India's budget focuses on rural economy ahead of elections | The Daily Star
01:30 PM, February 01, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:35 PM, February 01, 2018

India's budget focuses on rural economy ahead of elections

India unveiled its budget for the fiscal year starting April 1 on Thursday, in what is being seen as a test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to maintain fiscal discipline without stifling economic growth ahead of general elections next year.

Here are the highlights of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's budget for the 2018/19 fiscal year.

FISCAL DEFICIT

* Targets 2018/19 fiscal deficit at 3.3 percent of GDP, estimates current year at 3.5 percent - Bloomberg citing sources GROWTH

* Estimates 7.2 to 7.5 percent GDP growth in second half of current fiscal year

* Finance minister says "firmly on path to achieve 8 percent plus growth soon"

EXPENDITURE

* Estimates 1.38 trillion rupees expenditure on health, education and social security

* Railway capital expenditure set at 1.49 trillion rupees for 2018/19 INFRASTRUCTURE

* To spend 14.34 trillion Indian rupees ($225.50 billion) on rural infrastructure

BANKING/LENDING

* To soon announce measures to address bad loans of small and medium enterprises

* Proposes setting up 3 trillion rupees plan for lending for small enterprises

AGRICULTURE

* Finance minister says will focus on strengthening rural, agriculture economy

* Sets 10 trillion rupees to 11 trillion rupees credit for "agricultural activities"

* Minimum support price of all crops to be increased to at least 1.5 times of production cost

* Export of agriculture commodities to be liberalised

HEALTH/POLLUTION

* To provide 500,000 rupees per family annually for medical reimbursement under National Health Protection Scheme. Finance minister says the plan will protect 500 million poor people and will be world's largest health protection scheme.

* To implement special schemes for governments around Delhi to address air pollution

* Removal of crop residue to be subsidized in order to tackle the problem of pollution due to burning of crop residue

FINANCE MINISTER COMMENTS

* "We are now a $2.5 trillion economy, and we are firmly on path to achieve 8 percent plus growth soon".

* "We are not only focussing on 'Ease of Doing Business' but also 'Ease of Living'".

* "Government to take all steps to eliminate use of cryptocurrencies which are being used to fund illegitimate transactions".

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