As the general elections roll ever closer, the ruling government has had a major final chance to woo voters with the budget of 2019. The budget, that will detail India’s spending in the upcoming year and thus the way the common man in turn will spend money, was rolled out on the first of February.
Here are all the highlights –
- Relief for Elderly – A pension yojna has been rolled out in the budget that aims to provide retirees over the age of 60 with a minimum of Rs 3000 per month, with a contribution of Rs 100 per month. This scheme is aimed for the elderlies of the unorganized sector, and is projected to benefit 10 crore workers. The scheme may become the biggest such undertaking in five years, but oppositions have (perhaps rightly) pointed out the feasibility of the relatively small amount.
- Educational Downfall – The interim budget has generated some losers, and statutory, and educational bodies have been one of them. IITs, IIMs, AICTE, and the UGC have seen a decline in the budget outlaid for them, dropping 2.70 per cent to Rs 5,009 crore from 5,207 crore from the previous fiscal year. Indian Institute of Management has seen the biggest decline in its funding. The move is likely to be contentious since all government educational institutions have been directed to increase 25% seats, while also making a 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker.
- Export Boost – The government has proposed an increase in the funding for export promotion schemes to Rs 4115 crore to help expand India’s outward trade, which in turn would help increase jobs and boost foreign exchange. The schemes which would get additional funds during the next financial year (April 2019 - March 2020) include market access initiative, national export insurance account, gems and jewellery sector, investment in Export Credit Guarantee Corporation and interest subsidy scheme.
- Big Win for the Environment – One of the biggest increases in funding came for the Environment Ministry, which is set to receive Rs 3,111 crore as compared to last year’s 2,588 crore – an increase of 20.27 per cent. A number of axillary environmental boards and bodies, such as the National Commission for Green India and the National Tiger Conservation Authority, has increased substantially, a welcome move as the world tethers on the brink of climatic catastrophe.
- Income Tax Relief…Or is It? – One of the major talking points of the budget is always the part which hits the common man straight – the income tax. This budget seems to be pro us, as it has proposed to reduce burden on the middle class. Taxpayers with income up to 5 lakhs will get full rebate, and standard tax deduction has been raised from Rs 40,000 to 50,000. However, economists caution that the benefit will only be for those in the lower tax bracket.
- Farmers Left High and Dry – The budget has doled out Rs 6000 crore for farmers, which roughly translates to Rs 500 per month, or between 15-17 rupees a day. The opposition has been severe in its criticism, and the All India Kisan Sabha has suggested that the ruling BJP has not learnt its lesson post its defeat in the recent state elections. They also state that the money is a Band-Aid to cover up larger issues of farmers, such as loan waivers, that continue to be ignored.
- WCD Gets Major Hike – Rs 29,000 crore has been set aside for the Women and Children’s Ministry, with maternity and child protection services to get a major boost. The National Creche Scheme, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, and the National Nutrition Mission, have also received major boosts.
Like every year, people continue to be very divided about whether the budget is good or bad, but some consensus on some points is slowly emerging. However, it would be the implementation of the budget, especially with the governmental shakeup that is due within a few months, that will truly determine how it will benefit, and who.