On February 29, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Union Budget for the year 2016-17. Last year’s Budget was seen as lack-lustre by many since the ruling party came to power on the promise of major reforms, and the announcement fell short of expectations. But it was argued then that the government did not have enough time to come out with comprehensive reforms since they were voted in only in 2014.
Will 2016 be the blockbuster Budget which everyone has been expecting from the Modi government? Will the government further liberalise the economy to unlock the country’s growth potential? Will there be efforts made towards controlling costs and reducing taxes? Will the government increase social sector spending?
We will know the answers by Monday afternoon. Meanwhile, we asked citizens cutting across demographics and professions as to what they expect from the government. Some of them belong to sections which are usually ignored in the media discourse on the Budget. Here’s the wish list of a disability activist.
Name: Meenakshi Balasubramaniam
Occupation: Project Co-ordinator, EQUAL centre for Promotion of Social Justice
What she wants
My tax money is used to build buses, trains and other modes of transport, but I spend 20 times over the average amount to travel because I can’t use a lot of modes of transport. We restrict ourselves to our homes and workplaces, and environments are still inaccessible. So accessibility in terms of transport should be a priority.
There was a tax holiday for those with disabilities last year. But only 20 percent of employed persons with disability come under this tax break. But those who do not receive income on a regular basis are at a disadvantage, so the government has to make it clear if they can avail a tax break.
Braille Press and Braille Coins were supposed to be a commitment, and that didn’t take shape. They couldn’t meet a lot of commitments, nor did we see corresponding allocations for these campaigns in the budget.
We need to spend 20,000 rupees just to replace our assistive devices like wheelchairs. Only one company supplies equipment in the open market. So we need more schemes for subsidizing or providing free assistive devices and ensuring their regular testing, repairing and replacement should be developed.