New Delhi, Feb 1: When Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rises to present Union Budget 2018 in Parliament on Thursday, he will join an exclusive club of leaders who have presented the same for five consecutive years. All eyes will be on Arun Jaitley when he walks inside the Parliament building at 11 AM with the iconic cherry-red leather bag containing his Budget 2018 speech on February 1. Apart from Jaitley, only Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Yashwant Sinha and Morarji Desai have presented the Union Budget for five consecutive years. Also Read - Will Quit if Centre Brings Law Allowing Only One Member of Family in Politics: Mamata’s Nephew Abhishek Banerjee
Will income rates be slashed? How will the agrarian distress be addressed? Will the spiralling petrol, diesel prices come down? Will the aam aadmi get some respite from inflation? Answers to all these questions and many more will be answered by Arun Jaitley when he tables the Union Budget 2018 in the Lower House. (Income Tax Calculator: Know Your Income Tax Slabs, Rates & Rebates Ahead of Budget) Also Read - BJP Tweets Old Video of Mamata Banerjee Reciting Islamic Prayer, Slams Bengal CM For Her Netaji Event Reaction
With the general elections just a year away, many believe that the Modi government will announce a slew of measures to benefit the common man. However, going by the past trends it shouldn’t be surprising if it also decides to take some tough decisions to support the economic growth of the country. Also Read - 'Only Mother Can Order His Son': Read This Farmer's Emotional Appeal to PM Modi's Mother on Agri Laws
What’s Different This Year
The Modi government rolled out the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is considered as the biggest tax reforms in the country since independence, in July 2017. With the introduction of the GST, the proposals in the Budget will be different from previous years.
Since the GST rates are decided by a GST Council, headed by finance minister and comprises of representatives of all states, the Budget for 2018-19 may not have any tax proposals concerning excise and service tax levies. Only proposals for changes in direct taxes, both personal income tax and corporate tax, besides customs duty, are likely to be presented in the Budget along with new schemes and programmes of the government.
Budget May Not Be Populist
Despite this being the last full Budget before the next Lok Sabha election which must be held by May 2019, it is unlikely to be a populist one.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already indicated that the Budget will not be a populist one and said it’s a myth that the common man expects “freebies and sops” from the government. PM Modi, in an interview with a television channel, confirmed that his government will stay on the reforms agenda course that has pulled out India from being among the ‘fragile five’ economies of the world to being a ‘bright spot’.
PM Modi has been stoutly defending his economic policies. He has repeatedly portrayed demonetisation as “a very big success story” and also made it clear that the government was open to changes in the new GST to plug loopholes and make it a more efficient ‘one-nation-one-tax’ system.
Job creation remains one of the major challenges for the Modi government. PM Modi has often rejected criticism of providing a jobless growth, saying “lies” were being spread about employment generation and his government’s policies were oriented towards creating jobs. It remains to be seen what new initiatives the government announces in the Budget to further negate the ‘jobless growth’ criticism.
The government will also be keen on ensure that it sticks to its fiscal deficit target to give confidence to foreign investors.