Union Budget 2017-18: Key Highlights
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented his fourth Budget in Parliament on February 1, Wednesday.
Here are the key highlights of the Union Budget 2017-18:
- The budget focused on 10 themes. Which are:
- Demonetisation: FM called demonetisation a massive war against black money. He said it is a part of government's resolve to eradicate corruption, black money and terror funding. "Demonetisation's ill-effects will be transient. In the long term it will boost GDP and growth," Jaitley added.
- According to Jaitley the pace of remonetisation has picked up.
- GST: Jaitley called GST & demonetisation as "two tectonic policy initiatives". He is positive about sticking to the deadline set for Goods and Services Tax and hence, has made no changes to the indirect tax structure. He also announced that no changes will be made to the GST regime set already.
- Affordable housing: One of the biggest announcements Jaitley made for the housing sector was that affordable housing will be given an infrastructure status. With an aim of housing for all, with this Union Budget allocation For Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) for rural areas has been increased from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 23,000 crore. Under the same scheme, the government aims to construct one crore houses for homeless and those living in kaccha houses. Moreover, under the affordable housing scheme, the benefit will now be based on Carpet Area instead of Built Area. He also proposed an extension of five years for the affordable housing programme.
- Digital India: The government aims to focus on a digital economy and hence, promote online payments and ease the process. Under this plan, the government will target Rs 2,500 crore digital transactions across platforms like UPI, will launch 2 new schemes to promote BHIM app and an AadhaarPay app.
- In addition to the digital plans, FM also announced that no individual will be allowed to make cash transactions above Rs 3 lakh.
- NHB (National Housing Board) to refinance loans worth Rs 20,000 crore.
- The infrastructure sector was allocated Rs 3.96 lakh crore in the Union Budget 2017-18.
- The railway, transport & airways sector in total were allocated Rs 2.41 lakh crore. For highways, the allocation was raised to Rs 64,000 crore.
- Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has been abolished and a new roadmap will be announced. Moreover, new FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) policy is also under consideration.
- Rs 10,000 crore for recapitalisation of banks.
- The total expenditure for the Union Budget 2017-18 will stand at Rs 21,47,000 crore.
- Fiscal deficit was pegged at 3.2 per cent of GDP.
- Capital gains regime for land and property holding period reduced from 3 to 2 years.
- "Due to demonitisation, advance tax on personal Income Tax increased by 34.8 per cent," said Jaitley.
- Income Tax regime: A change in Income Tax regime was announced as the existing rate of taxation for individual assees with an annual income between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh has been reduced to 5 per cent from earlier 10 per cent. For those with individual annual income ranging between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore will have to pay a surcharge of 10 per cent. Jaitley shared that in the last fiscal 1.5 crore people show income between Rs 2.5- Rs 5 lakh, 52 lakh people between Rs 5- Rs 10 lakh and only 24 lakh above Rs 10 lakh. He further added that during the same period 1.25 crore cars were sold and 2 crore people travelled abroad.
Also, this was the first time in the history of Independent India that the Railway Budget was presented along with the Union Budget. Jaitley called it a "historic step". This year, the Railway Budget focused on four things — passenger safety, capital and development work, cleanliness, and financial and accounting reforms. Here are some of the key takeaways of the Railway Budget:
- FM announced a 22 per cent rise in the Railway Budget.
- FM announced that a rail safety fund with a corpus of Rs 100,000 crore will be created over a period of five.
- To commission 3,500 km of railways lines.
- The service charge on rail tickets booked online via IRCTC website has be withdrawn.
- 500 railway stations to become differently abled-friendly by providing lifts and escalators.
- A new metro rail policy will soon be announced.