Union Budget 2017: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Narendra Modi government’s fourth Budget gave a big relief to taxpayers up to Rs 5 lakh of income, but had little to offer to those earning above that bracket. Budget 2017 was a mixed bag from the perspective of the common man. Greater focus on railway safety, steps for affordable housing, and marginal tinkering with indirect taxes would bring cheer to many. Yet, Jaitley fell short of giving the common taxpayer a big-bang populist Budget, that was widely expected post demonetisation. We take a look at 10 key things common man – across genres – should know about Union Budget 2017.
1) Railways: One relief for the common man would be that no increase fares was announced. Apart from this, greater focus on rail safety would bring cheer. For passenger safety, a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh will be created with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of 5 years. ‘Coach Mitra’, a single window interface, to register all coach related complaints and requirements will be launched. FM Jaitley has also announced that the service charges on buying tickets from IRCTC will be removed.
Apart from that Railway lines of 3,500 kms will be commissioned in 2017-18. During 2017-18, at least 25 stations are expected to be awarded for station redevelopment. 500 stations will be made differently abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators.
2) Cost of borrowing to come down, remonetisation to gather pace. Pace of remonetisation has picked up and will soon reach comfortable levels, FM Jaitley said. The surplus liquidity in the banking system will lower borrowing costs and increase the access to credit.
3) Digital push: 125 lakh people have adopted the BHIM app so far, the FM claimed. The government will launch two new schemes to promote the usage of BHIM; these are, Referral Bonus Scheme for individuals and a Cashback Scheme for merchants.
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4) Defence: A comprehensive web based interactive Pension Disbursement System for Defence Pensioners will be established. This system will receive pension proposals and make payments centrally. This will reduce the grievances of defence pensioners.
5) Passport: Citizens in far flung regions of the country find it difficult to obtain passports and redress passport related grievances. We have decided to utilise the Head Post Offices as front offices for rendering passport services.
6) Individual taxation: The existing rate of taxation for individual assesses between income of Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh has been reduced to 5% from the present rate of 10%. Simple one-page form to be filed as Income Tax Return for the category of individuals having taxable income upto Rs 5 lakh other than business income has been promised. While the taxation liability of people with income upto Rs 5 lakh is being reduced to half, all the other categories of tax payers in the subsequent slabs will also get a uniform benefit of Rs 12,500 per person.
On the down side for some, a surcharge of 10% of tax payable on categories of individuals whose annual taxable income is between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore will be applicable.
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7) Affordable housing: Under the scheme for profit-linked income tax deduction for promotion of affordable housing, carpet area instead of built up area of 30 and 60 Sq.mtr. will be counted.
8) Education: SWAYAM platform, leveraging IT, to be launched with at least 350 online courses. This would enable students to virtually attend courses taught by the best faculty
9) For senior citizens, Aadhar based Smart Cards containing their health details will be introduced.
10) Cheaper and dearer: Items like LED lamps, solar panels, printed circuit boards for mobiles, micro ATMs, finger-print machines and Iris scanners will potentially become cheaper. On the other hand, silver coins, cigarettes and tobacco, bidis, pan masala, goods imported through parcels, water filter membranes and cashew nuts will become dearer.