Modi government’s first term initiatives will continue to be a part of the second term, which was highlighted in the Union Budget 2019 unveiled by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on July 6, 2019. The budget intends to digitize the economy further and give a boost to the MSME sector. However, the most important takeaway from the budget was the goal to minimize the government’s role and maximize the governance aspect.
In addition, there were other key highlights of the budget 2019 which are as follows:
Announcement on the usage of Aadhaar card and PAN card interchangeably for filing income tax returns. This implies that the government has taken one more step towards making Aadhaar card a single identity proof for the Indian citizens.
The budget proposes an infusion of ₹70,000 crore in Public Sector Banks to improve their capital and creditworthiness.
The tax slabs have been kept unchanged. However, an increase in surcharge tax has been proposed for the individuals who earn more than ₹2 crore to ₹4 crore and ₹5 crore and above in a year. Although these individuals represent only the tip of the iceberg, the step has been thought to be effective in reducing the tax burden on the lower income groups.
The Finance Minister proposed to improve the infrastructure of the country including water grids, gas grids, and regional airports. However, the budget for such projects was not highlighted further making it unclear from the financial end.
The budget included some healthy points for the development and growth of the MSME sector and startups. Pension benefits were presented for the shopkeepers and retailers in the form of a new scheme wherein beneficiaries whose turnover is less than ₹1.5 crore will be included in the scheme.
Highlighting the success of the earlier social sector schemes, the Finance Minister promised to continue with the work and achieve the said targets by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
Jal Jeevan Mission was proposed in the budget to provide piped water supply to all households by 2024.
Other social sector schemes to be focused in coming years were Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY), Swacch Bharat Mission, Women Entrepreneurship and Self-Help Groups (SHGs) programme, and PM Gram Sadak Yojana.
Even the concern for agriculture was presented in the budget. The e-NAM, an online website for trading agricultural commodities, was proposed to be encouraged among the farmers.
Customs duty was also hiked in the budget for the goods such as cashew kernels, auto parts, marble slabs, CCTV camera, optic fibre cable, IP camera, tiles, etc.
Thus, the above points focus on the pathway of creating a New India, which was started in the first term of the BJP-led government (2014–2019). However, there were some gaps pertaining to the availability of the finances for achieving the said targets. And it would be crucial to see how the Modi government performs in their first year of the second term.