The Modi government’s final budget is out, and so is the jury of media panellists along with their team of economic bigwigs to interpret the budget for us. They’re once again looking to explain to us in layman’s language the kind of repercussions it will have on your and my lives, who will have more money, whose pockets will suffer and so on and so forth.
Much on the expected line, it mainly caters to the rural population who were the worst sufferers of demonetization and the dwindling agriculture income. This lot seem to be drifting away from the ruling dispensation. And as is the duty of every opposition, it has again criticised the budget as being dull, for lacking ideas and have even gone on to denounce it as a “big jumla”.
If the budget has left any section the most disappointed, then it has to be the middle class who were expecting the Finance Minister to make some big announcements for them taking some of the tax burdens off their shoulders. But much to their disappointment what they got is the increased customs duty on various goods which is surely going to pinch their pockets. I wonder whether the Prime Minister wasn’t aware of the budget when he talked about the major world economies adopting a protectionist stand in Davos.
The rich may have some reasons to celebrate as the government has finally reduced the cooperate tax from 30% to 25% as has been the global trend. But with the reintroduction of long-term capital gains tax the share market isn’t too happy and has treated it with a very lacklustre response with its upward growth finally taking a hit.
Touted as a poor-pro budget, the FM has again reiterated his promise to double the farm income by 2022. Meanwhile, as the farmers are struggling to strike a fair deal in the maandis for their current harvests, the FM has announced to increase the MSP for upcoming Kharif crops to 1.5% of the total production cost. A total allocation of ₹14.34 lakh crore has been estimated for housing, infrastructure and livelihood in rural areas.
But the show stealer in this budget definitely has to be the Modi government`s new healthcare initiative. They like to call it ‘Modicare’, modelled on President Obama`s Obamacare, which is being touted as world`s biggest health mission – not in terms of funds allotted to it but at least in terms of the sheer magnitude of it which targets to insure 5 crore poor families. But again this seems to be on a very preliminary stage, and the government would surely like to roll it out as early as possible.
The government hasn’t proposed any estimates of the huge costs that it will have incur for paying all the premiums. The scheme looks very promising, but again the money and its implementation will decide whether it will be able to bring any change in the lives of those poor families or not.
The budget has been prepared keeping the 2019 elections in mind and has made some tall promises for the most deprived. Whether the government would be able to bring any tangible change in the lives of the rural population which is reeling under its one of the worst crisis remains a big conundrum. And of course, the biggest question that pops out is will this be the last budget of the Modi government?
Well for all our answers we will have to wait for the 2019 election where these people will deliver their final verdict.