Union Budget 2018 - Arun Jaitley promises air travel for the common man


National Health Protection Scheme is slated to be the world's largest government funded healthcare programme which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, providing coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

Not surprisingly, barring a few adjustments to individual income tax, such as a higher slab for medical and transport reimbursements for salary payers and concessions to senior citizens, the finance minister has left the tax structure untouched.

It isn't surprising that the focus of the Union Budget is on the rural poor and farmers. This is likely to help the government in the long run in achieving the targets of reducing fiscal deficit to 3 per cent of GDP by 2024-25 and the government debt to 40 per cent of GDP from the current level of 49 per cent.

The government has planned to set up a Rs. 20 billion fund to develop, and upgrade, agricultural market infrastructure. Now "Operation Greens" shall promote Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs), agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management. "These groups can also facilitate knowledge transfer, which will push organic production and propel India's exports", he added. "The agriculture and rural landscape were in some kind of distress and provision of over Rs 14.34 lakh crore on rural infrastructure should also add to employment generation, especially in the farm sector", Jajodia added.

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The government announced two major initiatives to improve the quality of health care in India. Those centers would also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services.

He said "adequate funds" would be provided to roll out the insurance program to 500 million of India's poorest nationwide. "We can't reach there immediately, for this we have to take baby steps like I have taken today in the budget", said Jaitley. In last year's budget, this tax rate was for companies with a turnover of under Rs 50 crore.

The annual Economic Survey which was published on January 29, helped him by forecasting that the rate of economic growth will rise from 6.75 percent to 7.2-7.5 percent in the next financial year.

Yesterday, Jaitley in the Budget speech had said, "We are all aware that lakhs of families in our country have to borrow or sell assets to receive indoor treatment in hospitals". Customs duty on smart watches and wearables has been doubled to 20%, while that on specified parts and accessories of mobile phones has gone up to 15% from the current range of 7.5-10%.

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Jaitley said for items which are being made in India, hike in price of imported goods is in national interest.

It is expected to accelerate the development process of the country.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the philosophy behind the budget was to lend support to sectors where actually support is required. The increase in education cess by 1% will make sure, all income tax payers which consist of a large section of salaried class will see a downward revision in their take-home salary staring from April 2018 without factoring their salary revision.

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