For average middle-class Indians, the presentation of Union Budget by Finance Minister in the Parliament usually means an anticipated wait for a 'cheaper or costlier' list, which tells them if they will be able to afford the washing machine or car they want this year or if their pack of cigarettes will burn a larger hole in their pockets. But, this year, none of that is likely to happen.
For the first time since Union Budget started in 1860, nothing is likely to become cheaper or costlier after the budget announcement because there is no custom excise duty to increase or decrease. Ever since the government has introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST), only consumer product left in the purview of custom excise duty are petrol, diesel and other petroleum products.
Consumer products now become cheaper or costlier when GST Council decides to do so in its regular meetings.
What people can expect from the budget is a change in affordability in terms of increased income. The Union Budget still crucially decides on how much of your hard-earned cash goes into tax cuts. So if the government decides to ease the exemptions or reduce taxes in various slabs, you may, after all, be able to afford your dream car or washing machine or fridge.