Affordable uthapam to lower medical bills: Can Jaitley's #Budget2016 meet aam admi's expectations? - Firstpost
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Affordable uthapam to lower medical bills: Can Jaitley's #Budget2016 meet aam admi's expectations?


Do you go out every weekend for fun and bonhomie with friends? When the bill was placed on the table for food and drinks, the joie de vivre was dampened a bit, right? The conversation after that was on the exorbitant rates at restaurants, wasn't it?

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Margaret Alphonso, 35, who cannot afford to go out with friends every week, prefers her me-time frequenting a restaurant near home at Thane. Passionate about south Indian food, Seshan would be sit down every Saturday evening to have her regular meal of uthapam and wash it down with a piping hot cup of coffee. Those weekly visits have been cut down a year ago to two weekends now.  “I can’t have an utthapam every week anymore. From Rs 65 for an uthapam in my non a/c outlet in Thane a year ago, it has jumped to Rs 90. It is too steep for me to enjoy it. I am not dining at fancy places or asking for meat. Why should I feel guilty eating uthapam?”

Alphonso’s wishlist: Can Finance Minister Arun Jaitley make eating out affordable?

For a few like Mumbai-based Yayati Gaikwad, a 24 year-old professional, who eats out with his best friend every weekend, the thought of paying 100 percent more for food and drinks is painful though it has not dampened his appetite like it has for Alphonso. Gaikwad still goes out every weekend to meet friends over drinks and food. His only grouse is the high service tax that citizens have to pay.  As if that wasn't enough, he says, the mobile phone user has to pay Rs 100 service tax too.

Gaikwad’s wishlist: Why should the tax payer be penalised with a high service tax?

When medical bills spiral out of control and cannot be offset by one’s retirement earnings, the aam admi hopes the Modi sarkar’s promise of achche din comes true for them. Bangalore-based Renuka Seshan, a 73 year-old former accountant in a private firm, says that the BJP government should come out with `some medical reliefs’ for senior citizens. “My 80 year-old spouse has heart ailments, diabetes and recently was diagnosed with cancer. Our retirement savings and my husband’s pension cannot take care of the medical bills, leave alone hospital charges,” says Seshan.

Seshan’s wishlist: Can the Finance Minister announce some relief on medical bills?

There are many who would like the tax structure to be revised for working professionals. Uday Kamath, Head, Marketing, of a Mumbai-based industrial business firm has a number of expectations from Jaitley’s third budget. “Widen the tax base, simplify taxes further and exempt National Pension Service from Exempt-Exempt-Taxed,” says the 52 year-old, ticking each one off his fingers.  Kamath cannot understand the government’s wisdom in not allowing home loan deductions beyond the three year deadline. “No project gets completed in three years,” he says.

Kamath’s wishlist: Can Jaitley have a rethink on home loan deductions?

The rupee is weak against the dollar. Not that it is news, really. But Ahmedabad-based Mohan Nadar, who works in the packaging industry, wants the FM to ensure the rupee value does not depreciate further. At the rate at which the value of the rupee is eroding, says Nadar, imports will become dearer.

Nadar's wishlist: FM, please ensure the rupee does not depreciate further.

For parents with school-going children, it is the rising fee structure that causes considerable dents in their income. Malini Kyatam, an office administrator in a Mumbai-based MNC, has a five-year-old daughter who studies in Senior KG. “I am paying Rs 40,000 yearly as school fees with an additional Rs 13,000 as fess for the school bus. Besides this, every week there is some or the other expenditure that the school demands from the child by way of books, projects and what-have-you. My husband takes care of our home loan and other expenses, while I take care of the expenses of our daughter. I fear how much I will have to pay when my daughter goes to Class 1 in the next academic year. My daughter goes to a State Board school. I shudder to think of what parents might be paying for their children in international curriculum schools. I am looking for tax benefits on education in this budget.”

Kyatam’s wishlist: Can the government provide tax savings for education?

Piyali Dasgupta, who works for a Mumbai-based real estate firm, feels the government should consider increasing savings limits to Rs 50,000 and issue caveats that savings can be done only in lieu of sovereign instruments for a fixed period. “An urban individual tax payer like me will benefit from it,” says Dasgupta. The government can benefit through this scheme, too, she adds.

Dasgupta says the government should consider incentivising usage of credit cards and negotiable instruments like cheques, bank guarantees, etc. “When I make high-priced transactions, for instance while purchasing gold, most of the time I give in to the temptation of not asking for a bill as it helps me to save on the tax. However, I realise that I am also contributing to the parallel economy by doing that.”

Dasgupta’s wishlist: Incentivise usage of negotiable instruments to cut down on black money

Ragini Kandoth, a 45 year-old home-maker from Kozhikode, Kerala, says that the government could look at offering groceries at government-owned stores like Apna Bazar. “I am not asking for fair price which would mean bringing down prices of essential commodities. However, if the government were to make groceries and other essential commodities available at government fixed rates, then home makers like me are ensured that the government is monitoring prices at some levels."

Kandoth’s wishlist: Provide groceries at government-owned outlets.

First Published On : Feb 23, 2016 09:41 IST

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