Arun Jaitley starts pre-Budget meetings, discusses price volatility

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks during the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi. PTI Photo
The preparation for the Union Budget 2018-19 has started with Central Government's pre-Budget meetings. 

Starting from Tuesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is scheduled to meet representatives of different groups from various sectors. Government is all set to present first post-GST Budget on February 1, 2018. 

Pre-Budget meet with trade union leader

On Tuesday, nine of the trade union leaders jointly submitted a common memorandum in a meeting with the Finance Minister. The list consists of 12 point charter demands. The members demanded a fixed minimum wage for all workers on the basis of the 15th Indian Labour Conference recommendations and Consumer Price Index. 

To ensure the security of the unorganised sectors, a National Fund must be created, the union leaders suggested the Central government. There was also a demand for increasing the budget allocation for the social sectors. 

Considering the recent price hike of essential commodities, the leaders asked the Finance Ministry to regulate the prices. 

To lessen the income gap between rich and poor, the ceiling for the income tax for salaried class persons and pensioners should be increased up to Rs 5 lakh per annum and Rs 8 lakh per annum respectively, a statement from Finance Ministry said. 

The trade union leaders who were present in the meeting were Shri K. Lakshmna Reddy of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Shri K K Nair of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Shri Sukumar Damle of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Shri Harbhajan Singh Sidhu of  Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), hri M Shanmugam of Labour Progressive Federation.

For more details, also read Jaitley holds pre-Budget meet with trade unions, assures workers' welfare 

Pre-Budget meet with agricultural groups

Arun Jaitley also had a meeting with the representatives of different agriculture groups on Tuesday. It was his first pre-Budget consultation meeting. 

Union Budget 2018-19 will be perfect opportunity to shift to 'Farmers' Policy' to 'Food Policy', the representatives suggest the government. 

To ensure the delivery of remunerative prices to farmers, the ‘Price Deficiency Payment Mechanism’ must be implemented immediately. 

It was suggested that there is need to start ‘Operation Veggies’ and focus should be given to TOP – Tomato, Onion and Potato as there is maximum volatility in their prices. Other suggestions included that the Centre should declare an ‘Agriculture Debt Relief Package’ for the entire country. 

The members requested the government to double the number of farmers receiving loans up to Rs 2 lakh at the interest rate of 1%. Aadhar linkage can be done to avoid duplication. 

Representatives from ICRIER, Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, International Food Policy Research Institute were present at the meeting.

Also read: Pre-Budget consultations start with focus on increasing farmer incomes