INDIA ABROAD February 10, 2017 26 INDIA
By Ashok Sharma
— NEW DELHI
ndia’s finance minister
pledged relief for middle
class taxpayers and small
and medium-sized compa-
nies on Wednesday, saying
the government would
spend billions of dollars to dou-
ble farmers’ incomes, upgrade
ramshackle infrastructure and
provide cheap housing.
In presenting to Parliament
the budget for fiscal year that
starts April 1, Finance Minister
Arun Jaitley said the economy
was doing well despite slowing
growth in other emerging
economies and a massive
demonetization order late last
year that affected the country’s
mostly cash-based business
activities. Jaitley projected economic growth of between 6.75
and 7. 5 percent in 2017-18.
Since taking office in May
2014, Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has been pumping funds
into boosting education, while
increasing spending on roads,
irrigation and other infrastructure. It has also been reforming
India’s complicated tax regime.
The budget proposes total
spending for the fiscal year of
21.47 trillion rupees ($315.74 billion). Jaitley said spending on
highways would rise to 650 billion rupees ($9.54 billion) in
2017-18, up from 580 billion
rupees in 2016-17.
Noting that India is “a noncompliance tax society” Jaitley
said he hoped that cutting tax
rates would persuade people to
pay up. He announced a five percent reduction in tax rates for
small and medium-sized businesses with annual turnover of
up to 500 million rupees ($7.35
He also abolished income tax
for people earning up to 300,000
rupees ($4,410) a year.
C. Rangarajan, former governor of India’s central bank, said it
was a fairly routine budget.
“There have not been much
changes on the revenue side.
Nevertheless, I am happy that
3. 2 per cent. The original road
map has set it at 3 percent.”
Rahul Gandhi, the opposition
Congress Party leader, said he
was disappointed the govern-
ment did not say how it would
create new jobs. However he
welcomed the government’s pro-
posal to improve transparency in
It calls for limiting the maxi-
mum amount cash donation a
political party can receive to
2,000 rupees ($29) from each
person. Donations can be made
by check or online, Jaitley said.
Now, political parties can
receive up to 20,000 rupees
($295) in cash from each donor
without disclosing his or her
Government Cuts Taxes, Pledges to Boost Rural Economy
Jaitley projected economic growth of between 6.75 and 7. 5 percent in 2017-18
— NEW DELHI
slammed the Union
Budget on Wednesday,
The Congress, Samajwadi
Party, Trinamool Congress,
Janata Dal-United and
Communist Party of India-
Marxist were among the parties
that criticized the budget pre-
sented by Finance Minister Arun
Jaitley in the Lok Sabha.
Modi said maximum emphasis
has been given to farmers, villages, poor, Dalit and the underprivileged sections of the society
in the budget.
“This budget is associated
with our aspirations, our dreams
and in a way depicts our future.
This is the future of our new gen-
eration, the future of our farm-
ers,” Modi said, adding that each
letter in the word “future’” had
special meaning: “F” for farmer,
“U” for Underprivileged, “T” for
Transparency and Technology
Upgradation, “U” for Urban
Rejuvenation, “R” for Rural
Development and “E” for
He said the budget would give
new strength to the economy
and reflects the government’s
commitment to eliminate corruption and black money.
Modi said Jaitley and his team
deserve praise for the “historic
Congress Vice-President Rahul
Gandhi told reporters outside
Parliament that the budget did
not address key issues, such as
job creation and agrarian dis-
“We were expecting fireworks,
instead got a damp squib. The
budget lacked vision,” Gandhi
“The shock that this govern-
ment gave through demonetiza-
tion, the expectation was the
government will do something
for the poor, farmers, the unem-
ployed. But there is no clear
vision. He [Jaitley] did a lot of
sher-o-shayari, gave a good
speech but there is no basis [for
West Bengal Chief Minister
and Trinamool Congress leader
Mamata Banerjee said the budget
“The budget is clueless, use-
less, baseless, missionless,
actionless and heartless. No
roadmap for the country or the
future from a government that
has lost all its credibility,” she
said in a tweet. “The budget is
misleading, full of jugglery of
numbers and hollow words
which mean nothing.”
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish
Kumar said in Patna that the
budget has disappointed the peo-
“There is nothing in it that
could speed up growth and
development in the country. It is
not going to help the common
people, farmers and the youth,”
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu
Prasad said the budget was anti-
poor, anti-farmer and anti-youth.
“Why has the central government failed to inform how much
employment it provided to youth
last year,” he asked.
CPI-M general secretary
Sitaram Yechury said the budget
will burden the common man.
“We are calling it a contrac-tionary budget, as opposed to an
expansionary budget as it is not
expanding domestic demand.
There is a decline in revenue
expenditure, no employment
generation and it is seeking to
hike indirect taxes, which will
burden the common man,” he
said. Communist Party of India
said that Jaitley failed to present
any proposal to recover NonPerforming Assets (NPAs).
“The Union Budget including
the Railway Budget contains
nothing concrete for the common people and its (the government’s) real patrons, the corporate houses will be given all facilities and concessions,” the party
said in a statement.
Samajwadi Party leader
Naresh Agrawal said the budget
will not help in curbing corrup-
“It’s a hopeless budget. It has
nothing for farmers. It does not
talk about jobs for the unemployed,” Agarwal told IANS.
Another party leader Dimple
Yadav, the wife of Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav,
termed the budget as “direction-
less” and said that it neglected
the farmers and women.
BJP president Amit Shah
offered another view, saying
Modi has fulfilled his promise of
bringing in transparency in poli-
tics by reducing cash donation to
political parties to Rs 2,000.
“Cash donation to political
parties has been reduced to Rs
2,000 from Rs 20,000. This is the
beginning of a new era,” he said.
He said the budget was women-friendly and poor-friendly and
had several measures for benefit
of the farmers.
Union ministers Ravi Shankar
Prasad and Suresh Prabhu also
hailed the Union budget.
Politicians Split Along Party Lines on Budget
BJP claims, but Congress disputes, the budget had disenfranchised in mind
Laborers work at a flyover construction site in Jammu, Feb. 1.