Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised the Union Budget for its focus on rural poor, lower middle class and farmers. He congratulated Finance Minister for presenting a budget that would not only ensure “ease of doing business” but also “ease of living”.
“Ease of Doing Business as well as Ease of Living are in focus in this budget. More savings for the middle class, new generation infrastructure for 21st Century India and better health assurance — all are concrete steps towards Ease of Living,” Modi said.
Calling the Budget “development friendly”, Modi said it had something for everyone from farmers to common man to businessman and is expected to give boost to hopes and aspirations of 125 crore people of the country. Modi emphasised on the thrust given in the budget to increase earnings of farmers and provide healthcare to the poor.
“This budget will live up to the expectation of every Indian Citizen. The budget has ensured the following – remunerative price of the crop to the farmer, upliftment of the poor with the welfare schemes, respecting the honesty of the tax paying citizen, support to the spirit of entrepreneurs with a right tax structure and hailing the contribution of senior citizens for the country,” Modi said.
In the backdrop agrarian distress in the country, the Prime Minister spoke at length on all measures announced by his government in the budget improve the earnings of farmers.
“Several steps have been proposed in this budget to give a boost to the farmers and enhancing their income. A record allocation of Rs 14.5 lakh crore has been made for rural development and agriculture. Dalits, oppressed and disadvantaged sections of the society will be benefited with out of 51 Lakh new homes, more than 3 lakh kilometers of roads, about 2 crore toilets, electricity connections in 1.75 crore households. These initiatives will create new opportunities especially in the rural areas,” Modi said.
He praised Jaitley’s decision to provide for one and a half times remunerative price for the cost incurred by the farmers for their produce and said that the Center would put in place a sound system in consultation with the states to ensure that the farmers can avail full benefits from this decision.
Giving Amul’s example, PM said the government will now adopt agriculture cluster approach in different districts across the country to ensure better marketability and prices for agricultural produce. He also welcomed the decision keep ‘Farmer Producer Organisation’ (FPO) out of the ambit of taxation as they function on the same lines as cooperatives. This, he said, would increase earnings of farmers.
He said farmers would now be able to access loans for allied activities such as pisciculture and animal husbandry through Kisan Credit Card. He said to increase earnings and employment opportunities emphasis has been laid on modernisation of infrastructure of 22000 rural business centres across the country. He also expressed satisfaction at the success of Ujjwala Yojana and the increase in its target in the new budget from 5 crore families to 6 crore families. “A large number of Dalit, tribal and backward class families have been benefited from this scheme. This budget provides for allocation of about Rs 1 lakh crore for the welfare of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes,” Modi said.
Calling the medical insurance scheme announced in the budget for 10 crore poor families “the world’s largest health insurance plan”, the prime minister said, “Medical treatment and its cost has always been a cause of concern for the lower middle class and poor sections of the society. The new scheme ‘Ayushman Bharat’, presented in the budget, will address this serious concern. This scheme …will provide coverage to 45-50 crore people. Under the scheme these families will get free treatment up to Rs. 5 lakh per annum in the identified hospitals …The idea of setting up 1.5lakh Health Wellness Centers spread over all the major panchayats of the country is commendable.”
With small industry suffering post demonetisation, the government has reduced corporate tax by 5 per cent for them. Modi said, “In a bold step in this budget, the government has reduced the tax rate for MSME by 5 per cent now they will have to pay 25 per cent tax in place of 30 per cent. Credit seeking facility from the banks and NBFCs has been eased to ensure the required working capital for MSME industries. It will give a boost to the mission of Make in India.”
He also said that the government would soon announce measures resolve the problem of NPAs and Stressed Account in the MSME sector. The PM spoke about allocation of Rs. 6 lakh crores for Digital India which he said “ will enhance the employment opportunity manifold in country”.
To ensure social security to government employees, Modi said, the government will contribute 12 per cent in the EPF Account of the new laborers for a period of three years while contribution from women employees had been reduced to 8 per cent to ensure better take-home salaries. The PM also appreciated steps taken in the budget to improve savings by senior citizens through lowering of taxes on their savings.