This is a revolutionary Budget. It has major, big-ticket announcements which will help India take a giant leap in our aspirations to establish a New India.
This is a New India budget because, first of all, there is huge delivery on the farm sector, as per our manifesto. It has institutionalised the BJP’s promise — the finance minister has given a categorical assurance — that various crops in the coming kharif season will also get a 50 per cent margin of MSP over the cost of production, just like for rabi crops so far.
This is a big deal for the farm sector, which has already delivered record production in various crop categories. This solemn promise will assure farmers of securing a big rise in their secured income. It is a major initiative towards realising the doubling of farmer incomes by 2022.
The government has also articulated its intent in ensuring that farmers realise MSP by initiating necessary interventions in discussions with Niti Aayog and state governments. The second big takeaway which will benefit 50 crore people is the National Health Protection Scheme, which will offer universal health cover to the tune of Rs 5 lakhs to nearly 40 per cent of the population which cannot buy healthcare insurance.
This Modi Healthcare, by its coverage, will far surpass the much-talked about Obamacare in the health sector. Already, the social security benefits announced in earlier Budgets have benefitted 16 crore people. With this added health cover benefit, we can be truly proud of being a growing economy with concerns of the marginalized and the disadvantaged being well taken care of. In a way, this is a redistribution of wealth generated in favour of the poor and the impoverished.
Third, this Budget has given a big fillip to employment generation by giving numerous incentives to the MSME sector, as well as incentives for industry in general for employing a new workforce. The MSME sector, being the real engine for growth, will benefit by the lowering of corporate tax to 25 per cent, which will encourage major investments in this sector, which in turn will lead to job generation.
Fourth, this Budget has a lot to cheer for senior citizens, by increasing the exemptions on their returns from fixed salary instruments – such as, exemptions on expenditure on health insurance and the expanded limit of Rs 15 lakhs on an assured return of 8 per cent.
Another sector that is expected to benefit substantially is women. Whether it is 2 crore additional toilets to be built, or 4 crores families who will benefit from electricity connections or 8 crore families who will benefit from gas connections under the Ujjawala scheme, it is women who will reap the maximum impact and will be additionally empowered.