Jaitley scripts ‘awesome ninesome’ to transform India
The Finance Minister began his speech, saying that India was a bright spot in the global economy in difficult times. “I am presenting the Budget when the global economy is in crisis,” Jaitley said in his first set of remarks, adding that India, despite the gloom in the world economy, was turning difficulties into opportunities.
Presenting his third consecutive Budget, the Finance Minister said that the government was firm on its course towards fiscal consolidation without compromising on its development agenda. He set the total allocation at Rs 47,912 crore for agriculture, farmers’ welfare and irrigation, doubling from the previous investments.
Shifting his priority to healthcare, the Finance Minister also announced a new health protection ccheme that will provide health cover up to Rs 1 lakh per family and additional Rs 30,000 for senior citizens.
Referring to the adverse impact on women’s health due to chulha (earthen stove), the minister said the government will provide free LPG connections to 1.5 crore BPL households in the name of woman member. It is expected to continue for two more years to cover at least 5 crore households in total.
In an attempt to bring qualitative change in higher education, the Finance Minister also announced to set up a Higher Education Financing Authority, with an initial capital base of Rs 1,000 crore. The government has also decided to develop 10 public and 10 private institutions as world-class Teaching and Research Institutions.
Aiming to double farmers’ income by 2022, the Finance Minister announced an allocation of nearly Rs 36,000 crore for the farm sector, while raising the agri-credit target to Rs 9 lakh crore for the next fiscal. While making no change in personal Income Tax slabs in the Union Budget, Jaitley announced deduction for additional interests of Rs 50,000 per annum for loans up to Rs 35 lakh sanctioned in 2016-17 for first time home buyers, where house costs don’t exceed Rs 50 lakh.
Jaitley also proposed to increase the limit of deduction of rent paid from Rs 24,000 per annum to Rs 60,000 spelling respite to those who don’t own any house and live in rented accommodation. For those earning less than Rs 5 lakh per annum, the FM announced to raise the ceiling of tax rebate from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 giving an additional relief of Rs 3,000 in their tax liability.