Budget 2018 announced by Arun Jaitley today had many new announcements of interests for the common man. A year ahead of 2019 General Elections, the budget emphatically targetted farmers and citizens living in rural areas. It had also had new announcements for students, teachers, middle-class citizens, workers in MSME sectors etc. Commenting on the budget presented by Jaitley, PM Narendra Modi said it is “development-friendly” and strengthen the vision of a ‘New India’ by 2022. PM said the “Budget is “farmer friendly, common citizen friendly, business environment-friendly” and will add to ‘ease of living’ and ‘ease of doing business'”
Ayushman Bharat for new India
- Health and Wellness Centre: As many as 1.5 lakh centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services. Moreover, these centres will provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services.
- National Health Protection Scheme:- This will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage upto Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
Relief to salaried taxpayers
- The Finance Minister prroposed to allow a standard deduction of Rs. 40,000/- in lieu of the present exemption in respect of transport allowance and reimbursement of miscellaneous medical expenses. Around
2.5 Crores salaried employees and pensioners to benefit. Differently-abled citizens to get transport allowance at enhanced rate.
- Amendments in the income-tax act: Jaitley proposed to amend the Income-tax Act to notify a new scheme for assessment. He said the assessment will be done in electronic mode which will almost eliminate person to person contact leading to greater efficiency and transparency.
Relief to Senior Citizens
- Exemption of interest income on deposits with banks and post offices to be increased from Rs. 10,000/- to Rs. 50,000/- and TDS shall not be required to be deducted on such income. This benefit shall be available also for interest from all fixed deposits schemes and recurring deposit schemes.
- Jaitley also raised the limit of deduction for health insurance premium and/ or medical expenditure from Rs. 30,000/- to Rs. 50,000/-, under section 80D. Senior citizens will now be able to claim benefit of deduction up to Rs. 50,000/- per annum in respect of any health insurance premium and/or any general medical expenditure incurred.
What’s New For Farmers in Budget 2018
- MSP of all hitherto unannounced Kharif crops fixed at least at one and half times of production cost.
- Institutional credit for agriculture sector increased to Rs 11 Lakh crore for 2018-19 from Rs 10 Lakh Crore in 2017-18
- Operation Greens: Rs 500 Crore “operation greens” announced to address price volatility of perishable commodities like potato, tomato and onion and benefit both producers and consumers
- Rs.200 Crore for organized cultivation of highly specialized medicinal and aromatic plants and associated industry
- 22,000 rural Haats to be developed and upgraded into Gramin agricultural markets (grams) for farmers to directly sell to consumers and bulk purchasers
- Rs.2000 Crore fund to be set up for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing infrastructure in the 22000 grams and 585 APMCS
- Doubling allocation for food processing sector to Rs.1400 Crore, government to promote establishment of specialized agro-processing financial institutions
- Facility of Kisan credit cards extended to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them meet their working capital needs; Rs.10,000 Crore funds announced cumulatively for infrastructure development in the two sectors
- Rs.1290 Crore re-structured national bamboo mission announced to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner
- Special scheme to be implemented to support haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue