Union Budget 2017 gets a thumbs up from Narendra Modi govt ministers

New Delhi: Several ministers on Wednesday hailed the Union Budget as "inspiring" and "transformational", contending that it will give a strong push to infrastructure sector, bring about electoral reforms and benefit the farmers, poor and the middle class.

The ministers also lauded Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for offering "many" concessions to honest taxpayers, while tightening the noose around those evading taxes and fleeing the country. They said the big push given to the infrastructure sector will transform rural India.
With the Budget announcing an electoral reform wherein political parties can receive a maximum of Rs 2,000 in cash from one source as donations, the ministers took an apparent dig at the Opposition saying those parties running on black money will become "extremely poor".

"It's a fine exercise taken up by the finance minister. It's very inspiring, bold steps has been announced. Particularly the political funding has been made transparent. People will be happy. Some political parties will become poor. That is why our opponents are saying the Budget is anti-poor. The Congress and other leaders said this budget is anti-poor. It means that these parties which were being run on
black money, they will become extremely poor," Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters outside Parliament.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tabling the Union Budget for 2017-18 in the Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tabling the Union Budget for 2017-18 in the Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

He said that the highlight of this budget is that one cannot contribute in cash more than Rs 2,000 to a political party and honest people who want to donate to honest parties, political bonds have been allowed which he termed as a "big reform". He said that highest allocation in the history of the country has been given to MNREGA and honest taxpayers have been rewarded. He said that with more people coming under tax net, the tax rates are coming down.

"More money coming into the system means more money will be available for spending on welfare measures for the poor. The housing sector which has been asking for infrastructure status for years and I have been asking the finance minister for two-and-a-half years, by personally talking to him and writing to him, finance minister has agreed to give the infrastructure status," Naidu said.

He said that infrastructure and agriculture has been given maximum priority by the prime minister and the Budget gives priority to villages, farmers, poor, women, youth and middle class.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju said that the budget is focused on rural infrastructure, housing and roads. "It will transform rural India and urban as well in terms enhancing the capacity of building infrastructure. It is a great relief to the common masses and it will transform the economy of the nation. At the same time, the reform in taxation is great. From the point of view of electoral reforms, this budget
has shown a clear way. Political parties have to transform itself. In democracy, political parties are the essence of the whole system. The transparency in which the political parties have to manage their funding system, has been given a great lift in this budget," he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said this Budget clearly shows and proves BJP's agenda of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'. "On one side the Budget focuses on development in rural areas and farmers. At the same time, measures have also been announced to make small businesses to become competitive in the global market. Transparency, development, nation building are keystones of this historic budget. It again shows our government's commitment to eliminate corruption and black money from the system," Kumar said.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the electoral reforms is a very important step in bringing transparency in political funding.
"But more importantly finance minister has ensured many concessions to honest tax payers. Now it's only five percent tax, it is the lowest bracket we have ever imagined. And so (those earning) up to Rs five lakh, all should come and declare their income that is the intent of this revolutionary step. Demonetisation has resulted in bringing all the money into various accounts. Therefore, we can all track, issue
notices. So things are on the move. Thirty five percent advance tax increase is the success of demonetisation," he said.

Union minister Smriti Irani described the Budget to be "multi-dimensional". The push given to the infrastructure sector with the highest ever allocation is a testimony to the government's commitment to ensure that 'Make in India' is complimented by the success of infrastructure sector.

"The push given to agriculture and allied sector by enhanced allocation is also an indication that with the strengthening of the rural economy we will see prosperous families and homes across the nation. Additionally, the push given to the SC plan and the enhancement of allocation of SC plan is an indicative that the government is ensuring the strengthening of opportunities for those who are under privileged," she said.

Irani said being a woman, she was "extremely buoyant" with the fact that Mudra Yojana had 70 percent beneficiaries as women and the finance minister's announcement that its allocation is also being doubled is an indication that women who want to be entrepreneurs in their own right will have substantial support from the government.

"It (reform in political funding) is an additional chapter in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by prime minister, the electoral bonds announcement is indicative of the fact that the government is committed to ensuring transparency in even donations given to political parties," Irani said.

Asked about the finance minister's statement that legislative changes will be made to confiscate economic assets of those who flee the country after evading taxes, she said it is a reference to every individual who tested the government's patience.

"On issues of propriety, the government gave ample opportunities to those who evaded the law. The very fact that the government is coming down strongly on those who have evaded the system, those who have bolstered corruption, I think for us today, budget in itself is a clear message that if you evade the system the government will through law will prevail upon you and ensure justice to those who have been rendered injustice by such elements," she said.

Praising the Budget, Union minister Ramvilas Paswan said it was "very positive" and cited measures taken on election funding, affordable housing besides tax benefits for middle class and social security schemes to praise.

"Budget fulfills aspirations of farmers, youth, poor, women and weaker sections. It will create balance between rural India and urban India. It is focused on nation building and infrastructure growth and is full of commitment to socio-economic political reforms," he said.

Dubbing the Budget as a "gazette of empowerment of poor and weaker sections", Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the "constructive and transformative" financial plan is full of commitment to socio-economic educational reforms.

Commenting on Rahul Gandhi's remark on Tuesday that the Centre has been a failure on the job creation front, Union minister Rijiju said the Congress vice-president does not understand how jobs are created.

"There is a massive increase in funding for rural infrastructure. That will create jobs. Jobs will not come without these activities being enhanced. This budget is there to provide employment opportunities to youth, women especially in the rural areas," he said.

Updated Date: Feb 01, 2017 18:43 PM

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