Union Budget – 2017-2018
This year’s budget is watched keenly because of the recent demonetisation move, processed by the government. The primary aim of the demonetisation exercise was to tap the black money. For the first time, since independence there was no separate budget for the railways. With the finance minister presenting the first combined budget of independent India, the main focus was on synergizing the investments in the railways, waterways, civil, roads and aviation. The Union budget 2017-2018 in being presented in the Lok Sabha. The agenda of the budget is: “Transform,
Energize and Clean India”, that is, TEC India seeks to
- Transform the quality of governance and quality of life of our people;
- Energize various sections of society, especially the youth and the vulnerable, and enable them to unleash their true potential; and
- Clean the country from the evils of corruption, black money and non-transparent political funding.
The finance minister articulated the government spokers on spending more on the rural areas and building infrastructure. The focus on railways will be on four major areas and they are
- Passenger safety
- Capital and development works
- Finance and accounting reforms
- A railway safety fund named “rashtriya rail sanraksha kosh” (a non lapsable fund that will be utilised for safety measures)will be created with a corpus of 1 lakh crores over a period of 5 years.
- By the year 2020, unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines will be eliminated.
2.Capital and Development works:
- A new Metro Rail Act will be enacted by rationalizing the existing laws. This will facilitate greater private participation and investment in construction and operation purposes.
- Under the BharatNet Project, by the end of 2017-2018, high speed broadband connectivity on optical fiber will be available in more than 150,000 gram panchayats, with Wi-Fi hot spots and access to digital services at low tariffs.
- A DigiGaon initiative will be launched to provide tele-medicine,education and skills through digital technology.
- SMS based “Clean My Coach Service”has been started. It is now proposed to introduce ‘Coach Mitra’ facility, a single window interface, to register all coach related complaints and requirements.
- By 2019, all coaches of Indian Railways will be fitted with bio toilets.
4.Finance and Accounting reforms:
- The finance minister also increased the funds allocated for the scheduled castes by a twenty-three thousand to fifty-three thousand rupees. He also mentioned that new enterprises were setup under the stand-up India program aimed at helping the women’s, Dalits and travel entrepreneurs.
The finance minister also announced the creation of new employment opportunities in the railways with the announcement of new Metro rail policy.
While constructing one crore houses for the homeless by 2019 to announcing the completion of the homeless by 2019 to announcing the completion of 100% electrification of villages by May 2018, the finance minister unveiled many measures for the rural and infrastructure sectors. Among these announcements new metro rail policies, selected airports in tier-2 cities has to be taken up for operation on ppp (Public-private partnership) mode, new railway lines and differently-abled sectors.
The output of the Indian railways have been proposed to be enhanced by 10% in the next three years. This will be done through modernization and up-gradation of identified corridors. For passengers, service charges on rail ticket booked through IRCTC will be withdrawn.
Focussing on urban rural and housing sectors the finance minister said that the government has proposed to construct one crore houses for the homeless by 2019.In this context he said that the pradanmanthri awas yojana allocation has been raised to 23,000 crore rupees from 15,000 crore rupees.
Most of the budget measures were also been seen in line with the prime minister Narendra Modi plan to provide 20 million houses across India by 2020.Experts say difficulties in claiming in centre for a formal housing have been removed by the various measures.
Funding of the political parties:
India is one of the world’s largest democratic country with one of the most elaborate electoral system but it has still not able to evolve a transparent method of funding to the political parties. In his budget speech, the finance minister said “Transparency was vital for the conduct of free and fair elections and that the government was committed to achieving this target”.
Political parties continue to receive most of their funds through the unanimous judiciary which have been reflected in the cash economy.
Among the many measures announced, the finance minister put a cap on a maximum amount of cash donation that a political party can receive will be Rs.2000 from any one of the sources.
Every political party have to file its return within the time prescribed in accordance with the probation of the Income tax act. Any existing exemptions to political parties from the payment of Income tax act will be available subject to the fulfillment of these following conditions
- The political parties will be entitled to receive donations only by cheque or in the digital mode from their donors.
- An amendment is been proposed to the reserve bank of India act to enable the issuance of electoral bonds .The bonds can be purchased from banks by the donors either through cheque or digital transactions. They can be redeemed only by registered political parties.
Conclusion: Henceforth the main purpose of this budget is to benefit the farmers, the poor and the underprivileged sections of our society. The budget was devoted to the well-being of the villages, farmers and the poor. The budget reflected commitment to eliminate black money. From the current budget the housing and the small business sectors would gain an immense growth drastically.