The budget permits a voyeuristic pleasure in watching the rich squirm beneath a 10 per cent surcharge.
What can a troubled FM in troubling times deliver? Very little. But within the constraints, P. Chidambaram has been able to shoot for what he could. He’s been brutally honest: “Even a moderate increase in the level of threshold exemption will mean that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers will go out of the tax net and the tax base will be severely eroded.” No revision of tax slabs, no new exemptions. And barring a mere feelgood credit for 18 million taxpayers—up to Rs 2,000 for incomes of Rs 5 lakh—no relief from rising prices, slow growth, high interest rates.