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Dear Mr Jaitley, How Will You Fulfill All You Have Promised In The 2018 Budget?

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The financial plan for the year 2018-2019 appeared to be another motivation for the government to enhance the economic state of the nation.

Going by what Arun Jaitley presented, a slight change in government spending can be observed by way of subsidising. There wasn’t an extraordinary change in the GDP rate in the earlier part of 2017-2018. Yet, the finance minister ensured an increase in GDP rates in the second half of the financial year from October onwards. The rate of GDP growth may well be in the range of 7.2% to 7.5%, Jaitley said.

Regarding the Budget, Jaitley said that the legislature is focussed on the creation of a framework, ensuring higher agricultural income and other financial changes. Yet, there seemed to be no such motivation to address the needs of white-collar workers and needy individuals.

There are some great angles and some equally awful parts in this year’s Budget.

The finance minister said that the government has taken up programmes to benefit the education, healthcare and agricultural sectors. According to him, a National Healthcare Protection Scheme will be instituted for the benefit of destitute individuals. Under this scheme, 10 crore poor families (50 crore individuals) will be given an aid of ₹5 lakhs which is supposed to be given as protection for their medicinal needs.

According to the Budget, nearly ₹1 lakh crores have been set aside for improving the educational sector in India. This will incorporate the development of schools, establishment of advanced sheets in classrooms and concentrating on training educators in a better way. Likewise, housing for all has been guaranteed by the year 2022.

Where the agribusiness is concerned, the government has promised to double the salary of the agriculturists. Furthermore, it also aims to keep the minimum support price (MSP) of kharif crops at least one-and-a-half times the production cost.

A couple of more plans could be seen – including a plan to battle the air contamination that the Delhi NCR region is grappling with. According to this plan, the assets will be given to the state government to help them cut down on the usage of products instead of focussing on their consumption.

It is essential to note that all these plans have not been implemented yet. Right now, they are simply guarantees made by the government. In this regard, the government’s track record (2014-2017) does not bode well. Many of the guarantees have not been fulfilled yet (for instance, to clean the Ganga, to bring back black money, and so on). Thus, in my opinion, it would be extremely foolhardy to accept these plans on face value.

Another vital point to be noted is that these plans seem to be inadequate in the face of the immensity of the government’s designs. There hasn’t been a focus on the appropriate designation of funds. Jaitley seems to have been simply concentrating on the road ahead of 2019, instead of elaborating on the way the government intends to fulfill these lofty promises.

Additionally, there were hikes of above 200% in the salaries of the President, Vice President, MPs, governors, etc. However, this has no significance for white-collar workers and needy individuals. The corporate duty has also been lessened to 25% for organisations with turnovers of up to ₹250 crores which seems to be a plan to benefit the huge corporate sector. Similarly, the customs duties on the import of various products have also been significantly expanded.

It is therefore evident the government’s sole focus is on the period ahead of 2019. There were almost no benefits for the middle class, especially concerning their expenses. Additionally, to the best of my knowledge, there was virtually nothing for the upliftment and benefit of women. On the other hand, it can be reasonably argued that this financial plan was majorly in favour of the rich, corporate class.

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