"Clearly, the government has not been able to meet people's expectations. It is an understandable and safe budget," said The Quint’s Editor-in-Chief Raghav Bahl on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s final full Budget ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He added that it was difficult for the government to follow through with any "transformational policy" in the last leg of its tenure.
Bahl added that it was right for the various budgets across the country to focus on rural areas and said it will be "dramatic" if the government gives a 50 percent margin on minimum support price.
“It will be dramatic if they actually give a margin of 50 percent on minimum support price. It may become inflationary. The government cannot guarantee it, though there may be conditions to it,” said Bahl.
Jaitley on Thursday announced that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for notified kharif crops will be 1.5 times the input cost – a hike of around five percent over last year.
Presenting the Union Budget for 2018-19, Jaitley said the government would spend more on agriculture, livelihood and infrastructure in rural areas, and increase funds for crop insurance, rural roads and irrigation besides setting higher targets for farm credit.
With a total budgetary outlay of Rs 2,01,933 crore for agriculture and rural development, the government has emphasised that development of the food processing, dairy and fishery sectors will enhance farmers' income.
Bahl pointed out that the proposed Rs 5 lakh hospital insurance to 10 crore households was another important scheme.
Claiming that the initiative would take healthcare protection to a new aspirational level, Jaitley said it was part of Ayushman Bharat and adequate funds will be provided for it to be smoothly implemented. Under Ayushman Bharat, the government has also decided to provide Rs 1,200 crore for 1.5 lakh health wellness centres across the nation.
Bahl, however, said its implementation would be difficult.
"I guess it will be via insurance premium. It is difficult to implement these schemes. It also takes a long time to implement it. People should not expect it from tomorrow."
He said it was important for the government to focus on education, agriculture and health as they ensure that the country's economy gets a "lot of strength".