Union Finanace Minister Niramala Sitharaman briefed the media shortly after presenting the Union Budget for current FY 2019-20. She has proposed reforms in several sectors including PSBs, tax returns and railways.
“Emphasis is on the overall development of the economy and we are focusing on the ease of living,” the Finance Minister said addressing a press conference.
Sitharaman also said, “The Government is working towards ‘Har Ghar Jal’ by 2024, 10,000 new farmer producer organisations will be set up, 9.6 crore toilets have been constructed since October 2014, New Space India Limited (NSIL) has been incorporated to tap the benefits of ISRO.”
Following are some of the key takeaways:
$3 trillion dollar economy
The Indian economy is set to become a 3 trillion dollar economy in the current year, according to Sitharaman. “People‟s hearts filled with Aasha (Hope), Vishwas (Trust), Aakansha (Aspirations)”, she said.
She asserted that the government hopes to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024. “From $1.85 trillion in 2014, the economy has reached $2.7 trillion mark. We can very well reach $5 trillion dollars in the next few years,” Sitharaman said.
However, she highlighted the need for investment in infrastructure, digital economy and cre3ation of jobs ins small and m,edium firms. These, she said were needed to kick-starting the virtuous cycle of investments.
Interchangeability of PAN and Aadhaar
What’s new is that Aadhaar card can be used in place of PAN for filing income taxes now. Those who don’t have PAN can benefit from this.
“More than 120 crore Indians now have Aadhar card, therefore for the ease of taxpayers, I propose to make PAN card and Aadhar card interchangeable and allow those who don’t have PAN to file returns by simply quoting Aadhar number and use it wherever they require to use PAN,” Sitharaman stated.
In the budget, the government extended an additional deduction to home-buyers in the affordable housing category.
Sitharaman said an additional deduction of up to ₹1.5 lakh for interest paid will be allowed on a loan borrowed up to 31st March, 2020, for purchase of an affordable house valued at up to ₹45 lakh. This will provide a total benefit of Rs 7 lakh over a loan period 15 years.
However, it must be noted that this deduction will be over and above the deduction of ₹2 lakh allowed on a home loan interest payment.
Concessions to NRIs
In the Union Budget that non-resident Indians (NRIs) may get Aadhaar cards on arrival, without the mandatory waiting period.
NRIs currently need to have spent 180 days to be eligible for an Aadhaar card. The government plans to enable them to apply for an Aadhaar card using their Indian passport.
“I propose to consider issuing Aadhar card for NRIs with Indian passports after their arrival in India without waiting for the mandatory 180 days,” Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Nirmala Sitharaman also stated that 18 new diplomatic missions would be launched in various locations across Africa.
Petrol, diesel to get dearer by Rs 2
The Finance Minister suggested increasing surcharge on petrol and diesel by Rs 1 per litre and excise duty by Rs 1. This adds to Rs 2 being charged more on both the fuels.
Petrol and diesel, till Friday, were being retailed for Rs 70.51 and Rs 64.33 per litre respectively in Delhi. In Mumbai, however, petrol and diesel were priced higher at Rs 76.15 a litre and Rs 67.40 a litre.
Domestic fuel prices have hardly changed this year, with petrol and diesel prices increased by Rs 1.67 and and Rs 1.86 a litre respectively since January 1.
Meanwhile, crude oil rates have risen about $9 a barrel, or 17%, this year from a low of $53.8 at the beginning of the year to $63 a barrel now. Strikingly, crude touched $75 in April.
Tax for super rich
In a pragmatic move, Nirmala Sitharaman didn’t announce any changes in personal income tax rates but she did propose additional surcharge on the super-rich.
Those with highest income bracket need to contribute more to the nation, the Finance Minister said. In line with that those earning more than Rs 2 crore or Rs 5 crore, the tax charged from them will increase by 3 percent and 7 percent respecvtively.
To discourage business payments in tax, Sithraaman said a tax rate of 2 percent will be imposed on cash withdrawals exceeding Rs 1 crore from a bank account.
Electricity, cooking gas forevery home
The FM promised electricity and clean cooking gas to rural households by 2022, and water by 2024. She also announced development of rural transport and housing infrastructure.
“Gaon, Gareeb aur Kisan are at the centre of all our policies,” said Sitharaman, adding, “All villages and almost 100% of houses have been provided with electricity.”
“The government is also working towards ‘Har Ghar Jal’ (Water for Every House) by 2024. Provision of safe drinking water for every citizen is priority of the government,” she added.
Further, the Budget also proposed building up of 1.95 crore houses under Pradhan Mantari Awas Yojna (Rural). “The completion of houses has come down from 314 days per house in 2015-16 to 114 days now,” she said.