Muscat: Indian expatriates in Oman on Monday hailed the country’s budget for the 2016-2017 financial year, which was earlier yesterday presented by India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.
Describing the easing of customs declaration and increasing free baggage allowance as welcome steps, they said that this will make things easier for millions of Indian expats living outside India.
Non-resident Indians without a permanent account number (PAN) card are currently subjected to a higher rate of tax deducted at source (TDS). The latest budget proposed to amend the relevant provision so that on furnishing alternative documents, a higher rate will not be imposed.
Customs baggage rules for international passengers will also be simplified to increase the free baggage allowance. “The filing of baggage declaration will be required only for those passengers, who carry dutiable goods,” Jaitley said in his budget speech.
Describing it as a prudent budget, which is sure to make a positive impact on many sectors, Yusuffali MA, Chairman of Lulu Group, the largest retail chain in the Middle East, said the Finance Minister had clearly highlighted the growth pillars of the Indian economy being the agriculture, rural, social and skills sectors, along with ensuring the ease of doing business and introducing tax and compliance reforms.
“I am happy that the government has stressed on the ‘Make in India’ campaign by providing tax and duty benefits and these will go a long way in strengthening the manufacturing capabilities and infrastructure facilities of India. The Finance Minister’s focus on agriculture was keenly awaited and will enhance expenditure on the rural and agriculture sectors, which in turn will enhance food security and boost exports. According to me, the ‘three years of tax holiday’ for start-ups is one of the most exciting announcements of this budget. The next generation of skilled entrepreneurs are our future and this will bring in the much needed impetus. Another highlight would be the 100 per cent FDI (foreign direct investment) in food processing business. This will be news to many international players, who are looking to set up business in India and we all must welcome this.”
“Being a retailer, obviously I am pleased to note that the minister mentioned retail as the largest service sector employer in country and many more jobs opportunities can be created, provided the regulations are simplified. From a common NRI’s point of view, the easing of customs declaration and increasing of free baggage allowance are a welcome step,” Yusuffali added.
Reacting to the budget, K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman, Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, said the present government’s third budget focused on the agriculture sector, social development in education, health and daily life of the common people. It was also focused on total infrastructure development in all sectors. Fifteen per cent of India’s two trillion economy is based on the agriculture sector. The government has set a goal to double the income of farmers by 2022.
Definitely this focus will change the face of India, which will be a catalyst for making India an economic super power in the future.
He also said NRIs have been contributing a big chunk to the foreign currency reserve of the country by the Indian diaspora’s remittances being among the world’s highest. “We have been proposing to the government to utilise NRIs’ financial resources, expertise, experience and business contacts for the development of the country,” he said.
He added: “We have two important initiatives ‘Make in India’ and the ‘National Skill Development Mission,’ which can be developed successfully with the participation of NRIs. Even though we are keen on this proposal,” he added.
At the current prices, a male passenger can carry only 16 grams of gold jewellery and a female passenger can carry 32 grams of gold jewellery, which is too little.
As per the baggage rules, all the items one can bring from abroad are mentioned based on quantity, but gold by value.
“So, we request allowance for gold jewellery to be raised to 50 grammes for male passengers and 100 grammes for female passengers and also request that gold allowance be based on weight as per the rule,” Shamsudheen said.
Describing the budget as a ‘rational’ one, and expressing general approval for a number of measures, Lateef Shahdad, a Chartered Marketer, said now is the “need to see” its implementation.
Expats had also hoped for a simplification of income tax processes and more relief on TDS. Besides, there is nothing on housing or an immediate relief in prices of basic commodities and personal taxes to create savings for the future for us, said Sunil Kumar, an Indian expat living in Oman.