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Budget 2019 HIGHLIGHTS: Chidambaram calls budget insipid, terms Sitharaman speech as opaque

Budget 2019 HIGHLIGHTS: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the full-fledged Union Budget for the current financial year Friday where she proposed reforms in several sectors including PSBs, tax returns and railways.

Written by Sonakshi Awasthi , Shreya Baldwa , Shreyasi Jha | New Delhi | Updated: July 5, 2019 11:52:43 pm
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Budget 2019 HIGHLIGHTS: India’s first woman Union Finance Minister in almost five decades, Nirmala Sitharaman briefed the press shortly after presenting the full-fledged Union Budget for the current financial year Friday where she proposed reforms in several sectors including PSBs, tax returns and railways. “Emphasis is on the overall development of the economy and we are focusing on the ease of living,” the Finance Minister said addressing a press conference. laying focus on the Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC), Sitharaman told the media that NBFCs are a critical component of our banking system and the government has adopted a comprehensive approach for NBFC financing.

Sitharaman proposed a Re 1 per litre cess on petrol and diesel prices, and hiked customs duty on gold and precious metals to 12.5 per cent from 10 per cent. She also said that Aadhaar card can be used in place of PAN for filing income taxes now. Also, from the current fiscal year, Rs 2-5 crore taxable income will see effective tax rate rising by 3 per cent and total effective tax rate will be higher by 7 per cent for those with a taxable income of over Rs 5 crore. She also said that the government has proposed a Rs 70,000 crore capital infusion into government-owned banks this year.


Sitharaman also said, “The Government is working towards ‘Har Ghar Jal’ by 2024, 10,000 new farmer producer organisations will be set up, 9.6 crore toilets have been constructed since October 2014, New Space India Limited (NSIL) has been incorporated to tap the benefits of ISRO.” “Railway infrastructure would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore between 2018 and 2030. We are looking to implement one nation, one grid in the power sector,” she said.

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Meanwhile, calling it a “Green Budget”, PM Modi said, “This Budget provides an assurance to its citizens that we are in the right direction. This Budget fulfils the expectations of 21st century India.” However, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, said, “Nothing new, repetition of old promises. They are talking about new India but the budget is old wine in a new bottle.”

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents Modi government's first Budget after winning the Lok Sabha elections. Follow HIGHLIGHTS on Budget 2019. Read in Tamil, Malayalam, Bangla 


    21:26 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    MoS Finance Thakur lists projects under Modi govt, says money will come from us

    Ministry of State Finance Anurag Thakur said, "Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, over 1 lakh 25 thousand kilometer of roads are to be constructed in Phase-3 of the program. Also, 1 cr 95 lakh pakka houses are to be constructed in villages. It will strengthen the rural India. No tax on income below Rs 5 lakh, discount for middle class people on affordable housing, discount on electrical vehicles, from where will all that money come? It'll have contributions from all of us."

    20:21 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Health sector: Rs 62,398 cr outlay; Rs 6,400 cr earmarked for AB-PMJAY

    The health sector received Rs 62,659.12 crore, the highest in the last two financial years. An increase of around 19 per cent was seen. The budgetary allocation for the sector is Rs 60,908.22 crore, with Rs 6,400 crore earmarked for the centre's flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY). The AB-PMJAY is a flagship scheme of the Union government that aims at providing annual health cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation to over 10.74 crore vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries).

    20:17 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Marginal increase in allocation for CBI

    The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been allocated Rs 781.01 crore under the new budge, a marginal increase of Rs 2.08 crore from last year. "The provision is for the establishment-related expenditure of the CBI which is entrusted with investigation and prosecution in corruption cases against public servants, private persons, firms and other cases of serious crimes," the Budget document said, PTI reported.

    19:49 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    FM chose to steady singles, keep run-rate moving: Anand Mahindra

    Hoping the finance minister would "hit some boundaries" with the new budget, Chairman of the Mahindra Group Anand Mahindra said she instead chose to steady singles and keep the run-rate moving. "Despite expectations of big moves to instantly crank-up the economy she decided to keep her eye firmly on the long term," Mahindra said. He said that instead of lowering GST on all cars, Sitharaman aligned with the vision for mobility and incentivised only EVs. "But the measures for the financial sector are indeed big moves & could lubricate the engines of the economy. The one-time cover for pooled assets is an efficient solution for NBFC liquidity. The target for disinvestment is welcome. Now we need swift implementation," Mahindra said.

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    19:28 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Uttarakhand BJP calls budget 'visionary, aspirational'

    Uttarakhand BJP called the budget visionary and aspirational. "It (Budget) is aspirational and visionary. The sectoral allocations made in the Budget are in accordance with the development strategy adopted by the Centre for achieving the target of making India a five trillion dollar economy as spelt out in its economic survey," pradesh BJP spokesman Munna Singh Chauhan said.

    Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi too hailed the budget saying 'it is a bottom-up inclusive budget', PTI reported. She said that the budget will take the country towards 'greater transparency through extensive use of technology with increased accountability.'

    19:17 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Expect easing in bond yields in coming months'

    "Budget 2019 was important one as it was being presented on the backdrop of visibly slowing global economic growth and closer home as well. Most certainly this would need some stimulus to revive the investment cycle, which could mean slippage on the fiscal front. Some small amount of slippage could actually have been pardoned by the markets. The fact that the gross government borrowing remains unchanged is an extremely positive move. The MPC has already moved into accommodative policy on rates front and with the government not breaching the line of fiscal discipline, it spells good news for bond markets. We could expect further easing in bond yields in the coming months," says Lakshmi Iyer, Chief Investment Officer (Debt) & Head Products of Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company.

    18:59 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Budget 2019 is completely visionless: Mamata

    "#Budget2019 is completely visionless. In fact, the total vision is derailed. On top of it, not only have they imposed cess but also special additional excise duty on petrol and diesel leading to price increase by nearly Rs 2.50/litre for petrol and Rs 2.30/litre for diesel. As a result, price hikes will hit from transport to market to kitchens. Commoners are suffering and suffering."

    18:47 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Rental housing through creation of model law is welcome move'

    “The new government’s first budget lays fundamental thrust on infrastructure development and affordable housing. Its attention to rental housing through creation of a model law is a welcome move and we hope this will pave way for the development of an institutional rental market in the country. The budget has also taken note of some of the key challenges of the real estate market in terms of the ongoing NBFC crisis and the tough residential market. We hope that the measures of enhancing bank funding to the NBFC sector and tax incentives around affordable housing will help the cause,” says Shishir Baijal, Chairman & Managing Director at Knight Frank India.

    18:43 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Not once FM mentioned plight of farmers, budget against youth, farmers: Cong

    Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala raised issue with the budget hitting out on the income of farmers and employment. "The budget is against people, youth, poor and farmers. Finance Min not even once mentioned about the plight of farmers. She didn't mention about 'how the income of farmers will be doubled?' or 'how employment will be generated," Surjewala asked. 

    18:33 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Delhi Metro gets Rs 400 crore, allocation rises by 10% in Environment

    Delhi Metro has been given a grant of Rs 414.70 crore in the new budget as against Rs 50 crore in the last fiscal. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has been allocated Rs 17,713.93 crore for executing metro projects across the country, which was Rs 14,864.60 crore in the revised Budget of the previous fiscal.

    Allocation for the Environment Ministry has been increased from the last fiscal by 10.4 per cent to Rs 2,954.72 crore. Termed as the "green budget" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rs 460 crore was allocated towards pollution control schemes including National Clean Air Programme.

    18:20 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Budget marks beginning of new India, will add pace to economic development'

    “Union Budget 2019 definitely marks the beginning of the new India. It will give a much needed boost to the Indian travel and tourism sector. With the ongoing UDAN scheme for common man, we can expect better air connectivity, improved infrastructure and bridging of the gap between rural and urban sectors. Another visionary project ‘Sagarmala’ will enhance waterways and port connectivity that will uplift cruise tourism in India. As the government understands the need to invest and improve infrastructure, I am sure this budget will add pace to the economic development of the nation.” said Anil Parashar President & CEO of InterGlobe Technology Quotient.

    18:15 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Union Budget will only help capitalists: Mayawati

    BSP supremo Mayawati said the Union government tried to make it alluring and it would only help the capitalists. "It has to be seen as to how this Budget of theirs is actually beneficial for the people of the country at the ground level," she said in a tweet, adding that the entire country was "distraught and harassed" by poverty, unemployment, poor educational and health facilities. The BSP chief further said the Budget would "encourage the private sector and help big capitalists" at every level, further "complicating" the issue of reservation for the Dalits and backwards besides problems of inflation, poverty and unemployment.

    18:12 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Better growth with macro-economic stability will be ideal outcome'

    “It is encouraging that the fiscal deficit target has been revised downwards from 3.4 per cent to 3.3 per cent. Strengthening PSU banks’ capital and improving RBI’s oversight on the financial sector will likely improve the flow of credit in the economy. A series of measures to enhance capital flows and employment generation are also great steps. Better growth with macro-economic stability will be the ideal outcome," says Jatin Dalal, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Wipro Limited.

    18:02 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Sitharaman is a woman, nation expects many things: Ex-Karanataka Siddaramaiah

    Former chief minister of Karnataka and Congress leader Siddaramaiah calls points out Sitharaman is a woman and " women of the nation expected many things, but they have not been fulfilled". Unhappy with the budget, Siddaramaiah says it is against development and there is no pro-farmers issue in the budget.  "People had expectations from Budget 2019, but they're unhappy. They promised growth in the farming sector, which remained false. Farmers are not getting MSP, they are in drastic condition. There is no pro-farmers thing in budget. Union Budget 2019 doesn't have any program to curb unemployment problem, which is highest in the last 45 years. Also, Nirmala Sitharaman is a woman, women of the nation expected many things, but they have not been fulfilled," says the former Karanataka CM.

    17:53 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Education:New policy to focus on research; Rs 400 cr allocated for building world-class institutes

    The new budget allocated Rs 400 crore for setting up world-class education institutes and announced 'Study in India' programme that will aim at attracting foreign students to the country. Sitharaman said a new national education policy will be introduced to transform India's higher education system to one of the best in the world. The policy proposes major changes in both school and higher education, improve governance and gives more focus on research and innovation, for which a National Research Foundation (NRF) would be set up to coordinate and promote research in the country, she said.

    17:48 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'One step closer to economic growth, look forward on improving AI, robotics'

    “The Union Budget 2019 depicts the milestone set towards reaching USD 5 trillion economy by investing on infrastructure, digital economy and job creation. It brings us one step closer the economic growth as part of the five years plan with key focus on infrastructure development allocating budgets for roads, ports Infrastructure and logistics. We welcome the government’s focus on the construction and development of highways under the National Highways Programme, to ensure creation of National Highways Grid of desirable capacity. Also applaud the continued focus and investments towards rail infrastructure by announcing and an investment of 50 lakh crores.We also look forward to the focus on improving skills of our youth in areas such as Artifical Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics, This in turn will ensure more stability of jobs both in India and abroad. Furthermore, doubling allocation to Digital India will empower the semi-urban geographies and provide businesses to upscale and help in the country’s vision to a digital-first economy,” says Director of Axis Communications - India & SAARC Sudhindra Holla.

    17:45 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Infrastructure investments, skill development should lead to job creation'

    "It has to be ensured that infrastructure investments and skill development should lead to job creation. This budget focuses on fundamentally important elements like affordable housing (additional tax incentives, as well as 1.95 cr rural houses under PM Awas Yojana leading to “housing for all” by 2022), disinvestment (Rs.1.05 tn target for FY20), environment (promoting manufacturing and purchase of electric vehicles), rural development (“Har Ghar Jal”), and social security (pension benefits extended to 3 cr shop owners). There is also a credible effort to aid fundamentally sound NBFCs with partial credit guarantee for PSBs investing in their securitized assets. Some areas could have done with more attention. For example, while the above-expectation Rs.700 bn PSB recap plan is welcome, one would have expected concrete steps for governance reforms in banks. One would have also expected specific measures to induce growth in long-term financial savings of households, which are critical for long-term investments," says G. Murlidhar, MD & CEO of Kotak Life Insurance. 

    17:36 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Modi 2.0 government's maiden Budget disappointing, lacks direction: Gehlot

    Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot called the budget "disappointing" saying that it lacked direction and had no clear purpose. In a slew of tweets, Gehlot said the budget speech did not mention anything about agriculture and it reflects that the government is not at all serious about improving conditions in rural sector. "The finance minister did not mention various budgetary allocations in her speech, which has been part of past budget speeches," he said. "Gaon, Gareeb and Kisaan are mentioned as mere slogans without any concrete schemes to deal with farm distress. No relief to middle class or salaried class either. On top of it, raising fuel prices will put further burden on common people," he wrote.

    17:26 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Few highs for real estate in a cautious budget'

    "As far as real estate is concerned, the budget had a few hits and several misses. Infrastructure stayed at the top of the government’s agenda. This is of course significant, since infra development is one of the main propellers for economic growth and real estate benefits both directly and indirectly. The new FM had an uphill task of balancing priorities in Modi 2.0's maiden budget. Most sectors - including real estate - stridently sought concessions to kick-start stagnant consumption and investments. Steering the country out of the stranglehold of economic slowdown and creating employment were also high on the priorities list," says Anuj Puri, Chairman of ANAROCK Property Consultants. 

    17:24 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Gold prices zoom Rs 590 on custom duty hike

    Custom duty on precious metals has been increased from 10 per cent to 12.5 per cent. Simple put, price o gold has shot up by Rs 590 per 10 gram in Delhi. This move will make gold and jewellery expensive in the domestic market.

    17:13 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Infrastructure: Investments to become 5 trillion dollar economy

    Needs of infrastructure financing have been estimated at around Rs 20 lakh crore a year. The budget proposes to enhance the sources of capital for infrastructure financing including setting up a Credit Guarantee Enhancement Corporation for which regulations have been notified by the Reserve Bank of India.

    Sitharaman announced a slew of steps to scale up India's infrastructure programmes including augmenting 1,25,000 km of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana at a cost of Rs 80,250 crore and creating a national highways grid.

    17:07 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Growth-oriented budget, focuses on fiscal deficit, affordable housing'

    "Finance Minister has presented a growth oriented budget incorporating various reforms likely to be undertaken during the 5 year period. The fiscal deficit has been contained at 3.3 per cent. Steps taken to increase liquidity by way of inducing capital in banks and making funds available to NBFC, coupled with higher infrastructure investments should help in revival of the growth without causing inflationary effect. The budget has laid its special emphasis on construction of affordable housing, moving towards electrical vehicles, labour reforms, incentive for startups and expanding the bond and debt markets are other notable features. On the whole it's a forward looking budget and will help in revival of growth," says Anand Rathi, Chairman of Anand Rathi. Financial Services Ltd.

    17:00 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Agriculture growth rate declined, nothing in budget speech to reverse wheel of agriculture: P. Chidambaram

    Apprehensive of the new budget, Chidambaram says the Fiannce Minister did not speak much about agriculture. "Agriculture growth rate has declined. Last year ended with 2.9 per cent. How will you rise the graph to 4 per cent. There is nothing in budget speech on how you will reverse the wheel of agriculture," he says. 

    In the new budget, it has been proposed that the budget allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare will be increased by over 78 per cent to Rs 1.39 lakh crore for the current fiscal, out of which Rs 75,000 crore will be for the flagship scheme PM-KISAN. The government had allocated Rs 77,752 crore in the revised estimate for 2018-19.

    (Express photo)

    16:56 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Sitharaman's speech was opaque, does not talk about FDI: P Chidambaram

    Former finance minister P Chidambaram said Nirmala Sitharaman said nothing about the FDI and termed her speech as opaque. "FDI in companies is limited to 24%. Last year FDI dipped over the previous year. It was about 44 billion dollars, which was 1% less than previous year. How will they get FDI. She said nothing about it. Nothing is clear, this is one of the most opaque speeches," says Chidambaram. 

    On the issue of cash transactions, Chidambaram says: "This people is obsessed with people using less cash. Advanced economies use large amount of cash. People who want to use cash will shy away from keeping at bank. They'll keep it at home. What they have done is tax deduction. Any kind of forced use of cash will be counter-productive."

    Speaking on linking of Aadhaar and PAN, he said, "They are saying Aadhaar is good nough, pan not necessary. If PAN as agood as aadaahr, then there is already PAN for IT assessees. This govt amends the law first, then thinks. Why link Aadhaar with PAN."

    16:43 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Budget is dampener from NPS point of view'

    “From a National Pension Scheme (NPS) point of view, the budget has proved to be a bit of a dampener. A 14 per cent  limit is applicable only to the Central Government's contributions to its employee's account. Similarly, 80C exemption on Tier II contributions is available only to Central Government employees. The good thing is that the withdrawal is now completely tax-free, says Sandip Shrikhande, CEO, Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund Limited.

    16:40 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Budget is reform-oriented, budget for 130 crore Indians: Piyush Goyal

    Former finance minsiter Piyush Goyal said the new budget is for all and called it "reform-oriented". "It has given a huge thrust to startup, job creation, Make in India. It has given pension to the traders, large part of the community that was left out of the social security network. It's very reform-oriented. So it's a budget for 130 crore Indians. It's a budget for all. It has addressed issues which will make 'ease of living' for the poor, the middle class. It has ensured large scale infrastructure development which have made life and living easy for 130 crore Indians, rich or poor," ANIT quoted Goyal as saying. 

    16:35 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    MSMEs to contribute 50% to India's GDP, provide 15 crore jobs in 5 years: Nitin Gadkari

    Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday welcomed the announcements for MSMEs in the Budget and said his ministry has decided to raise the sector's contribution to 50 per cent of the country's GDP in the next five years from 29 per cent currently and provide jobs to 15 crore people.

    "The speciality of this Budget is that our small-scale and medium-scale industries have received maximum encouragement. (MSMEs) have a contribution of 29 per cent in our country's GDP and the department has decided that we will increase the contribution to 50 per cent of the GDP," said Gadkari, Union Minister for MSME and Road, Transport and Highways.

    He added that till now, 11 crore persons have received employment in MSMEs. "We will add 5 crore jobs to this and take the number to over 15 crore in five years." (PTI)

    16:26 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Budget for all, need of hour is to lower interest rates to boost housing demand'

    "The Union Budget 2019 has focused on the nation's growth and brings a positive sentiment to the overall economy. With its focus on the agricultural and rural sector, infrastructure, education, job creation, digital economy etc, it is a budget for all. India's real estate sector has a reason to cheer as Finance Minister has announced a range of sops for real estate developers as well as homebuyers in the Budget. These measures are expected to boost housing sector as well as investor sentiments in the near future and will provide ample opportunities for the home buyers to invest. On many fronts, this is a favorable and bold budget for the real estate industry. A massive boost for infrastructure will not only benefit the realty sector but also help other industries and create large scale employment in the economy. The government’s focus on infrastructure development of tier 2 and 3 cities will surely make these cities ready for next round of urbanization," says Surendra Hiranandani, Founder & Director, House of Hiranandani.

    "While the Government has taken several concrete measures, there is still a long way to go. We hope that the government looks into some of the key concerns raised by the industry and addresses the same soon. To bring back growth in the sector which is so vital to any developing economy, we expected Government to impart industry status to the sector which would enable developers to cut capital costs and pass on the benefits to consumers. We were also expecting single window clearance which has been a long pending demand from the sector. There was significant expectation to cut GST rates to a single, standard rate, and not have multiple rates or taxes. The abolition of stamp duty or its incorporation under GST would have been an added advantage. The need of the hour is to lower interest rates which will help resolve the existing liquidity crisis and boost housing demand. Also, there is certainly a need to relook at the tax structure. There must be reconsideration to reduce the percentage for the 5 lakhs to 10 lakh slabs as that will reduce burden and increase disposable income which will aid liquidity," he said. 

    16:12 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    'FM has been very benign to Railways,' says ex-FM Piyush Goyal

    Railway Minister and former finance minister Piyush Goyal said Nirmala Sitharaman has been benign and thanked her for strengthening the resolve of the railways. "Finance Minister has been very benign to the Railways. She has laid out a vision of investment of nearly 50 lakh crore over the next 10 years. I would really like to thank Finance Minister for strengthening the resolve of the Railways," ANI quoted Goyal as saying.  

    Taking a hit at Congress, Goyal said, "Our track record is that we've performed on every single budget for last 5 years. Congress made promises that no one was willing to buy, because they were just "sheikh chilli ki kahani", dreams in the air that nobody trusted," ANI reported. 

    "I think people's verdict is out. I can only say that Congress seems to be rudderless, leaderless & helpless," he said. 

    16:09 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Budget 2019 is path breaking, road map to 5 trillion dollar economy is important: CEO Niti Ayog

    Calling the new budget as "path breaking", Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant says the road map laying down a vision for 5 trillion dollars economy is important. "It is a very path breaking. It's a very comprehensive budget. We're particularly delighted as Finance Min has acknowledged role of Niti. But more important is the road map that she has set for laying down a vision for $5 trillion economy," says Kant. 

    16:02 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'No major boost to agriculture sector in this budget'

    Chairman of Indian Council of Food and Agriculture MJ Khan says, “Except for the announcement of setting up 10,000 new-farmer producer organisations, there was no major boost to the agriculture sector in the budget 2019-20. However, I must say that a slew of measures, including MSP hiking of around 17 crops and farmers pension, have already been taken for the development of farmers as well as farm sector days ahead of the budget. In totality, this year’s budget is significant as it has also announced to create 100 startup incubators, 80 livelihood and 20 tech incubators, to provide incubation support to 80,000 startups including agri startups for the progress and development of our country."

    16:00 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Railways: Rs 65,837 crore budgetary support, Rs 1.60 lakh crore outlay

    Under the new budget, Railways was allocated of Rs 65,837 crore and the highest ever outlay for capital expenditure amounting to Rs 1.60 lakh crore. Last year, the outlay for the railways was Rs 1.48 lakh crore while the Budget allocation was Rs 55,088 crore. Sitharaman said "Railways will be encouraged to invest in suburban railways through special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and enhance metro rail network through PPPs."

    15:38 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Hike in customs duty on gold is disappointing, demand will go down'

    Chairman of the All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council N. Ananthapadmanabhan lists two positive outcomes of the budget as no charges on digital payments with both consumer and business establishments with an annual turnover of up to Rs 50 crores. Second, he mentioned the corporate tax of 25 per cent being extended for companies with an annual turnover of Rs 400 crore as one of the positive outcomes of the budget.  

    "But in regard to the hike in the customs duty on gold and precious metals from 10 per cent to 12.5 per cent, the industry is totally disappointed. It will encourage more smuggling. They have to roll it back immediately. The minister had brought it to the notice in the pre-budget discussion in Parliament. She had said that as commerce minister, she recommended lowering of customs duty. We were very positive. But unfortunately, what happened in between, we don't know. They hiked customs duty by 2.5 per cent. Prices have gone up by Rs 800. Already, the gold prices are very high and in the last 15 days, business has been affected. Another increase of Rs 80 per gram will keep customers away from the store. Demand will go down by 40 per cent," says Ananthapadmanabhan. 

    15:24 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    This budget is dedicated to poor, Dalits, farmers, youth, women: BJP working president

    Reacting to today's budget, BJP working president Jagat Prakash Nadda said: "This budget is dedicated to the poor people of the country, to the Dalits, to the farmers, to the youth and women of the country. It represents all sections of society. I really congratulate the finance minister," ANI reported. 

    15:19 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Change in tax slab was made four months ago: FM Sitharaman

    When asked why there hasn't been any change in the tax slab, FM Nirmala Sitharaman said in a press conference, "There is no change in the tax slab because the announcement regarding that was made four months ago."

    Responding to another question from the media, Sitharman said, "This bugdet has been presented from position of strength. India is the fastest growing economy."

    15:12 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Expert speaks: 'Recent relaxation on FDI policy did not have expected impact'

    "Currently, the FDI policy on Single Brand Retail Trade (SBRT) provides for a 30% local sourcing preferably from MSMEs, village and cottage industries, artisans and craftsmen where the FDI exceeds 51%. While there was a recent relaxation provided to offset the sourcing from India for global operations against the local sourcing, the same didn’t have the expected impact to boost FDI in the sector. There was a lot of reluctance by the existing foreign JV players in the sector to increase FDI beyond 51% to avoid coping with the sourcing norms and also reluctance shown by new foreign brands to enter the sector owing to the sourcing norms. Accordingly, the budget proposal to relax the local sourcing conditions in the sector should have a big positive impact for the existing players and also to the sector owing to the new FDI which should now enter the sector. While there were expectations around relaxing the stringent conditions in the Multi Brand Retail Sector as well, this proposal should give an initial boost to the retail sector while laying a road map for further relaxations," says Paresh Parekh, Partner and National Tax Leader, Consumer Products and Retail, EY India

    15:03 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    There's substantial increase in Defence: FM Sitharaman

    Sitharaman says expenditure on Defence services has been increased. "Defence services on revenue has also been increased. There is substantial increase under every head of the Defence," the Finance Minister says. 

    "There is a 25 per cent incrase in defence services in Northeast," Sitharaman says. 

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    14:50 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Infrastructure gets priority: FM Sitharaman

    "Infrasturture gets priority like the past five years. Rural women and youth have been covered. RBI will regulate house financing. This budget is the 10-year vision. Welfare for SC/ST, the poor are all increased. There is no shortage. Fund allocation for it has been increased," Sitharaman says in a press confernece right after presenting her maiden budget. 

    14:46 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Govt's approach is to approach NBFCs comprehensively: Sitharaman

    Sitharaman speaks on the NBFC issue. "NBFCs were very critical. NBFC financing window is opening. Whole appraoch is that the govt has responded comprehensively to the NBFC issue. NBFCs because they are very crticial to our banking system, says Sitharaman addressing a press conference. 

    "Emphasis is on the overall development of the economy. We looked at which urban living will be better. We are focusing on the ease of living."

    14:22 (IST)05 Jul 2019
    Budget 2019 takes care of all the sections of society: Rajnath Singh

    Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called the Budget 2019 a "futuristic" step.  "By bringing in socio-economic transformation, it is a futuristic budget. It will be successful in taking India to $5 trillion economy. It has taken care of all the sections of society, be it poor, backward or rich people."

    Budget 2019 India LIVE Updates: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman arrives at her office before leaving for Parliament to present the Budget 2019 in New Delhi (Reuters)

    On the FDI in India, the Finance Minister said, "FDI inflows remained strong in 2018-19 marking a 6 per cent growth. Govt will invite suggestions for further opening up of FDI in the aviation sector, media, animation AVGC and insurance sectors in consultation with all stakeholders. 100 per cent FDI will be permitted for insurance intermediaries."

    On banking and finance, Sitharaman said, "The government has proposed a Rs 70,000 crore capital infusion into government-owned banks this year. With the bad loan cycle almost bottoming out according to the Reserve Bank of India, this should help banks to lend more this fiscal. Non-performing asset (NPAs) recovery of Rs 4 lakh crore over the last four years, NPAs down by Rs 1 lakh crore in the last one."

    Listing out the achievements of NDA, Sitharaman said, "The recent election was charged with brimming home and desire for a bright and stable 'New India'." Talking about the economy, the Finance Minister said, "The Indian economy will grow to become a $3 trillion economy in the current year itself. We can very well reach 5 trillion dollars in the next few years. It is now the sixth largest in the world. Five years ago it was at the 11th position."

    Thanking the voters for bringing back Modi government to power for a second term, Sitharaman said, "The people of India have validated their two goals for our country's future: national security and economic growth. Between 2014 and 2019, we provided rejuvenated centre-state dynamic, cooperative federalism, GST Council and a strident commitment to fiscal discipline; set the ball rolling for New India."

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    As Sitharaman presents the full-fledged Union Budget for the current financial year, she faces the arduous task of living up to the expectations of the voters who have returned the BJP-led government with a resounding majority and also balancing the economy.

    As she delivers her maiden Budget, the twin challenges for Sitharaman are to spur growth and create more jobs. The Budget is being presented at a time when unemployment had touched a 45-year high, and India had lost its tag as the world’s fastest-growing major economy to China in the last quarter of the fiscal year.

    The Budget is expected to boost spending at the cost of short-term slippage in fiscal deficit targets as she lays down the Modi 2.0 government's road map for the economy and the nation in the next five years. Some believe she may give relief to the common man by raising personal income tax threshold for certain categories while at the same time, upping spending on agriculture, healthcare and social sectors.

    A push is also expected in sectors like infrastructure, education, health and railways.

    In the backdrop of BJP's historic mandate in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the citizens are hopeful that the full-year Budget would further expand the welfare measures announced in the interim Budget. But with India's economic growth faltering since February 1, it would likely be much more difficult to come through on those promises.

    In the Economic Survey presented to Parliament Thursday, the government projected the economic growth to inch up to 7 per cent. It also laid emphasis on private investment and accelerating the GDP growth rate to 8 per cent to turn India to turn into a $5-trillion economy by 2025.