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March 1st, 2011


Budget to push growth and curb inflation

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrives at Parliament House to present the General Budget 2011-12, in New Delhi on February 28.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrives at Parliament House to present the General Budget 2011-12, in New Delhi on February 28.

 

India’s 12.58 trillion Union Budget for 2011-12 on February 28 sought to address every stakeholder with tax reliefs to cheer households and corporates alike while also promising reforms on subsidies and foreign investment along with measures to curb inflation and push growth.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also laid out more allocation for health, infrastructure, education, farming and defence. In a 110-minute Budget Speech in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, Mukherjee said he proposed to enhance the income tax exemption limit to `180,000 for the next financial year, from `160,00, and said corporate tax surcharge would be lowered to 5 percent from 7.5 percent.

Mukherjee also proposed a “very senior” category of income tax payers, above the age of 80, for whom the tax exemption will be up to `500,000. In addition, he lowered the qualifying age limit for senior citizens to avail of tax cuts to 60 years from 65 years. Mukherjee also promised to bring down fiscal deficit to 4.6 percent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) from 5.1 percent of GDP in the revised estimates, while hiking allocation for education by 24 percent, health by 20.

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Portfolio investment liberalised

Indian mutual funds have welcomed Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s proposal to allow foreign investors to invest in their equity schemes.

Presenting the budget for the fiscal 2011-12, Mukherjee said: “To liberalise the portfolio investment route, it has been decided to permit SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) registered mutual funds to accept subscriptions from foreign investors who meet the KYC (know your customer) requirements for equity schemes. This would enable Indian mutual funds to have direct access to foreign investors and widen the class of foreign investors in Indian equity market.” Currently, only foreign institutional investors (FII) and sub-accounts registered with the SEBI and Non- Resident Indians (NRIs) are allowed to invest in mutual fund schemes. “It is a positive move. Now foreign investors can directly invest in Indian mutual funds schemes,” Sandesh Kirkire, chief executive officer of kotak Mutual, said.

According to Kirkire, foreign Investors would get units in Indian rupees while investments in dedicated India funds would get the units in U.S. dollars.

Welcoming the government’s move,the managing director of sundaram Mutual, T.P. Raman, said: “The proposal would give necessary depth to the Indian equity market.”

Pinaki Bhadury, vice-president of Frost and Sullivan, said the government’s proposal would prove to be a growth driver.

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External Affairs Minister Krishna visits Kuwait

Foreign Ministers of South Asian Association for Regional Cooeperation (Saarc) countries, during the thirty-third session of the Council of Ministers, at the Convention Centre, Thimpu, on February 8. External Affairs Minister S.M Krishna is standing fifth from the right

On January 9, President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil called upon the Indian diaspora to participate in building a better future for India and disadvantaged sections of society, during the her valedictory address at the Ninth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in New Delhi.

President Patil gave away Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Awards to eminent overseas Indians, which included Anand Satyanand from New Zealand, Prof. Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla from Australia, Lata Pada from Canada, Harindrapal Singh Banga from Hong Kong, Mohammad Munir Nazir Hassan Ansari from Israel, Upjit Singh Sachdeva from Liberia, Tan Sri Dato’ Ajit Singh from Malaysia, Saleh Wahid from Netherlands, the Indian Community Benevolent Forum of Qatar, Dr. Mohiaddin Syed Karimuddin from Saudi Arabia, Mano Selvanathan of Sri Lanka, Mohan Jashanmal from UAE, Baroness (Dr.) Sandip Verma from the U.K., and Ashook Kumar Ramsaran and Dr. Rajiv Shah from the United States.

Minister for Development of North- East Region (DoNER) and Mines, B.K. Handique, Secretary, Ministry of DoNER, , Jayati Chandra, and Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Dr. A. Didar Singh were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said that the Ninth PBD took forward the ‘inclusive agenda’ that was initiated last year. The focus this

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