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Budget 2019: Consumers want government to reduce taxes, focus on increasing income 

India Today , Jun 19, 2019

With just days left before the announcement of Union Budget 2019, consumers have asked the government to focus on increasing income by reducing the tax burden.

Consumer responses on Twitter and towards various surveys have been taken into account for determining top priorities.

Many people said they are facing financial stress as their earnings have shrunk while some others stated that benefits of GST are not being passed to customers. Here are the top five concerns among consumers ahead of Union Budget 2019:

Relax income tax

Many people highlighted the fact that consumer earnings under stress due to low-income levels and increasing prices. The recent 'Mood of the Consumer' survey conducted by LocalCircles on June 19 indicated that 73 per cent of the households that took part in the survey said they are "feeling squeezed" when it comes to balancing their earnings and spending.

"This number stood at 60 per cent in September 2018. Any tax relief that the government can grant via the budget, which could help address this situation, will be of help the Indian consumers," said Sachin Taparia.

However, it is unlikely that the government would announce any major changes in income tax. What it could do is grant more provisions for tax deduction under certain existing sections of the Income Tax Act.

Job creation

Many people on Twitter have also urged the government to seriously look at job creation as reports have indicated that unemployment in India has touched a four-decade high.

It would be interesting to see whether the government announces any additional funds or measure to increase employment. Experts have asked the government to focus on increasing employment opportunities in rural areas and among women.

Ensure GST benefits reach consumers

This is one of the top demands consumers have shared with the citizen-engagement platform. Many on Twitter have also asked the government to make the process of GST simpler for them as there are still cases for entire benefits of GST are not passed on to them.

According to a recent survey conducted by LocalCircles, only 30 per cent of consumers confirmed that they are receiving benefits of GST rate deduction in the last 18 months. However, there are many enterprises which are flouting rules by not passing the full benefits of GST reduction to consumers.

"It is, therefore, requested that the Government creates further awareness about GST rate reduction and holds brands accountable to comply and ensure that GST rate reduction benefits reach the consumer by a reduction in MRPs," said Sachin Taparia, Chairman, LocalCircles.

More tax-saving provisions in healthcare

Many citizens have urged the government to increase focus on healthcare and offer more tax concessions for the same. Several industry bodies including FICCI have asked the government to increase tax exemption on preventive health check-ups from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000.

Focus on reducing air pollution

In the wake of increased pollution across many parts in the country, citizens have also asked the government to provide a financial roadmap which helps in tackling air pollution. According to a LocalCircles survey, citizens feel the government should launch a "Clean Air Mission" to reduce air pollution levels across a majority of Indian cities over the next five years.