No more gloom as Budget 2017 gives people many reasons to cheer: Know how

Budget 2017-2018
Call it a populist budget or a socialist one, Modi government has put in every effort to cast away gloom that had settled in post demonetisation move. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday presented a historic budget - since this was the first one in 92 years, which merged Railway Budget to the Union one.

A comprehensive budget from the Finance Minister was anticipated owing to the upcoming Assembly elections in Goa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Uttarakhand. Commenting on the Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "this Budget is yet again devoted to the well-being of the villages, farmers and the poor"

While the common man has many reasons to be happy about, Jaitley certainly did wipe the smile off politicians' face across all parties.

Here are some goodies handed out by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley:

Income Tax reduction: In a major step, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the reduction of the existing rate of taxation for individuals with income ranging between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh to 5% instead of 10%. This means that everyone under the tax bracket of Rs 50 lakh stand to gain Rs 12,500 tax benefit in the coming year. There will be a surcharge of 10% for those whose annual income is Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. Additionally, the 15% surcharge on Rs 1 crore or more remains unchanged.

Service Tax on Train bookings: All e-tickets booked through the IRCTC website will get cheaper. Jaitley announced that no service charge will be levied on tickets booked through the IRCTC website. IRCTC charges Rs 40 on every ticket booked in air-conditioned classes. For sleeper class, a service charge of Rs 20 is levied by IRCTC when ticket is booked through its website.

For villages, poor: To construct one crore houses by 2019 for homeless. PM Awas Yojana allocation raised from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 23,000 crore. 100 per cent electrification of villages to be completed by May 2018.

Health: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday announced that government will widen the availability of essential drugs across India. He said that the government will amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules to ensure availability of medicines at reasonable prices and also formulate new norms for the medical devices sector to bring in investments. This will help citizens avail life saving drugs at affordable, cheaper prices. In a bid to enhance the medical education in the country, Jaitley announced setting up of two new All India Institute of Medical Sciences? (AIIMS) in the states of Gujarat and Jharkhand, while also adding that 25000 post graduate seats will be created in medicine.

Farmers: Total allocation for Agriculture and Farmers’ welfare will be enhanced to Rs 10 lakh crore. With better monsoon, agriculture is expected to grow at 4.1%. Target for agricultural credit for 2017-18 is set at ten lakh crore, announced Arun Jaitley.

Minority, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes: Jaitley said that the Government is giving special importance to implementation of the Schemes for welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minorities. The allocation for the welfare of Scheduled Castes has been stepped-up from Rs. 38,833 crores in BE 2016-17 to Rs. 52,393 crores in 2017-18, representing an increase of about 35%. The allocation for Scheduled Tribes has been increased to Rs. 31,920 crores and for Minority Affairs to Rs.4,195 crores.

Senior citizens: Aadhar based Smart Cards containing senior citizens' health details will be introduced. A beginning will be made through a pilot in 15 districts during 2017-18. The LIC will implement a scheme for senior citizens to provide assured pension, with a guaranteed return of 8% per annum for 10 years.

Politicians - may frown

Political funding - probably Jaitley's biggest announcements related to proposed overhaul of political funding. Maximum amount political party can receive in cash donation will be Rs 2,000 from any one source. Political parties will be entitled to receive donations by cheque or digital mode.

The economy is gradually recovering from the impact of demonetisation although it may be some time before full normalcy is restored. The Economic Survey for 2016-17, released on Tuesday, provided sobering estimates of growth in gross domestic product (GDP). The Survey noted that first-half growth in the current financial year, at 7.2 per cent, was “on the weaker side” of last year’s Economic Survey estimates; and that full year-growth would likely dip below seven per cent due to economic activity being adversely affected by demonetisation. The Survey projected a dip of “between 1/4 and 1/2 percentage points relative to the baseline of about seven per cent”, suggesting likely growth between 6.5 per cent and 6.75 per cent in 2016-17. For 2017-18, the Survey projected growth of 6.75-7.5 per cent.

Hence, a balanced and progressive Budget was the only solution in hand for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

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