The Budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 was presented by the Hon’ble Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley in parliament on the first day of February, the revised date scheduled for representation of the budget marking an end to the colonial era tradition of presentation of budget on the last working of February. This transition has been brought about in order to improve upon the chronological flow of events before the commencement of the new fiscal year such as getting timely legislative approvals for annual spending plans and tax proposals etc. well before 1st April. Another change noted this year was the inclusion of the Railway Budget in the Union Budget.
Following key highlights of the Budget are presented here in brief:
Tax Slabs: The income tax rate for the tax slab of Rs 250,000 to Rs 500,000 has lowered from 10% to 5% while a 10% surcharge has been imposed on the tax bracket of 50 lakh-1 crore and about 15% surcharge for income exceeding rupees one crore.
Railways: With the fund allocation of about Rs.1,31,000 crore for Railways, Mr. Jaitley made a couple of announcements such as abolishing Service charge while booking tickets with IRCTC and creating a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh for passenger safety, with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore in which 500 stations will be renovated for differently abled in a period of about 5 years.
Agriculture: For sustaining agriculture sector in India a lot of measures have been proposed to be taken up such as allocating the credit to farmers with 60 days interest waiver. The credit allocation shall be of a sum of Rs. 10 lakh crore. Further updates include the Government setting up mini labs in Krishi Vigyan Kendras and Irrigation corpus increased from Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore.
Defence sector: The country’s defence budget for the year 2017-18 will see an increase greater than 10% in the defence budget amounting to 2.74 trillion Indian rupees (INR) ─ however excluding pensions compared to previous fiscal year’s (2016-17) budget of INR 2.49tr.
MGNREGA: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) outlay has been increased from Rs.38,000 crore to Rs.48,000 crore. In addition to this, the emphasis and focus was also acknowledged on the increased participation of women from 45% to 55%.
Energy sector: A strategic policy for crude reserves will be set up. A sum of Rs. 1.26,000 crore for energy production-based investments has been received. Trade infrastructure export scheme will be launched in 2017-18.