— Niharika Mishra
Budget 2018: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the much-awaited Union Budget 2018 on February 1. The 2018 Budget is India’s first after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in June last year.
Here are the major key takeaways:
- Electronic IT assessment will be rolled out across the country for better efficiency and transparency.
- Customs duty on mobile phones have been increased to 20 percent from 15 percent, set to become dearer in the days to come
- The government will expand the capacity of airports by five times to cater to one billion trips a year. Jaitley said the capacity of all 124 airports that function under the Airports Authority of India will be expanded. The regional air connectivity scheme (UDAN) shall be expanded to connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads.
- To win over rural voters ahead of the upcoming assembly polls, Rs 16,000 crore will be spent on providing electrical connection to nearly four crore poor households.
- Eight crore poor families will get free gas connections under Ujjwala scheme. FM said Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJBY) to be expanded to all poor households.
- In a move to regulate the cryptocurrency market in India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley cleared that it is not legal tender and it will discourage its use. However, he told that the government will look at the utilisation of blockchain technology.
- Health and education cess have been increased to 4 percent.
- For senior citizens, exemption of interest income on bank deposits raised to Rs 50,000
- The government does not propose any changes in tax slabs for the salaried class this year.
- Standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for salaried employees in lieu of transport and medical expenses
- A scheme to identify bright students pursuing B Tech in premier engineering institutes, and providing them higher-education opportunities in the IITs and IISc to curb brain drain.
- Niti Aayog will establish a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence, FM said
- Rs 3,794 crore given to MSMEs last year for mass formalization.
- The world’s largest government-funded universal healthcare programme — National Health Protection Scheme announced.
- FM targets 2018/19 fiscal deficit at 3.3 percent of GDP, estimates current year at 3.5 percent.
Key takeaways of Railway Budget:
After witnessing massive accidents, the budget allocation for the Railways will focus on safety, maintenance of railway tracks, increase in use of technology and fog safety devices.
- The government will spend Rs 1 lakh 48 thousand crores and the focus will be on safety and infrastructural development, the Finance Minister added.
Foundations of Rail Budget include:
- Strengthening Railway network
- Safety first policy
- Increasing usage of technology
- All trains to have Wi-Fi, CCTV, and modern facilities
- All the unmanned railway crossings will be eliminated
- All the railway stations with more than 25,000 footfall to have lifts
- CCTV cameras and Wi-Fi will be installed on all trains and stations
- Escalators will be installed at stations with 25,000-plus footfall
- 4,267 unmanned railway crossings on broad gauge routes will be eliminated in the next two years
- An institute will be coming up in Vadodara to train the manpower required for the high-speed railway projects, FM added.
Middle class neglected?
The salaried class did not get any relief as the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech has not announced any change in income tax. However, to make things worse, Jaitley on Thursday announced a hike in customs duty on mobile phones to 20 percent from 15 percent.
Kahan se aate h yeh log?
Soon, after the Budget, Twitterati got berserk with the announcements and flooded the social media with several memes. From crime master gogo to Rajpal Yadav, get ready to witness everything:
(Image Courtesy: Twitter)
A Budget for ‘Babus’?
Budget 2018 increases the salary of President by 200 percent to Rs 5 lakh per month from Rs 1.5 lakh. The Vice-President’s salary will increase to Rs 4 lakh a month from the existing Rs 1.10 lakh a month.
The increase has also impacted the salary of the Governor who would now earn a salary of Rs 3.5 lakh per month.