The Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday in Parliament was basically a budget to outline the policies and objectives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, now into its second term. It was a not a full budget, and many of the announcements had already been made by the then Finance Minister Piyush Goyal when he had placed the interim budget in February this year, just before the Lok Sabha polls.
The budget presented by Sitharaman outlines the electoral promises made by Prime Minister Modi, and the main focus is on 'Gaon, Gareeb, Kisaan' (Village, Poor and Farmers). The budget speech clearly outlines the plans to provide piped water supply to all rural households, construction of 1.95 crore houses for the poor in the next two years and measures to double the income of farmers. Let us all hope that the promises are implemented so that we can witness the emergence of a 'Naya Bharat'.
In her budget, Nirmala Sitharaman has tried to give benefits to all sections of people, with more focus on farmers, rural households, middle and small scale entrepreneurs, startups and middle class taxpayers. The massive thrust on investment in infrastructure is surely going to generate spin off benefits to other industrial sectors, with the twin objectives of inviting massive foreign investment and giving boost to growth to provide employment.
The Finance Minister has also tried to plug loopholes leading to tax evasion by making filing of income tax returns mandatory for those who splurge money on foreign travels and hold more than Rs 1 crore in their bank accounts. Similarly, the interface between income tax officials and taxpayers will be digitalized completely, so that no taxpayer will come to know which income tax officer is assessing his or her I-T return. This will completely eliminate corruption in tax collections.
I asked Railway Minister Piyush Goyal whether the government intends to privatize Indian Railway and he emphatically ruled out the possibility. The thrust is on public private partnership to give a fillip to railway track construction, manufacturing of rolling stock and passenger freight services. On the exports front, Goyal, who holds Commerce and Industry portfolios, told me how he intends to take measures to boost exports of Indian goods and services.
Overall, Prime Minister Modi's dream is to provide every household in the country with a house, LPG and electricity connection, toilets and piped water supply. The challenge is no doubt a very huge one, but judging by his government's success with Ujjwala, Ujala, Mudra schemes in the last five years, I am confident that the aim is definitely achievable.
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The government must identify such people and action must be taken against them. Inciting people in the name of religion and injecting communal poison in a civil society is a crime.