Pic Courtesy: NDTV Profit
The much-awaited budget has been announced – an unconventional one in many sense! For the record – a) the rail budget was merged with the union budget, breaking the legacy and b) the announcements have come almost a month earlier than the usual practice of the budget being presented on the last working day of February. In spite of the several challenges this would have given the behind-the-budget officials, this does give us – you and me – an additional month to ingest the new norms and prepare before the start of the next fiscal year. As Dr. Saundarya Rajesh puts it, this is an “inclusive, confident and assertive budget.” Let’s take a look at the highlights:
- Budget allocation for Welfare for Women & Children increased from 1.5 lakh crores in 2016-17 to 1.85 lakh crores.
- Allocation of Rs. 500 Crores for setting up Mahila Shakti Kendras for skill development, employment and health awareness.
- Nationwide scheme for the benefit of pregnant women wherein Rs. 6000 will be transferred to the bank accounts.
- 5 lakh Health Centres to be upgraded to specialized health wellness centres.
- Reduction of income tax for smaller companies with turnover of up to Rs. 50 crore to 25 per cent from 30 per cent.
- Income tax rate on income between Rs. 2.5 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh cut to 5 per cent from 10 per cent.
- 500 railway stations will be made differently-able friendly.
- 1 lakh Crores corpus announced for passenger safety.
- Steps to be taken to create additional 5,000 PG seats per annum for medical education.
- MGNREGA gets highest ever allocation of Rs. 48,000 crore.
The numbers, the funds indicate a gender responsive budget – with significant allocations for the welfare of 48.5% of the country’s population – women. The welfare measures are all set to cover the needs of the differently-abled and people belonging to the entire socio-economic spectrum indicating that inclusive growth is on the agenda!