In the first Union budget since the imposition of the Emergency, Finance Minister C. Subramaniam slashed income tax and wealth tax and offered excise duty relief for a range of consumer goods. As a consequence, house and laundry soaps, cheaper varieties of toilet soaps, detergents and washing preparations, safety razor stainless steel blades, metal-jacketed dry batteries for torches and transistors, readymade garments, television sets, table and pedestal fans, medium-size domestic refrigerators, passenger cars, jeeps and commercial vehicles of less than 16 horse power were to cost less. The minister also announced a reduction in fertiliser prices. On the other hand, excise duty on certain varieties of paper and paper boards, patented and proprietary medicines, aerated waters containing blended flavouring concentrates and medicines and toilet preparations containing alcohol was stepped up. Life-saving drugs would continue to be subject to lower rates of duty. The budget was presented by Subramaniam in the Lok Sabha on March 15 evening.
Plan Outlay Up
With an outlay of Rs 7,852 crore in 1976-77, the annual plan for the financial year represented a record increase of 31.6 per cent. The finance minister told Parliament that this marked the “highest step-up in development outlays in any one year since the beginning of the era of planning” in India.
A new social security scheme to provide insurance to workers subscribing to the Employees Provident Fund was being introduced, the finance minister told the Lok Sabha. Under this scheme, in the event of the death of a worker while in service, his dependents would be entitled to an additional payment equivalent to the average balance in the provident fund of the worker during the preceding three years subject to a maximum of Rs 10,000.