Those with an annual salary of up to Rs. 5 lakh will not have to pay income tax, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said while presenting the interim budget in parliament today, after making a series of big announcements ahead of the national election, due by May. The minister also announced the widely-anticipated scheme for farmers which would provide direct income support for small farmers. It is the last chance for the ruling BJP to cover its bases after it lost three major states in last year’s elections to rival Congress. Income tax refunds will be processed within 24 hours and released immediately, the minister said. On Thursday, the government went into damage control mode as a yet-to-be-released report said unemployment was at a four-decade high in 2017-18.

Here are the top 10 updates from Budget 2019:

  1. “The government has made a historic plan called the PM Kisan programme. Those small farmers who have less than two acres will get a support of Rs. 6,000,” Piyush Goyal said. “It will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of farmers in three instalments of Rs. 2,000,” he said. He announced an allocation of Rs. 75,000 crore for the scheme.
  2. The government announced a pension scheme for the workers in the unorganised sector with a monthly income of up to Rs. 15,000. An assured monthly pension of Rs. 3,000 after they retire at 60 was announced by Mr Goyal.
  3. He said 50 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) comes from “sweat and toil of 42 crore workers in the unorganised sector.”
  4. “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity,” Mr Goyal said as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP lawmakers thumped their desks in appreciation.
  5. High growth and formalisation of economy has resulted in increased Employees” Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) membership by 2 crore in last two years, he added.
  6. The fiscal deficit in 2018-19 would be 3.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), slightly higher than the targeted 3.3 per cent, Piyush Goyal said. The deficit was widely expected to be higher than targeted due to a combination of revenue shortfalls and increased spending ahead of the Lok Sabha election. “Unlike the last government, our government broke the back of back-breaking inflation,” Mr Goyal said. (LIVE Budget Updates)
  7. The government also decided to hike the gratuity limit from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh from the next financial year.
  8. “In 2014, 2.5 crore families were without electricity, living in the 18th century. We have brought electricity to all villages,” Piyush Goyal said. “We have also brought the world’s largest medical insurance programme, Ayushman Bharat. So far 10 lakh people have got help.”
  9. The government on Thursday evening revised upwards its growth estimates for the two years since the notes ban — 2017-18 and 2016-17 — to 7.2 per cent and 8.2 per cent.
  10. “The GST has continuously reduced… most items of daily use for poor and middle class are now in 0 to five per cent tax bracket,” Mr Goyal said.


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