Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented his fourth union budget in the Parliament today as scheduled, announcing additional incentives for rural schemes, personal income tax cuts for people earnings up to Rs 5 lakh and a boost to micro-to-small and medium scale enterprises, among other measures. This year, the Railway Budget has been combined with the Union Budget.
12:53 PM: On GST, Jaitley says GST council has achieved consensus. GST will be rolled out on schedule. No changes in service and excise for now because of imminent changes in GST.
12:50 PM: On personal income tax, people with income up to Rs 5 lakh will see tax halved to 5 per cent. Surcharge of 10 per cent will be imposed on people earning between Rs 50 lakhs and Rs 1 crores.
12: 41 PM: Jaitley says the government is considering a proposal to receive all government receipts beyond a certain limit through e-modes. Reform to bring greater transparency in political funding is being introduced. Maximum donation a political party can receive without declaration will be Rs 2,000 from one source, from the existing Rs 20,000. In addition, a proposal to amend the RBI Act for issuing electoral bonds is under consideration.
12:40 PM: Jaitley says no cash transcations above Rs 3 lakhs will be allowed.
12:37 PM: Jaitley cuts taxes for smaller companies with up to Rs 50 crores in annual turnover to 25 per cent.
12:30 PM Jaitley says the budget will stimulate growth, introduce affordable housing, bring transparency in political funding, and simplification of tax administration.
12:28 PM: We will end of the year at a higher rate of net tax revenue at 17 per cent for second year in a row.
12:23 PM: Due to demonetisation, advance tax on personal Income tax increased by 34.8 per cent, says Jaitley.
12:22 PM: On taxes, Jaitley cites several statistics showing low rates of tax filing in India, and compares them to high discretionary spending on foreign travel and car purchases by people. "We are largely a tax non-compliant society," he says, adding that honest tax players have to unfairly shoulder the tax burden. Of 76 lakh individuals who reported income of over Rs 5 lakh, 56 lakh are salaried.
12: 19 PM: Jaitley says allocation for highways has been increased to Rs 64,000 crores in FY18 from Rs 57,676 crores. Allocation for national highways has gone up to Rs 64,000 crores.
12:17 PM: Jaitley says he has pegged fiscal deficit at 3.2% of GDP and remains committed to achieve 3 per cent of GDP in fiscal deficit in the following year.
12. 22 PM: Jaitley says defence expenditure is at Rs 2.74 lakh crores.
12. 27 PM:The total expenditure of budget 2017-18 has been pegged at Rs 21.47 lakh crores, says Jaitley.
12. 26 PM: Jaitley says Head Post Offices can now be used as the front office for passport services.
12:15 PM: There have been instances of economic offenders fleeing the country, says Jaitley. The govt will introduce new law to confiscate the property of the persons escaping country.
12:14 PM: Jaitley announces defence allocation of Rs. 2.74 lakh crores. For defense forces, a centralised defense travel system for soldiers has been announced. They don't have to face the hassle of standing in a queue, says Jaitley. A web-based pension distribution system will be established. This system will make payments centrally, reducing the grievances of pensioners.
12: 07 PM: The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has been abolished and further liberalisation measures will be made, says Jaitley.
12:03 PM: Jaitley says the govt will set up strategic crude oil reserves. In its second phase, caverns will be set up two more locations in Odisha and Rajasthan.
12:00 PM: For transport sector as a whole, Jaitley announces Rs 2.41 lakh crores and Bharat Net Project allocated Rs 10,000 crores to spur more job opportunities.
11:55 Railways will focus on passenger safety, infrastructure development, cleanliness, financial and accounting reforms, said Jaitley. All unmanned crossings will be removed; in next three years, Railways throughput will be enhanced by 10 per cent, 500 stations will be made accessible for differently-abled citizens. Solid waste management plants are being set up in New Delhi and Jaipur for environmentally friendly ways to dispose waste, by 2019 all coaches of Indian Railways will be fitted with bio-toilets.
11:51 AM: Jaitley says for senior citizens, Aadhar-based cards indicating health condition, and a pension scheme with LIC with a guaranteed return of 8 per cent a year will be introduced.
11:44 AM: Announcing health care initiatives, Jaitley says government will eliminate tuberculosis by 2025.
11:33 AM: Jaitley says the government has seen the highest ever allocation for MNREGA at Rs 48,000 crores; Participation of women in MGNREGA has gone up to 55 per cent. The government is committed to doubling the farm income in five years.
11:31 AM: Jaitley announces measures for rural sector. We will bring 1 crore households out of poverty. and free 50,000 gram panchayats from poverty.
11:27: AM: The government set aside Rs 10 lakh crores for loans to farmers. "We will provide adequate flow of credit to underserved areas," said Jaitley. Dairy processing infrastructure fund will be set up under NABARD, with fund of Rs 8,000 crores.
11: 24: AM: Our agenda is to "transform, energise and clean India. That is tech India," says Jaitley.
11:23 AM: Merging the Railway budget with union budget is a "historic step," discontinuing a colonial era practice.
11:20 AM: The approach has been to spend more on rural infrastructure, poverty alleviation and maintain the best standards on fiscal governance.
11:17 AM Demonetisation was a continuation of a series of measures taken by the government. This measure is "obviously disruptive" as it attempts to change the status quo. We are moving from informal to formal economy and the government is now seen as a trusted custodian of public money.
11:10 AM: FM Jaitley addresses Parliament, says the government will continue to take growth measures to help farmers, workers, scheduled castes and tribes, women and other vulnerable sections.