The Budget is being hailed as progressive and not a populist one. Individuals with taxable income less than Rs 5 lakh won’t have to pay any tax. People with much higher gross income can also bring their taxable income to below Rs 5 lakh and become tax-exempt. This is expected to benefit 3 crore taxpayers.
Raising of tax exemption limit to Rs 5 lakh was a demand even before this government came to power. This move to give relief to individuals with taxable income less than Rs 5 lakh is as far from being populist as anything can be because more disposable income in the hands of people will ensure more savings and investments. People’s purchasing power will rise leading to more money flowing into the economy. This will result in more jobs and higher incomes for many.
Standard deduction for salaried class has been increased from Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 along with interest income in post offices and banks increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000. Income tax relief on notional rent from unsold houses has been extended from 1 year to 2 years.
One very important move is that income tax returns will now be processed within 24 hours and refunds will be initiated immediately.
Farmers with land up to 2 hectares will be given Rs 6,000 annually in three equal instalments. A direct transfer into the bank accounts of small farmers isn’t a ‘dole’; it is something that can be very crucial to their sustainability. Here’s a fact that’ll highlight the importance of the same. In the Economic Survey of 2018, it was said that the average income of a farmer was Rs 77,976 per year. A Rs 6,000 aid per year—approximately 8 percent of the income—seems very significant now.
Farmers can buy seeds or fertilizers with the money. A direct transfer involves no middlemen. Also, this transfer isn’t meant as a substitute for farmer income but just as an aid. Add to this the Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Health Card scheme, expansion of drip irrigation, eNAM and many other steps by the Modi government and one can see that the government is aiming at holistic growth of farmers.
Farmers affected by natural calamities will get 2 percent interest subvention and an additional 3 percent interest subvention upon timely repayment of loan. Those farmers pursuing animal husbandry and fisheries jobs will get 2 percent interest subvention through Kisan credit cards.
Some other crucial announcements were made one of which was that the defence Budget for the upcoming year will be Rs 3 lakh crore and additional funds will be given if needed.
Businesses with annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore will be allowed to file returns quarterly, and ways to reduce GST for homebuyers will be worked upon.
One major move was to secure the livelihood of workers in the unorganised sector. Beneficiaries of the newly announced Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana for unorganised workers with income up to Rs 15,000 per month will get Rs 3,000 per month pension after retirement on a contribution of Rs 100 per month. Gratuity limit was increased to 30 lakh.
The Modi government has had immense focus on rural areas. Rs 60,000 crore allocation for MNREGA and Rs 19,000 crore for Gram Sadak Yojana. The government will create 100,000 digital villages.
One issue that the Modi government was often wrongly blamed for was tax terrorism. Piyush Goyal clarified on this brilliantly. He said that as many as 99.54 percent returns had been accepted without any scrutiny. If the government was of the nature to doubt the common man or scrutinize even the smallest of anomalies then this wouldn’t have happened.
The Budget was pro-people, one that alleviated many pains and gave many hopes for a bright future. It was fiscally prudent and kept interests of all the segments in mind.
(The writer is author of the book ‘Rebuilding India’ on the Narendra Modi years in the PMO)
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Updated Date: Feb 02, 2019 12:36:01 IST