Dear Mr FM,
I am the finance manager of my household. As I read the newspapers every day, I see so many expectations from so many segments. You must surely be overwhelmed.
As an FM, I understand how it is to handle expectations and, hence, this letter is not about my expectations but my advice to you on what you can do in the Budget.
I see so many articles on income tax and the expectations to raise the tax slabs. I'd say, you know better and this expectation crops up before every budget, raises hopes very high, and mostly ends in disappointment. For some years it was Mr. (Pranab) Mukerjee and sometimes it has been you. My advice -- do not hike the slabs, I doubt if any homemaker really cares about taxation issues as what we are bothered is the cash flow into the house.
Please make tax collection systems stronger and efficient so there is a bigger mop-up and you do not have to depend on the revenue from common people like us. Also, show us projects which will ensure that the money my husband pays as tax is used to make life better for us.
Help me reduce my expenses
A penny saved is a penny earned is what I have taught my children. I am sure you have known it all your life. Homemakers are called 'housewives' because of our inability to 'earn' income. But no one credits us for the savings we make on expenses. We don't mind that as long as we can save more. Today, the biggest expense in our household is our children's education. I can compromise on our lifestyle but cannot do so with my children's education.
Please announce schemes which can result in a reduction in the cost of quality education, thus reducing my monthly outflow on fees. Please strengthen the public distribution system so we are able to get quality food products at affordable prices. Please announce strong schemes for agriculture so we can better vegetables and grains at lower prices.
Salary for homemakers
There has been considerable debate over husbands paying a salary to a homemaker. It is a highly sensitive issue and, hence, I would not like to explore that. But, at the same time, I am sure you understand that a homemaker is an employee who is paid only in love and affection. Why don't you fix a monetary value to our services and make it an expense which is tax deductible for my husband? You could have a fixed component common to all homemakers and a variable component based on the number of years in a marriage. This will also help reduce the huge cost of divorces our country is facing right now.
Homemakers as part of SME sector
Every budget includes volumes on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and supporting them. But what about the informal SME sector that runs is so many households -- tailoring, crafts, tuition classes, etc.?. We contribute so much to the gross domestic product but it is never accounted for. Actually, we like it to stay that way. But can you announce some schemes so that homemakers get better financial opportunities to render their services without actually walking out of the house?
Gold and its irony
It's funny that when I want to buy gold I want the prices to come crashing down, but the moment I have bought it, I want the prices to sky-rocket. Today, many homemakers invest in gold since it is one of the few investments we easily understand.
Can you announce some simple yet financially effective investment schemes so we can have more liquidity? From an economy's perspective, this will result in cash flow for the government rather than all that money lying idle in the form of bangles and necklaces which I rarely wear - what with the law and order situation outside. A lower demand for gold will also help rationalize prices in the bullion market and help me buy better stuff at affordable prices.
Devise methods to bring down the cost of food, education and shelter. We don't care if some new form of taxation is introduced or an existing one scrapped. At the end of the day, can you help me put more money in the savings jar at home? If you can do that, you have my vote!
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