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Arun Jaitley says this on Nirmala Sitharaman's first budget
Budget 2019: Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said his successor Nirmala Sitharaman's first budget is a "budget of a continuing government, which has to accelerate the direction of the past."
Budget 2019: Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said his successor Nirmala Sitharaman's first budget is a "budget of a continuing government, which has to accelerate the direction of the past." Jaitley said Budget 2019 expands the roadmap on which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has built up India’s growth story from 2014-19. Jaitley said that a fundamental question has always been asked as to what would one choose between good economics and clever politics. However, pointed out, "the choice is unfair because any Government needs both in order to survive and perform."
The former FM said PM Modi's first tenure witnessed this blending of good economics and good politics. He cited examples of Jan Dhan accounts and Aadhaar which, through Direct Benefit Transfers, helped set an example of the blending of good economics and good politics.
The current Budget, Jaitley wrote, "takes upon itself the task of concentrating, in the next five years, on a ‘tap for every home’. For this, it is necessary to clean up our rivers and have an adequate water management."
Here are some of the points Jaitley wrote while praising the Budget:
- The Finance Minister has rightly given top priority to infrastructure. This priority is self-evident in the fact that the rural roads programme connecting every village with a motorable road is nearing completion. The National Highways are moving at a pace faster than ever before.
- Adequate amount of allocations have been made in the Budget for this. The railways is one of the top priorities of the Government. Besides faster trains, modernised coaches, additional railway safety measures, very soon India will witness the modernisation of its railway stations similar to what today has happened to the airports.
- Increase in port capacity, further development of inland water transportation and expanding the aviation sector to the remotest corner of the country is the roadmap which the Finance Minister has presented. This will be the India of 2024.
- Modernisation of our cities with all-weatherroads, an effective metro system, better urban roads are being given an impetus. The Government is committed to providing housing to the weaker sections in both rural and urban areas.
- A major tax incentive has been given to those who borrow to buy affordable houses. This move will not merely help the system to utilise the unsold stock of affordable houses but will also be instrumental in injecting liquidity into the real estate market.
- The direction of reforms in the banking and financial sector has been maintained. Consolidation of public sector banks is being undertaken so as to have fewer but mega and financially strong banks. A sizeable allocation has been made for recapitalisation of banks so that their capacity to lend for growth improves. The Budget contains concrete proposals about support to the NBFCs whose liquidity, for the last several months, was under strain and had reduced the purchasing power of consumer. The sectors most affected by this were real estate, automobiles and the MSMEs.
- While the GST reforms are being carried out by the GST Council, a lot of simplification for direct tax assesses has been proposed. Besides affordable housing, electric vehicles and start-ups are the sectors on which the Budget places an adequate emphasis.
- In the last two years, when the global crude oil prices had hardened, duties had been cut by the Central Government on at least two occasions in a major way. It is the softening of the crude oil prices which has persuaded the Government to raise the excise duty on petrol and diesel marginally so that this money could be transferred to a special fund meant for infrastructure creation, particularly for the National Highways and the rural roads programme.
- The Budget creates a political direction for an aspirational India. The economically weaker sections get the basic amenities of life. Besides the income-tax exemption limit having been increased to rupees five lakhs in the interim Budget a few months ago, several sectors of interest to the middle class and the neo-middle class have been incentivised.
- Massive infrastructure creation also has the ability to generate employment and attract investment. So does a boost to the construction and real estate sector. India will continue to be the fastest growing major economy in the world. In the last two to three quarters growth has seen a moderation.
- Unquestionably, the Budget as a policy document lays down the roadmap for India to get back on track.
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