Mumbai upbeat on digital push but cash cap a worry

February 2, 2017 Times Of India By   TNN

Times Of India

MUMBAI: The Budget evoked mixed reactions from businessmen, traders and the salaried class in Mumbai as most seemed to view it through the demonetisation prism. Those looking at the big picture were pleased that greater transparency would come about with the push towards a cashless economy. Others were expecting far more and were disappointed.

An employee of Mantralaya said sops on incomes below Rs 5 lakh per annum would bring relief to middle-class segments.”My salary falls in the Rs 5-10 lakh bracket so I stand to gain from a tax rebate of Rs12,500 per annum,” he said.

However, those with specific hopes and demands were disappointed. “The tax rebate means little after the losses caused to the economy by demonetisation. Small businesses have virtually lost clients or closed down. I run a wedding card business and have had a dismal se ason. I was hoping for more,” said Shridhar Naik, who operates near Dadar station.

The realty sector welcomed the fact that the lock-in period of three years before an investor can sell his property has been reduced to two years now. “The long-term capital gains tax of 20% can now be paid after two years. Earlier, a person had to pay short-term capital gains tax of 30% if he sold the flat within three years. This will help investors who wish to come back into the market,” said a realtor.

Abhishek Lodha, MD of the Lodha Group, said simplification of rules on affordable housing, a tax holiday under 80 IBA and infrastructure status to this segment were significant positives. “These initiatives will boost the economy as there will be more participation by developers in this area. Reduction in tax rates both for salary earners up to Rs 5 lakh and MSMEs will help increase their purchasing power,” he said.

The gems and jewellery sector was hoping for relief but the Budget brought disappointment as the government anno unced a ban on cash transactions over Rs 3 lakh. Nitin Khandelwal, chairman of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, said, “Gold purchases being high value, rural segments may be affected by the Rs 3 lakh cap on cash transactions. The government should consider increasing limits for PAN card transactions and reduced import duty on gold.”

However, the India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) felt the right steps were taken. President Mukesh Mehta said, “Rs 3 lakh is a fair limit for cash purchase. The largest growth in bullion and jewellery sector takes place in small towns and rural areas and they are coming back to gold in a big way after demonetisation.”

Transporters had sought a decrease in excise duty on diesel so that operational costs could be controlled. Bal Malkit Singh of All India Motor Transport Congress said, “We proposed waiver of TDS on transporters which was not considered.”

Sops an election gimmick: Uddhav
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has said the budget has nothing new to offer. It’s an old budget, said Thackeray, adding, “The budget is a chunavi jumla (poll gimmick),” suggesting the BJP has announced a slew of sops with an eye on five state polls.

Raj calls PM `feku’, BJP `party of liars’
Raj Thackeray on Wednesday accused PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah of planning to de-link Mumbai from Maharashtra. Describing the PM as ‘feku’ and BJP as a party of liars, Raj said the BJP was rolling in money because of demonetisation.