First woman finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the first Union Budget for 2019-20. From various schemes to the vision forward, here are the key takeaways.
New Delhi: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the first Union Budget of the Modi 2.0 government. She spoke at length about the Swachh Bharath Abhiyan and start-ups. Sitharaman also spoke quite a bit about Aadhaar cards and PAN cards.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is the second woman in the history of independent India to present the Union Budget. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the first.
Prior to the presentation, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the budget for 2019-20.
She handed over a copy of the Union Budget to President Ram Nath Kovind before the speech.
Breaking away from the brown Budget briefcase, Sitharaman held a red folder, a bahi khata, with a key hole on the emblem.
$5 trillion economy:
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India needs to make structural reforms to achieve $5 trillion economy in the next few years. She said that the Indian economy, which stood at $1.85 trillion five years ago, has reached $2.7 trillion now, and is within capacity to reach $5 trillion in the next few years.
In the current year, India's economy will grow to become $3 trillion economy, sixth largest in the world, stated Sitharaman.
"We need to invest in infrastructure, digital economy and job creation in small and medium enterprises," Sitharaman said.
She said that in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), India has become the third largest economy in the world after the US and China.
Aadhaar and PAN cards:
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to issue Aadhaar cards to non-resident Indians holding Indian passport upon their arrival in the country without waiting thorugh the 180 days period.
Under the present rule, NRIs with Indian passport are required to wait for 180 days to get the Aadhaar card.
"I propose to consider issuing Aadhaar cards for NRIs with Indian passports after their arrival in the country without waiting for mandatory 180 days," Sitharaman said in her Budget speech.
As on May 31, 2019, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had generated a total of 123.82 crore Aadhaar to residents of the country.
On Jal Shakti ministry:
Nirmala Sitharaman said that the newly set up Jal Shakti ministry will work with states to ensure that every rural house gets water by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission. This came soon after her promise that every single rural family, except those unwilling to take connection, will get electricity and LPG connection by 2022.
The scheme comes under the ambit of the Jal Shakti ministry, which has merged the ministries of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation with the drinking water and sanitation portfolio. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat took charge of this new ministry on May 31.
The Jal Shakti ministry has been set up at a time when the heat wave is currently sweeping north India and the delayed monsoon has delivered 38% lower-than-normal rainfall since the start of the season on June 1, with the future looking far more dire.
By 2020, India will be formally be categorised as a "water stressed" country, one where per capita availability of water is less than 1,000 cubic metres or less.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that roads stretching across 1,25,000 kilometers would be upgraded under the Pradhan Gram Sadak Yojana under Phase III at an estimated cost of Rs 80,250 crore.
“All-weather road connectivity has been provided to 97% of the population,” she added.
The government also proposes to build 1.95 crore houses under Pradhan Mantari Awas Yojna (Rural), Sitharaman said, adding 100 new clusters will be set up in 2019-20 to enable 50,000 artisans to come into economic value chain.
Stressing that the government keeps villages, poor and farmers at centre stage in every programme, she said every single rural family, except those unwilling to take connection, will have electricity and LPG connection by 2022.
Free LPG scheme and electricity connection have transformed rural India, Sitharaman said.
She also said that the time taken to complete construction of houses under PMAY cut to 114 days from 314 days in 2015-16, due to the use of DBT platform technology.
On public sector banks:
Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government will pump in Rs 70,000 crore into public sector banks (PSBs) to strengthen them and enhance their lending capacity.
She further stated that non-performing assets of PSBs have come down by Rs 1 lakh crore.
Banks have recovered Rs 4 lakh crore due to the insolvency and bankruptcy code and other means affected in the past four years, she said.
The government has decided to infuse Rs 70,000 crore in the state-owned banks, so that credit growth can be improved, she said. Domestic credit has increased to 13%.
She further said the government has carried out consolidation in the PSBs, smoothly reducing their number by 8.
For railways and transport:
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that corporate India is a job creator as well as wealth creator and called for public private partnership to develop rail infrastructure.
Sitharaman said that 657 km of metro rail network has become operational across country while railway infrastructure will need Rs 50 lakh crore investment till 2030.
Saying that schemes such as Bharatmala, Sagarmala and UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) are bridging rural urban divide and improving transport infrastructure, she added, "Public private partnership to be unleashed to develop rail infrastructure."
The finance minister said that as the world's third largest aviation market, the time is ripe to enter aircraft financing and leasing from Indian shores.
She further noted that last mile delivery stood out and asserted that the government's objective has been and continues to be "mazboot desh ke liye mazboot nagarik".
"The target of $5 trillion economy in next few years is imminently achievable," she noted.
"We have shown by our deeds that principles of ''perform, reform, transform'' can indeed succeed," she said, adding that the NDA government in its first term had set the ball rolling for a ''new India'' with strident commitment to fiscal consolidation.
Boost for startups:
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that an exclusive television channel is proposed to be set up for startups that will serve as a platform for discussing issues affecting their growth and match-making with venture capitalists.
She proposed to start a television programme exclusively for startups that will be executed by startups themselves.
"This shall serve as a platform for promoting startups, discussing issues affecting their growth, match-making with venture capitalists and for funding and tax planning. This channel shall be designed and executed by startups themselves," she said.
Focus on women:
The Budget also focused on women empowerment proposing to set up a high-level committee.
Nirmala Sitharaman said there was no segment where the contribution of women was not significant.
In a boost for women self-help groups (SHG), Sitharaman announced the expansion of the interest subvention programme to all districts.
Every woman SHG member having a verified Jan Dhan account will get an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000, it was announced.
There was also an announcement on a Rs 1,00,000 loan for women under the Mudra scheme.
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Last Updated 5, Jul 2019, 3:04 PM