Finance Minister P Chidambaram has its job cut out when he takes the centre stage to present his eighth budget.
FM would be looking to present a balanced budget, which is also going to be UPA-II's last budget before it heads to elections. Chidambaram would look to carry on with the growth agenda but would also concentrate on being fiscally prudent.
Union Budget 2013-14 is mostly expected to placate the middle class households and salary earners. Business owners would expect him to arrest decelerating growth. Government would be expected to bring down fiscal deficit to committed level of 4.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Chidambaram would also be under pressure to set aside funds for various schemes that it had made during elections, especially the Food Security Bill which seeks to provide subsidised foodgrain to poor as a matter of legal right.
As far as the controversial 'super rich tax' is concerned, there are slightly less chances of it being levied, especially after Economic Survey rejected such a move. However, FM could widen the tax base in preference to raising rates.
For salary earners, the relief may come in the form of increase in the income tax exemption limit, which is currently at Rs 2 lakh per annum. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance had suggested that the limit be raised to Rs 3 lakh and other slabs adjusted to provide relief to people reeling under the impact of high inflation.
Lastly, Chidambaram is also expected to fine-tune Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) and other similar ones to encourage individuals to invest surplus funds in stock markets and make such schemes more attractive to first time investors.