Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is all set to present the first Union Budget of Modi 2.0 dispensation tomorrow, i.e. July 5. Printing of Budget 2019 documents have already begun following the symbolic 'Halwa' ceremony last month in the Finance Ministry. With just few hours remaining for Sitharaman's Budget 2019 speech in Parliament, there are lots hope and expectations that the government will announce something big for all sectors to boost the slow and stranded economic condition of India.
Here are some last minute hopes and expectations for defence, agriculture, health, income tax and several other sectors from the Budget exercise:
With Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and several other states just a few months away, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government is planning to expand its flagship programme - the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN). Though there is no official confirmation regarding the increased amount so far, there are reports that the pay-out per farmer could be revised to Rs 8,000 from the existing Rs 6,000 per annum. Moreover, another recent Cabinet decision in this regard promises to benefit all the 14.5 crore farmers, irrespective of the size of their land holding, across the country.
Though there are several long pending plans, especially a military modernisation programme, on the defence sector of India, the Centre is likely to stick to a modest rise in defence spending owing to tight government finances. If latest media reports turn out to be true, there is unlikely to be any change to the budgetary allocation in the defence sector announced by then finance minister Piyush Goyal. In an interim budget unveiled in February before Lok Sabha elections 2019, the government allocated Rs 4.31 lakh crore ($62.27 billion) for defence, a 6.6 percent rise over the previous year, raising concern at the time it wouldn't be enough for modernisation.
Since several benefits for individual taxpayers were already introduced in the interim budget 2019, experts do not expect much on that front in the upcoming Budget exercise. During the Interim Budget 2019, the government had increased the tax rebate to Rs 12,500 for taxpayers whose taxable income was up to Rs 5 lakh. However, there was no change brought in the basic exemption limit. The left out middle-class salaried taxpayers may now expect Sitharaman to bring cheer to them by increasing the basic exemption limit from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, as this would benefit even those tax payers who are not eligible for the Rs 12,500 tax rebate. This limit was previously increased from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh in the financial year (FY) 2014-15.
With the interim budget not having increased funds in a major scale for the health sector in India, experts have high expectations from the Union Budget 2019. Some high-level expectations include - the expansion of golden card members under government's flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme, construction of new medical colleges, nursing colleges and district hospitals, tax reduction on medical equipment and recognition of e-pharmacies under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act among others. In the Interim Budget, the Centre announced a Rs 61,398 crore budgetary allocation for the health sector for the 2019-2020 fiscal, with Rs 6,400 crore earmarked for the Centre's ambitious AB-PMJAY health insurance scheme.
Some last minute hopes of the country's Education sector from Budget 2019 are - setting up smart classrooms, modern laboratories, research facilities, libraries; building capacity for addressing the current learning needs of students, ability to use modern tools and pedagogy to drive conceptual learning; introducing mandatory counselling for best career option and providing options for pursuing vocational training post middle school (class 8). In the interim Budget, the outlay for the National Education Mission has been increased by over 19% to around Rs 38,500 crore, with most of the allocation earmarked for centrally sponsored schemes in school education. The current allocation is less than 3% of the GDP, which is low as compared to developed countries where it is usually ranges between 5% and 7% of the GDP.