Budget 2018: Arun Jaitley's last full one to focus on two aspects

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

The last full Union Budget to be presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the forthcoming session of Parliament beginning on Monday will be unlike his previous four such exercises because of the complete overhaul of the indirect tax regime affected by implementing the goods and services tax (GST) last year.

The Budget, to be the last for the BJP in view of the general elections due in the first half of 2019, usually has two main components.

 

The first part deals with new schemes and outlays for various existing schemes and sectors for the coming financial year, while the second contains announcements on direct and indirect taxes.

With GST realising the dreams of the pre-Independence nationalist bourgeoisie of a unified market through a single tax regime, replacing the earlier system of multiple central and state taxes, this year's budget will need to take into account only those items like petroleum products that still remain outside the purview of GST.

The 2018-19 budget could thus contain changes in customs and excise duties on these remaining products, which for most others have been subsumed under GST.

 

In the area of direct taxes like income tax and corporate tax, Jaitley hinted at some relief for taxpayers as he made a case for rationalisation of the direct tax structure considering the fact that "the tax base has expanded".

Addressing an event here on Saturday to mark International Customs Day, Jaitley said: "In income tax, the base has become larger; it's bound to enlarge. And, therefore, charging higher rates from few selected groups -- which has traditionally been done -- is an area which has been changing."

The country's net direct tax collections witnessed an increase of 18.7 per cent till January 15 this fiscal, compared with the corresponding period last year.

With the general elections due in 2019, the government will present next year, instead of a full Budget, a vote-on-account, which only deals with the expenditure. Besides, new schemes and changes to taxation are not presented in a vote-on-account.

 

Moreover, with major states bound for polls this year, observers expect the budget to be weighed in favour of the farm sector at a time when data shows a dip in agriculture growth and the sector under stress.


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel