Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Budget Speech 2007-2008

Mr. Speaker, Sir

It is a pain to present the Budget for the year 2007-08. I hate the PM for making me stand for three hours and I hate Health Minister for refusing to give me a false certificate for acute arthritis. You will rot in hell.

The budget speech has been deliberately made long so that all those who are listening can go to sleep and have a dream budget, like they had under a sleeping PM. Before I begin to start my budget speech, I would like to share a few pearls of wisdom which will help my allies and the Opposition to receive my proposals in the right perspective. The great modern actor-philosopher of Tamil Nadu had once enlightened us that Adhighama Aasappadra Left um Adhighama Kovappedra Right um Nalla Vaazhntha Charithrame Kedayadhu. (A Left which is over demanding and a Right which is extra fiery will die of worms in their stomach.) So please don’t expect much.

I will not present the overview of the economy because I have already mailed you the copy of Economic Survey 2007-08. Please read it when you find time. If you have doubts, please ask Alex. Even I refer his blog when in doubt.

Our Government has always been conscious of the National Common Minimum Programme. Under the able stewardship of the Chairperson of UPA, we have discovered 23,584 welfare schemes with names containing the words, National, Bharateeya, Pradhan Mantri, Rashtriya, Savarakar, Shayama Prasad Mukherjee etc. They are going to be suitably replaced with the words Rajiv and Indira in the ratio of 10:1.

The farmer has always been the man closest to our heart. Since we have failed to contain the farmer suicides, I have decided to do my bit in ensuring their post-suicide life is made more bearable. In this direction, I introduce Saral forms for claiming compensation for suicides. These would be available in local languages and will have just 29 columns to fill, which is eight lesser than the one used for Income Tax.

Now, I come to the most awaited part of my speech – Taxation.

First, the direct taxes. It has become a common feature for every sector of industry to vie for some kind of tax benefits. I have received representation from so many quarters in the last few weeks that I have become a confused man. To ensure that I do not confuse you further with multiple concessions, I have devised to introduce one-by-six rule for the corporates. Those satisfying any one of the criterion, are eligible for a flat 25% refund of their Corporation Tax. The criteria are as follows:

1) Firms dealing with alcohol and tobacco.

2) Firms who aid firms mentioned in (1) by allowing their employees to consume alcohol and tobacco.

3) Firms whose share price is more than Rs 1000 and less than 15% is held by public.

4) Firms which have personal jets.

5) Firms which sponsor polo matches and speculate in derby.

6) Firms whose CEOs attend the meet at Davos.

Women, children and family welfare are the key to success of any nation. For women, alimony from husbands double their ages will not be treated as capital gains. For the youth, the beacon of the nation, gifts bought for their girl friends are exempted from fringe benefit tax.

As my budget will have something for everyone, I have something even for the men. Since dowry has only been going upwards ever since IT boom has occurred, it would be foolish for any administration to ignore such a potential source of revenue. From next year, grooms who take large dowry will get commensurate depreciation against the wealth with every passing year of marriage. Further, if they survive the seven year itch, they will have an option to convert the erstwhile assets into a liability. (This has been my personal experience) This facility would be available provided they submit TDS certificates from their fathers-in-laws at the time of registration of marriage.

In its two years of operation, the Banking Cash Transaction Tax has proved to be an amazing success in curbing the growth of black money. Our research tells me that this technique can also be used to contain the growing inflation. Hence, I propose to impose a small marginal tax of 5% every time you take money out your purse to make a purchase. That is you pay just five paise for a rupee you spend. I have already asked RBI to start minting five paise coins. For women, the definition of “purse” would also include handbag, clutch, tote or any place where they keep their husbands' money.

Under indirect taxes, as boost to the vibrant film industry, I propose a cut in the customs duties so that they can import better heroines from Norway, Czechoslovakia etc. For the textile industry, I propose a cut of 5% on excise duty on White Dhotis and an additional 5% when they are sold with white cotton shirt.

I regret to inform that the 8% excise duty on packaged software imposed last year has not yielded the expected results. In fact, the whole revenue realized from this category happens to be solely from Government of India. Hence, I propose to modify the proposal to 8% excise duty on pirated software.

As with every year, I plan to bring new promising services like fashion shows, sleazy MMS, illegal occupation of land and extra-legal settlement of land disputes under the service tax net.

In tune with our commitment to financial and auditing reforms, I plan to introduce a radically new budgeting technique – Zero Based Budgeting 2.0. As against the conventional incremental allocation of funds, we plan to add zeros at the end of the previous figures to ensure exponential increase in social spending. However, to ensure that it does not result in runaway inflation which would antagonize our allies from the left, we have devised a formula to suitably move the decimal point towards the left for every added zero.

I am pleased to announce that the outcome budget introduced by me last year has produced outstanding result in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The revised target for overtaking China in population is 2009.

All progressive Governments are keen on ensuring that the citizens are delivered Good Governance. In this regard, crores of rupees are being allocated, which usually find their way into rehabilitating retired bureaucrats, sponsoring foreign holidays (with spouses) under the cover of study tours and filling the pockets of failed academicians who pose as “consultants”. I have, therefore, decided scrap all such programmes and have come up with a cost-effective ingenious alternative. Names of all Governments will henceforth be prefixed with “Good”. The Government of India will be now known as Good Government of India. Similarly we will have Good Government of Tamil Nadu, Good Government of Andhra Pradesh and so on. The scheme would be first applied to the states ruled by constituents of UPA and it would be extended to other states when we come to power there.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have finally ran out of patience, perseverance and paper. If you kindly wake up the honorable members, we can adjourn the house and chill out in the canteen.

Sir, with these words, I commend the Budget to the House.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Back Scratching

Freudian Slips declares Goofy as the Person of 2006 for nominating me as the Person of the Year.

Note: Retrospective nominations for Person of the Decade, Person of Century, Person of Millennium are invited. For details, please click here.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Animal Harm

Post-Rang De Basanti, there has been an increasing awareness on the use of animals in movies. I, therefore, wondered if “Veerasamy” had obtained the mandatory permission from Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), before using an unusual animal, Sloth Bear, for its title role.

Rule 7 of the the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 issued by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment says that:

Prior information for use of performing animals in films : -

(1) Every owner desirous of hiring out or lending a performing animal in the making of a film shall give prior information in the format as specified by the prescribed authority for this purpose to specifying the kind of animal, age of animal, physical health of the animal, the nature of performance to be done by the animal, the duration for which the animal shall be used for such performance, the duration and method of training of the animal for such performance and justification for the use of such animals in the film and such other information as may be required by that authority.

As a The Hindu-reading responsible blogger, I decided to verify the facts before making a post. I filed a RTI application with the AWBI and was glad that the movie had indeed obtained prior permission from AWBI.

The copy of the application seeking permission, which was given to me in response to my RTI, is reproduced below.

Kind of AnimalSloth Bear (Melursus ursinus)

Age of Animal – 18 Till I Die

Physical health of the animal – Fight, Flight and Dance Worthy

Nature of performance to be done by the animal – Acting, Story, Screenplay, Dialogues, Direction, Music, Lyrics, Editing, Audiography, Art Direction and Cinematography (when he is not acting)

Duration for which the animal shall be used for such performance – Till the camera runs out of raw stock

Duration and method of training of the animal for such performance – NIL . It is a born genius

Justification for the use of such animal in the film – Self-employment