2017 Budget LIVE News Updates: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is set to present the much-awaited Union Budget 2017 on Wednesday. This is for the first time in history that the Budget will be presented on February 1 while earlier it was presented towards the end of February or beginning of March. This is also the first time in history that the Rail Budget will be part of the Union Budget unlike earlier when it used to be a separate presentation altogether.
All eyes are on the Budget as it also comes months after the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation drive. It is being said that the government may increase the tax exemption limit from Rs 2.5 lakh per annum to Rs 4 lakh in the Income Tax slabs. This is being seen as the government’s effort to increase cash spending, which has considerably reduced after demonetisation.
Meanwhile, the government is also expected to increase Service Tax to 16-18 per cent from the existing 15 per cent. This may be done in an attempt to take the service tax rate closer to that proposed under the Goods and Services Tax.
On Tuesday, the Economic Survey was tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament. The survey pegs India’s GDP for the current year at 7.1 per cent and for FY 2017-2018 between 6.75 and 7.5 per cent. The survey says that due to demonetisation, the cash crunch still remains and remonetisation will happen only by April 2017. “The cash squeeze in the meantime will have significant implications for GDP, reducing 2016-17 growth by ¼ to ½ percentage points compared to the baseline of 7 per cent,” states the survey. It also states job losses and social disruption as some of the adverse effects of demonetisation.
President Pranab Mukherjee, in his joint address to Parliament on Tuesday, also spoke about some policies that the government may be bringing in its Budget, indicating that Jaitley’s budget may be a populist one. “The government’s policies are committed to the welfare of the garib, dalit, peedit, shoshit, vanchit, kisan, shramik and yuva. My government is guided by the Antyodaya philosophy of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. His centenary year is being observed as Garib Kalyan Varsh,” President Mukherjee said. President Mukherjee also mentioned schemes that the government is bringing for the poor, for women, for the people of the Northeast and more.
Jaitley has a tough task in hand as the country expects him to take steps not just for the industry, but for the lower and middle classes too, especially after the damage done by demonetisation.