Budget 2018: Focus on Rural Economy, Middle Class Feel The Pinch
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the 2018-19 Union Budget in Parliament on Thursday 1 February.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the 2018-19 Union Budget in Parliament on Thursday 1 February.(Photo: PTI)

Budget 2018: Focus on Rural Economy, Middle Class Feel The Pinch

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KEY EVENT

FM Jaitley Changed The Tradition of Presenting Budget at The End of February

Scrapping the colonial-era tradition of presenting the Budget at the end of February, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had for the first time presented the annual accounts on 1 February in 2017.

The Budget presentation was advanced by a month to ensure that proposals take effect from 1 April, the beginning of the new financial year.

Also, the nearly century-old tradition of having a separate Budget for the Indian Railways was scrapped and merged with the General Budget.

GST Classifications May Undergo Change

With excise duty and service tax being subsumed in the goods and services tax (GST), the classifications in the forthcoming Budget may undergo change.

The official had said that since the GST rates are decided by a GST Council, headed by the Union Finance Minister and comprising of representatives of all states, the Budget for 2018-19 may not have any tax proposals concerning excise and service tax levies.

Only proposals for changes in direct taxes, both personal income tax and corporate tax, as well as customs duty, are likely to be presented in the Budget along with new schemes and programmes of the government.

This will be Jaitley's fifth Budget in a row.

KEY EVENT

Jaitley Chairs Pre-Budget FSDC Meet

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley chaired a pre-Budget consultation meeting with financial sector regulators on Friday, 29 January, to take stock of the economic situation.

Fiscal position, external sector environment, financial sector reforms, rising non-performing assets, and regulatory issues figured in the meeting, sources said on Thursday, 28 January.

The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) is a high-powered body, whose members include RBI Governor, SEBI Chairman, IRDAI chief, and heads of other regulatory bodies.

Top Finance Ministry officials attended the meeting.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Govt to Infuse Rs 1 Lakh Crore into PSBs This Fiscal: Jaitley

Seeking to perk up public sector banks that have been hit by huge non-performing assets (NPAs), the government on Wednesday announced plans to infuse over Rs. one lakh crore including Rs 80,000 crore through recap bonds and Rs 8,139 crore as budgetary support during the current fiscal.

The government will raise Rs. 10,312 crore from the market, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley disclosed at a press conference giving details of the recap programme.

Of the recap amount, among others the government will give Rs 10,610 crore to IDBI, Rs 8,800 crore to State Bank of India, Rs 5,375 crore to Bank of Baroda, Rs 4,865 crore to Canara Bank and Rs 4,524 crore to Union Bank.

Bankers Suggest Lowering Corporate Tax, MAT to Boost Credit Growth: FICCI Survey

Bankers have suggested accelerated investments and interest subvention for investments in long gestation infrastructure projects, along with lowering of corporate tax rate and minimum alternative tax (MAT) to boost credit growth, said a survey released on Wednesday.

The survey, by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and the Indian Banks' Association (IBA), also said bankers recommended that the government should allow a full tax deduction on the NPA provisioning as against the cap of 5 per cent of taxable income.

According to it, most of the responding banks have suggested a reduction in corporate tax rate from 30 percent to 25 percent, lowering of MAT rate to 15 percent and enhancing tax deductions and exemptions for individuals.

UKIBC Expects Corporate Tax Cut, Labour Reforms in Budget

The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has appealed to the finance minister to reduce corporate tax and remove FDI restrictions on certain sectors in the forthcoming Budget.

More than any other country, UK businesses are taking the investment opportunities in India. The UK is the largest G20 investor in India, with around USD 24 billion invested in the country. At the same time, India is the fourth largest destination for investments from UK companies

Govt Aims to Bridge Edu Divide, Expect More JNVs in Budget: Javadekar

The number of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) will see an increase in the 2018-19 fiscal and a provision will be made in the upcoming Budget, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said on 24 January.

The Union Minister said more announcements will be made in the Budget 2018 with an aim to address the education divide in parts of the country.

JNVs are being set up under the central scheme since 1986 to bring out the best of the rural talent. So far, JNVs are established in more than 638 districts across the country.

DIPP Notifies Easing FDI in Several Sectors

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on 24 January notified easing of FDI rules for several sectors, including single brand retail and construction.

On 10 January, in big bang reforms ahead of the BJP government's last full Budget, the Union Cabinet had allowed 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in single brand retail and construction development under the automatic route.

Besides, foreign airlines were also allowed to buy up to 49 percent stake in Air India.

In its press note, the DIPP said allowing 100 percent FDI in single brand retail under the automatic route is aimed at attracting investments in production, marketing, improving availability of products to consumers and encourage increased sourcing from India.

Oil & Gas Industry Seeks Infra Status, Lower Taxes in Budget

The oil and gas industry has sought infrastructure status for the exploration and production sector as also lowering of taxes on locally produced oil to boost domestic output and cut import dependence.

It also wants inclusion of natural gas in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime at the earliest to boost the use of environment friendly fuel and help transition to a gas-based economy.

This Budget is Important, Says PM Modi Urging All Parties to Pass The Triple Talaq Bill

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a speech before the Budget Session in which he said that several international agencies have stated that the Indian economy is moving upward.

He also called for the passage of the Triple Talaq Bill, which was not passed in the Winter Session and is due for hearing during the Budget Session.

He had tweeted saying, “This budget session is important. The world is extremely optimistic about India. The budget will add new vigour to India’s development and will fulfill aspirations of people.”

He further added in his tweet thread, “I make a humble request to all parties that we can pass the bill on Triple Talaq. We have to pass this bill and protect the Muslim women.”

KEY EVENT

President Kovind Raises Triple Talaq Bill, GST, & Digital India

In the run-up to the Budget 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind delivered his maiden address to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament on 29 January. He began by quoting Dr BR Ambedkar, “Baba Saheb Ambedkar used to say that without economic and social democracy, political democracy is unstable.”

He then spoke about the need to pass the Triple Talaq Bill for the upliftment and benefit of Muslim women, saying the national progress cannot be achieved without social justice. President Kovind said that for ensuring the upliftment of women, “Parliament approved a bill granting working woman paid maternity leave of 26 weeks”.

The President added that the government is committed to doubling farmer incomes and increasing rural connectivity by 2022 stating, “work has started to connect villages with Broadband. 2.5 lakh panchayats have already been connected so far. 2.70 Lakh Common Service Centers have been set up across the nation.”

About rural connectivity, President Kovind added, “In 2014 only 56 percent villages were connected to roads, today more than 82 percent villages have road connectivity with the majority being in remote areas.”

Kovind on Aadhaar, Raising Minimum Wage & Simultaneous Elections

President Ram Nath Kovind said that the Government had increased the minimum wage of labourers by more than 40 percent.

President Ram Nath Kovind also claimed that the Aadhaar database and system had helped in securing the rights of the poor by eliminating middlemen. He added that at present, digital payments were being carried out in more than 400 schemes of the Government, lauding the digital india initiative as well.

The President also pitched for simultaneous elections to Parliament and state assemblies, saying there was a need to discuss and build a consensus among all parties on the possibility of holding simultaneous polls.

"There is need to discuss and build consensus among parties on the possibility of holding simultaneous elections for Parliament and the state assemblies," he said.

KEY EVENT

Jaitley Tables Economic Survey Bill in Lok Sabha

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tables Economic Survey Bill 2017-18 in Lok Sabha. The Economic Survey 2017-18 predicts India's GDP growth to be between 7-7.5 percent in 2018-19, up from 6.75 percent. It cites current high oil prices as a major point of concern. Services growth for FY18 likely to be at 8.3 percent. Employment, education, agriculture to be focus areas for the medium term, the report adds.

Lack of Data on Job Creation and Employment: Economic Survey

The survey states that a lack of clear job and employment data doesn’t allow for an estimate of job creation and whether the government has fulfilled its promises of job creation. However, the survey does add that new data points to an increase in jobs in the formal sector.

50 Percent Increase in Number of Taxpayers Following GST: CEA

Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramaniam said, “There has been a fifty percent increase in the number of indirect taxpayers. There has also been a large increase in voluntary registrations, especially by small enterprises that buy from large enterprises wanting to avail input tax credits.”

He added, that to maintain an upward pattern, the Government does not have to do anything radical, just finishing what it has started already would be a very ambitious and fantastic agenda to complete.

CEA Urges Caution Around Oil and Stock Prices in 2018-19

Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian outlined the policy agenda for the year 2018-19 in his address to the media. He said that the policy this year will focus on supporting agriculture, stabilising GST, and ensuring smooth privatisation of Air India. He also warned of a possible stall in the economy in light of rising oil prices and sharp corrections to stock prices.

Also Read : Economic Survey unveils 10 new facts about Indian economy

Economic Survey is Quite Optimistic: Niti Aayog VC

Rajiv Kumar, Niti Aayog VC said, “Economic Survey 2018 is quite optimistic as compared to previous years. It has reflected that rate of economic growth will increase & predicted that in coming year growth rate will be between 7-7.5 percent. My own estimate is that it will be more than this.”

Also Read : India to regain world's fastest growing economy title next year: Economic Survey

Why the Economic Survey Was Pink This Year

The pink-coloured Economic Survey document tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament, on Monday, 29 January, recommended that India must confront the societal meta-preference for a son, observing that the adverse sex ratio of females to males has led to 63 million "missing" women.

The colour of this year's survey cover was chosen as a symbol of support for the growing movement to end violence against women, which spans continents.

Also Read : Eco Survey Turns Pink, Asks Indians to Confront Son Preference

Economic Survey Shows We Are on a Growth Path: CII Director General

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industry said, “Economic Survey is saying that we have reasons to believe that we are on a strong growth path. Reforms which have taken place over the last few years have resulted in growth and the next year seems to be even stronger in terms of growth.”

He also said stabilisation of GST as said in Economic Survey is also very important.

Also Read : Union Budget 2018: A Fair Contract for the Farmer

Industry Urges Govt for GST Reforms, Lower Import Duties

Ahead of the Budget, industry chamber CII sought redressal of issues related to GST compliance including filing of returns, matching of invoices and getting timely input tax credit.

Also Read : The Budget Speech That Should, but Shall Never, be Read Out… Alas!

According to the chamber, simplification of GST compliances would result in higher number of returns filed, increased collection of revenues, and easier working capital management by trade and industry.

The Metal Recycling Association of India (MRAI) also urged the government to remove the 2.5 percent import duty on aluminium scrap in the upcoming budget for the financial year 2018-19.

The MRAI statement reads:

Aluminium Association of India (AAI) recently in a pre-budget recommendation to the Budget Committee has recommended an increase in Customs Duty on aluminium scrap from 2.5 to 10 percent. The increase in duty will have an adverse affect on small and medium players in the sector who make products such as alloys by recycling. We request the government to save small and medium players. Instead of raising the duty, it should abolish it and bring it down to zero.

Sonia Likely to Chair Opposition Meet After the Budget

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is likely to chair a meeting of Opposition leaders on Thursday evening after the Budget is tabled. They are expected to plan a joint strategy for the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament. According to sources, the meeting is slated to be held in the Parliament Library Building.

Hectic preparations are on to garner the support of all 17 parties that had come together during the presidential and vice presidential polls with Congress hopeful of a good gathering.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad is taking the lead in inviting the leaders. Among the parties likely to attend the meet are NCP, DMK, TMC, SP, NC, CPI(M), CPI, RJD, JMM, RSP, IUML and Kerala Congress.

Crucial issues like the instant triple talaq bill, the Supreme Court judges row and the recent communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh are likely to be discussed.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi is also likely to be present at the meeting along with top party leaders. Sonia Gandhi is, however, likely to chair the meeting in her capacity as Congress parliamentary party leader and UPA chief.

Sensex Ends Below 36,000-Mark Ahead of Budget

Key Indian equity indices on Wednesday recovered from their day's low to provisionally close in the red with the Nifty50 reclaiming the psychologically important 11,000-level.

The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) fell by 21.95 points or 0.20 percent to provisionally close (at 3.30 pm) at 11,027.70 points.

However, the Sensex closed below the 36,000-mark at 35,965.02 points, down 68.71 points or 0.19 percent from its previous close

FY16 GDP Growth Revised up to 8.2 Percent, FY17 Unchanged at 7.1 Percent: CSO

The Central Statistics Office, on Wednesday, revised the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate for 2015-16 to 8.2 percent from the earlier estimates of 8 percent and kept the 2016-17 growth unchanged at 7.1 percent.

The real GDP or GDP at constant (2011-12) prices for the years 2016-17 and 2015-16 stands at Rs 121.96 lakh crore and Rs 113.86 lakh crore respectively, showing growth of 7.1 percent during 2016-17 and 8.2 percent during 2015-16, the CSO said in a statement.

In terms of real GVA (gross value added), it said the GVA at constant (2011-12) basic prices grew 7.1 percent in 2016- 17, as against a growth of 8.1 percent in 2015-16.

The CSO on Wednesday released the first revised estimates of national account for 2016-17 along with second revised estimates for 2015-16 and third revised estimates for 2014-15 (with base year 2011-12).

The CSO said that the first revised estimates for 2016-17 have been compiled using industry-wise/institution-wise detailed information instead of using the benchmark-indicator method employed at the time of release of Provisional Estimates on 31 May 2017.

Jaitley Has Tough Task To Choose Between Populism & Fiscal Prudence

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with his colleagues a day before the Budget presentation.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with his colleagues a day before the Budget presentation.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@PIB_India)

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will on Thursday, 1 February, present the current NDA government's fifth and arguably his toughest Budget yet as he seeks to address agriculture distress, create jobs and boost growth while at the same time stick to fiscal prudence.

The Budget, in view of upcoming Assembly polls in eight states – including three major states ruled by the BJP – and general elections next year, may see new rural schemes and step up funding to existing programmes like MNREGA, rural housing, irrigation projects and crop insurance.

With the recent elections in Gujarat indicating erosion of BJP's rural vote base, Jaitley may also unveil incentives for the farm sector. Small businesses, which have traditionally formed the core support base of the BJP, too may get some sops to ease pain caused by the chaotic rollout of GST and demonetisation.

There is also an expectation that average citizen may get some relief in income tax by way of a raise in the exemption limit. Also on Jaitley's menu may be upping spending on infrastructure projects like highways and modernisation of railways.

Expected Itinerary for Annual Budget 2018

09:00 am: FM Jaitley will leave for Rashtrapati Bhawan from North Block

10:00 am: FM will reach Parliament House

10:15 am: Cabinet meeting at Parliament House

11:00 am: Arun Jaitley to present a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the Government of India for the year 2018-19.

04:00 pm: FM will address post Budget press conference at National Media Centre.

Mamata Banerjee Not to Attend Opposition Party Meeting Post Budget

Mamata Banerjee arrives to visit Darjeeling. 
Mamata Banerjee arrives to visit Darjeeling. 
(Photo: PTI)

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday, 31 January, that she would not attend Thursday's meeting of opposition parties called by Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.

Banerjee described it as a "routine meeting". “I will not be able to attend the meeting tomorrow because of some other preoccupation,” she said.

Gandhi is likely to chair the meeting of opposition leaders to plan a joint strategy for the Budget Session of Parliament.

The meeting is slated to be held after the presentation of the Union Budget by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Indian Budget Less Transparent: Anti-Corruption Watchdog Transparency International India

India's budget is considered "less transparent" as it provides limited information in the public domain, Transparency International India (TII) said on Wednesday, 31 January, adding that the lack of transparency would lead to severe economic and financial problems.

"Despite its utmost importance, the State Budget in India remains one of the most intractable of documents, incomprehensible for ordinary citizens, specialists and non-specialists alike, making it difficult for the citizenry to participate in shaping public policy," PTI reported quoting the anti-corruption watchdog.

"It is worth noting that on parameters of international standard on Budget transparency, the Indian Budget is considered as less transparent as it provides limited budget information in the public domain."

India scored 48 on 100 in the Open Budget Survey of 2017.

Govt May Bring Back Long-Term Capital Gains Tax on Equity

FM Arun Jaitley may reintroduce long-term capital gains tax to raise more revenue in the Budget. If that happens, the government will be able to levy tax on shares that are held for more than 12 months.

Brokerages like Kotak Securities are of the opinion that the Budget might make it harder for investors to claim exemptions on capital gains from equity investments, BloombergQuint reported.

Budget Will Benefit Common People: MoS Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla

MoS of Finance, Shiv Pratap Shukla.
MoS of Finance, Shiv Pratap Shukla.
(Photo: ANI)

Ahead of the Budget presentation, MoS of Finance, Shiv Pratap Shukla, told ANI, “It will be a good budget. It will be for the benefit of the common people.”

FM Arun Jaitley is expected to present the Budget at 11:00 am after the cabinet meeting in the Parliament.

Arun Jaitley Leaves for Finance Ministry in North Block

Budget 2018 Live Updates: Arun Jaitley will his colleagues in North block.
Budget 2018 Live Updates: Arun Jaitley will his colleagues in North block.
(Photo: ANI)

Arun Jaitley has left for the Finance Ministry in North block from where he will head to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

FM Arun Jaitley is Likely to Deliver Budget Speech in Hindi: Reports

Breaking tradition, FM Arun Jaitley is likely to deliver the Budget speech in Hindi, in a bid to connect with the aam aadmi, Deccan Chronicle reported.

By doing so, he will be the first Finance Minister since independence to deliver the Budget speech in Hindi.

Arun Jaitley Leaves for Parliament from North Block

Budget 2018 Live Updates: The customery budget suitcase in FM Arun Jaitley’s hand.
Budget 2018 Live Updates: The customery budget suitcase in FM Arun Jaitley’s hand.
(Photo: ANI)

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley leaves for the Parliament with the budget suitcase. He will be presenting the Union Budget in the Parliament at 11:00 am today.

Sensex, Nifty Open Higher Ahead of Budget Presentation

Ahead of budget presentation, Sensex gains 150 points to regain 36K-mark, Nifty up 46 points in early trade.

Arun Jaitley Meets President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan

As per tradition, FM Arun Jaitley meets President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan ahead of the budget presentation.

FM Jaitley Arrives at Parliament to Present Budget 2018

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley arrives at the Parliament to present Budget 2018 after meeting President Ram Nath Kovind in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

PM Modi Arrives in the Parliament Ahead of Budget

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Ram Vilas Paswan arrives at the parliament ahead of the budget presentation. Budget 2018 will be presented shortly after a cabinet meeting.

Cabinet Meeting Begins Ahead of Budget Presentation

Cabinet meeting begins inside Parliament ahead of the Union Budget 2018.

Arvind Subramaniam Has Given Diagnosis, Let's See if Govt is in Denial: Chidambaram

Ahead of the budget presentation, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram tweeted saying, “The CEA (Dr Arvind Subramaniam) has given his diagnosis. Let's see whether the patient (the government in charge of the economy) is still in denial or it will take corrective action.”

Budget Session Begins

The first day of Budget Session has begun. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will be delivering his fifth budget speech shortly.

Arun Jaitley Begins Presenting Budget 2018

In the introduction to his speech Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stressed on the State’s push for good governance, adding that PM Modi promised to build “a strong and confident new India”. Indian economy is now 2.5 trillion dollar economy in the world and will very soon become the fifth largest economy, he said.

“There was a time when corruption was the norm. But today's youth wants to lead a life on honesty. There is a premium on honesty...The government led by PM Modi have successfully implemented a series of structural reforms...Indian economy has performed very well since our government took over in May 2014. It is now the seventh largest in the world,” Jaitley said.

The economy is expected to grow at 7.2-7.5% in the second half of 2018-19, Jaitley said.

Govt Committed to the Welfare of Farmers: Jaitley

There was an uproar in the Parliament from the opposition, as FM Jaitley spoke on agricultural reforms.

Jaitley said the government is committed to the welfare of farmers. PM Modi had promised to double the income of the farmers by 2020.

MSP of All Crops Shall be Increased to At Least 1.5 Times of Production Cost: FM

“We had sought to effect a paradigm shift in farm sector. I am very happy to announce that minimum support price has been set at 1.5 times the production cost for kharif crops,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. He said the government will focus on farm and non-form employment generation.

If the prices are lower than MSP then the government will have to ensure that farmers get MSP or an apt price for their products.

Govt Proposes to Launch 'Operation Green'

The government proposed to allocate Rs 500 crore for ‘Operation Green’ in a move to focus on crop sustenance, agricultural logistics.

Jaitley said an Agri-Market Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 2000 crore will be set up for developing agricultural markets.

He proposed the launch of a restructured national bamboo mission, allocating Rs 1290 crore to promote the bamboo sector. The govt also promised Rs 10,000 crore to the fisheries and animal husbandry sector.

Proposal to Increase Target of Providing Free LPG to 8 Cr Poor Women

Jaitley proposes to increase the target of providing free LPG connections to 8 crore to poor women.

2 Cr More Toilets Under Swachh Bharat Mission

In the presentation, Jaitley said that the government plans to construct 2 Crore more toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana to Provide Power for All

The Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana has been launched for providing power for all, Jaitley announced.
The Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana has been launched for providing power for all, Jaitley announced.
(Photo: Natisha Mallick/The Quint)

The Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana has been launched to provide power for all, Jaitley announced.

14.34 Lakh Crores for Rural Infrasctructure

Arun Jaitley said that his government will allocate Rs 14.34 lakh crore rupees to be spent for rural infrastructure. “By 2022, every block with more than 50 percent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal people will have a model residential school,” he said.

Special Scheme to Subsidise Machinery for Management of Crop Residue

“Air Pollution in Delhi NCR is a cause for concern. A special scheme will be implemented to support governments of Haryana, Punjab, UP and Delhi NCT to address it and subsidize machinery for management of crop residue,” Jaitley said.

National Health Protection Protection Scheme for 10 Crore Families

“We are launching a flagship National Health Protection Scheme — Rashtriya Samaj Beema Yojana to cover 10 crore poor families which will have approximately 50 crore beneficiaries. By providing upto Rs 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary hospitalisation. This will be the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme,” Jaitley announced.

The Finance Minister said 24 new government medical colleges and hospitals is to be set up by upgrading existing district hospitals, adding that the government will allocate Rs 600 crore to provide nutritional support for tuberculosis patients.

Improving Quality of Education in the Country

The government also stressed on improving the quality of education in the country. Below are a few of the key announcements:

  • Investment of Rs 1 Lakh Crore on Education Infra over 4 years
  • Amended RTE Act to train 13 lakh teachers

Additionally, he announced an integrated B-Ed programmed for aspiring teachers.

Measures to be Announced to Help Deal With NPAs of SMEs

MSMEs are a major engine of growth and employment, Jaitley said, adding that the govt will work towards resolving NPAs of MSMEs.

He also said that the centre will aid VC/Angel investors in startups.

EPF Contribution for Women Reduced to 8% for First 3 Years of Employment

EPF contribution for women has been reduced to 8 percent for the first 3 years of employment and 12 percent government contribution to EPF in sectors employing large number of people. However, there will be no changes in employer contribution.

Indian Markets Edge Higher on Budget Announcements

Indian equity benchmarks held on to gains led by capital goods and FMCG shares as government focuses on rural and infrastructural push in Budget, BloombergQuint reported.

The S&P BSE Sensex is up 0.35 percent or 127 points to 36,092 and the NSE Nifty 50 Index has gained 0.34 percent to 11,068.

Govt Proposes Construction of Tunnel Under Se-La Pass

The government proposed the construction of tunnel under the Se-La pass in Arunachal Pradesh to develop connectivity.

AMRUT Program to Focus Water Supply to All Households in 500 Cities

The government announced AMRUT program to focus on water supply to all households in 500 cities. Water supply contracts for 494 projects worth Rs 19,428 core will be awarded.

Allocation of Rs 1.48 Lakh Crores to Railways

The finance ministry has suggested the allocation of Rs 1.48 Lakh Crore to Railways. “12,000 wagons, 5160 coaches and 700 locomotives are being procured. There is significant achievements of physical targets by Railways,” Jaitley said. Moreover, all stations with more than 25,000 footfall will have escalators.

The government will also spend around Rs 40,000 crore on upgrading the Mumbai’s local train systems.

The government also announced its intention to multiply India's 124 airports by 5 times.

Government Does Not Consider Cryptocurrencies As Legal Tender

“The government does not consider cryptocurrency as legal tender and will make all efforts to eliminate it,” Jaitley told the Parliament

Govt Insurance Companies to be Merged into Single Entity

Government insurance companies to be merged into a single entity, and subsequently listed in the stock exchange as part of the disinvestment programme.

FY19 Divestment Target Pegged at Rs 80,000 crore

FY19 divestment target has been set at Rs 80,000 crore. FY18 divestment estimate revised to Rs 1 lakh crore.

Pay Hike for President, VP and Governor

The salary of the President, Vice-President and Governors has been revised to Rs 5 lakh, Rs 4 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh respectively.

He also proposed inflation-linked revision of salaries of MPs.

Fiscal Deficit for FY18 Pegged at 3.5%

Projected fiscal deficit for 2018 is pegged at 3.5 percent of GDP, while it stands at 3.3 percent of GDP for 2019, Jaitley said.

Farmer Producer Companies to Get 100% Tax Deduction for 5 Yrs

100% tax deduction for first five years have been suggested for companies registered as farmer producer companies with a turnover of Rs 100 crore and above.

Jaitley Lauds Tax Payers

The tax payer base has risen from Rs 6.47 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 8.27 crore in 2016-17. Tax returns increased by 41 percent this year. The FM also said that the Modi government will continue its drive to contain black money.

No Change in IT Slabs, Standard Deduction of Rs 40,000 Proposed

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made no changes in the Income Tax slabs.

“The government has made many positive changes in the personal income tax rates applicable to individuals in the last three years, therefore I do not wish to make any changes to this,” Jaitley said.

He announced a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for salaried taxpayers, in lieu of transport and medical reimbursements for salaried employees.

Sensex Down by 438.79 Points

Sensex is currently at 35,526.23, down by 438.79 points.

Corporate Tax Rate Cut to 25%

A reduced corporate tax of 25 percent for companies with turnover of Rs 250 crore has been proposed to be extended.

Custom Duty on Mobile Phones Increased to 20%

The custom duty on mobile phones saw an upward revision of 20 percent from 15 percent as a measure to promote jobs.

House Adjourned

The Lok Sabha has been adjourned for the day.

PM Modi Hails Jaitley's MSP Move to Aid Farmers

“From food processing to fiber optics, roads to shipping, youth to senior citizen, rural India to Ayushmaan Bharat, Digital India to Start Up India, this budget strengthens hopes and aspirations of crores of Indians,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the budget.

Farmers, Dalits, tribal communities will gain from this Budget, Modi said.

PM Modi congratulated the Finance Minister for the decision on the revised Minimum Support Price. “I am sure it will help the farmers tremendously,” he said.

2018-19 Budget Key Numbers & Estimates

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget at Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget at Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday
(Photo Courtesy: PIB)

The Press Information Bureau released a list of key numbers from the past two financial years to highlight what the impact of the 2018-19 Union budget could be in the upcoming year.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Addresses the Media After Presenting the Budget

“Budget blends fiscal prudence with the requirements and needs to the economy,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressing the media at National Media Centre in New Delhi.

He said the fiscal deficit breached the set target of 3.2 percent to 3.5 percent as GST stabilisation will take time.

Addressing the concerns of middle-class in the Budget, Jaitley said, “Step by step, in every budget, I have been putting surplus money in the hands of the middle-class taxpayer.”

He added, “The budget proposes an institutional mechanism to fix the emoluments of the elected members, thereby addressing the criticism that they fix their own salaries.”

Chidambaram Slams Jaitley's Budget, Says Farm Sector Will Continue to Suffer

MP and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, AICC Communications in charge Randeep Surjewala, and Rajasthan Congress General Secretary Avinash Pandey hold a press conference about Rajasthan Bypoll and Budget 2018.

Chidambaram slammed Jaitley’s Budget and said, “Farm sector stress will continue. Medical health care is a big jumla. Nothing in the budget to boost private investment. No tax relief to the average tax payer. Is the FM serious?”

He added, “I did not hear any measure to boost exports, as the Govt has run out of ideas. FM has imposed additional custom duties to restrict imports.The PM's speech at and the spirit of Davos has been forgotten within a few days.”

Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Other Congress Leaders Hold Opposition Party Meet

Sonia Gandhi, Former PM Manmohan Singh and other leaders arrive at Parliament Library Building for the meeting of the opposition parties.

Modi and other BJP Leaders Arrive For BJP Parliamentary Meet

BJP President Amit Shah, Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh arrive for the BJP Parliamentary party meeting.

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