Budget 2018: Decoding Mr Arun Jaitley’s poll-bound Budget 2018 – The Economic Times–02.02.2018

A house with a gas connection, electricity and a toilet for the poor is a clear poll promise from the finance minister.

 This was the Modi government’s last full Budget before 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Focusing on India’s largest vote bank — rural millions — the Finance Minister, speaking in English and Hindi to address both India and Bharat, presented a whole bouquet for the country’s voting classes. The politics of the Budget explained

1) Offered farmers a higher MSP
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed India’s farmers directly when he pegged the minimum support price at 1.5 times the cost of inputs. Clearly, the government was responding to criticism it faced from the farm sector in Gujarat and other states. Farmers across the country have had two complaints on the MSP. One, it would often be below the actual cost of production, and two, the state government would not procure enough. The finance minister has targeted both this time. Instead of six different parameters that the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices considered for fixing MSP, including demand and market prices, now MSP will be solely based on cost of production. The Niti Aayog will find a mechanism to ensure all farmers benefi t from the MSP.

2) And FM did not stop there
A house with a gas connection, electricity and a toilet for the poor is a clear poll promise from the finance minister.

Ujjwala Scheme
Free LPG connections will be given now to 8 cr poor women instead of 5 cr. Out of which 3.34 Cr connections released so far

 Saubahagya Yojana
4 Crore poor households to get electricity, with an outlay of Rs 16000 crore

Housing
1 crore houses to be built for poor by 2019, as part of target of ‘Housing for All’ by 2022. 54% increase in outlay for Smart City Mission to Rs 6,000 crore

3) …Eye on major poll-bound states…

* Chhattisgarh: Farmers protest against minimum support price for rice
* Karnataka: Plagued by 4 years of drought, state has seen 3,500 farmer suicides in the period
* Madhya Pradesh: MP reported drop in wheat sowing; complaints of poor MSP procurement
* Rajasthan: As government procurement is low, farmers sell at lower prices; oilseed acreage down

4) Towards universal healthcare
If something was taken out of BJP’s manifesto for 2019, it had to be this peek into what the Modi government plans to ultimately unveil – a Universal Healthcare Scheme. Earlier, the NDA government had introduced price control on stents needed for angioplasty to around Rs 30,000. However, the full angioplasty procedure could easily cost Rs 2 lakh. Now, with the Rs 5 lakh comprehensive family fl oater type of coverage for 10 crore families, almost all surgeries will be within their reach. With the Lok Sabha elections only a year away, it is highly likely that this revamped National Health Protection Scheme will see an early rollout.

5) And a better rural economy

* 22,000 rural haats to be developed & upgraded into Gramin Agricultural Markets to protect the interests of 86% small and marginal farmers
* Re-structured National Bamboo Mission gets Rs 1,290 crore, finance minister terms Bamboo, ‘Green gold’
* Loans to Women Self-Help Groups will increase to Rs 75,000 crore in 2019 from Rs 42,500 crore last year
* Two New Funds of Rs 10,000 Crore announced for Fisheries and Animal Husbandry sectors

6) Dalit outreach continues
FM Arun Jaitley needed to show that the government has not taken its eye off welfare of the dalit and backward classes. This government has put together all schemes under different ministries and topped it up

7) Keeping the Prez and Veep happy

At a time when GoI barely gave the middle class relief and hiked taxes on the affl uent, FM proposed salary hikes for President (from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh), VP (from Rs 1.25 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh), Governors (from Rs 1.10 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh) and MPs (automatic revision of emoluments every 5 years indexed to infl ation)

8) Ekalavya Model Residential Schools
To provide quality education to tribal children in their own environment by 2022 in every block with over 50% ST population

9) Rise
‘Revitalising Infrastructure & Systems in Education (RISE)’, with an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore in next 4 years, to step up investments in research & related infrastructure in educational institutions

10) Operation Greens
Rs 500 Cr-project launched to address price fluctuations in potato, tomato and onion for benefi t of farmers and consumers

11) Tackling Pollution in Delhi-NCR
Special scheme to support efforts of governments of Haryana, Punjab, UP, and Delhi and subsidise machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue

12) Gobar-dhan
Launch of Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (GOBAR-DHAN) to manage and convert cattle dung and solid waste in farms to compost, bio-gas and bio-CNG

via Budget 2018: Decoding Mr Arun Jaitley’s poll-bound Budget 2018 – The Economic Times

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