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3 March 2007

Desh ki Unnati ke liye

Markets were in the red in response to global melt down, Wall Street traders arrested for fraud and insider trading but I watched bemusedly as the various business channels reported how "the fine print is just sinking in "about the service tax on rental and leased commercial space. There was one view on how renting is not "service"- it isn't? oh come on... and another that even refered to the FMs directive as "unconstitutional". At some point everything is if there is a smart attorney who can pull rabbits out of the legalese hat. Car companies quietly raised prices, banking on the great Indian middle class aspirations that would absorb it. The rest of budget discussion space was taken up by the topic of cement companies raising prices in response to the FMs differential rates of excise. I'd have thought the Harvard don expected business and industry leaders to put their heads to issues of how to bring and keep costs lower but that may be too much burden for organisations that have access to technical and intellectual capital. It is so much simpler to pass on the extra costs to the end user, blame the government, throw it out of power ( never mind the cost of mid-term polls ), create more price cartels and price control regimes, choose confrontational approaches over other options, and never mind Desh ki Unnati.

Even as I was ruminating these, I gave up when I discovered in a newspaper report that there are people in India paying Rupees 3.5 cr. (35 mn)for a sofa set!- Edra or studded with Swaroski crystals and some such - imported from Europe. No wonder the people who can make a difference with their voice- the rich are not complaining about the budget or the price rise or the poor state of social development. They are not aware of any of them as they are busy giving their interior designer orders for latest furniture. Good heavens, where are the tax authorites and is the FM reading his daily newspaper? Overseas travel, cell phones and purchase of vehicle is so last year (and middle class too). Luxury brands and Designer Imported furniture is what is "IN". How about asking for PAN in this catgory and monitoring these transactions.

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