Highlights of Union Budget 2018-19

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the Union Budget 2018-19 in the Parliament on February 1, 2018. This will be the last budget of the NDA government before the next general elections that are scheduled for 2019. It’s also an important budget because it comes shortly after the major reform of the Goods and Services Tax, recapitalization of the public-sector banks, etc.

Budget 2018-19

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The following are the main highlights of the budget:

Agriculture and Rural Economy

Jaitley said that the government will take a number of measures for the welfare of the farmers with emphasis on doubling their incomes. He also said that the minimum support price (MSP) for all the Kharif crops has been increased 150% of the cost of production. If the market prices are below the MSP, then the government will either buy the produce from the farmers or find some other way to ensure that the farmers get the right price.

Rs. 2,000 crores have also been set up for establishing 22,000 Gramin agricultural markets and 585 Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs).

Healthcare and Education

The government aims at replacing the blackboards with digital boards in the education sector along with the promotion of e-education across the nation. It’s also proposed to set up Eklavya schools for more than 50% of the STs and over 20,000 tribals by the year 2022. A total budget of Rs. 1 lakh crores has been set up for the upgrading of the education sector.

The government plans to adopt a universal health coverage system and provide Rs. 5 lakh health coverage to 10 crores people every year. In addition to that, Rs. 600 crores have been allocated for the treatment of patients that are suffering from tuberculosis.

Taxes

No major changes have been proposed for the direct taxes of the salaried individuals. However, Jaitley did say that the direct taxes collection increased 12.6% in 2017-18.

For the MSMEs with annual turnover less than Rs. 250 crores, corporate tax has been reduced to 25% from the current 30%.