A Letter for Pranab Babu

You for one can appreciate the pains of the middle class Indians, particularly the salaried employees. It is unfortunate that this class toils hard to take the country ahead, but gets so little in return. It keeps on giving the tax right before it takes its earning home. But at the old age, the government hardly cares of them.

>>Will you come out with some scheme for the old men of the private sector, who had paid significant amount of tax during their life time deducted right at the source by the employers? Can’t a certain percentage of the tax paid be put in some health care insurance scheme that takes care of the costly medical expenses of hospitalization and medicines at the old age? Unfortunately, either the insurance companies hardly have products covering the people above 70 years for healthcare or medication or the cost are exorbitant for the limited returns that they get on savings.

>>Develop a relation between the prices paid for the essential items for good healthy living, be it vegetables, fruits or groceries by the common people and the price paid to the farmers or the actual producers. How can the end-users keep on paying Rs 15- 20 per kg of potato and onion and for that matter for all other items of daily consumption? Why can’t the number of middlemen that are, as per information, about seven of them, be reduced? And will you disagree if I say that these middlemen get the best share of the returns and get into affluent class soon where as the producers particularly the farmers can hardly dream of that.

>>Will you please get the bank interest rate reduced by half for the aam aadami who buys small little things for improving the quality of life? Why can’t the banks cut down their operating expenditure? What is the logic of announcing huge profits and dividends by charging so high interests? If the banks in the developed countries can have so low an interest rate, why can’t the Indian banks do that when the labour cost here is so low compared to that in those countries? Why should these banks try to keep the salaries and perks for its top executive so high when the majority gets so low?

>>The argument above can also be extended to the big oil companies. Why can’t the prices of the diesel or gasoline or cooking gas be reduced even if it means reduced profits or dividend that only goes to the government? Even with all the incentive provided unfortunately, none of these companies have become the world class.

I have few more queries about the country’s finances that I find difficult to understand and assimilate:

>>Why the government keep on crying about the lack of financial resources, when the solutions are universally known. Why don’t you at least attempt to discuss and, if agreed, go by the advices of the reputed persons?

>>Why can’t you remove all tax exemptions for exports for companies and for SEZ companies that have reached a PBT (profit before tax) level of Rs 20 crores as suggested by NR Narayana Murthy of Infosys? You can certainly use his services to convince the top twenty companies in a meeting with all the CEOs? Where is he wrong when he says, ‘it is sad that even after almost 20 years of such tax exemptions for the software industry, our businessmen heading companies that make huge profits continue to lobby for continuation of such tax exemptions’. Following his suggestion further, ‘why can’t you levy income tax on dividend income earned by individuals beyond Rs 1 lakh? How can you justify businessmen receiving tens of crores of dividend income and not paying taxes while professionals and salaried people earning Rs 3 lakhs a year pay taxes in a country where 80% of the people earn less than Rs 50,000 a year?’

>>And what stops your government to disinvest that even the former disinvestment secretary Pradip Baijal suggested? According to Mr. Baijal, a successful bureaucrat of integrity, ‘sale of less than 5% equity has garnered more than Rs 50,000 crore. A privatizing of the entire public sector in areas where private invest is allowed now can provide the recoveries of Rs 10lakh crore. At 15,000 level, the recoveries should be of the order of Rs 50 lakh crore and even a part sale could cover more than the fiscal deficit.’

And then why can’t you cut the flab from all the government departments through rightsizing what Air India is doing to survive? The idling government employees are just eyesores and burden for the nation.

>>Finally I request you to bring a material change in the way contents of the budget are presented and make it simple enough to be understood by the aam aadami. Along with the amount allocated in Rupee term, please also mention the actual outcome such as kms of roads, MWs of power, number of schools, and number of villages, electrified. Can one day we ensure all children of the country that the lack of finance will never be the constraints for their education?

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