This is a neutral Budget, with no big shocks or great cheer, say Vineet and Rupinder Sharma, a couple for whom the most pressing concern is their children’s education.

Vineet works at the advertising and sales department at a large media conglomerate while his wife Rupinder owns a fledgling pharma marketing company in a partnership deal. Rupinder says that this year’s Budget has no tax concessions or relief to help her pharma business. Their sons Harit (21), who has just finished his graduation, and Paarth (16), who is set to enter 12th standard, are in their crucial years.

The Sharmas worry that the Budget could have an inflationary effect – due to the farm cess on petrol and diesel. “Our household budget is already stretched as compared to a year ago. Everything — from cooking oils to staples to vegetables — have become costlier,” they say.

Vineet sighs with relief that there are no changes in tax rates, although feels that the Budget could have given more income tax exemptions on mediclaim policy. Also, some support on education would have been welcome, he says.

Delighted to see in the Budget that senior citizens over 75 with only pension and interest income will not have to file their taxes, Vineet got on a call with his mother only to be met with skepticism.

“She pointed out that interest income is taxed at source and she would still have to file her return. I think this move will benefit only a limited pool of senior citizens,” he says.

Vehicle scrappage

On the vehicle scrappage announcement, Vineet says this is unlikely to benefit citizens in Delhi/NCR as the NGT tribunal has banned diesel cars that were over ten years old. He says that the Budget could have incentivised buying of e-vehicles. Last year some income tax exemptions and incentives on loans were provided for purchase of an EV car.

He welcomed the announcement on easy payment of advance tax on dividend income.

He added that people’s savings portfolio could change this year as the Budget has announced opening up of the insurance sector to foreign players (increasing FDI limit to 74 per cent from the earlier). This could lead to more investments in insurance.