After the union budget was presented in the parliament, there was an interview on a TV channel. This was conducted by an Interviewer (I), who was answered by a Market Expert (ME). In other terms, this was a discussion between I and ME.
Below is an excerpt of the interview:
I: What is your overall assessment of the budget?
ME: I am very happy. This budget has taken some very bold steps. There are some big positives from this budget. It generated employment, was environment friendly and also in line with Indian ethos. I salute the finance minister.
I: Could you please elaborate on this environment friendly bit?
ME: I am referring to the introduction of standard deduction in lieu of medical and conveyance reimbursements. It is an environment friendly move.
I: I did not understand. Please explain.
ME: Oh, it is simple. You see, the budget proposes to reintroduce standard deduction in lieu of the reimbursement of medical and conveyance expenses. Now, there is no major benefit to the employees, one may argue. However, look at the impact on the environment. In the earlier regime, the employees had to submit the bills – paper. Now that would not be required. You see, so much paper would be saved. Isn’t that good for the environment?
I: And what about employment?
ME: Oh, this is actually not new. Almost all the finance ministers have succeeded at that. You see, before the budget day, on the day itself and for a few days thereafter, so much temporary employment is generated for armchair economists and analysts. You can see it for yourself. If in doubt, please look at any business TV channel.
I: Ah, that’s a smart one. However, I am most intrigued by your statement regarding the Indian ethos. Please throw some light on that.
ME: How could you miss that? The budget was so much in line with Indian traditions. I must make a special mention to the Guru-Shishya parampara. Modi ji offered guru dakshina through the budget proposals. The budget offered many benefits to senior citizens and the members of parliament. One of the most senior parliamentarian happens to be the Guru of Modi ji.
I: That was really enlightening. There are reports that corporate employees are not happy since they did not get any tax reductions.
ME: It amazes me to see the perseverance of the employees. They do not give up the hope. I think India has a bright future.
I: Sorry, what about hope? They did not get tax incentives and they are unhappy.
ME: Yes, they are. However, this happens with the employees twice a year. They still continue to keep their faith intact. Isn’t that amazing?
I: Twice a year? But the budget is presented only once a year.
ME: You have to see the bigger picture. See these employees expect the finance minister to roll out some sops for them every year. Even if the budget repeatedly ignores them, they still keep the hope – that is once a year. The second time in the year is their appraisal time. They expect high ratings, high bonuses and large increments. The bosses do not give and the hope still springs eternal.
I: Now, let us come to some stocks and sectors. Please let me know which sectors are likely to be negatively impacted?
ME: FMCG should have a negative impact. Especially, the sales of “anti-aging” creams should go down, since many benefits are offered to senior citizens.
I: In light of this budget, what is the best tax saving strategy according to you?
ME: File an affidavit in the court to change your date of birth. Become a senior citizen. Alternately, contest and win an election and become an MP. And if you really want a big one, become a senior citizen and an MP.
I: Thank you sir for your valuable insights.
Message for the readers:
Dear readers, as you can see. This was just a satire on the entire process of discussions on the union budget – a great activity pursued by so many people. Please do not take the above interview seriously.
For majority of us, the budget proposals do not mean much. We do not stop living our life just because the finance minister tweaks the tax code.
You know what, the government must keep doing something as they struggle to balance their budget. They can’t, in spite of hiring the best minds in the country. We are better off. It is far easier for individuals and families to live within our means and generate surplus.
So, forget the union budget and enjoy your life.
The author is a trainer in financial markets. He has authored a best-seller book “Riding The Roller Coaster – Lessons from financial market cycles we repeatedly forget”. His next book “Sabse Bada Rupaiya” that draws personal finance lessons from Bollywood is coming soon. The views expressed above are his personal views.