01 February, New Delhi
The BJP-led NDA Government presented the Union Budget for 2018-19 Thursday.
A slew of measures for the agriculture and rural sectors, a new health insurance scheme for the poor and some relief in income tax for the salaried class and senior citizens, were major announcements made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the last full budget before the general elections.
Presenting his fifth straight budget in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Jaitley said, the focus of the government in the coming fiscal would be agriculture and rural India.
The Finance Minister announced that all Kharif crops will be paid a Minimum Support Price that is 50 per cent more than the cost of production.
Mr. Jaitley said, it will prove an important step towards doubling the income of the farmers.
He also announced that credit to agriculture would be raised to 11 lakh crore rupees in the coming fiscal from 10 lakh crore rupees.
Kisan Credit Card will be extended to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers while 2,000 crore rupees provided for development of agri market. In a bid to provide universal healthcare, Jaitley announced a ‘National Health Protection scheme’ to provide health cover of upto 5 lakh rupees to each of the 10 crore poor family per year.
Mr Jaitley also announced 100 per cent tax deduction for farm producer firms with 100 crore rupees turnover. The standard deduction allowed will benefit 2.5 crore people.
While keeping the income tax rates and slabs unchanged, the Finance Minister introduced a 40,000 rupees Standard Deduction for salaried employees and pensioners in lieu of transport and medical expenses.
Presently, no tax is applicable on 19,200 rupees of transport allowance and medical expenditure of up to 15,000 rupees.
Senior citizens will get higher exemptions on income from
interest on bank and post office deposits, health insurance
premium and critical illness expense.
Their exemption of interest of income on deposits has been increased from 10,000 rupees to 50,000. The investment limit under the scheme for senior citizens has been doubled to 15 lakh rupees.
The target for providing free LPG connection to poor has been raised to 8 crore from 5 crore and 4 crore poor households will be provided free electricity connections.
The Budget announced allocation of 600 crore rupees towards nutritional support of tuberculosis patients and setting up of 24 new medical colleges and hospitals by upgrading district level ones.
The total budget for health, education and social security has been increased to 1.38 lakh crore rupees for 2018-19 from 1.22 lakh crore rupees in the current fiscal.
With excise duty and service tax being subsumed in the Goods and Services Tax, Mr. Jaitley made changes only in customs duty raising them in case of mobile phones and lowering for raw cashew.
Customs duty hiked on certain items, mobile phones and TV to cost more, Solar panels,raw cashew to cost less.
The allocation for Defence sector has been increased by 5.8 per cent to 56000 crore rupees. Two new defence industrial production corridors will be developed.
Turning to Railways, the Capital expenditure for the current budget has been pegged at 148 thousand crore rupees.
The emoluments of the President, Vice President and the Governors have been revised after long 12 years.
The emoluments of the President per month will be five lakh rupees.
Vice President will get four lakh rupees and the Governors 3.5 lakh rupees per month.
The Finance Minister India is firmly on course to achieving over 8 per cent growth and becoming the world’s 5th largest economy.
He said it has achieved an average growth of 7.5 per cent in the first three years of the Modi government.
The country is expected to grow at 7.2 to 7.5 per cent in the second half of the current fiscal ending 31st March .
The Fiscal Deficit has been pegged at 3.3 per cent of the GDP as against 3.2 per cent previously targeted. Fiscal deficit in 2016-17 was 3.5 per cent of the GDP.