Union Budget 2018: Relief for farmers, but no change in I-T slabs

Updated: Feb 02, 2018, 15:25 IST | Alex Mathews | Mumbai

This budget is heavily slanted towards the rural poor; education, health and infrastructure development win large chunk of the funds; Centre's 'smart cities' project gets major push

Illustration/ Uday Mohite
Illustration/ Uday Mohite

It is dial K for kisaan, in this government's last budget before the polls. We expected the focus to be on agriculture and farmers in this budget, and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has done just that. From the first, it was evident that there is a heavy slant towards the rural economy in the budget. It has broken the stereotype to some extent of the government veering only towards the rich, urban person or the businessman.

We are seeing an emphasis on the rural poor. There is a lot of importance given to education so that affects every part of the economy. What the budget says is we need to convert the blackboard into computers, so that can only be a good thing. There is also the health sector with a huge public healthcare protection scheme. From Obamacare to Modicare, like some say should not just be some feel good catchphrase, it should become a well-regulated working reality. I think this is a huge and much needed development.

For the urban population, it is interesting to note that the Govt. has earmarked 99 smart cities, which shows it has put its foot on the pedal with reference to its Smart Cities scheme.

I do not see that much of a change in a medium salaried person's life with this but the big push for smart cities and infrastructure should have a trickle down effect which is awaited and that is job creation.

Transport gets a huge push with 4,000 km of new railway track will be laid down by 2019. It is good to see that Railways stations and Rail network are going together, for holistic development with stations with footfall more than 25,000 to have escalators, and a capital expenditure of Rs 1,48,528 crore for Indian Railways in 2018-19.

The government has earmarked 99 smart cities, which shows it has put its foot on the pedal with reference to its Smart Cities scheme. Pic/ AFPThe government has earmarked 99 smart cities, which shows it has put its foot on the pedal with reference to its Smart Cities scheme. Pic/ AFP

If there were some raised eyebrows there may have been about the govt's announcement on crypto currencies. With a lot of countries introducing crypto currency, it was interesting to see that the FM made it clear that the currency is illegal and the government was not going to recognise it. This may change later, one cannot say but it has fulfilled one aim, of making its stand on crypto currency crystal clear and banishing any doubts or misconceptions.

That I think has been the overriding point of this Budget, it is clear in vision, it is neutral by which I mean it throws up few positive or negative surprises and I see it as a good one for the economy of India.

Other highlights

>> Redevelopment of 600 major railway stations taken up

>> Ten prominent tourist sites to be built into iconic places to visit

>> Proposal to increase the digital intensity in education and move gradually from blackboard to digital board

>> Developing connectivity infrastructure in country’s border areas

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Highlights of the Union Budget 2018

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