The Indian Woman has become an important part of the country’s electorate over the past few years, with a rise in education levels and their increasing importance in all spheres of life. The Government recognises this, more so, after the display of unity and togetherness in the Delhi case recently. Hence it is expected that the finance minister will try and woo this class with this year’s Budget. The following are the expectation of women from Budget 2013:
Provisions for working women: Indian working women should mainly look out for the tax provisions in this budget. The initial tax exemption limit currently stands at Rs. 2 lakhs for both men and women assesses. It is expected that the initial exemption limit will be increased for both men and women, while women will get a higher exemption limit. It is also hoped that the finance minister will offer additional sops for women who invest the amount earned, thus encouraging savings of women towards market-friendly investments.
Encouraging self-employed women: There have been many sops given to self-employed women in the past. It is expected that this year’s budget will introduce schemes which will enable self-employed women get easier access to loans from banks and other institutions.
Increase budgetary allocation towards women security: Security for women in the country has received a lot of focus in recent times and has become a major debatable issue in the Parliament. The Finance Minister is likely to increase the budgetary allocation towards women security to send out a positive signal to the nation.
Increase budgetary allocation to women oriented schemes: It is expected that this year’s budget will increase allocation towards women oriented schemes and to the Ministry of Women and Child Development compared to other ministries.
Expectations of the homemaker: Rising inflation affects finances of not just business houses, but also households in the country. This has been one of the most important problems which the Indian homemaker has to deal with. Inflation has remained stubbornly high over the past few years, making it impossible to plan finances. From prices of basic necessities like fruits, vegetables and groceries to luxurious items, inflation has resulted in soaring prices of almost every household item. Price rise also happens due to high prices of petrol, diesel and LPG. Reducing this will automatically reduce prices of household items. Another factor which increases prices are indirect taxes levied on goods like excise duties, sales tax etc. Although the simple homemaker is not really bothered about how these taxes move, any change in the indirect tax regime will directly impact the household budget. Increasing prices have affected household budgets, with many households facing the need of cutting back expenses of several important items. Inflation should be addressed systematically by the Government, by taking steps to reduce fiscal deficit, which will give confidence to the Reserve Bank of India to bring down key policy rates.
Yearly allocation of LPG cylinders: The cap imposed on subsidized cylinders available to every household on an annual basis has resulted in difficulty in several families. It is hoped that this cap is increased to atleast 12 subsidized cylinders a year.
Gold and Women: Gold is a favourite among women, be it a working woman or a homemaker. Women of all ages love this asset and a majority like it in the traditional form of jewellery. It is hoped that the finance minister announces some simple yet effective scheme to offer more liquidity on this asset. Current products available for purchase of gold are not easily understood by most women, thus seeing a very small percentage of women participating. This move can help in directing savings towards the yellow metal, but still not resulting in huge demand for physical gold.
Education and Women: Empowering the girl child with education has long been an agenda of the Government, and many budgets in the past have addressed this. However, the extent of progress has been much lower than the intent shown. It is hoped that this Budget will spell out clear steps towards the girl child education. This not only includes bringing out education schemes and targets at the root level, but also making way for providing easier education loan access. Currently, many public sector banks offer education loans to girls at concessional rates. It should be made compulsory for banks to offer lower interest rates and higher moratorium on education loans to women. Apart from this, India’s homemakers also feel that household budgets are going astray due to the ever-increasing cost of education in general. Nowadays, many educational institutions consider education to be a business and charge exorbitant fees from parents. The Budget should pave way for some regulation on this front and rationalize fees charged. One way of reducing fees would be to remove school fees and tuition fees under the service tax ambit.
Women play a critical role both professionally and in the family, and therefore it is vital for the Government to consider this section of the society in the Budget. With next year being the year of general elections, the Government will try and bring about women-friendly policies to please this important vote bank.