmarked for improvement of safety measures and infrastructure in Indian Railways. The proposals for improving passenger amenities/facilities would make travel more comfortable.

The Minister has announced 58 new trains and extension of 11 existing trains. Higher funds have been proposed for ongoing projects in North-East and remote areas. This is undoubtedly commendable and will benefit the passenger at large. It requires mentioning that the budget has proposed Bullet Trains on Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor and speed of trains to be increased in 9 sectors.

The Railway Minister has announced that identified stations will be developed to international standards through P.P.P. Mode along with procurement of parcel vans and rakes by private parties, increased movement of fruits and vegetables in partnership with warehousing corporation and setting up private freight terminal on P.P.P. model. This could turn out to be a big bonanza for India income. From upgrading stations to expanding railway network, all are the opportunities that the industry has been waiting.

A host of other initiatives have been announced viz. revamping railway reservation system into next generation e-ticketing, setting up of Railway University and innovation incubation centre, top priority to transparency, e-procurement, online registrations for wagons etc. The Chamber welcomes these steps. Unfortunately for the people of West Bengal at large, the budget has no provision in so far as new trains or extension of existing trains is concerned.

The Chamber feels that the Railway Budget 2014-15 can be termed as moderate budget and overall development have been the focus with particular emphasis on safety, technology adoption and commercialization.


R.K. CHHAJER
PRESIDENT
Kolkata
Date: 08.07.2014

 
 
UNION BUDGET 2013-2014

I. INTRODUCTION OF PERFORMANCE JUDGEMENT MECHANISM (ACCOUNTABILITY)

We would like to stress upon the need of accountability regarding allocation of budgetary expenditure and actual funds under each head. The resources of funds are scare and requirements of funds are more because of developmental activities including infrastructure. The need of hour is optimum use of limited resources of funds. It requires plugging the loopholes, leakage of revenue generation and utilization and distribution of fund.

In the budgetary exercise future prospect and budgetary allocations are discussed at length and there is no scope of comparison of budgetary allocation of previous period with actual utilization and use of such budgetary allocations. There should be major thrust on performance along with future prospect. To judge the performance there is a greater need of accountability, which will require the information to Indian citizen about the budgetary allocation, made and actual amount spent under each budgetary heads. Similarly there is a scope of optimum use of limited resources of fund. It may be achieved by blocking the leakage of fund in the course of utilization and distribution.

II. THRUST ON EXPORTS

A fluctuation in rate of foreign exchange (Indian Rupee Vs. US Dollar) has deteriorated mainly because of higher increase of imports and minimum increase of exports. The situation is leading to trade deficit. It is resulted devaluation of Indian Rupee against the US Dollar - present rate is around Rs.56/- per US Dollar as against Rs.50/- prevailing in the last year.

It requires thrust on exports.

REVIEW OF PRESENT LEVY OF DUTIES AND TAXES UNDER DIFFERENT NEW AND DIFFERENT TAX LAWS.

The Indian trade and industry is overburdened with levy of taxes, duties, cess etc. under different heads, which are managed, by large number of Union Government’s Acts.

A time has come to give a re-look on different types of levies under different Acts and to consolidate the existing laws under limited number of heads, it should not be more than 4 and 5 in all. It will bring simplicity and better compliance and governance.

NUMBER OF LEVIES, DUTIES ETC.

A number times difference of measures and opinions are flashed in media between the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Finance over export development measures. It is, therefore, appealed that no measure or policy should be adopted by Ministry of Finance or in the budgetary exercise which put hindrance on the path of exports. There are a number of hurdles in tax refund procedures faced by exporting community. The measures taken so far are half-hearted measures and it had not yielded desired results. The refunds are claimed by exporters under excise, sales tax and exemption are claimed under Income Tax Law. Under each of these three heads there are practical problems which are required to be removed.

REVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ON COLLECTION OF REVENUE

Year after year Government’s revenue expenditure towards administration on revenue collection had gone up tremendously. Parliament should fix a ceiling beyond which administrative expenses for collection of revenue should not exceed. If at all, it is not possible to reduce the administrative expenses, it gives alarm to the Government. The time has come to review the entire system and if thought fit to bills such levy or piece of law which introduce such levy.
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ALKA BANGUR
PRESIDENT

 
STATE BUDGET 2013-2014

The Calcutta Chamber of Commerce is pleased to submit a Memorandum on State Budget 2013-14 highlighting the points and suggestions for your kind consideration.

1. VALUE ADDED TAX - INPUT TAX CREDIT

i) The provision of input tax credit are backbone of the VAT Law since VAT was enacted for levy of tax on sale of goods on the basis of value added to the purchase price of such goods at each stage on sale of such goods.

Artificial disallowances and restrictions in the Input Tax Credit (ITC) provisions of the VAT Law had complicated the entire issue for taxpayers as well as tax collectors. Rampant disallowance of input tax credit on the grounds of books and accounts and stock register are prevalent at grass root level (even where books of accounts & stock registers, duly audited, were produced before assessing officer). Similarly disallowances of claim of ITC on the ground of misinterpretation of negative list are also widely prevalent in assessment proceedings. These are root causes of substantial number of pending appeals and revision cases.

ii) Presently a manufacturer registered dealer is not entitled to claim input tax credit or rebate on purchase of spare parts and accessories for repair and maintenance of machinery and equipments, since it is not within the purposes specified in Sec 22 (4) of WB VAT Act. Under the WB Sales Tax Act 1994, concessional rate of purchase was allowed on such product by way of use of declaration form, but this facility had been denied under the VAT Act. It requires review and it is suggested that input tax credit should be allowed to registered manufacturer on purchase of spare parts and accessories for repair and maintenance of machinery and equipments, factory premises, captive power generating units.

iii) Use of generator by trade and industry for captive generation is very common in the State of West Bengal. Still the negative list of input tax credit provide for disallowance of ITC claim on the same.

iv) Input tax credit for a manufacturer registered dealer is not available under present law for use of goods in power and fuel, for example coal, furnace oil etc. used for manufacturing of taxable goods intended for sale in West Bengal (Sec.22(4) of WB VAT Act 2003). It is suggested that input credit should be allowed on coal, furnace oil etc. goods to a manufacturing dealer. It may be classified as power and fuel products.

v) Sec.22 Sub-Sec.7 provide for reversal of input tax credit in respect of dispatches of goods outside state otherwise than by way of sale (stock transfer etc.). It is linked with rate of tax under CST Act, which was 4% at the introduction of VAT Law and presently it is 2% w.e.f. 1st June 2008. It is proposed that the reversal should be linked with rate of tax under CST Act applicable to inter-state sale to registered dealers in place of mentioning any rate or any notification.

The rate was reduced from 3% - 2% by Union Government w.e.f. 1st June 2008 but no notification had yet been issued by State Government for reversal of input tax credit from 3% - 2% so far. In fact, there is a loss of revenue to the extent of rate of tax under CST Law, which is required to be reversed under State Value Added Tax Law and there is no justification of reversal at a higher rate than rate of CST Act.
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ALKA BANGUR
PRESIDENT

 
UNION BUDGET 2012-2013

Calcutta Chamber welcomes the budget proposals in so far as it has given boost to agriculture, infrastructure, housing, retail and power sector in the form of budgetary allocations, reduction in custom duties and other fiscal benefits. The focus on infrastructure development has been one of the main planks for the government’s short term support, as well as, long term strategy for the economy. Thus increased allocation to infrastructure forms a part of the fiscal stimulus the government aims to provide this year and is a step in the right direction.

The government has also earmarked substantial outlay for agriculture which will lead to revenue generation on the one hand and increase employment, generate demand for goods and services on the other hand.

As per Economic Survey, the industrial growth is negative and the increase of excise duty & service tax at this juncture is not going to give any fillip/stimulus to the industry for growth. Moreover, because of lower tax revenue and higher plan and non-plan outlay, the deficit is expected to be more than revised budget estimate. It will fuel the inflation in the coming period.

The relief to individual tax payer by raising exemption limit will offset the higher expenditure on account of increase in excise duty and service tax. Rather individual will have to spend more than he would save.

Moreover, SMEs sector has not received required incentives/ special package in this budget, although the sector contributes almost 40% in terms of production & export and provides 80% of total employment.

Announcement on steps taken for unearthing black money in the form of assets held abroad is a welcome step provided it is faithfully implemented.

The market borrowing programme is significantly higher than expectations, which is negative. This is not the best we had hoped for. The budget proposals do not seem to inspire confidence that there will be enough revenue generation. Bonds have reacted negatively because they (market participants) do not see much credence in the borrowing plan.

In short, there is neither any populist schemes, nor this is a reformist budget. It is a status quo and inflationary budget.


ALKA BANGUR
PRESIDENT

 
RAILWAY BUDGET 2012-13

The Railway Budge 2012-13 deserves our thanks for courageously withstanding the ever increasing pressure on costs and finding ways for employing resources with marginal increase in passenger fares, not overburdening the people, business or industry. A deserving budget ideal for the nation’s life line. Particularly commendable are the accent on safety, modernization, capacity expansion and construction of new lines.

The highest ever plan outlay of Rs.60,100 crore has been proposed for new railway lines, passenger safety, security and amenities. We appreciate that substantial outlays have been earmarked for improvement of safety measures and infrastructure in Indian Railways. The proposal for improving facilities/amenities would make travel more comfortable.

True to the tradition set by his predecessors over the past decade or so the minister has announced a bonanza of 75 new Express Trains, 21 new Passenger services, extension of the 39 trains and increasing the frequency of 23 trains throughout the length and breadth of the country. It requires mentioning that the budget has announced the introduction of 50 new services in Kolkata Metro and 18 additional services in Chennai area. This is undoubtedly commendable and will benefit the passenger at large.

Railway Minister has announced that an Indian Railways Station Development Corporation will be set up to redevelop station through PPP mode. This could turn out to be a big bonanza for India income. From upgrading stations to expanding railway network, all are the opportunities that the industry has been waiting.

There is a matter of cheer for the people of West Bengal at large as the Railway Minister has announced expansion of 50 new services in Kolkata Metro, setting up of safety village at Kharagpur for skill development for disaster management and setting up a factory at Shyamnagar to manufacture next generation technology propulsion system, new coaching terminal at Naihati, introduction of a Green Train to run through the forests of North Bengal. The Chamber welcomes these steps.

A host of other initiatives have been announced viz. upgradation of 929 stations as Adarsha Station, setting up of 200 remote railway stations as Green Energy Station, recruitment of over one lakh persons in addition to incentives for differently- abled persons, Arjuna Awardees so on and so forth. These initiatives are laudable.

The Chamber feels that the Railway Budget 2012-13 is unique in way inclusivity and overall development have been the focus with particular emphasis on safety, technology adoption and commercialization.


ALKA BANGUR
PRESIDENT

 
UNION BUDGET 2011-2012

At the outset, Calcutta Chamber of Commerce welcomes the impetus on agriculture, infrastructure and education in the Union Budget 2011-12, presented by the Hon’ble Finance Minister.

On Trade, Industry and Commerce Front, major Tax Reforms through DTC & GST are being awaited eagerly. Allowing time for introduction of DTC from 1st April, 2012 is a welcome step, as announced in the earlier budget and steps proposed for implementation of GST are not supported by a definite date of its introduction, since concurrence of various State Governments are involved.

We welcome the move of bringing down the qualifying age limit of Sr. Citizens from 65 to 60 years for a separate category of indv. tax payers, which was pointed out by us in our AGM before the Hon’ble Finance Minister in September 2010.

On Direct Tax front, the demand for reducing Surcharge on Corporate Sector has been partially met by reducing the rate for domestic companies from 7.5% to 5%. But the rationale of increasing Minimum Alternate Tax from 18% to 18.5% is not at all justified; the Chamber is opposing the move. Corporate Sector had prayed for reduction of MAT rate in pre budget memorandum.

In case of Indirect tax, the retention of the present level of standard rate in Excise duty and Service tax is a welcome step.

On inflation front, although the concern has been shown by the Hon’ble Finance Minister but there is as such no concrete steps and/or road map which the government is going to consider for containing inflation, the chamber is very much worried about it.


SHYAM SUNDER AGARWAL
PRESIDENT

 
RAILWAY BUDGET 2011-12

Unveiling a mix of populist measures, including concessional tickets and no hike in ticket prices and freight charges, the third Rail Budget 2011-12 presented by Smt Mamata Banerjee clearly reflects the government focus on ‘inclusive growth’. This year rail budget has emphasized on commitments like ‘social responsibility’ and ‘expansion of railways’. To mention is the proposal of ‘Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana’.

True to the tradition set by her and her predecessors earlier over the past decade or so, the Minister has announced a bonanza of 56 new Express Trains, 3 new Satabdis and 9 Duranta trains, AC Double Decker services and new Super AC Class, so on and so forth. This is undoubtedly commendable. This will benefit the passenger at large. Railway Minister grand expansion and modernization plans could turn out to be big bonanza for India Inc. From upgrading the stations to expanding rail network, all are opportunities that the industry has been waiting.

There is a matter of cheer for the people of West Bengal at large as the Railway Minister has announced expansion and introduction of 34 new services in Kolkata Metro. A good number of Express and Duranta trains and around 56 new suburban services, a Rail Industry Park in Nandigram, a Metro Coach Factory in Kolkata and a special Software Unit in Darjeeling are also announced. The Chamber welcomes these steps.

The highest ever plan outlay of Rs.57630 crore proposed for railways are earmarked for extension programmes and for upgradation of passenger amenities. We appreciate that substantial outlays have been earmarked for improvement of safety measures and infrastructure in Indian Railways - improved technology to reduce incidents of accidents, anti collision devices, all unmanned crossing to be manned. The proposal for improving facilities/amenities would make travel more comfortable.

Indian Railways is betting big on Public Private Partnership (PPPs) to get a slew of new projects off the ground and kick off new initiatives to enhance revenues. These include setting up Wagon Units, PPP mode for providing rail connectivity to important ports and 85 new proposals to involve Public Private Partnership. These initiatives are laudable. However the Minister has not made any attempts to simplify the commercial rules and procedures which are cumbersome and lock up huge amount of money in litigation for years.

A host of other initiatives in the form of incentives have been announced viz. concession to physically handicapped persons, and Sr. Citizens, medical facilities extended to dependent parents, scholarships so on and so forth. This will benefit the lower caste of the society as well as the people at large.

The Chamber feels that the Railway Budget 2011-12 is unique in way inclusivity and overall development have been the focus without losing emphasis on safety, technology adoption and commercialization. The Chamber wishes that the steps declared will be implemented in time.


SHYAM SUNDER AGARWAL
PRESIDENT

 
UNION BUDGET 2010-11

Calcutta Chamber of Commerce welcomes overall budget proposals 2010-11.Although the Finance Minister has acknowledged the weaknesses in Government Delivery System, he has not mentioned any corrective measures.The Chamber hails the positive side of the budget proposals such as more budgetary allocation on improving Investment Environment, Export Incentives, Agriculture Growth, Infrastructure including Power, Coal, Rural Infrastructure, Health, Financial Services, Urban Development with housing, MSME, Unorganised sector workers etc. Mention of national security & timely delivery of justice are also praise-worthy.

On Direct Tax front, upward revision of 10% personal tax slab rate up to Rs. 5 lakh and 20% up to Rs.8 lakh will help tax payers to fight inflation & will be an incentive to savings. The corporate sector has received blow in the form of raised MAT from 15% to 18% which will offset the reduction in surcharge from 10% to 7.5%.

Concessions in customs duty to few specific sectors will help the economic growth of the country. Retention of Service Tax rate at the present level of 10% is laudable.

Petroleum price will be severely affected because of restoration of 5% basic duty and advalorem duty of Re. 1/- per litre. It will ultimately fuel the inflation.

S K Agrawal
SUSHIL KR. AGRAWAL
PRESIDENT

 
RAILWAY BUDGET 2010-11

Unveiling a mix of populist measures, including concessional tickets and no hike in ticket prices and freight charges, the Rail Budget 2010-2011 clearly reflects the government’s focus on ‘inclusive growth’. This year rail budget has emphasized on commitments like “social responsibility” and expansion of Railways.

Her proposals include introduction of 117 new train projects & 52 long distance express trains, 4 new Durontos trains, extension of 21 trains and hike in frequency of 12 trains and special trains to mark Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, for ladies, for uniformed persons and for tourists. This will benefit the passengers at large. Railway Minister’s grand expansion and modernization plans could turn out to be a big bonanza for India Inc. From upgrading the stations to expanding rail network, all are opportunities that the industry has been waiting.

Among her other offerings, the railway minister announced introduction of SMS updates of reservation status and movements of wagons to freight customers, Double-decker train-sets matching the best in global standards in two trains each from Delhi and Kolkata as a pilot project, modern trolleys at all important stations to assist senior citizens and women passengers for carrying their luggage and extension of Mobile vans for issuing e-tickets. The Chamber welcomes these steps.

Indian Railways is betting big on public-private partnerships (PPPs) to get a slew of new projects off the ground and kick off new initiatives to enhance freight revenues. These include PPP mode for providing rail connectivity to important ports. Additional 2,000 kms. routes to be electrified within two years. Work on adding another 12,000 kms. in existing Optical Fibre Cable network of the Railways is in progress. The balance 15,000 kms. is proposed to be taken through PPP mode, thus covering entire railway network. The initiatives are laudable.

We appreciate that substantial outlays have been earmarked for improvement of safety measures and infrastructure in Indian Railways - improve technology to reduce incidents of accidents, Anti-collision devices and fire fighting devices to be put up, all unmanned crossings to be manned. While the proposal for improving facilities/amenities would made travel more comfortable, it is gratifying that the Minister has categorically announced that Rabindra Museum in Howrah, Track training centre in Belighata, New loco training centre in Kharagpur to be set up in West Bengal.

The Chamber feels that the Railway Budget 2010-11 is unique in the way inclusivity and overall development have been the focus without losing focus on safety, technology adoption and commercialisation. The chamber wishes that the steps declared will be followed by their sincere implementation.

S K Agrawal
SUSHIL KR. AGRAWAL
PRESIDENT

 
UNION BUDGET 2009-10

Calcutta Chamber of Commerce feels that the budget 2009-10 presented by the Finance Minister, while aiming at ensuring 9% growth rate during the current financial year, has given special thrust to socio-economic sectors (agriculture, health, education, rural as well as women empowerment), infrastructure projects, introduction of GST at national level by 2010 and last but not the least introduction of national E-Governance plan. If properly implemented, this will give a boost to the growth trajectory and help infrastructure development and stimulate demand. The macro economic policy pronounced in the budget also appears encouraging. This is a positive budget with long term perspective.

The Chamber welcomes the announcements on tax fronts like i) abolition of Fringe Benefit Tax and ii) removal of Commodity Transaction Tax. The Budget has also given marginal relief to individual tax payers by increasing relieves and exempting surcharge on income tax. However, the budget has belied expectation of Corporates by not reducing tax rates. The increase in MAT rate will also hard hit the sector. Industry has expected that the Finance Minister will take some bold steps for capacity creation and promoting investment, which is missing in the budget.

The extension of service tax on legal professions other than individuals will bring revolutionary effect. The presumptive tax proposed for small business tax payers is encouraging towards simplification step.

In short, the budget has delivered on impetus for growth and well being of the common man.

S K Agrawal
SUSHIL KR. AGRAWAL
PRESIDENT

 
RAILWAY BUDGET 2009-10

The Third Railway Budget presented by the Hon’ble Railway Minister Smt. Mamata Banerjee is largely on expected lines and can be termed as ‘pragmatic, progressive and futurist’. The budget has left both passenger and freight rates untouched.

The Railway Budget reflects a healthy growth with a freight target of 882 mt and estimated freight earnings of Rs.5300 crore.

With the introduction of 12 new point to point non-stop super fast trains, 57 new train services, extension of 27 trains and increase in frequency of 13 trains, the railway would pose tough competition for road and air traffic. With these move the air, fuel and noise pollution on roads would subside a great deal. The move is undoubtedly commendable. If experience is any guide, many of these schemes will languish for want of adequate infrastructure. Hence equal thrust should be given to strengthen infrastructure.

A host of other initiatives have been announced viz. extension of ladies special to 3 metro cities, Ijjat or low income monthly travel, special recruitment drive for physically challenged persons, introduction of double decker facilities in long distance trains, buying of tickets from post offices, automatic ticket vending machines etc. This will benefit the passengers at large. Commercial use of railways land will give a boost to railways revenues.

The Railway Minister has introduced several new procedures which will hopefully facilitate private sector participation in the railways, particularly in the design and development of stations throughout the country. The Chamber welcomes this step.

We appreciate that substantial outlays have been earmarked for improvement of safety measures and infrastructure in Indian Railways. While the proposal for improving facilities/amenities would made travel more comfortable, it is gratifying that the Minister has categorically announced that a new coach factory would be set up in Kanchrapara in West Bengal along with extension of Metro Rails in Kolkata.

Finally, Vision 2020 statement for improving countries railways network is a radical step to making Indian Railways as one of the best world class institution. The Chamber feels that the Railway Budget 2009-10 can be termed as pro-people and wishes that the steps declared will be followed by their sincere implementation.

S K Agrawal
SUSHIL KR. AGRAWAL
PRESIDENT

 
UNION BUDGET 2008-09

Calcutta Chamber of Commerce hails the BUDGET : 2008-09 presented by the Finance Minister and welcomes the budgetary allocation in production, education, health, several employment schemes and flagship programs.

These measures will lead to overall growth and increase in demand, which will ultimately boost industry, service sector and traders.

India being an agriculture-based country and large number of population are within the category of marginal and small farmers, budget allocation for debt waiver and debt relief scheme and one time settlement scheme will benefit our deprived agriculturists.

We welcome the increase of income tax exemption limit. Our expectation for reduction of surcharge on Corporate has been belied. The increase of threshold limit in exemption of service tax is also a welcome step.

In view of worldwide recession and India facing the impact of recession in near future, there was a need to reduce interest rate. There is no indication to this effect in the Hon’ble Finance Minister’s Budget speech which is very much required for economic growth.

Hon’ble Finance Minister’s proposal for enhancement of short-term capital gain tax from 10%-15% is totally uncalled for and reason cited is unrelated. In order to support the capital market and the small investors, there is a need to roll back this proposal and retain the status quo.

H. V. PATODIA
PRESIDENT

 
RAILWAY BUDGET 2008-09

The 5th Railway Budget presented by the Railway Minister is largely on expected lines and has stuck to the populist track. There is an across the board reduction in both passenger and freight rates.

The Minister has announced reduction in 2nd class fares- both on passenger and mail and express train by 5%. The fare has been reduced by 4% for AC - I and AC-II tier coaches. This will be a great relief for all categories of passengers. The objective is to remain competitive vis-á-vis road and air transport.

True to the tradition set by him and his predecessors earlier over the past decade or so, the Minister has announced 10 Garib Rath trains to provide better comfort at lower rates. He has also proposed to introduce 3 new trains and extension of 16 trains besides increase in frequency of 11 trains. This is undoubtedly most commendable step taken by the Minister.

A host of other initiatives in the form of incentives have been announced viz. Tickets through mobile phone, extension of e-ticketing, LHV designed coaches in all Rajdhani train by March 2010, B&D category stations with high level platforms, extension of platforms in 30 stations, monthly season ticket for girl student up to graduation, for boys students up to 12 standard, concession for senior lady citizens, Ashok Chakra Awardees and for AIDS affected persons. so on and so forth. This will benefit the lower crust of the society.

The Budget has announced the biggest ever annual plan for the railways. The thrust areas include enhancement of high density network routes, improvement and expansion of traffic facility, construction of flyovers etc. Towards rationalisation of freight structure, the Minister has announced that henceforth freight rates for petrol and diesel would be further reduced by about 5% and for fly ash by 14%. This is the most praise-worthy step taken in the budget.

In short the Chamber feels that the Railway Budget : 2008-09 can be termed as people oriented budget provided the steps declared will be followed by their sincere implementation.

H. V. PATODIA
PRESIDENT

 
 

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