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from India Insight:

Budget speeches in India: it’s how you say it

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The annual budget is a big event in India, but ministers' speeches on the budget can be mighty boring. From Shakespeare to Bollywood, ministers have used all kinds of popular and esoteric sources to make their points. Whether that has helped is up to you. Here are a few examples from recent years:

President Pranab Mukherjee is a veteran Congress politician and has presented the last four budgets. His favourite authority to quote has been Kautilya, the great Indian pioneer of economics and politics who was prime minister in the court of King Chandragupta Maurya in the fourth century BC. Mukherjee quoted Kautilya in his first budget speech in 1984 and as recently as in 2010.

Thus, a wise Collector General shall conduct the work of revenue collection ... in a manner that production and consumption should not be injuriously affected ... financial prosperity depends on public prosperity, abundance of harvest and prosperity of commerce among other things

He invoked Lord Indra, the Hindu rain god, and prayed to the goddess of wealth Lakshmi in 2011:

from India Insight:

A look at India’s last five annual budgets

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The countdown has begun for the biggest business and economic event of the year, the release of India's annual budget at the end of February, and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has a tough job on his hands. With general elections a year away, he must please voters, boost growth and control deficits.

In the last five years, the finance minister has always relaxed income tax slabs -- by either increasing the basic exemption limit or widening the tax slabs. As far as markets go, the 2009 budget day was the worst for stocks as the index fell around 950 points during trade. However, the focus has always been on the government's fiscal deficit targets, which have hovered around the 5 percent mark in recent years.

from India Masala:

What Bollywood wants from Budget 2011

Vipul Shah, director  - There have been a few burning issues that have plagued the industry for the last few years. Entertainment Tax is pegged as high as 45% in Mumbai. There is always the impression amongst the general public and perhaps even the Government that film makers rake in huge profits. The reality however, is far removed. Films have an 80 : 20 success ratio - this itself is self explanatory of the plight of most producers. Service Tax, VAT and TDS also remain grey areas for us. These are pressing concerns and have been presented before the Government as major concerns for a few years now, and year after year, all of us await some change in stance on this. We are hopeful that the Central Government will pay heed to our concerns this time. As a fraternity that has been granted industry status, we feel that these reforms are extremely fair and can be looked into." Atul Kulkarni, Actor - I don't have a budget wishlist. I don't want them to take less from me. Just wish that they spend it more appropriately. But then it is we who have either sent them (politicians) there. We have also not given importance to politics for generations together. Sheetal Talwar, MD, Vistar Religare Film Fund - "Rationalisation of taxes is of primary concern. The dual taxation policy is something that needs to be looked into immediately. At present, we pay both Service Tax and VAT. While we have been granted industry status, there are very few actual benefits that have percolated down to the different tiers of the industry. For instance, the large numbers of union and daily workers are not covered under Vikas Yojna, ESIS or any sort of pension schemes. We have been striving for a better implementation of the industry tag and think that change truly is around the corner for us." Kamal Jain, CFO, Eros International - Budget 2010 mandated a higher withholding tax rate of 20 per cent in case of payees not having a PAN. With the changed dynamics of the industry, greater amount of content is being procured from foreign players and various one-off payments are being made to foreign artists. A suitable clarification in the Budget 2011, relaxing the higher withholding rate is much warranted as Indian companies are being unnecessarily penalized for failure on the part of the payee to apply for PAN. Industry also looks forward for reduction of customs duty on equipment and hardware necessary for film production.  Similarly, the industry has asked for exemption of 16 per cent CVD on unexposed color cinematographic films, which would help them combat piracy by making more film prints at an affordable cost. The animation and gaming industry has sought a 10-year tax holiday and removal of service tax on studios developing original content.

The Union Budget is on everyone's mind and affects Bollywood too. Here's what people from the Indian film industry have to say --

People buy tickets at a counter at a multiplex movie theatre in Mumbai November 22, 2008. REUTERS/Arko Datta/FilesVipul Shah, Director

- "There have been a few burning issues that have plagued the industry for the last few years. Entertainment tax is pegged as high as 45 percent in Mumbai. There is always the impression amongst the general public and perhaps even the government that filmmakers rake in huge profits. The reality, however, is far removed. Films have an 80:20 success ratio -- this itself is self explanatory of the plight of most producers.

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