Finance Minister Mr Piyush Goyal presented the government’s interim budget on 1st Feb, ’19 against the backdrop of the LS elections. He left no stone unturned in praising the achievements of the Government from Make in India and Digital India to even Demonetization and GST. Addressing the grievances of farmers, workers and the middle class alike, the Budget definitely scores as a populist election budget.
Let us look at some major highlights of the Budget.
Progress in the Agrarian Sector
Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land up to 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs 6,000 per year. The scheme benefits a whopping 12 crore small and marginal farmer families. Though, some people might not find the compensation to be huge, it definitely brings some relief to the farmers. More important is the inclusivity of this scheme, as it brings a large number of digressed under its umbrella. Also, it shows the Government’s high confidence in the direct disbursement mechanism.
Uplifting the Unorganized
In addition to health coverage and life and disability schemes, another nationwide scheme called “Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan Yojna” has been launched for the unorganized sector workers with monthly income up to Rs15,000. This pension scheme shall provide them with an assured monthly pension of Rs 3,000 from the age of 60 years on a monthly contribution of a small affordable amount during their working age. The scheme covers around 10 crore unorganized workers and labourers ranging from construction workers and industry labour to street vendors. This will definitely help the workers maintain a decent standard of living through a constant income as they approach old-age.
Design credits: Khushal (Team Womenite)
Cheer for the Common Man
Individual taxpayers having taxable annual income up to Rs 5 lakhs will get full tax rebate and therefore will not be required to pay any income tax. Also, notional rent up to two houses will not be taxed and benefit of capital gains exemption, up to 2 crores, has to been extended to 2 houses. These taxation policies clearly solve the practical problems of the common man. The lowering of the tax burden on the middle class is a welcome move and was long due.
A Delight for MSMEs too
Good and service tax-registered SME units will get 2% interest rebate on an incremental loan of Rs 1 crore. The requirement of sourcing from SMEs by government enterprises has been increased to 25%. Of this, the material to the extent of at least 3% will be sourced from women-owned SMEs. This is a great move to strengthen the MSMEs as well as empower women who run small businesses.
The Government aims to make 1 lakh villages digital over the next five years by enhancing the digital infrastructure. This will be a huge step in improving education and healthcare in remote areas by reducing the urban-rural gap. The FM also deliberated upon the impact of Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) as this has helped ensure the poor and middle class receive the benefits of government schemes directly in their bank accounts by eliminating middlemen. Though, this seems to be a great initiative, most of the Jan Dhan accounts are inactive. The policy needs to focus on quality and not just numbers.
Tapping the Technology
In order to take the benefits of artificial intelligence and related technologies to the people, the government aims to establish a National Centre on Artificial Intelligence as a hub along with centres of excellence. If implemented properly, this can be a big boost to tech-startups in India.
Article credits: Arushi