Union Budget (2017-18), was broadly focused on 9 major pillars of the economies —The farming Sector, rural population, the poor and underprivileged health care, Educational skills for Job Creation, Infrastructure investment, Governance reforms for ease of doing business, the financial sector for stronger institutions, prudent fiscal management and tax administration for the honest. This is one of the challenging budget as the world economy is facing considerable changes and uncertainties economically as well as the politically, even inside the country, one of the most reformative actions came into existence “Demonetization” the action to curb the black money.
Merging of railways budget with the general budget, a long tradition of separate budgets of railways and general budget was broken this year and was merged this year allowing the railways to the central stage of government’s fiscal policy.
Key highlights of Budget (2017-18)
- A sum of Rs. 10 lakh crore is allocated as credit to farmers, with 60 days interest waiver which help farmers
- NABARD fund will be increased to Rs. 40,000 crore. Irrigation corpus increased from Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore.
- MGNREGA: Rs 48,000 crore has been allocated; participation of women now at 55%; using space technology in a big way.
- Annual income in the range of 2.5 to 5.0 lakh will be taxed at the rate of 5% instead of 10% earlier for resident individuals below the age of 60 years.
- The Government is targeting 2500 crore digital transactions in 2017-18 through UPI, USSD (used for mobile banking without internet), Aadhar pay IMPS as well as card payment.
- Allocation of 10,000 crore for laying out Optical Fibre Cables for Bharat Net project. By the end of financial year 2018, 150,000 gram panchayats will have high speed broadband connectivity.
- Skill strengthening to be implemented from the year 2017 with a budget of Rs 2,200 crore.
Emphasis on Education Sector to make country Digital Hub
No doubt the budget is more focussed to facilitate digital India vision and to provide ground level improvements for progress towards digitalised economy. With that Finance Minister has given more emphasis on educational sector also by providing greater autonomy to major institutions and even UGC will be reformed for higher education. Colleges and institutions will give more autonomy. CBSE will be freed from conducting examinations, and will focus majorly on academics. Two new AIIMS is proposed to be opened in Jharkhand and Gujarat.
Decision to Improve Ease of doing Business in India
Foreign Portfolio Investor (FPI) Category I & II are exempted from indirect transfer provision. Indirect transfer provision will not apply in case of redemption of shares or interests outside India as a result of or arising out of redemption or sale of investment in India which is chargeable to tax in India.
These steps will definitely help improve India’s ranking on World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking. Currently India ranks 130 out of 190 countries participating for World Bank’s ranking.
Thus the Union Budget 2017 noticeably move towards to be growth path, providing adequate thrust to key economic sectors and maintaining focus on the bottom of the pyramid.