Here are the key takeaways from the BJP government’s last budget. With improved focus on agriculture and healthcare, the budget will decide the future of Modi government in the upcoming general election next year.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the government’s last annual budget. With dwindling economic growth and challenges faced due to demonetisation and GST roll out, the budget seems to be a political statement about promoting rural economy. Budget spending focused mainly on three sectors: agriculture, healthcare and education.
Agriculture: With upcoming elections in 8 states this year, the current government’s last full budget has given farmers a few reasons to cheer with focus on strengthening the agriculture sector. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s speech focused mainly on the government’s resolve to increase farm produce and to improve farmer’s income. The proposal also talked about extending the facility of Kisan Credit Card to fisheries and animal husbandry.
Under ‘Operation Green’, an amount of Rs 500 crore has be allotted to promote agricultural products by promoting FPOs (Farmer Producers Organizations), processing facilities, anti-logistics and professional management. Rs 10,000 crore will be allotted for ‘Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Fund’. Another 10,000 crore is set aside for ‘Animal Husbandry Infra Fund’.
FM stated that “bamboo is green gold”. He has proposed a launch of ‘Bamboo Mission’ with corpus of Rs 1200 crore. Besides this, he also announced the launch of a special scheme to manage crop residue.
The biggest catch was the setting up of MSP (Minimum Selling Price) of Kharif Crops at 1.5 times the price of production, thereby increasing the farmers’ earn and ensuring a fair price for farm produce.
Education: FM Jaitley focused on the need for increasing digital intensity in education sector and announced that the government will allot Rs 1 lakh crore to upgrade and revitalize the sector. The aim is to move from black boards to digital boards by the year 2022.
With improved focus on research and the move to shift the county from a production base to a research base, FM announced that the government will identify 1000 BTech students every year who will be given an opportunity to do PHDs in IIT and IISc and will be expected to teach under-graduation students once in a week during that period.
Besides this, the government also plans to introduce Eklavya Schools in every block with over 20,000 tribals and more than 50% population of STs. These schools will be no less than Navodaya Vidyalayas.
Health: In order to revitalize the medical and healthcare sector, the FM announced plans to open up atleast one medical college for every 3 parliamentary constituency. The vision is to upgrade hospitals and medical colleges and to open up 24 new government medical colleges.
Under National Healthcare protection scheme, largest government funded healthcare programme, the government allotted upto Rs 5 lakh crore for each family every year for secondary and tertiary hospitalization care.
Rs 1200 crore has been allotted to Ayushman Bharat programme that aims to open up 1.5 lakh health care facilities. Besides this, Rs 600 crore has been allotted for TB patients who will also get upto Rs 500 every month during the course of their treatment.
Industry: Good news for small enterprises as the government has allotted Rs 3,794 crore capital support along with an industry subsidy by the year 2022 for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). Rs 4.6 lakh crore has been sanctioned for MUDRA Scheme.
Another relief for industries is that the excise rate for diesel has been cut by Rs 2 to Rs 6.33 per L and for petrol to Rs 4.48 per L. While the effective tax rate for large companies, those with sales of Rs 250 crore, is only 24%.
For the country’s future, the proposal to establish a national programme under the NITI Aayog to direct India’s efforts in AI development, R&D and machine learning comes as a major step to help the country become a master in futuristic technologies.