#Budget2019: Black briefcase made way for red bahi khata, but there were a few hits and a few misses
Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first full-time female finance minister, made some significant announcements for women. Every woman SHG member having a verified Jan Dhan account will get an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000. There was also an announcement on a Rs 1,00,000 loan for women under the Mudra scheme. She, however, left the salaried class disappointed -- key demands like a higher tax exemption threshold and rationalization of tax slab were not met with. The super-rich are sulking with the FM proposing a higher surcharge on those earning above Rs 2 crore, but it made potentially game-changing announcements for farmers
In the Union Budget, Nirmala Sitharaman made some big-bang announcements for rural India, including zero-budget farming. Here are some hits:
The finance minister said step would be taken to replicate zero-budget farming, currently practiced in a few states, in all of India. It considered 'zero budget' because costs of raising the main crop are offset by the income that farmers earn from intercrops. The government proposes to form 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organizations to ensure economies of scale for farmers over the next five years.
Har ghar jal
The government proposes to ensure Har Ghar Jal (piped water supply) to all rural households by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission. The Government has identified 1592 Blocks which are critical and over exploited, spread across 256 District for the Jal Shakti Abhiyan.
To further encourage women entrepreneurship, Women Self-help Groups Interest Subvention Programme to be expanded to all districts in India.
In order to incentivize purchase of affordable house, it is proposed to provide a deduction up to Rs 1,50,000 for interest paid on loan taken for purchase of residential house having value up to Rs 45 lakh. This shall be in addition to the existing interest deduction of Rs 2 lakh. A benefit of around 7 lakh to the middle class home-buyers over their loan period of 15 years.
Around 30 lakh workers are now covered under the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana, the scheme that provides a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 to informal sectors workers after they turn 60.
New education policy
It was announced in the budget that there will soon be a new education policy. Higher education in the country will be reformed comprehensively. Efforts will be made to bring in foreign students under a Study in India plan. The government will make renewed efforts to promote research in the country.
The budget proposes to make Pan Card and Aadhaar card interchangeable to file tax returns. Those who do not have PAN can simply quote their Aadhaar number wherever PAN is mandatory to quote.
The budget announced that upfront incentive will be offered on purchase of electric vehicles, adding that the government has already moved GST Council to cut rate for EVs to 5% from 12%
Aadhar for NRIs
The budget proposes to consider issuing Aadhaar Card for NRIs with Indian passports after their arrival in India. As of now, they have to wait for a period of 180 days.
To curb black money, the threshold for cash donation to charitable trusts was reduced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 2,000. Cash transaction limit for business transactions was reduced. Any cash transaction of Rs 2,00,000 or more was prohibited.
Good news for startups
In a major breather for startups, it was announced that startups and investors who file requisite declarations and provide information in their returns will not be subjected to any scrutiny on valuation.
Capital for banks
The budget proposed to provide banks with Rs 70,000 crore of capital to boost credit.
This inter-operable transport card runs on RuPay card and would allow the holders to pay for their bus travel, toll taxes, parking charges, retail shopping and even withdraw money.
Boost for railway
Railway infra would need an investment of 50 lakh crores between 2018 and 2030. The government proposes to unleash more Public Private Partnerships to be encouraged in rail sector.
Rental laws will be reformed. Modern tenancy law will be shared with states to promote house renting. The current mechanism doesn't adequately address the relationship between the tenant and the landlord.
Single brand retail
The budget announced that local sourcing norms for FDI in single-brand retail will be eased. The proposal is expected to solve a long-standing problem in the sector.
There's bad news for vehicle owners, super-rich and armed forces. Here are a few misses
Bad news for vehicle owners
The budget proposed to increase Special Additional Excise duty and Road and Infrastructure Cess each by one rupee a litre on petrol and diesel.
No new jobs
The finance minister did not mention any plan to create more jobs.
Nothing for defence
At a time when India's security risks are at an all-time high, no specific mention of the forces came as a major dampener for both the forces and the country at large.
Bad news for corporates
Under a phased reduction plan for corporate taxes, the budget proposed to bring under 25% tax ambit companies with an annual turnover of up to Rs 400 crore, in place of the earlier cap of Rs 250 crore. The move came under criticism from experts who said the tax rejig should have been applicable to all companies and not just a select section.
Bad news for super rich
The budget was a big blow for the wealthy. The finance minister shunned the wealth tax, but increased the surcharge for the rich, proposing to increase the surcharge for those earning Rs 2-5 cr 3% and for those earnings above Rs 5 cr to 7%.
Disappointment for tax payers
Standard deduction and TDS threshold didn't find a mention in the budget. It came as dampener for the salaried taxpayer.