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February 28, 2001 - February 28, 2001

Reactions to the Railway budget Wednesday, February 28, 2001

"Over the years, Railways finances appears to be an area for concern. This year, for example, plan expenditure has gone down to a minimal level. It is not a matter of concern that in this Budget the development targets have scaled down"
Arun Bharat Ram, President, CII

Another opportunity of carrying out fundamental reforms, rationalization of tariff and commercialization of huge idle properties has been lost.
Chirayu R Amin, President, Ficci

He criticed Budget for ignoring Bihar and said this party would go to streets against "discriminatory" approach.
RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad

He describes the Budget as "negative" and said that the whole exercise did not take care of the welfare of passengers and railways employees.

Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Madahav Rao Scindia

The Budget had totally neglected Orissa.

BJD MPs, led by Trilochan Kanungo,

He did not appear happy with Railway Budget but maintained that they could not say anything because of the compulsions of coalition politics.

BJD Mps from Bihar

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Budget...hard on software? Wednesday, February 28, 2001 is that time of the year again, when The Finance Minister makes his ritual presentation of the annual budget. Our sources, however claim that it might not be all rosy for the software sector. Although, positives in the form of anomalies in the various sections of the Income Tax Act (Sec 10A/10B and 80G for instance) is expected, the incidence of higher taxes on software income is hanging like Damocles sword. And... is the gloomy picture reflected in the present thrashing of software stocks? Perhaps only time will tell.
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BJD, Sena unhappy over Rail Budget Wednesday, February 28, 2001

NEW DELHI (Narad Online): The NDA government is in for fresh trouble as two of its key allies the Biju Janata Dal and the Shiv Sena on Tuesday voiced their resentment over the "raw deal" meted out to Orissa and Maharashtra in the Rail Budget.

The BJD was furious over the Rail Budget, threatening to review its alliance with the NDA. The BJD chief and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that despite his submission of a memorandum to the Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee about the state's requirement, the Rail Budget "has not done justice to Orissa."

Patnaik said as against his request for an allotment of Rs 505 crore for railway projects in the state, only Rs 179 crore has been provided in the budget, adding "We will not take this lying low and fight it out with the Centre".

The BJD Parliamentary Party met here resenting the "discrimination" in the Rail Budget and decided to ask the party president to take a decision on continuance in the NDA.

In Mumbai, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray expressed unhappiness over the "raw deal" meted out to Maharashtra in the Railway Budget and threatened that his party would launch an agitation over the issue.

A group of BJD MPs held a dharna at the entrance of Parliament House to register their protests while activists of the CPI, CPI(M) and Janata Dal (S) began a rail-roko stir blocking movement of trains at several places in Orissa protesting the "discrimination" to the state in the Railway Budget.

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Budget to address privatisation, widen tax net: Analysts Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Accelerated privatisation, expenditure control and broadening of this fiscal's general tax net are some of the major issues that are to be tackled by the Union Budget on Wednesday.

Quoting the observations made in the Annual Economic Survey, analysts from financial research institutions said, most of the positive expectations from the Budget proposals are being discounted by the markets. The Economic Survey, which is widely regarded as an indicator of the Budget's stance, has confirmed most the market's expectations such as lower marketing borrowing programme by the government and rates of return on small savings, provident and pension fund to be linked to the inflation and tax-adjusted market rates.

Ashish Pitale from J P Morgan Group said that next year's fiscal deficit would be marginally higher than this year's in absolute terms and lower in terms of proportion to gross domestic product (GDP)-- 4.8 per cent of GDP as compared with 5.1 per cent of GDP estimated for this year.

The finance minister is expected to show a market borrowing number for next year, which is actually lower than the current year.

However, a larger repayment obligation in the year 2001-02 would push the government's gross market borrowing requirements to a projected Rs 1175.04 billion, marginally higher than in the current financial year, Pitale said.

Sanjeet Singh from ICICI Securities and Finance Company said, the good results achieved on the fiscal front this year are expected to continue in the coming fiscal year. Despite the industrial slow down, efforts to widen the tax net and higher compliance rates would keep tax revenues buoyant though the growth might be at a pace somewhat lower than this year.

Moreover, the government's recent initiatives on the divestment front would see sharply higher collections under this head too. Expenses are also likely to be kept under check and the Fiscal Responsibility Bill would enforce strict discipline in this regard.

Majority of the analysts felt that for the first time in several years the government's deficit target for 2000-01 is likely to be met because of strong tax revenue realisation and prudent expenditure management. Cost savings are estimated to have arisen mainly from lower defence related expenditure this year as compared to the previous two years.

While last month's Gujarat earthquake is unlikely to have a significant impact on the Budget, they said, the shortfall in privatisation proceeds would be offset by better than projected revenue receipts and lower than estimated non-plan expenses.

On the financial front, analysts said that the Reserve Bank of India is expected to lower the key bank rate by another 50 basis points to seven per cent in April following certain ''feel good factors'' emanating from Wednesday's Budget proposals.

Overall, the balance of payment is likely to post a surplus of over $6 billion in the fiscal 2001-02 with the rupee continuing to remain stable around Rs 48.50 per dollar.

C Parthasarathy, chairman and managing director of Karvy Consultants Limited, said that the task of phasing out non-merit subsidies on cooking gas and electricity is likely to begin in tomorrow's budget. The Department of Divestment is likely to be vested with more powers, lesser procedures and a higher target of Rs 250 billion for fiscal 2001-02.

The Union Budget is being presented at a time when the US economy is threatened with a slowdown and India's index of industrial production is a cause of concern. The fiscal deficit situation both at the centre and states is worsening. With all these imperatives, he said that the finance minister would have to address the key issues such as elimination of revenue deficits, higher interest payments, wages, salaries and subsidy payments.

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SDM to hear gas leak case on Mar 2 Wednesday, February 28, 2001

VADODARA: Though the quantity of the mysterious gas emission, plaguing several parts of the city these days, seems to have reduced since the past two days, residents say the irritation to the throat and the eyes continues.

Sources at the district collectorate said that the sub divisional magistrate (SDM) has issued notices to Alembic and IOC and asked them to report back their safety measures and any other explanation regarding the gas leak that is affecting the areas surrounding their plants.

The date for hearing of the case is March 2, when the SDM would hear the case. The notice has been issued under section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), he said.

Meanwhile, the Nandesari Industries Association president Babubhai Patel said the gas leak that exists since the past 10 days is due to Mercaptoethane or Ethyl Sulpahydrate. The detectable concentration of this odour is one part in 50 million part of air. It is used as an odourent for natural gas. It is known to cause irritation to the mucous membrane affecting the throat and the eyes. According to him chemicals producing such a gas is not manufactured in Nandesari industrial estate.

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