All that is important for exam from the Budget 2017-2018
- Justification of Demonetization as given by the Budget:
- The Budget for 2017-18 contains three major reforms
- Agenda of the Budget
- RURAL POPULATION
- THE POOR AND THE UNDERPRIVILEGED
- FINANCIAL SECTOR
- DIGITAL ECONOMY
- PUBLIC SERVICE
- PRUDENT FISCAL MANAGEMENT
- Transparency in Electoral Funding
- Personal Income-Tax
All that is important for exam from the Budget 2017-2018
The article summarizes the important Budget provisions from an exam point of view. This article explains the rationale behind the provision in short wherever necessary and outlines the agenda of the budget in detail. This is all that you will ever need to study with respect to budget for the exam. Save the document as PDF, as this will be important for revision during Prelims (esp., given the fact that questions are coming from many schemes of the government) and has some good fodder for essay and other GS papers.
The Budget recognizes three major challenges for India this year:-
- The current monetary policy stance of the US Federal Reserve, to increase the policy rates more than once in 2017, may lead to lower capital inflows and higher outflows from India.
- The uncertainty around commodity prices especially that of crude oil, has implications for the fiscal situation of India. An increase in oil prices would have an impact on all sectors of Indian economy.
- In several parts of the world, there are signs of increasing retreat from globalization of goods, services and people, as pressures for protectionism are building up. (BREXIT, Italy leaving EU and Trump’s policies) These developments have the potential to affect exports from including India.
Amidst all these developments, India stands out as a bright spot in the world economic landscape.
- India’s Current Account Deficit declined from about 1% of GDP last year to 0.3% of GDP in the first half of 2016-17.
- FDI increased by 36%,despite 5% reduction in global FDI inflows.
- Foreign exchange reserves have reached 361 billion US Dollars as on which represents a comfortable import-cover for about 12 months of imports.
A number of global reports and assessments, over the last two years, have shown that India has considerably improved its policies, practices and economic profile. These are reflected in,
- Doing Business Report of the World Bank;
- World Investment Report 2016 of UNCTAD;
- Global Competitiveness Report of 2015-16 and 2016-17 of the World Economic Forum;
India has become the sixth largest manufacturing country in the world, up from ninth previously.
Justification of Demonetization as given by the Budget:
Demonetisation of high denomination bank notes was in continuation of a series of measures taken by Government during the last two years. It is a bold and decisive measure. For several decades, tax evasion for many has become a way of life. This compromises the larger public interest and creates unjust enrichment in favor of the tax evader, to the detriment of the poor and deprived. This has bred a parallel economy which is unacceptable for an inclusive society.
Demonetisation seeks to create a new ‘normal’ wherein the GDP would be bigger, cleaner and real. This exercise is part of our Government’s resolve to eliminate corruption, black money, counterfeit currency and terror funding. Like all reforms, this measure is obviously disruptive, as it seeks to change the retrograde status quo. Drop in economic activity, if any, on account of the currency squeeze during the remonetisation period is expected to have only a transient impact on the economy.
As Mahatma Gandhi, had once said: “A right cause never fails.”
The Budget for 2017-18 contains three major reforms
- The presentation of the Budget has been advanced to 1st February to enable the Parliament to avoid a Vote on Account and pass a single Appropriation Bill for 2017-18, before the close of the current financial year. This would enable the Ministries and Departments to operationalize all schemes and projects, including the new schemes, right from the commencement of the next financial year. They would be able to fully utilize the available working season before the onset of the monsoon.
- The merger of the Railways Budget with the General Budget is a historic step. We have discontinued the colonial practice prevalent since 1924. This decision brings the Railways to the center stage of Government’s fiscal policy and would facilitate multi modal transport planning between railways, highways and inland waterways. The functional autonomy of Railways will, however, continue.
- Doing away with the plan and non-plan classification of expenditure. This will give us a holistic view of allocations for sectors and ministries. This would facilitate optimal allocation of resources.
Agenda of the Budget
The agenda for the next year is: “Transform, Energize and Clean India”, that is, TEC India. This agenda of 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.
Important schemes or measures and targets for different benefactors are summarized below.
- The agriculture growth rate target at 4.1% in the current year.
- About 40% of the small and marginal farmers avail credit from the cooperative structure. The Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) act as the front end for loan disbursements. NABARD will computerize and integrate 63,000 functional PACS with the Core Banking System of District Central Cooperative Banks in 3 years.
- Government will set up new mini labs in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) for soil testing and ensure 100% coverage of all 648 KVKs in the country. In addition, 1000 mini labs will be set up by qualified local entrepreneurs.
- Market reforms will be undertaken and the States would be urged to de-notify perishables from APMC. This will give opportunity to farmers to sell their produce and get better prices.A model law on contract farming would therefore be prepared and circulated among the States for adoption.
- Mission Antyodaya: –to bring one crore households out of poverty and to make 50,000 gram panchayats poverty free by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji. A composite index for poverty free gram panchayats would be developed to monitor the progress from the baseline.
- Participation of women in MGNREGA has increased to 55% from less than 48% in the past.
- Budget MGNREGA in 2016-17 has been increased to 48,000 crores in 2017-18. The initiative to geo-tag all MGNREGA assets and putting them in public domain has established greater transparency by using space technology in a big way to plan MGNREGA works.
- 100% village electrification by 1st May 2018 under the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana in 2017.
- Open Defecation free villages are now being given priority for piped water supply free from arsenic and fluoride affected habitations in the next four years as a mission of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).
- Panchayati raj institutions still lack human resources for implementing development programmes. A programme of “human resource reforms for results” will be launched during 2017-18 for this purpose.
- An Innovation Fund for Secondary Education will be created to encourage local innovation for ensuring universal access, gender parity and quality improvement. This will include ICT enabled learning transformation.
- SWAYAM platform with at least 350 online courses which would enable students to virtually attend the courses taught by the best faculty; access high quality reading resources; participate in discussion forums; take tests and earn academic grades. Access to SWAYAM would be widened by linkage with DTH channels, dedicated to education.
- National Testing Agency as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organisation to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions. This would free CBSE, AICTE and other premier institutions from these administrative responsibilities so that they can focus more on academics.
- SANKALP: –Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion programme (SANKALP) to provide market relevant training youth.
- Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) will focus on improving the quality and market relevance of vocational training provided in ITIs and strengthen the apprenticeship programmes through industry cluster approach.
Five Special Tourism Zones, anchored on Special Purpose Vehicles, will be set up in partnership with the States. Incredible India 2.0 Campaign will be launched across the world.
THE POOR AND THE UNDERPRIVILEGED
- Mahila Shakti Kendrawill be set up at village level in 14 lakh ICDS Anganwadi This will provide opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition.
- Affordable housing will now be given infrastructure status, which will enable these projects to avail the associated benefits.
- An action plan to eliminate Kala-Azar and Filariasis by 2017, Leprosy by 2018 and Measles by 2020. Elimination of tuberculosis by 2025 is also targeted.
- Two new AIIMS will be set up in the States of Jharkhand and Gujarat.
- Implementation of the schemes for welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minorities will now have outcome based monitoring of expenditure by the NITI Aayog.
- For senior citizens, Aadhar based Smart Cards containing their health details will be introduced.
- Railways will focus on four major areas, namely:Passenger safety;Capital and development works;Cleanliness; andFinance and accounting reforms.
- For passenger safety, a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh will be created with a corpus of 1 lakh crores over a period of 5 years.
- Unmanned level crossings on Broad Gauge lines will be eliminated by 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
- Under the BharatNet Project, by the end of 2017-18, 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.
- For strengthening our Energy sector, Government has decided to set up Strategic Crude Oil Reserves. It is proposed to set up caverns at 2 more locations, namely, Chandikhole in Odisha and Bikaner in Rajasthan. This will take our strategic reserve capacity to 15.33 MMT.
- To focus on our export infrastructure in a competitive world. A new and restructured Central scheme, namely, Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) will be launched in 2017-18.
- Abolition of FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board)to further liberalize FDI norms and cut red-tape.
- Computer Emergency Response Team for our Financial Sector (CERT-Fin) will be establishedCyber security to work in close coordination with all financial sector regulators and other stakeholders.
- The shares of Railway PSEs like IRCTC, IRFC and IRCON will be listed in stock exchanges.
- ETF will be used as a vehicle for further disinvestment of shares
- ‘Indradhanush’ roadmapfor re-capitalization of Banks in 2017-18.
- Aadhar Pay, a merchant version of Aadhar Enabled Payment Systemfor those who do not have debit cards, mobile wallets and mobile phones.
- Increased digital transactions will enable small and micro enterprises to access formal credit. SIDBI to refinance credit institutions which provide unsecured loans, at reasonable interest rates, to borrowers based on their transaction history.
- The Committee on Digital Payments constituted by Department of Economic Affairs has recommended structural reforms in the payment eco system, including amendments to the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007. It is proposed to create a Payments Regulatory Board in the Reserve Bank of India by replacing the existing Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems.
- Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to LPG and kerosene consumers. Chandigarh and eight districts of Haryana have become kerosene free.
- The Government e-market place which is now functional for procurement of goods and services, has been selected as one of the winners of the South Asia Procurement Innovation Awards of the World Bank.
- Head Post Offices as front offices for rendering passport services to citizens in far flung regions of the country who find it difficult to obtain passports and redress passport related grievances.
- Introduction of a system of single registration and two tier system of examination for Government recruitment. There are multiplicity of agencies and examinations now with cumbersome procedures.
- Over the years, the tribunals have multiplied with overlapping functions. Therefore they are to be rationalized and merge tribunals wherever appropriate.
- Along with commemoration of the centenary year of Champaran Satyagraha this year,Government of India will support Government of Gujarat to commemorate 100 years of Sabarmati Ashram in 2017, in a befitting manner.
- 200 years ago in 1817, a valiant uprising of soldiers led by Buxi Jagabandhu took place in Khordha of Odisha will be commemorated appropriately.
PRUDENT FISCAL MANAGEMENT
The FRBM Review Committee has recommended that a sustainable debt path must be the principal macro-economic anchor of our fiscal policy. The Committee has favored Debt to GDP of 60% for the General Government by 2023, consisting of 40% for Central Government and 20% for State Governments. Within this framework, the Committee has derived and recommended 3% fiscal deficit for the next three years. The Committee has also provided for ‘Escape Clauses’, for deviations upto 0.5% of GDP, from the stipulated fiscal deficit target. The triggers for taking recourse to these Escape Clauses, the Committee has included “far-reaching structural reforms in the economy with unanticipated fiscal implications” as one of the factors.
- Fiscal deficit for 2017-18 set at 3.2% of GDP and remain committed to achieve 3% in the following year.
- Revenue Deficit for next year is pegged at 1.9%, against 2% mandated by the FRBM Act.
Measures for Stimulating Growth
Reduction in income tax for smaller companies with annual turnover up to 50 crore to 25%, percentage-wise 96% of companies will get this benefit of lower taxation. This will make our MSME sector more competitive as compared to large companies.
Promoting Digital Economy
- The Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Government for black money has suggested that no transaction above 3 lakh should be permitted in cash. The Government accepted this proposal.
- To promote cashless transactions, BCD, Excise/CV duty and SAD on miniaturized POS card reader for m-POS, micro ATM standards version 1.5.1, Finger Print Readers/Scanners and Iris Scanners won’t be charged. All parts and components for manufacture of such devices are also exempted, so as to encourage domestic manufacturing of these devices.
Transparency in Electoral Fundin
India is the world’s largest democracy. Political parties are an essential ingredient of a multi-party Parliamentary democracy. Even 70 years after Independence, the country has not been able to evolve a transparent method of funding political parties which is vital to the system of free and fair elections. An attempt was made in the past by amending the provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act, the Companies Act and the Income Tax Act to incentivize donations by individuals, partnership firms, HUFs and companies to political parties but political parties continue to receive most of their funds through anonymous donations which are shown in cash.
An effort, therefore, requires to be made to cleanse the system of political funding in India. Donors have also expressed reluctance in donating by cheque or other transparent methods as it would disclose their identity and entail adverse consequences.
Therefore, the following scheme as an effort to cleanse the system of funding of political parties has been proposed:
- a) In accordance with the suggestion made by the Election Commission, the maximum amount of cash donation that a political party can receive will be `2000/- from one person.
- b) Political parties will be entitled to receive donations by cheque or digital mode from their donors.
- c) As an additional step, an amendment is being proposed to the Reserve Bank of India Act to enable the issuance of electoral bond. Under this scheme, a donor could purchase bonds from authorized banks against cheque and digital payments only. They shall be redeemable only in the designated account of a registered political party. These bonds will be redeemable within the prescribed time limit from issuance of bond.
- d) Every political party would have to file its return within the time prescribed in accordance with the provision of the Income-tax Act.
The exemption to the political parties from payment of income-tax would be available only subject to the fulfillment of these conditions. This reform will bring about greater transparency and accountability in political funding, while preventing future generation of black money.
Reductionin rate of taxation for individual assesses between income of `2.5 lakhs to `5 lakhs to 5% from the present rate of 10%. The total amount of tax foregone on account of this measure is 15,500 crores.In order to make good some of this revenue loss on account of this relief, a surcharge of 10% of tax payable for individuals whose is between `50 lakhs and `1 crore. The existing surcharge of 15% of Tax on people earning more than `1 crore will continue. This is likely to give additional revenue of `2,700 crores.