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Budget 2018 highlights: Proposals should have been bold, radical; this is a big let down, says Congress

Union Budget 2018 highlights: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget 2018 in Parliament today. This was the last full Budget of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the country goes to polls in 2019.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 1, 2018 8:54:44 pm
Arun Jaitley presents Union Budget 2018 in Parliament Union Budget 2018 highlights: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the Union Budget in Parliament on Thursday. (PTI Photo/TV Grab)

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget 2018 in Parliament on Thursday. Continuing with the trend from last year, the Railways Budget was included in the General Budget. This was the last full Budget of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the country goes to polls in 2019. It was also the first since the government effected major economic reforms, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Read his full Budget speech here.

Click here to know what our editors think of Jaitley’s Union Budget 2018

Union Budget 2018 Highlights

8.40 pm: It is not a populist budget but a budget which will become popular. When the economy prospers we prosper: Goa CM Manohar Parrikar

8.15 pm: Bharatiya Mazadoor Sangh to hold countrywide demonstrations on 2nd February against Budget 2018. “Even though today’s budget for the first time has given more thrust to rural development, agriculture, health, infrastructure etc., it has totally neglected the woes of labour. Anganwadi workers, ASHA karmis & other scheme workers who belong to poorest paid workers appointed under the Central Government have nothing as relief in the budget. Middle class employees are unhappy with no increase in their ceiling for tax exemption,” Bharatiya Mazadoor Sangh said in a statement

6.50 pm: The meeting, held at the Parliament Library Building, is seen as part of efforts to galvanise support of all 17 parties which had come together during the presidential and vice presidential polls against the ruling party: Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal CM

4.52 pm: We’ve compiled a list of items that are set to become cheaper, and what’s going to pinch your pockets. Take a look at our list.

4.45 pm: The former finance minister adds, “Budget proposals should have been bold & radical and backed by adequate provisions for funds. Unfortunately, the budget proposals are a big let down.” He expresses disappointment at fiscal deficit, exports, agriculture, healthcare, jobs, investment and credit, tax relief and slashing allocations.

Opinion | Modi’s Achhe Din still remains a mirage

4.27 pm: Meanwhile, former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram is holding a press conference following the presentation of the Budget. He says, “Jobs is the number one issue. Jobs are not being created.” He adds, “There is nothing to indicate that farmers income would rise…their distress would continue.”

He adds, “FM Jaitely failed the fiscal consolidation test. All deficits have crossed the budget estimates. No measure to boost exports. The promise of Rs 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary healthcare a big jumla.” 

Also read | Jaitley ‘grandfathers’ long-term capital gains: Here is what it means

4.20 pm: On benefits for the middle class, Jaitley says in every Budget, the government has been putting surplus money in the hands of the tax payer. He later adds, Niti Aayog will devise a mechanism to increase the MSP for crops to 1.5 times of production cost, as promised in the Budget. This will be done in consultation with states.”

4.15 pm: On salaries for MPs, Jaitley says it’s drawn a lot of criticism, due to which the government has created an institutional mechanism for automatic revision of salaries, with effect from April 1, 2018. Every 5 years there’s a revision, indexed to inflation.

4.06 pm: On expenditure and prioritisation, we looked at areas that required the maximum support. Obviously, agriculture and rural economy came first, says Jaitley. He says a series of circumstances, such as receiving one month less of GST revenue and other structural reforms impacted fiscal deficit.

4.03 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addresses the media along with CEA Arvind Subramanian, among others. Jaitley says, “The details of the Union Budget and the Finance Bill have been presented. This Budget blends fiscal prudence with the requirement and needs of the economy today.”

Budget 2018 highlights: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addresses the media on Thursday, after presenting the Budget. (Source: Twitter/@DG_PIB)

4.00 pm: Y S Chowdary, a Rajya Sabha member from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and MoS Science and Technology expresses “disappointment” with the Budget. “Many pressing state issues like Railway Zone, Polavaram project funding, funding for Amaravati and other pending issues of Andhra Pradesh have not been addressed,” he is quoted as saying by ANI.

3.52 pm: The CPI(M)’s views on Budget 2018: “Modi Govt’s final full budget reflects its commitment to serving the rich & Corporate Sector by reducing their taxes at the cost of cutting funding for welfare of the common working people.”

“The total health expenditure has fallen from 0.32% of GDP to 0.29% of GDP. Instead of spending on strengthening the public health system, the focus has been shifted to health insurance. The experience with health and crop insurance so far has been that these schemes are simply a tool for corporate loot of public funds by insurance schemes and provide no relief to the common people,” the party tweets from its official handle.

Also read | Expansion and upgradation hallmarks of Railway Budget 2018

3.45 pm: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor shrugs off Budget 2018, calling it “disappointing”. He questions the government’s silence on disaster relief for Cyclone Ockhi, the defence budget and additional funds for MNREGA.

He, however, adds, “One good thing in #Budget2018 is the health insurance scheme to cover 500 million Indians. But the budget figures show no serious allocation for it, & the Fasal Bima Yojana has already proved a boon for insurance companies more than the insured. Will it prove another #jumla?”

3.42 pm: The markets have closed in the red; Sensex falls 58.36 points to end at 35,906.66 while Nifty settles at 11,016.90.

Sensex ends at 35,906; Nifty at 11.016

3.31 pm: During his speech, the Finance Minister quoted Swami Vivekananda. He said, “‘You merge yourselves in the void and disappear, and let new India arise in your place. Let her arise – out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritterseller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains’’.

Also read | Govt allocates Rs 1,014.09 crore for Northeast aviation infrastructure

3.32 pm: RJD leader and former Bihar deputy CM Tejaswi Yadav tweets, “Modi sarkaar ne dharaatal par kuch nahi kia aur na hi kar rahi. Sarkar sirf kaghazon par baaton ke pakore aur jumlon ke bataashe utaar rahi hai (The government has done nothing on the ground. They are just creating policies on paper).”

3.24 pm: Shiv Sena calls the Budget an “election budget”. The party says the Centre has had to take “desperate measures” after it drew criticism for the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), demonetisation and its performance in the Gujarat election.

3.21 pm: The government’s new healthcare programme, which Jaitley says will be the world’s largest, may surpass Obamacare. The National Health Protection Scheme will cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families. The government will provide up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospital.

Opinion | Modi Healthcare will surpass Obamacare in Budget for New India

3.17 pm: Sensex is back in the red, falling 63 points at 35,901. Nifty is down at 11,015. The markets tanked during the afternoon session after the Finance Minister announced a 10 per cent tax on some long term capital gains, but has managed to recover.

Sensex at 35,901; Nifty at 11,015

Also read | Adoption of affordable mobiles to be hit, say analysts; 5G move lauded

3.15 pm: Desh ke ghareebon, gaon, kisaano, buzurgon ko dhyaan mein rakh kar behtareen yojnaayen hain, PM ka abhinandan aur FM ko badhai,” says Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, reports ANI.

2:57 pm: Jaitley also tabled a copy of the Union budget for 2018-19 along with the estimated receipts and expenditure of the government in the Rajya Sabha.

2.52 pm: Jaitley said the government may introduce an Aadhaar-like scheme for businesses. How does this work? Just like an Aadhaar card, companies too may soon need a unique identity. “Aadhaar has provided an identity to every Indian. Aadhaar has eased the delivery of so many public services to our people,” Jaitley had said, while presenting the Budget.

2.50 pm: Calling the budget a balanced one, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal says, “Its a budget which is for every section of society, especially the focus on farmers and health services of the poor. Economy will also get a boost. I congratulate PM Modi and FM Jaitley.”

2.46 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hailed the Union Budget, saying it was a big boost to sectors like infrastructure, economy, health care and job creation.

2.21 pm: Modinomics + Jaiitleynomics = Jumlanomics; this is the Congress’ reaction to the Budget.

Also read | Centre to breach fiscal deficit target of Gross Domestic Product by 30 basis points

2.10 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expresses disappointment at the “step-motherly” treatment being given to the national capital by the Centre. He tweets, “I had expected some financial assistance to important infrastructure projects for the national capital. Am disappointed that Centre continues its step-motherly treatment to Delhi.”

Also read | Arun Jaitley’s rural-focused Budget can’t cheer up Dalal street

1.46 pm: Former PM Manmohan Singh tells The Indian Express, “This budget is high on projecting a right picture but how will that be sustained by the underlying fiscal arithmetic? The real issue is whether farm crisis is a thing of the past, if not, what is the strategy to deal with the farm crisis.”

He added, “I don’t think I can blame the budget for being motivated by scoring points in elections, but fiscal arithmetic may be at fault.” Read his entire statement here.

1.33 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following the Budget presentation, he says, “The budget will help strengthen ‘New India’ vision. It is focused on all sectors and will accelerate economic growth. I congratulate the Finance Minister for the decision regarding Minimum Support Price (MSP). I am sure it will help the farmers tremendously.” Read more here.

He said, “From food processing to fiber optics, roads to shipping, youth to senior citizen, rural India to Ayushmaan Bharat, Digital India to Start Up India, this budget strengthens hopes and aspirations of crores of Indians.”

1.32 pm: Meanwhile, Sensex soars in the green, up 251 points at 36,216, while Nifty trades 69 points higher at 11,096.

Sensex at 36,216, Nifty at 11,096

Also read | Jaitley brings in long-term capital gains of 10%; here’s why it’s spooked the market

1.30 pm: Piyush Goyal calls it a prudent budget. “Unlike the UPA budget, it didn’t try to increase the fiscal deficit.”

1.24 pm: BJD floor leader in Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab says the concern about rural impoverishment and unemployment has been addressed in the budget. “Provided adequate funds are provided in due course…”

Budget 2018 highlights: Congress president Rahul Gandhi leaves Parliament after the Union Budget is presented. (Express Photo/Manoj CG)

1.01 pm: Following Jaitley’s speech, Sensex is trading 50 points higher at 36,015 points while Nifty is up at 11,030. The markets had briefly tanked over 400 points after Jaitley announced 10 per cent tax on some long-term capital gains from equity market.

Also read | Why Arun Jaitley seems to be falling short of expectations on farm sector

12.59 pm: From the House: Following Jaitley’s speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi approached him to congratulate the Finance Minister. Of the other MPs who went up to him immediately, was Jay Panda, who was recently suspended from BJD. Meanwhile, more than 25 members from the Rajya Sabha watched the Budget speech from the gallery. Among those in the gallery were Jaitley’s wife and son.

12.47 pm: After a vote, the Finance Minister introduces the Bill in the House. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourns the House till Monday, February 5. The Indian Express has explained and analysed the Budget for you. Meanwhile, here are the top announcements made by the Finance Minister. Further, we have compiled top reactions to the Budget announcements.

12.42 pm: Changes in custom duties: Customs on mobile phones to increase from 15 to 20%, accessories now at 15%, television at 15% to encourage domestic manufacturing. Meanwhile, education cess has increased to 4 per cent from 3 per cent to collect additional Rs 11,000 crore.

12.41 pm: For senior citizens, the government proposes exemption of interest income on bank deposits raised to Rs 50,000.

12.28 pm: On a side note, the markets are in the red this afternoon, with Sensex trading 35 points lower at 35,929, while the broader Nifty trades 27 points lower at 11,000. Meanwhile, strong case for long term capital gains from equities; 10 perc ent tax on long-term capital gains in excess of Rs 1 lakh, reports PTI.

12.27 pm: There’s been a 12.6% growth in direct taxes in 2017-18; 18.7% growth in indirect taxes in 2017-18, says Jaitley. The government proposes no change in personal income tax rates for salaried class. Jaitley says a Rs 8,000 crore revenue was lost due to standard deduction allowed to salaried employees. Meanwhile, companies with a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore to be taxed at 25%.

12.21 pm: 5.51 lakh new taxpayers filed returns in 2017-18, as against 66.26 lakhs in 2016-17. The number has increased from 6.47 crore in 2016-17 to 8.27 crore by end of 2017. Jaitley says there was a Rs 90,000 crore additional income tax collection in 2016-17 and 2017-18. He adds that the govt pledges to undertake measures to ensure black money is contained. Demonetisation was received by honest taxpayers for this reasons, he says.

Click to read updates on the Union Budget 2018 in Tamil and Malayalam

Meanwhile, Twitterati has its laugh during the Budget

12.17 pm: The govt has proposed changes in salaries for the President, Vice-President, Governors and Members of Parliament. Emoluments of the President is revised to Rs 5 lakh per month, while for the VP is Rs 4 lakh per month and for Governors it is Rs 3.5 lakh. For MPs, the law will provide an automatic revision of emoluments every 5 years, indexed to inflation.

12.15 pm: Fiscal deficit: Govt revised fiscal deficit for 2017-18 was Rs 5.95 lakh crore or 3.5% of GDP. Jaitley projects a deficit of 3.3% of GDP for 2018-19.

12.14 pm: Jaitley says the government has identified 372 specific business reform actions to improve ease of doing business. The evaluation of performance under this programme to be based on user feedback, he adds.

12.11 pm: On Aadhaar, he says, it has given every citizen a unique ID. Soon, individual enterprises to have Unique ID too.

12.07 pm: Since the NDA govt assumed office, the government has modernised the Armed Forces, says Jaitley, including making the nation self-reliant under Make in India. The govt has opened the sector for FDI, he adds. The govt will bring out a new industry-friendly policy to boost domestic defence production.

Also read | Exports seen growing at 15 per cent in FY 2017-18, says Arun Jaitley

12.04 pm: Govt proposes to set up 5 lakh WiFi hotspots; allocates Rs 10,000 crore for this under telecom infrastructure. Meanwhile, govt does not consider cryptocurrency as legal tender, says Jaitley. He adds that the govt will promote the use of Blockchain technology in various government activities.

Cryptocurrency is being used to fund illegitimate transactions

Express Explained | What is cryptocurrency?

12.00 pm: Under UDAN connectivity scheme, launched last year, operations have started at 16 airports across the country and will include many more in the upcoming year. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has 154 airports now, and the government proposes increasing standards to accommodate 1 billion flights a year. Further, 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads will be covered for usage by civilians soon.

People wearing Hawai Chappal will also be able to use Hawai Jahaj.

11.58 am: For Indian Railways, the government allocates capital expenditure of Rs 1,48,528 crore for 2018-19, announces Jaitley. All trains will soon have state-of-the-art facilities such as WiFi and CCTVs. Prioritising the interest of the national transporter, most of this money he said, will be spent on capacity expansion. He proposed a target of doubling 18,000 km of lines and said gauge conversion is underway to eliminate capacity constraints.

Everything you need to know about the Railway Budget 2018

11.53 am: Govt to develop 10 tourist destinations to attract more people to the country. Amenities will be enhanced under the Amrut programme, he says.

11.47 am: Jobs and employment: Jaitley lists what the government has done in the previous year. Govt to contribute 12% of EPF contribution for new employees in all sectors for three years, says Jaitley. He adds that contributions from women employees will be brought down from 12% to 8%.

11.45 am: The govt allocates Rs 3 lakh crore for lending under Mudra loans in the 2018-19. He says there were 10.38 crore Mudra loans given out in this fiscal, 70% of which went to women. Meanwhile, the government announces a programme to focus on water supply to all households in 500 cities. Contracts for 494 projects worth Rs 19,428 core will be awarded, says Jaitley.

11.42 am: Introduction of GST and demonetisation has created a large database on MSME’s, says Jaitley. Govt will soon announce measures to tackle non-performing assets (NPAs), adds Jaitley.

11.40 am: Govt sanctions over 180 projects for the cleaning of Ganga. The government has identified 115 districts along the Ganga to develop and aims at improving quality of life in these districts. The govt expects these to become a model of development.

11.35 am: For the healthcare sector, the government launches National Health Protection Scheme to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, says Jaitley. This translates to 50 crore beneficiaries. The govt will provide upto Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospital. “Govt is progressing towards goal of universal health coverage,” adds Jaitley. What is the National Health Protection Scheme?

This will be the world’s largest health-protection scheme

blockquote class=”twitter-video” data-lang=”en”>

Union Budget 2018: Government launches National Health Protection Scheme
Read more about it:

— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) February 1, 2018

11.30 am: For the education sector, the government proposes revitalising infrastructure, opening schools for the ST population as well as promoting programmes for teachers, in order to improve quality education for students, says Jaitley. Read more here.

11.27 am: The government will provide eight crore free gas connections to women under its Ujjwala scheme, and 4 crore electricity connections to the poor under Saubhagya Yojana, says Jaitley. The govt will also build 2 crore more toilets under Swachh Bharat Mission.

11.22 am: The govt will aid the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab to curb air pollution, says Jaitley. The government will also subsidise removal of crop residue to tackle the problem of pollution due to crop burning in these states.

11.21 am: Meanwhile, here are some pictures of Congress leaders following the Budget announcements.

11.20 am: The government allocates Rs 10,000 crore to set up a fund for Fishery and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development and Animal Husbandry Infrastructure.

Budget 2018 highlights: Deputy leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma takes notes while listening to Budget in Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s chambers (Express Photo/Manoj CG)

11.17 am: Govt allocates Rs 500 crore for ‘Operation green,’ which will promote processing facilities, professional management among other things. The govt will set up state of the art facilities in 42 mega food parks, says Jaitley. Further, the government will allocate Rs 1,290 crore for a National Bamboo Mission, to promote the bamboo sector in a holistic manner.

11.15 am: The Agriculture Ministry will reorient its schemes, and focus on promoting cluster-based approach to be adopted for agricultural production. He adds that the government is allocating Rs 200 crore for cultivation and associated industry.

11.12 am: The Minimum Support Price (MSP) of all crops shall increase to at least 1.5 times that of the production cost, says Jaitley. The government will set up a fund of Rs 2,000 crore for developing agricultural markets.

11.11 am: Our focus is on productive and gainful on-farm and non-farm employment for farmers and landless families, says Jaitley, adding that agricultural produce has improved remarkably in the last year because of the hard work and tireless efforts of farmers in the country. Read more here.

11.10 am: On agriculture and rural economy: Jaitley says his government is committed to the welfare of farmers. He reiterates the government’s clarion call to double farmers’ income by 2022.

11.08 am: The government will now move forward from Ease of Doing Business and focus on ‘ease of living’ for the common people, says Jaitley.

11.05 am: There’s a “premium of honesty” in the country now, says Jaitley, adding that the government is allocating resources in a more transparent manner. He says the Budget will focus on agriculture and the rural economy, health, infrastructure and senior citizens.

There’s a “premium of honesty” in the country now

11.03 am: Jaitley says India is a 2.5 trillion economy and is expected to become the 5th largest economy very soon. He reiterates that India will grow at 7.2-7.5% in the second half of the 2017-18. “We are firmly on the path to achieve 8 per cent growth,” he adds.

Firmly on the path to achieve 8% growth, says Jaitley

11.00 am: Jaitley rises to present the Budget 2018-19. He says the government has implemented a series of fundamental structural reforms to help the economy.

10.58 am: The Session begins. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan speaks. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Budget shortly.

10.52 am: The Budget Session of Parliament commenced on January 29, and will be held in two parts this year. The first part of the session will be from January 29 to February 9. After nearly a month-long recess, Parliament will resume the session from March 5. The session concludes on April 6.

10.51 am: The government on Monday tabled the Economic Survey 2017-18 in Parliament, in which it pegged India’s growth at 7 and 7.5 in the upcoming financial year. GDP growth averaged 7.3 per cent for the period between 2014-15 to 2017-18, the highest among major global economies. Authored by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, the survey added that there has been a significant increase in the number of indirect taxpayers following GST and demonetisation. Five things to look out for in today’s Budget

10.50 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Parliament, along with Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Ram Vilas Paswan. The Session is about to begin, and the Finance Minister’s speech will start at 11.00 am. Stay tuned, we’ll be giving you all updates on Budget 2018 here.

10.30 am: Ahead of the last full Budget of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government, we analyse the last four Budgets and explain the trends. Here’s a look at how the government steered India’s economy with major policy decisions and reforms in the last four full budgets: Key policy decisions in past four budgets

Budget 2018 highlights: After the pre-Budget Cabinet meeting in Parliament on Thursday (Express Photo/Ravish Tiwari)

10.24 am: A pre-Budget Cabinet meeting is underway to brief ministers on the highlights of the Budget before it is presented in the Lok Sabha. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is likely to begin speaking in Hindi.

10.21 am: Before the Budget, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury takes to Twitter saying, “No amount of fake promises made in the budget can obliterate the fact that unemployment has shot up under this govt. Forget creating new jobs, existing jobs have been lost. #Jumlanomics.”

10.17 am: In about 40 minutes, Jaitley will present the Budget. Is a reduction in personal income-tax likely? Could the favourable treatment to stock market investors go? Could favourable tax treatment on company dividends end? Is a cut in corporate tax likely? Will government deficit targets be met? The Indian Express answered all your questions. 

10.12 am: An opinion column in The Indian Express today reads: “The budget, while keeping a tight rein on the fiscal deficit, must focus on reforms, some of which, as it happens, will also get the government votes.” Read Sunil Jain’s ‘Budget for uncertain times‘ column.

Arun Jaitley presents Union Budget 2018 in Parliament Budget 2018 highlights: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley arrives in Parliament on Thursday to present the Union Budget 2018. (Express Photo/Ravish Tiwari)

10.07 am: Meanwhile, counting for bye-elections is underway for three Lok Sabha seats and two Assembly seats in West Bengal and Rajasthan. According to initial trends, the Trinamool Congress is surging ahead in the constituencies in West Bengal (Uluberia and Noapara), while Congress’ Raghu Sharma is leading from Ajmer by nearly 12000 votes against BJP’s Ram Swaroop Lamba. You can follow our LIVE blog on the same.

10.06 am: In a first, there is now a separate allocation of Rs 1,200 crore for preventive health care services — screening for hypertension, diabetes, and cancers — in health sub-centres. The Health Ministry is expecting a cumulative budget increase of about Rs 5,000 crore this year on the little over Rs 47,000 crore allocated to it last year. Read more here. 

10.02 am: Here’s EP Unny’s cartoon in The Indian Express today. For more cartoons, click here.

Arun Jaitley presents Union Budget 2018 in Parliament

10.01 am: Wondering how to watch the Budget this morning? Here’s where you can watch it live, from 11 am onwards — live streaming online of Arun Jaitley’s speech

9.55 am: We’re not the only ones waiting for Jaitley to present the Budget. Meet Sun and Sunny, who are waiting for Jaitley outside Parliament this morning.

Budget 2018 highlights: Sun and Sunny outside Parliament on Thursday (Express Photo/Neeraj Priyadarshi)

9.50 am: Jaitley has arrived in Parliament to present the Budget. It will be interesting to see if the 7th Pay Commission is included in the Budget today. We’re also waiting to see if there are changes in income tax slabs.

9.43 am: Last year, the government ended a 92-year long tradition of presenting the Railways Budget separately. Continuing with this trend, the government will present the Railways Budget today. The Railways may chart a course to spend the highest ever plan size with sources pegging a figure close to Rs 1.5 lakh crore of capital expenditure.

Budget 2018 highlights: Copies of the document arrive in Parliament on Tuesday (Express Photo/Tashi Tobgyal)

9.43 am: The Budget must increase rural investment, rationalise GST, income and corporate taxes to improve incomes and create jobs, Devashish Mitra writes in an opinion column in The Indian Express today. Mitra is a professor of economics. Read his column, titled ‘What the Union Budget must bring‘.

9.42 am: As per tradition, Jaitley calls on President Ram Nath Kovind this morning. The President tweets from his handle, “As per tradition, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley calls on #PresidentKovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan before presenting the Union Budget.”

9.22 am: Jaitley heads to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet the President before going to Parliament to present the Budget. Jaitley’s briefcase in the centre of attention this morning, as we all wait to see what’s in his bag!

Arun Jaitley presents Union Budget 2018 in Parliament Union Budget 2018 highlights: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley leaves to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet the President, before heading to Parliament. (Express Photo/Neeraj Priyadarshi)

9.20 am: Sensex opens in the green this morning, trading 134 points higher at 36,099 while opens at 11,067.25. The 30-share index had closed 69 points lower on the eve of the Budget, below the 36,000 mark.

9.15 am: We’re going to hear a lot on the Budget, taxes, customs duty, GST, Minimum Alternative Tax, fiscal deficit etc today. If you’re confused by all this important economic jargon, we’ve made a cheat sheet to understand the Finance Minister’s speech. Decode the budget on your own with this explainer!

9.08 am: Ahead of the Budget, The Indian Express lists five things to look out for. Top-of-mind will be deficits and taxes — personal income-tax rates, capital gains tax on stock market investments, tax on dividend income, and corporate tax. Here’s a route map to negotiate the Budget speech.

9.05 am: Jaitley has left the Finance Ministry and is heading to Parliament to present the Union Budget this morning. This is the last full Budget of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the country goes to polls in 2019.

Arun Jaitley presents Union Budget 2018 in Parliament Union Budget 2018 highlights: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley prepares the Budget at his office in North Block on Wednesday evening in New Delhi (Express Photo/Renuka Puri)

9.00 am: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the Union Budget 2018 in Parliament today. Follow our LIVE blog for latest news and updates. 

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