As expected, there was nothing which could call this Budget a populist one. True to what Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister of India has been hinting about bringing in structured reforms, the Union Budget of 2017-17 brought emphasis on rural and infrastructure.
For the salaried, Arun Jaitley had almost nothing to offer except for the following ones:
The tax relief on House Rent Allowance (HRA) will be raised from Rs 24,000 per annum to Rs 60,000 per annum under 80GG.
Those earning up to Rs 5 lakh a year will now get a tax relief of Rs 5,000, up from Rs 2,000 previously. This hike in relief effectively raises the basic exemption for these taxpayers to up to Rs 3 lakh. The relief was introduced in Budget 2013 and was retained in the past two Budgets.
The Government proposes to pay 8.33% for all new employees for first three years of employment. A total of Rs 1,000 crore has been allocated towards it. The scheme will be applicable to those with salary up to Rs 15,000 per month. The move is expected to help ease the employer's burden to some extent.
For skill development, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) was given a boost in the Union Budget with Fannouncing 1,500 multi-skill training institutes across the country. Jaitley said that a sum of Rs 1,700 crore has been set aside for this purpose. The PMKVY is a unique initiative by the government and the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) which is being implemented by NSDC. This scheme aims to offer 24 lakh Indian youth meaningful, industry relevant, skill based training. Under the scheme, trainees are offered a financial reward and a government certification on successful completion of training and assessment to help them in securing a job.
Jaitley also said the government proposes to allocate Rs 500 crore for its Stand-Up India scheme, which was announced in January, to stimulate innovation and startup activity by women and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs. "This must become the year of entrepreneurship for SC/ST... This will benefit 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs," he said.
A bill to amend the Companies Act will be introduced in the current session of Parliament for greater ease of doing business, including for facilitating registration of a new company in just one day. Jaitley said the proposed bill to amend the Companies Act 2013 will remove the difficulties and impediments to ease of doing business. "The Bill would also improve the enabling environment for start-ups. The registration of companies will also be done in one day," he added.