T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education Services speaks to Shweta Punj on expectations from the budget.
Q.Given the current challenges, what, in your opinion, would make for a good budget? What measures or proposals would you like to see?
A. The last two budgets were almost unreal and dishonest. They sent a wrong signal. I would like the government to present an honest budget. Government should focus on expenditure control. They must not under-account subsidies. Government should cut unproductive expenditure, anything apart from salaries, pension and interest can be reduced. There should be better targeting of subsidies. Don't overestimate tax collection and make perverse assessments. The focus has to be on cleaning up. We don't need any more schemes. I have great hope. Mr. Chidambaram must protect people from the vagaries of taxmen .
Q. Given the constraints the government faces in raising revenue, do you see a case to increase income tax rates on the rich? Please identify the cut-off in income beyond which you would classify the person as rich.
A. People earning over a crore can pay more tax. But put a levy, give them a deduction if they spend money on charity. Don't let the government collect taxes - incentivise people to give away wealth. I am also in favour of inheritance tax. A small section of people have done well, and they are not giving back enough. We cannot recreate a feudal system.
Q. If the budget does not meet expectations, do you fear that business sentiment would once again dip?
A. Everybody wants growth back. Job creation has come down and industry is really looking for something to cling on to.
Q. Specific to your sector, what could the current budget do to improve conditions?
A. In the education sector, if anybody makes a contribution to a university, deduction should go up to 200 per cent. Make a special section over and above 80C, where those paying a school fee of up to Rs 1 lakh should be entitled to a tax deduction.
Q.Which budget, in the recent past, do you remember as having been a good one?
A. The 1997 budget when Chidambaram reduced taxes.