New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley began presenting the first national budget for self and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government Thursday expressing concerns over economic slowdown while promising steps to ensure a course correction with bold measures.
“People of India have voted decisively for change,” Jaitley said. “Steps I will unveil in the budget will aim at 7-8 percent growth over the next three-four years, lower inflation, less fiscal deficit and a manageable current account deficit.”
The minister said given the state of the economy today, high inflation, low growth and moderate rise in tax collections, the fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent of India’s gross domestic product set by his predecessor P. Chidambaram was a “daunting” task.
“But I have decided to accept this target as a challenge,” he said, adding he will seek to further bring down the fiscal deficit to 3.6 percent for the next fiscal and to 3 percent in the year after.
He said the country cannot be made to suffer due to indecisiveness and populism and there was an urgent need to revive growth in manufacturing and infrastructure. “We will also examine proposals for more autonomy to banks.”
The finance minister said possibility of a poor monsoon and the Iraq crisis were key challenges with a bearing on both government finances and inflation. But he said the situation will be monitored closely to initiate immediate corrective steps.
“Financial stability is the foundation of our recovery.”
Jaitley also promised early introduction of the pan-India goods and services tax, while assuring the domestic and global investment community of predictability in the tax regime to restore confidence on the country’s prospects.
The budget for the current fiscal comes against the backdrop of the Economic Survey 2013-14, the annual report card on the state of the nation, which has termed inflation-control, job creation and pushing growth as the three main challenges, while calling for a fresh dose of reforms.
Expectations have been high from the budget after Modi came into power with a landslide victory in the general elections, mainly on the promise of ushering in happy days for India’s 1.2 billion people by creating more jobs, providing relief from price rise and reviving growth.
Among the various measures, Jaitley announced a national multi-scale programme called Skill India for providing training to youth and their employment, a national irrigation scheme and a smart city with an investment of over $1 billion as part of the larger plan for 100 such projects.
Budget 2014: More IITs, IIMs; thrust on infrastructure, manufacturing
NDA government on Thursday unveiled its maiden budget that investors hope will spell out Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strategy for restoring the country’s economic and fiscal health. Finance minister Arun Jaitley reached Parliament after meeting President Pranab Mukherjee and Modi.
Highlights of Budget 2014-15
- Aim is to lay down broad policy indicator for our future: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
- It will not be too wise to expect much from the first Budget
- India unhesitatingly desires to grow
- We have the mandate of ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas’; we have taken up the challenge
- We need to revive growth in manufacturing, infrastructure; to raise resources
- Fiscal prudence is important; tax-GDP ratio must be improved; non-tax revenue increased
- Target of 4.1% fiscal deficit is daunting
- We must address fully problem of black money
- We need to take tough decisions, govt will constitute expenditure commission
- Will approve scheme to enable legislation of GST
- GST will streamline tax administration & result in higher tax collection for centre and states
- No option but to take some bold steps to spurt economy, these are only the first steps and are directional
- Committed to provide stable taxation regime, which will be investor friendly
- Will set up commission for tax payers to approach with disputes
- India needs jobs in manufacturing sector
- Manufacturers will be allowed to sell their products without any additional approval
- Policy of the NDA Govt is to promote FDI in select sectors
- FDI in Defence raised to 49% with full control of Indian management
- Banking system needs to be strengthened
- Citizens of India to get direct share-holding in banks
- PSUs will get boost to create investment cycle
- PM has vision of developing 100 smart cities, 7,060 crores for this will be kept aside
- Visas on arrival will be expanded for other countries
- In order to give major boost to tourism, e-visas would be introduced at 9 airports. This facilitates visas on arrival
- Programme called ‘Skill India’ will be launched to train resources
- As large number of people migrate to cities, new cities need to be developed
- Govt intends to bring sanitation to all houses by 2019
- Concentration on giving more electricity to rural areas
- Rs 200 crores set aside to build statue of Sardar Patel
- I propose Rs 50,548 crore for SC development
- Sops announced for senior citizens and the disabled
- Govt to print currency notes with Braille to help the visually challenged
- I propose schemes for disabled persons for a life of dignity and equality in the society
- Crisis management Centre in all districts of National Capital Territory, hospitals
- Govt to focus on concerns of girl child; schools to have chapter on gender main-streaming
- Wage and self-employment in rural areas
- More areas to come in under bank loans to women self-help groups
- 4 more AIIMS in Andhra, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Purvanchal
- 12 more govt medical colleges with dental facilities proposed
- Will make sure there is an AIIMS in every state
- Govt will provide toilets, drinking water in all girls’ schools
- Virtual classrooms to be set up
- Propose to set up 5 new IIMs in HP, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha & Maharashtra
- Pan-India programme to ensure broad-band connectivity to villages
- 600 new community radio centres
- FTII, SRFTI to be given status of national institutes
- Planning of Metro for other cities to begin
- Mission to be set up for low-cost affordable housing
- Slum development to be part of CSR
- Rs 100 crores for modernization of madrasas
- Agriculture university to be set up in Telangana and Haryana; Rs 100 crore have been allocated for this purpose