Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented his Budget for the year 2018-19 in Parliament on February 1, 2018.  The budget is largely focused on uplift of agricultural sector, along with major push to healthcare and education sectors in the country. The FM claimed that government has worked sincerely, and without weighing the political costs, hoping that benefits are delivered to people at their doorsteps.  This year’s Budget will particularly focus on agriculture. The finance minister also pointed out that India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. He said that Indian economy has performed very well since our government took over in May 2014. He also recalled the measures — like GST, FDI, demonetisation, etc. — taken by the NDA government in the past four years that have impacted the economy of the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised his finance minister Arun Jaitley for delivering a budget that is “farmer friendly, common citizen friendly, business environment-friendly and development friendly.”

Major Highlights:

  • PAN to be used as Unique Entity Number for non- individuals from April 1. Govt makes PAN mandatory for any entity entering into a financial transaction of Rs 2.5 lakh or more
  • No changes in personal income tax slabs.
  • FM Jaitley proposes to introduce tax on distributed income by equity oriented mutual funds at 10 per cent.
  • Salaried tax-payers to get a standard deduction of ₹40,000 in lieu of transport allowance and “other medical expenses”.
  • ₹2,000-crore fund for development of agri markets.
  • Companies with turnover of up to Rs 250 crore to be taxed at 25 per cent.
  • Health and education cess has been increased to 4 per cent.
  • Electronic IT assessment will be rolled out across the country, leading to greater efficiency and transparency:
  • All senior citizens will now be able to claim benefit of a deduction of ₹50,000 for any medical insurance.
  • For critical illnesses, the deduction has been increased to ₹1,00,000.
  • Free power connections to 4 crore homes under Saubhagya Yojana.
  • Eight crore free gas connections for poor women through Ujjwala Yojana.
  • to implement minimum support price for all crops; It is hiked to 1.5 times of production costs.
  • FM says governments’s emphasis is on generating higher benefits and productive employment for the farmers:
  • Target of 3 lakh crore for lending under PM Mudra Yojana.
  • Government aims to bring 60 crore bank accounts under the Jan Dhan Yojana.
  • FM says the Direct Benefit Transfer system of India is a success story that is reiterated across the world.
  • Government to contribute 12 per cent of EPF contribution for new employees in all sectors.
  • FM proposes a fiscal deficit of 3.3% of GDP for 2018-19.
  • Govt’s health scheme to cover 10 crore poor families is world’s largest government-funded health protection scheme.
  • New flagship National Health Protection Scheme, providing a health insurance cover of ₹5 lakh per family per year announced.
  • Rs 600 crore allocated to Tuberculosis patients undergoing treatment.
  • 5 lakh WiFi hotspots will be set up in rural areas to provide easy internet access.
  • Eklavya schools to be started for Scheduled Tribe populations.
  • To tackle brain drain, Jaitley announces scheme to identify bright students pursuing B Tech in premiere engineering institutes, and providing them higher-education opportunities in the IITs and IISc. These students will receive handsome fellowships, and will be expected to dedicate a few hours to teach in higher education institutions weekly.
  • FM proposed integrated BEd programme for teachers: “training of teachers during service is essential.” Technology will be the biggest driver in improving the quality of education.
  • Budget allocates money for social security and protection programme for all widows and orphaned children.
  • Govt announces 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.
  • FM proposes a sum of Rs 500 crore for ‘Operation Green’ on the lines of ‘Operation Flood’.
  • Air pollution in Delhi-NCR has been a cause of concern, govt has proposed subsidised machinery for in-situ management of crop residue in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT Delhi.
  • Govt of India will take necessary measures to put in place measures for the state government to purchase surplus solar power produced by local farmers at sutiable prices.
  • Infrastructure and MSMES ARE the growth driver of economy
  • Railway capex for 2018-19 set at ₹1.48 lakh crore.
  • FM says that 4,000 km of new railway track will be laid down by 2019.
  • All railways stations with footfall more than 25,000 to have escalators.
  • The government will undertake redevelopment of 600 major railway stations across the country.
  • Specialised railway university to be set up at Vadodara.
  • Airport capacity to be hiked to handle 1 billion trips every year.
  • National Heritage City Development Augmentation Scheme has been undertaken to preserve and protect heritage cities in the country.
  • Disinvestment target for 2017-18 has been exceeded and will reach Rs 1 lakh crore. Target for 2018-19 is Rs 80,000 crore.
  • Mobile phones set to become costlier as custom duty on them has been increased to 20 per cent.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposes revising emoluments as per the following structure:– Rs 5 lakh for the President of India
    — Rs 4 lakh for the Vice President
    — Rs 3.5 lakh for the Governors
  • Automatic revision of emoluments parliamentarians every five years, pegged to inflation.
  • Government will take all steps to eliminate use of cryptocurrencies which are funding illegitimate transactions.
  • NITI Aayog will establish a national programme to direct our efforts in the area of Artificial Intelligence towards national development.

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