Jaitley to present Union Budget today
New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present his fourth General Budget in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday which will also be the first Budget post demonetisation and is expected to factor in the impact of the Prime Minister’s bold move in its various proposals.
Breaking from the past colonial practice, the government is presenting the Budget almost one month in advance and for the first time there will be no separate Railway Budget.
The Government has argued that the early passage of the budget will provide ample time for the formulation of the policies and programme and will help in expending the allocations. As per experts, the Finance Minister may give some relief to taxpayers through adding a new slab in the Income Tax or by raising the limit for the tax.
It is expected that Jaitley may take some corrective measures to give a fillip to the economy that has been adversely affected by the demonetisation.
Apex Chambers and business fraternity are also looking for the same as they believe that the demonetisation had a short-term negative impact, but it will help in the long term if the Government announces some bold steps to provide low rate of interest to the industry.
The Economic Survey tabled in Parliament too has clearly laid out the challenges and opportunities that India faces at the present juncture.
Chambers have agreed on the need to overcome the three ‘mega challenges’ as identified in the survey namely inefficient redistribution, ambivalence about the private sector and property rights and the improving but still challenged state capacity. In this scenario, a clear plan of action with sustained reforms in each of these areas by the government is a must to attain sustained high and inclusive growth.
The Economic Survey has predicted the growth rate of GDP for the current year at a lower level but has predicted better scenario for the next year. It is still around 6.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent. It is said that the GDP growth rate would have been more if demonetisation had not happened. The Government too is of the opinion that it should be around 8 to 8.5 per cent if a significant number of jobs are to be generated. So it is expected that Jaitley may take some bold steps to achieve the target, especially in the field of job creation.
One of the steps in this direction may be of making provisions in the Budget which softens lending rates. It will provide low housing loan, personal loan, and loans to industrial and manufacturing units. This will bring down the capital cost as well as the production cost. And these are the areas where the possibility of job creation is in large number.
The tax relief limit may be enhanced in the budget as various measures taken by the government in the last one year yielded in better tax collections allowing the exchequer to go for Income Tax relief. The pension income for senior citizens over 65 years may be made completely tax free. This will not only help the elderly but will also reduce operational work for income tax authorities. The Budget may provide higher allocation for the Railways for safety.
Apart from this, the railways may get extra allocation for its major projects as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his earlier speeches. There may be allocation for high-speed trains.
According to rating agency Crisil, the Budget could allocate funds to the tune of Rs 1.3-1.4 trillion to the railways for 2017-18, a move which can help in faster execution of projects in this space.