Personal and corporate income tax cuts, excise duty relief and simplification of taxes are expected in the Union Budget for 2008-09, the last full-fledged budget before the next general elections.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who will be presenting his seventh budget on Friday in the Parliament, has a tough exercise on hand of balancing conflicting interests in coming out with a budget for the 'aam aadmi' (common man).
He is expected to announce massive funds for social sector projects like National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, rural health and power sectors and a debt-relief package for farmers to "share the benefits of high growth" especially in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections by this year-end or early next year.
The Indian middle-class and the industry, who still remember his "dream" budget of 1997-98, are expecting a bonanza from the Finance Minister in terms of relief in income tax and excise duties and simplification of other taxes.
Government servants are expecting an announcement on implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission.
Sources say that the Finance Minister is unlikely to introduce any new tax in the budget for 2008-09, although some controversial taxes like the banking cash transaction tax may be reviewed, adding that with buoyancy in revenue collections he is capable of working out packages for every constituency.
Apart from meeting the fiscal and revenue deficit targets, the budget is likely to aim at sustaining nine per cent GDP growth, while containing politically sensitive inflation rate around four per cent.
Concerned over the slump in agricultural growth, Chidambaram is expected to announce a package for irrigation sector and farm production. PTI