#DecodingBudget: India gets Rs. 1,200cr healthcare coverage, 'largest govt-funded program'Last updated on Feb 01, 2018, 02:23 pm
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the 2018 Budget this morning. If the NDA doesn't return to power in 2019, this was its last full-fledged Budget.
The presentation began with major announcements for the farm and healthcare sectors, but quickly turned into disappointment for the salaried middle class.
Here are the highlights of the 2018 Union Budget.
No change in I-T slabs, standard deduction of Rs. 40,000
Despite widespread speculation, no change was made in income tax slabs; the exemption limit remains Rs. 2.5L.
Standard deduction of Rs. 40,000 in lieu of travel and medical expenses has been announced.
Senior citizens got relief on income coming from bank interest, FD/PO deposits and 80D.
Long-term capital gains exceeding Rs. 1L will be taxed at 10% without indexing.
Rs. 1,200cr National Health Protection Scheme for universal health coverage
Batting for universal health coverage, Jaitley announced the Rs. 1,200cr National Health Protection Scheme for 10cr poor families with 50cr beneficiaries. Each family will get up to Rs. 5L annually for secondary and tertiary care hospital.
This will be the world's largest government-funded program, he said.
There will be a separate Rs. 600cr corpus for Tuberculosis patients.
Higher MSPs, credit worth Rs. 10L crore for agricultural activities
The farm sector got a major push. Jaitley announced a Rs. 2,000cr Agriculture Market Fund and another for fishery, aquaculture and animal husbandry worth Rs. 10,000cr.
Rs. 500cr was allocated for Operation Green and Rs. 1,290cr for a National Bamboo Mission.
MSP for crops will be increased to 1.5 times the production cost.
The overall credit for agricultural activities is Rs. 10-11L crore.
PF joy to employees, thrust to National Livelihood Mission
Jaitley announced the government will contribute 12% for new employees in all sectors for three years.
For women, PF contributions will be cut from 12% to 8% for the first three years.
The government will announce measures to address MSMEs' non-performing assets and reduce tax burden.
The budget for the National Livelihood Mission has been increased to Rs. 5,000cr.
Boost to domestic manufacturers via increased customs duty on electronics
To boost domestic manufacturing, customs duty on mobile phones has been increased from 15% to 20%, and on some accessories to 15%.
Excise duty on unbranded petrol/diesel has been cut by Rs. 2.
Farmer producer companies with turnovers of Rs. 100cr will get 100% tax deduction for five years.
For firms earning up to Rs. 250cr, tax rate will be lowered to 25%.
Loans and free gas connections for women
The government announced loans worth Rs. 75,000cr to women self-help groups by March'19. Under the Ujjwala Yojana, 8cr BPL women will get free gas connections. Last year, 70% of the 10.38 Mudra loans went to women, Jaitley said, allocating Rs. 3L crore for the scheme.
Safety and modernization to be key focus areas for Railways
The government announced capital expenditure of Rs. 1,48,528cr for the Railways, which will spend on escalators and wifi at stations, CCTV and other amenities in trains, and thousands of new wagons, coaches and locomotives.
Rs. 17,000cr was allocated to Bengaluru Metro and Rs. 11,000cr for Mumbai Suburban Railways. 600 major stations will be redeveloped.
36,000km of rail track will be renewed and 18,000km doubled.
Cryptocurrency to remain illegal for now, Digital India to flourish
The government warned against the use of cryptocurrency again, reiterating it is not legal tender.
Blockchain technology will be promoted in various activities.
Focus on digitalization will continue and the allocation for Digital India has been doubled. Rs. 10,000cr has been allocated for 5L wifi hotspots.
The Niti Aayog and Department of Science are working on national programs in AI and cyberspace respectively.
Automatic revision in MPs' salaries, hikes for president, vice-president, governors
Jaitley announced automatic revision of MPs' emoluments every five years, indexed to inflation. The salaries of the president, vice-president and governors are being increased to Rs. 5L, Rs. 4.5: and Rs. 3.5L respectively.
New medical colleges, architecture schools and railway university
Jaitley announced Rs. 1L crore in four years for revitalizing of infrastructure and systems, and another Rs. 1L crore for R&D.
Four new government medical colleges and 18 new schools of planning and architecture will be set up. A railway university will come up in Vodadara.
Integrated B.Ed programs will be launched for teachers.
"Tech will be the biggest driver in education," Jaitley said.
Rs. 14.34L crore for development of rural infrastructure
The government has committed Rs. 14.34L crore to development of rural infrastructure. Under the Bharatmala project, the aim is to complete 9,000km of highway construction. The disinvestment target for 2018=18 has been set at Rs. 80,000cr, Jaitley said, adding the 2-017-18 target has been exceeded.