Highlights of Budget 2018-19

Finance Minister presents Union Budget 2018-19 in Parliament

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents his Budget for the year 2018-19 in Parliament. The budget is largely focused on uplift of agricultural sector, along with major push to healthcare and education sectors in the country. The Budget of 2018 is India’s first after the implementation of the Goods and Services tax (GST) in June last year. Below are Highlights of Budget 2018-19.  

The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley departs from North Block to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House, along with the Minister of State for Finance and Shipping, Shri P. Radhakrishnan, the Minister of State for Finance, Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla and the senior officials to present the General Budget 2018-19, in New Delhi on February 01, 2018.
The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley departs from North Block to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House, along with the Minister of State for Finance and Shipping, Shri P. Radhakrishnan, the Minister of State for Finance, Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla and the senior officials to present the General Budget 2018-19, in New Delhi on February 01, 2018.

Highlights of the Budget

* PAN to be used as Unique Entity Number for non- individuals from April 1.

* Govt makes PAN mandatory for any entity entering into a financial transaction of Rs 2.5 lakh or more.

* This budget will accelerate economic growth, it is focused on all sectors: PM Modi

* Prime Minister Narendra Modi praises his finance minister Arun Jaitley for delivering a budget that is “farmer friendly, common citizen friendly, business environment-friendly and development friendly.”

* Govt’s health scheme to cover 10 crore poor families is world’s largest government-funded health protection scheme.

* Arun Jaitley proposed to tax long term capital gains exceeding Rs 1 lakh at 10 per cent without indexation.

* Electronic IT assessment will be rolled out across the country, leading to greater efficiency and transparency: FM

* Mobile phones set to become costlier as custom duty on them has been increased to 20 per cent.

* Health and education cess has been increased to 4 per cent.

* For senior citizens, exemption of interest income on bank deposits raised to Rs 50,000: FM Jaitley

* FM Jaitley proposes to introduce tax on distributed income by equity oriented mutual funds at 10 per cent.

* Standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for salaried employees in lieu of transport and medical expenses: FM Jaitley

* Companies with turnover of up to Rs 250 crore to be taxed at 25 per cent: FM

* Arun Jaitley says that the government does not propose any changes in tax slabs for the salaried class this year.

* FM proposes a fiscal deficit of 3.3% of GDP for 2018-19.

* Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposes revising emoluments as per the following structure:

— Rs 5 lakh for the President of India
— Rs 4 lakh for the Vice President
— Rs 3.5 lakh for the Governors

* Jaitley also proposes automatic revision of emoluments of Parliamentarians every five years, indexed to inflation.

* We have already exceeded our disinvestment target, announces Arun Jaitley.
Disinvestment target for 2017-18 has been exceeded and will reach Rs 1 lakh crore. Target for 2018-19 is Rs 80,000 crore.

* 5 lakh WiFi hotspots will be set up in rural areas to provide easy internet access.

* Government will take all steps to eliminate use of cryptocurrencies which are funding illegitimate transactions.

* Govt announces Amrut program to focus on water supply to all households in 500 cities. Water supply contracts for 494 projects worth Rs 19,428 core will be awarded: FM

* NITI Aayog will establish a national programme to direct our efforts in the area of Artificial Intelligence towards national development: FM

* Airport capacity to be hiked to handle 1 billion trips every year.

* Arun Jaitley says that 4,000 km of new railway track will be laid down by 2019.

* All railways stations with footfall more than 25,000 to have escalators, says the Finance Minister.

* Mumbai transport receives Rs 40,000 crore.

* The government will undertake redevelopment of 600 major railway stations across the country.

* Arun Jaitley announces capital expenditure of Rs 1,48,528 crore for Indian Railways in 2018-19.

* National Heritage City Development Augmentation Scheme has been undertaken to preserve and protect heritage cities in the country, announces the Finance Minister.

* Government to contribute 12 per cent of EPF contribution for new employees in all sectors: FM

* Infrastructure is the growth driver of economy: Jaitley

* Target of 3 lakh crore for lending under PM Mudra Yojana: FM

* MSME enterprises are a major element for growth, says Jaitley. He also added that mass formalisation of MSME sector is happening after demonetisation and GST.

* Govt will launch health scheme to cover 10 crore poor families, Arun Jaitley says.

* The Government is slowly but steadily progressing towards universal health coverage: FM

* Government aims to bring 60 crore bank accounts under the Jan Dhan Yojana.

* Eklavya schools to be started for Scheduled Tribe populations: Finance Minister

* Rs 600 crore allocated to Tuberculosis patients undergoing treatment.

* Govt will set up two new Schools of Planning and Architecture, says Finance Minister Jaitley.

* To tackle brain drain, Jaitley announces scheme to identify bright students pursuing B Tech in premiere engineering institutes, and providing them higher-education opportunities in the IITs and IISc. These students will receive handsome fellowships, and will be expected to dedicate a few hours to teach in higher education institutions weekly.

* Specialised railway university to be set up at Vadodara.

* Jaitley proposed integrated BEd programme for teachers: “training of teachers during service is essential.” Technology will be the biggest driver in improving the quality of education.

* Budget allocates money for social security and protection programme for all widows and orphaned children.

* We have a target to provide all Indians with their own homes by 2022, says Jaitley.

* Ujjwala scheme to amplify targets, will now provide 8 crore rural women free LPG connections.

* Air pollution in Delhi-NCR has been a cause of concern, govt has proposed subsidised machinery for in-situ management of crop residue in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT Delhi.

* Govt of India will take necessary measures to put in place measures for the state government to purchase surplus solar power produced by local farmers at sutiable prices.

* Arun Jaitley proposes a sum of Rs 500 crore for ‘Operation Green’ on the lines of ‘Operation Flood’.

* Food processing sector is going at an average of 8 per cent per annum.

* We have been saying it for years that India is primarily an agricultural country: Jaitley

* Arun Jaitley on Minimum Support Price of agricultural products: Only increasing the MSP is not enough, the government will fix the MSP of agricultural products at 1.5 times the market rate.

* Our emphasis is on generating higher benefits and productive employment for the farmers: Jaitley while addressing the agricultural sector in his Budget speech 2018.

* Our government has worked sincerely, and without weighing the political costs, hoping that benefits are delivered to people at their doorsteps. The Direct Benefit Transfer system of India is a success story that is reiterated across the world: Jaitley.

* This year’s Budget will particularly focus on agriculture, says Jaitley.

* The finance minister also pointed out that India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

* Indian economy has performed very well since our government took over in May 2014, says Arun Jaitley.

* Arun Jaitey recalls the measures — like GST, FDI, demonetisation, etc. — taken by the NDA government in the past four years that have impacted the economy of the country.

-01 February, 2018 / New Delhi /Microstat

Demonetisation was for institutional cleansing: Bibek Debroy

Demonetisation was for institutional cleansing: Bibek Debroy

NITI Ayog member Bibek Debroy admits that Demonetisation  was a temporary shock on growth but asserts that the economy has now climbed back. One year into the disruptive note ban, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policy adviser says the worst is over and there are signs that things are improving now.
Bibek DebroyHe also says demonetisation should not be seen through a narrow cost-benefit calculus but as a move aimed at “institutional cleansing”.
“Yes, there has been a dip, but followed by a climb back. If you look at the data, there has been a slowdown in the growth rate continuously. I have not seen any data, even remotely statistical, which suggests that demonetisation has led to a more than temporary shock in terms of growth or employment,” Debroy, who heads the Economic Advisory Council revived recently by the Prime Minister, told IANS in an interview.
Debroy said demonetisation should not be looked at only from an economic perspective.
“If I evaluate it with a narrow economic cost-benefit calculus, I think that would be unfair, because the intention (behind the move) was not narrow economics,” Debroy said. The decision was aimed at institutional cleansing. “How do I even quantify and measure it?”
“If I look at it only with that economic lens, I will evaluate the costs and the benefits in a certain way. If I look at it with a political-economic kind of lens of cleansing up the system, I will evaluate it in a slightly different way.”
Debroy said that purely in terms of economics, one will not have to wait too long as some data, like that of direct tax collections, would come out soon which would reflect demonetisation and help understand its implications.
There was “excessively high” prevalence of cash in the system till last year and cash-to-GDP ratio has now sharply declined by almost one-third post-demonetisation, he said.
Debroy said that before demonetisation, the cash-to-GDP ratio in India was almost 13 per cent. “That’s excessive. It has now come down to a little over nine per cent,” Debroy noted.
“A lot of the cash in India was excessive and was not yielding returns to the person who held the cash, nor was it performing the role that money performs as a multiplier.”
“I’m not comparing with developed countries but even if you compare with other countries in South Asia, India had too much cash,” he said.
As per estimates, the cash-to-GDP ratio was 5.8 per cent in Bangladesh, 3.5 per cent in Sri Lanka and 9.3 per cent in Pakistan in 2015, whereas in India it was 13 per cent.
“That excessive cash has now vanished. The money has now come into the banking system. But that does not necessarily legitimise that money. You have to subject yourself to further scrutiny,” Debroy said.
Debroy has come out with a compilation, “On the Trail of the Black”, along with his colleague Kishore Arun Desai, with contributions from several writers tracing the prevalence of corruption and evaluating its impact on society and the economy.
He admitted that every decision related to the demonetisation exercise might not have been perfect.
“But we know that with the benefit of hindsight…. and this kind of thing had never been attempted before,” he said.
He said the biggest challenge in implementing the demonetisation decision was to maintain the surprise element which was crucial.
Kishore Arun Desai, who edited the book along with Debroy, said the war against corruption was a work in progress and November 8, 2016, should not be looked at in isolation.
“We’re talking a lot about November 8, but there are a series of actions that the government has been taking ever since coming to power, starting with setting up an SIT on black money, followed by the Benami Transactions Act, an act for transparent auction of coal mines, the Income Declaration Scheme, the RERA Act and the Jan Dhan Yojana.
“We have been witnessing the overall intent of the government of cleaning up the economy across various sectors and demonetisation was just a trigger and one of the boldest steps,” Desai told IANS.
– 09 November 2017 | IANS | New Delhi

India, Japan working on deepening energy ties: Piyush Goyal

India, Japan working on deepening energy ties: Piyush Goyal

Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal today said that Niti Aayog is working actively with the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) for developing a long-term cooperation in the energy sector which will help India plan its energy security.

India’s collaboration with the Japanese think tank in the energy space IEEJ will help it develop a possible energy mix for the country in the years to come, Goyal said.

“Both organisations — Niti Aayog and the Institute of Energy Economics — are working jointly,” the minister added.

Goyal is scheduled to attend the 8th India Japan Energy Dialogue during his visit.

“We are looking forward to receiving a very robust document which will help us to plan our own energy security in years to come,” the minister said.

A right energy mix is a balance between reliable conventional power plants and environment friendly energy resources.

Goyal on Tuesday held talks with his Japanese counterpart Motoo Hayashi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry wherein they discussed a wide range of issues related to the energy sector, deepening the ongoing co-operation.

This is the first ministerial level visit from India to Japan after the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India in December 2015.

Goyal invited his Japanese counterpart to visit India for the 9th Energy Dialogue, at a mutually convenient time, in 2017.

The Union Power Minister is accompanied by a business contingent from India, representing over thirty Indian business enterprises and public sector undertakings, apart from the official delegation.

-14 January 2016 | PTI | Tokyo

Modi Govt sets up mechanism to support start-ups

Modi Govt sets up mechanism to support start-ups

A mechanism known as SETU to support all aspects of start-up businesses and other self- employment activities has been set up by the government, Lok Sabha was informed today.

Union Minister for Skills Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy speaks in the Lok Sabha during ongoing Winter Session of the parliament in New Delhi on Monday.

Union Minister for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy, during the ongoing Winter Session of the parliament said the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurs envisaged fostering entrepreneurship and grassroots innovation by providing support in terms of fiscal incentives, creation of grass root technology innovation hubs, legal support and market linkages.

“The government has established a mechanism to be known as SETU (Self-Employment and Talent Utilisation) under NITI Aayog to support all aspects of start-up businesses and other self employment activities, particularly in technology—driven areas,” he said during Question Hour.

Mr. Rudy said the government has also launched in August 2015, India Aspiration Fund (IAF) under the Small Industries Development Bank of India with a capital of Rs. 2,000 crore to give a boost to start-up ecosystem in the country.

“The objective of the IAF is to catalyse tens of thousands of crores of equity investment into start-ups and MSMEs creating employment of lakhs of persons, mostly educated youth, over the next four to five years,” he said.

The Minister said the Department of Electronics and Information Technology is implementing a scheme entitled ‘Technology Incubation and Development of Entrepreneurs’ (TIDE) under which 147 start-ups have been supported at 25 TIDE centres established in premier institutes like IITs, NITs, IIMs etc.

Mr. Rudy said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address had announced a ‘Start-Up India’ initiative in which each of the 1.25 lakh bank branches would provide funding support to at least one Dalit or Adivasi entrepreneur and at least one woman entrepreneur.

-PTI, NEW DELHI, December 9, 2015

Railways Fast Tracks Implementation of Projects

Railways Fast Tracks Implementation of Projects

Ministry of Railways included 77 doubling, 4 new line and 1 gauge conversion project in Railway Budget 2015-16.  The projects were included primarily with a viewpoint to create additional carrying capacity.  Fast tracking of these projects was need of the hour so as to reap benefits of the projects as soon as possible. Under direction of Minister of Railways Shri. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, a number of measures have been under taken for expeditious execution of these projects:

(i)      So far the practice was to include a project in railway budget and send for ‘In Principle Approval’ (IPA) of NITI Aayog, hold meetings of Extended Board of Railways and finally seek approval of Cabinet (CCEA).  Once Cabinet approval is available, Railways used to go for Final Location Survey and subsequent preparation of Detailed Estimate.  An expenditure can be incurred only after Detailed Estimate or part thereof has been sanctioned.  This process used to take 2-3 years, which means tenders can be called roughly after 2 years of inclusion in Railway Budget.

(ii)    To reduce this time gap of two years, Ministry Railways asked zonal railways to carry out Final Location Survey immediately after inclusion of the work in Railway Budget. After Final Location Survey, the zonal railways were asked to send Detailed Project Report (DPR) to Railway Board with a reasonably firm cost.  Out of 77 doubling projects sanctioned in this year, detailed project reports of 73 doubling projects has been prepared and received in Railway Board.

(iii)   Examination and scrutiny of DPR in Railway Ministry has been fast tracked by forming committee of concerned officers for this purpose instead of examination from table to table by individual officer.

(iv)  Request for ‘In Principle Approval’ (IPA) of NITI Aayog is being sent after DPR is examined in Railway Board.  As many as 15 IPA have been received from NITI Aayog.  Out of these 15 IPAs, 4 projects which cost more than Rs.1000 cr. are being sent to CCEA for approval.

(v)    Zonal Railways have been advised to call tenders immediately after IPA is received.  However, a financial commitment can be made only after all requisite approvals are in place.

(vi)  To obviate delays further, Railways are now being advised to invite tenders immediately after a DPR is sent to NITI Aayog for IPA without waiting for approval.

(vii) This has effectively reduced tender calling period from 2 years after inclusion of a project in Pink Book to 6-9 months.

(viii)           In addition to this, zonal railways have been given more powers to sanction detailed estimates so as to reduce delays in such sanctions.

(ix)  Power for accepting all tenders have now been delegated to zonal railways which results into overcoming delays on this account.

Finance Minister chairs brainstorming session on ideas for Budget 2016-17

Finance Minister chairs brainstorming session on ideas for Budget 2016-17

A Brainstorming session on ideas for Budget 2016-17 under the chairmanship of Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley was organized at NITI Aayog today. Economists, academicians and business editors including Subir Gokarn, Ajit Ranade, Sajjid Chinoy, Vallabh Bhansali, Neelkanth Mishra, TA Ninan, Bakul Dholakia, Rajiv Lall, Tushar Poddar , Urijit Patel, the chief Economic Advisor Dr Arvind Subramanium and senior officials from the Finance Ministry and NITI Aayog attended the meet.

In his opening remarks, the Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, Shri Arvind Panagariya outlined the steps already taken and those underway by the Center and states to improve investment climate in the country. the emphasis mainly was on the measures to improve the Ease of Doing Business, opening up of the economy, the FDI in insurance and defence, auctions in coal and mineral mines, skill development, infrastructure, labour market reforms and modern bankruptcy law.

The participating economists shared their ideas and the vision for 2016-17 Budget. They appreciated that the Government has initiated this discussion early in the budget cycle. The senior economists told that such an exercise should be used as an opportunity to take stock of the progress made by the Government in the 6 ½ months of the current fiscal.

Summing up the discussions, the Finance Minister welcomed the suggestions from the economists and assured them of further interactions before the finalization of budget proposals.

NITI Aayog, 19-October, 2015