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Support scheme for farmers, IT sops for middle class highlights of Interim Budget 2019-20
(New Delhi, Feb 01,2019):An support scheme for farmers to supplement their income and a major tax bonanza for the middle class and unveiling of the Developmental agenda for the years to come formed the highlights of the Interim Budget 2019-20 presented in Parliament on Friday by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal. Besides the farmers'' income support scheme, aimed at benefitting 12 crore small and marginal farmers with direct income support, a path breaking Pension initiative for 10 crore unorganised sector workers and exempting income up to Rs 5 lakh from Income Tax, are some of the major highlights of the Budget.

Among the other features of the Budget are reforms in stamp duty, highest ever budgetary allocation of Rs 3 lakh crore for Defence, record allocation of funds at Rs 58,166 crore for North Eastern Areas, a new AIIMS for Haryana and single window clearance for Indian film makers at par with foreigners and higher budgetary allocations for Education, Health, Infrastructure and for the welfare of weaker sections including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. There will be a separate Department of Fisheries for welfare of 1.5 crore fisherman, said Finance Minister Piyush Goyal. The new scheme ?Pradhan Mantri KIsan SAmman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)? will extend direct income support at the rate of Rs 6,000 per year to farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares.

Under the Scheme, Rs 2,000 each will be transferred to the bank accounts of around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families, in three equal installments and the programme would be made effective from December 1, 2018 and the first installment for the period upto March 31, 2019 would be paid during this year itself, Mr Goyal said. Individual taxpayers having taxable annual income up to Rs 5 lakh will not be required to pay any income tax. The Finance Minister said that persons having gross income up to Rs. 6.50 lakh are not required to pay any income tax if they make investments in provident funds, specified savings and insurance.

Additional deductions such as interest on home loan up to Rs 2 lakh, interest on education loans, National Pension Scheme contributions, medical insurance and medical expenditure on senior citizens, are also provided for in the Interim Budget 2019-20. Thus tax benefit of Rs. 18,500 crore is proposed to be provided to an estimated 3 crore middle class and small taxpayers comprising self employed, small business, small traders, salary earners, pensioners and senior citizens. To provide sustained and focused attention towards development of Fisheries, the Government has decided to create a separate Department of Fisheries. The Finance Minister said through the measure, the Government wants to promote further growth over 7 per cent to promote livelihood of about 1.45 crore people dependent on the sector.

Mr Goyal announced 2 per cent interest subvention to the farmers pursuing the activities of animal husbandry and fisheries, who avail loan through Kisan Credit Card. Further, in case of timely repayment of loan, they will also get an additional 3 per cent interest subvention. Allocation of Rs 750 crore for Rashtriya Gokul Mission has been announced for the current year itself. n announced. The Aayog will also look after effective implementation of laws and welfare schemes for cow. To provide pensionary benefits to at least 10 crore labourers and workers in the unorganised sector a new Scheme called ''Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan'' is announced. The Finance Minister said that within next five years it would be one of the largest pension schemes of the world.

A sum of Rs 500 crore has been allocated for the Scheme. Additional funds will be provided as needed, Mr Goyal added. The scheme will also be implemented from the current year, he said. For salaried persons, Standard Deduction is being raised from the current Rs 40,000 to Rs.50,000. This will provide additional tax benefit of Rs. 4,700 crore to more than 3 crore salary earners and pensioners. Exemption on levy of income tax on notional rent on a second self-occupied house is also now proposed. Currently, income tax on notional rent is payable if one has more than one self-occupied house. TDS threshold on interest earned on bank/post office deposits is being raised from Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000. TDS threshold for deduction of tax on rent is proposed to be increased from Rs 1,8 lakh to Rs 2.4 lakh for providing relief to small taxpayers.

The Finance Minister said the Government wants the GST burden on home buyers to be reduced and accordingly the GST Council was moved to appoint a Group of Ministers to examine and make recommendations in this regard at the earliest. Mr Goyal said soon, businesses comprising over 90 per cent of GST payers will be allowed to file quarterly return. The Finance Minister said that the Government has been successful in bringing down average inflation to 4.6 per cent over last five years, which is lower than the inflation during the tenure of any other Government. The average rate of inflation during previous five years 2009-2014 was a backbreaking 10.1 per cent, he pointed out. The fiscal deficit has been brought down to 3.4 per cent in 2018-19 RE from the high of almost 6 per cent seven years ago, the Finance Minister mentioned.

He said, the Current Account Deficit (CAD), against a high of 5.6 per cent six years ago, is likely to be only 2.5 per cent of GDP this year. Mr Goyal said that due to such a stable and predictable regulatory regime, growing economy and strong fundamentals, India could attract massive amount of as much as 239 billion dollars of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during the last 5 years, when most of the FDI was allowed to come in through the automatic route. Announcing an allocation of Rs 60,000 crore for MGNREGA for Budget Estimates 2019-20, the Finance Minister said that additional allocations will be made, if required. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is being allocated Rs.19,000 crore in BE 2019-20 as against Rs15,500 crore in RE 2018-19. During the period 2014-18, a total number of 1.53 crore houses have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, he announced.

By March, 2019, all households will be provided with electricity connection. Till now, 143 crore LED bulbs have been provided in a mission mode which has resulted in saving of Rs.50,000 crore for the poor and middle class. He said through the world''s largest healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat, will provide medical treatment to nearly 50 crore people in the country, around 10 lakh patients have already benefited through free treatment for medical treatment which would have otherwise cost them Rs. 3,000 crore. Lakhs of poor and middle class people are also benefiting from reduction in the prices of essential medicines, cardiac stents and knee implants, and availability of medicines at affordable prices through Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras, the Finance Minister added. Mr Goyal also said that 14 of the 21 AIIMS operating or being established in the country presently have been announced since 2014.

He also announced setting up of a new - the 22 nd AIIMS in Haryana. Allocation for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is being increased from Rs 23,357 crore in Revised Estimate (RE) 2018-19 to Rs 27,584 crore in Budget Estimate (BE) 2019-20. The Finance Minister said a Welfare Development Board will frame special strategies for the benefit of the hard-to-reach De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Mr Goyal said under the Ujjwala Yojana aiming delivery of 8 crore free LPG connections, more than 6 crore connections have already been given and the remaining will get free gas connections by next year. The Finance Minister announced that a National Artificial Intelligence Portal will also be developed soon as a part of the National Programme on ''Artificial Intelligence''.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion will now be renamed as the Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal Trade. The Finance Minister stated that the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), created by the present Government two years ago, resulted in average savings of 25-28 per cent and the platform will now be extended to all Central Public Sector Enterprises. Transactions of over Rs 17,500 crore have taken place so far, he said. The Finance Minister announced that for the first time, the country''s Defence Budget will be of over Rs 3 lakh crore. The Finance Minister pointed out that domestic air traffic passengers have doubled during the last five years, leading to large number of jobs also being created. The number of operational airports has crossed 100 with the commissioning of the Pakyong airport in Sikkim. Arunachal Pradesh came on the air map recently and Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram have come on India''s rail map for the first time.

Capital support from the budget for Indian Railways is proposed at Rs.64,587 crore in 2019-20 BE. India''s installed solar generation capacity has grown over ten times in last five years, Mr Goyal said, adding that ''''our commitment to promote renewable energy is reflected in setting up the International Solar Alliance, the first treaty based international inter-governmental organisation headquartered in India. This sector is now creating lakhs of new age jobs.'''' The Finance Minister announced that in Entertainment industry, which is a major employment generator, regulatory provisions will now rely more on self-declarations.

To promote entertainment industry, the single window clearance for ease of shooting films, now available only to foreigners, will also be made available to Indian filmmakers. ''''We will also introduce anti-camcording provisions in the Cinematograph Act to control the menace of piracy,'''' he said. Saying that ''''We are poised to become a Five Trillion Dollar Economy in the next five years and aspire to become a Ten Trillion Dollar Economy in the next 8 years thereafter,'''' Mr Goyal added that there has been a growth of 18 per cent in Direct Tax Collections in 2017-18 .

There has been increase in tax base by 1.06 crore people filing income tax returns for the first time in FY 2017-18, mainly on account of demonetisation. Mr Goyal said that he was proposing, through the Finance Bill, necessary amendments to levy Stamp duties on one instrument relating to one transaction and get collected at one place through the Stock Exchanges. The duty so collected will be shared with the state governments seamlessly on the basis of domicile of buying client, he said.

In all the total expenditure is to increase from Rs 24,57,235 crore in 2018-19 Revised Estimate to Rs 27,84,200 crore in 2019-20 BE. ''''A rise of Rs 3,26,965 crore or approximately 13.30 per cent. This reflects a high increase considering low inflation. The fiscal deficit of year 2019-20 is estimated to be 3.4 per cent of GDP, '''' he said. The Finance Minister pointed out that after completion of the fiscal deficit consolidation programme, the Government would now focus on Debt consolidation.

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