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Union Budget 2019: Rs 50 Lakh Crore for Railway Infrastructure; No Mention of MGNREGA

Important takeaways from the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the 2019 Union Budget in the Parliament on Friday, July 5. She claimed that India will become a $3 trillion economy this year. Here are the highlights of her speech:

  • For 25 percent corporate tax, annual turnover limit raised from Rs 200 crore to Rs 400 crore. Earlier, companies with turnover of 200-400 crore had to pay 30 percent corporate tax.
  • Minimum income limit raised to Rs 5 lakh for taxpayers. Three percent surcharge applicable for income of Rs 2-5 crore; 7 percent on income of Rs 5 crore and above.
  • PAN and Aadhaar to become interchangeable.
  • In relation to capital gains arising out of sale of house for investment in startups , exemption period to be extended to March 31, 2021.
  • 2 per cent TDS to be applicable on cash withdrawals of Rs 1 crore and above.
  • Disinvestment target for the year set at Rs 1.05 lakh crore.
  • GST rate for electric vehicles to be 5 per cent. Additional income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest on loan taken to buy electric vehicles.
  • Fiscal deficit target set at 3.3 percent, revised from the earlier target of 3.4 percent.
  • Custom duty on gold and other precious metals to be increased from 10 percent to 12.5 percent.
  • Streamlining of multiple labour laws into four labour codes.
  • Loans of upto  Rs 1 crore to be given to MSMEs for ease of access.

On the infrastructure development front, the finance minister said that between 2018-2030, the government intends to invest Rs 50 lakh crore into railways infrastructure. At an estimated cost of Rs 80,000 crore, 1.25 lakh kilometre of roads will be built over the next five years.

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Besides the urging farmers to adopt zero-budget farming and the promise of setting up 10,000 new farmer producer organisations (FPOs), nothing concrete was announced for farmers and the agriculture sector. “Ease of doing business and ease of living should apply to farmers…. Steps such as this (zero-budget farming ) can help doubling farmers income,” Sitharaman said in her speech.

Congress leader and Former finance minister P Chidambaram criticised the budget speech, pointing out that for the first time, total revenue, total expenditure, fiscal deficit, revenue deficit, additional revenue mobilisation or financial concessions were not mentioned in the speech.

He also said that allocations to several social welfare schemes like MGNREGA were left out of the budget.

Chidambaram also said that the FM only spoke about expansion of the government’s existing schemes as well as exaggerated successes of these schemes, and that the budget was “totally bereft of any reforms, not to speak of structural reforms.”

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