Friday, 23 February, 2018

Finances 2018: Arun Jaitley doubles spends for 'Digital'

Finance minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Finance minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi on Friday. PTI
Nellie Chapman | 03 February, 2018, 15:01

"To have a stressed agriculture sector and ramshackle infrastructure does not serve the country's interests", Jaitley said, adding that the farm sector had been under "a lot of stress for the last seven to eight years".

This lack of success has been underlined with by-election results in Rajasthan where the BJP is in power. The rival Congress Party slammed the Budget as "a failure".

A health scheme that covers 100 million poor families is among the measures, aimed at disgruntled voters ahead of elections next year, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek re-election.

In a statement released by the Kolkata-based Breakthrough Science Society that had organised the "India March for Science" protest on August 9 a year ago, demanding greater financial support for science, technology and education, the scientists said, "The inflation rate (consumer price index) is now around 5 per cent". Jaitley said the country was "firmly on course" to exceed 8 percent.

He may have good reasons for failing to meet the target, thanks to the effects of the goods and services tax (GST), a shortfall in non-tax revenues and overspending under revenue expenditure. If assuming the model to be insurance led, the premium shrink with the increase in a number of policyholders, he said at an event organised by Open magazine. However, a majority of the people's total earnings are below the tax threshold. For 2018-19, the deficit target has been set higher, at 3.3 per cent, against the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act target of three per cent. "Secondly, if we have to give any more benefits, it should go to the salaried class now", said Adhia, who is also the revenue secretary.

That could well be because the expenditure numbers for many of these social sector schemes appear to be an underestimation. Government is seriously concerned about such impoverishment of poor and vulnerable families. Each family will get free insurance of up to Rs 500,000 (Rs 5 lakh) fully paid for by the government, on the lines of Obamacare. As the government's ETF Bharat-22 raised Rs 14,500 crore, the finance ministry will continue to come up with more such offers including debt ETF in FY19, he said. It is expected to impact about 50 crore people. In this budget, we have also reduced the corporate taxes that MSMEs owe. The survey is trying to improve the jobs outlook by including occupations in what is called the informal sector.

Jaitley said measures to address bad loans of small and medium enterprises would be announced soon. In the coming year, the government plans to achieve a target of 3.3%, surely a case of misplaced optimism. The Airports Authority of India now has 124 airports, and the Finance Minister said that this number would be expanded by five times.

He said he had not given major relief to the middle class because the government has already done enough in the past Budget and will further provide succour in the future depending on fiscal space."India faces a serious challenge in terms of compliances".

Generally, countries have different policies regarding cryptocurrencies and are looking into either banning them or legalizing cryptocurrency payments by enforcing the same taxes and reporting obligations as for traditional currency.

Overall, the budget has caused little excitement.