Our Bureau

Kochi, March 1

The trade and industry have generally welcomed the Budget, saying it will pave the way for economy growth and boost industrial development.

The

Confederation of Indian Industry, Southern Region,

has said that the Finance Minister has set the path for inclusive growth to boost employment generation.

The Bis a continuation of the growth oriented measures announced in his two previous budgets that aim to make India a global manufacturing hub and at the same time target rural growth to facilitate trickledown benefits to the `

aam admi

'.

Several of the measures announced would boost the agricultural, food processing and rural sectors, CII said in a release issued here. The 54 per cent increase in budgetary allocation for Bharat Nirman would help accelerate development of rural infrastructure, which is crucial in unlocking the potential of the rural hinterland.

According to CII, the Finance Minister has performed a fine balancing act by avoiding new taxes or higher tax burden, and at the same time increased budgetary allocation to social and rural sectors. This was possible through efficient tax administration and bringing more services under the tax net along with proposals to streamline and network tax administration across the country.

CII felt that the de-reservation of 180 items reserved for the SSI sector would also encourage optimal capacities and enhance the global competitiveness of the Indian manufacturing sector.

Further, the fillip given to cluster development, especially for handlooms, handicrafts and agri products, would boost employment generation in industrial towns.

The Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry

organised live viewing and the reaction to the Budget has been mixed.

While almost all agreed that the financial management has been sound whereby the deficit has been kept under control, most of them observed that though the factors were favourable for radical reforms, the Finance Minister chose to play it very safe.

The exporters, who participated in the discussions, were not happy with the support given to them. With regard to plantations, while Rs 100 crore has been allotted to the rejuvenation of tea plantations, they said that the service tax on auctioneering is a cause of concern.

Mr John K. Paul, President of the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry,

said that emphasis on infrastructure and rural development including roads, ports and airports would boom industrial development and human potential.

Apart from raising status of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram to a national institute and Koodiyattam to be recognised as a national folklore, there is nothing much to cheer for Kerala, he said.

Welcoming the setting up of a Special Purpose Tea Fund,

Mr Balagopala B. Pai, President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry,

said that the provision of Rs 100 crore for the five States together seems to be quite inadequate, particularly in view of the predicament of the tea industry in Kerala.

He pointed out that cash crop items such as rubber, pepper also need assistance for re-plantation under a similar scheme.

No proposal is there to enhance the installed capacity utilisation of the existing power projects, he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 2, 2006)
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