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Budget 2018 for women: Arun Jaitley slashes employee EPF contribution to boost income; here are 4 key reforms

Budget 2018: In a bid to boost the take-home wages of working women, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that women employee’s contribution will be reduced to 8% for the first three years of their employment. We take a look at other key women centric reforms.

Arun jaitley's budget speech
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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced various women contric refo
Budget 2018: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slashed EPF contribution for women employees to 8% inorder to boost their income. (Image: Reuters)

Budget 2018: In a bid to boost the take-home wages of working women, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that women employee’s contribution will be reduced to 8% for the first three years of their employment. “To incentivize employment of more women in the formal sector and to enable higher take-home wages, I propose to make amendments in the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 to reduce women employees’ contribution to 8% for first three years of their employment against existing rate of 12% or 10% with no change in employers’ contribution,” Arun Jailtey said.

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The economic survey tabled in Parliament earlier noted women’s employment has declined in India. “On 10 of 17 indicators, India has some distance to traverse to catch up with its cohort of countries. For example, women’s employment has declined over chronological time, and to a much greater extent, in development time. Another such area is in the use of female contraception: nearly 47 percent of women do not use any contraception, and of those who do, less than a third use female controlled reversible contraception,” the survey said.

Also read: India Economic Survey 2018 goes Pink to bring women’s issues to the fore; here are key examples

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also announced benefits for poor women under the Ujjwala scheme. The finance minister said that the Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Scheme was launched to make poor women free from the smoke of wood. “Initially our target was to provide free LPG connections to about 5 crore poor women. But in view of the pace of implementation of Ujjwala scheme and its popularity among the women, we propose to increase the target of providing free connection to 8 crore poor women,” Arun Jaitley said.

Noting the wide ranging benefits accruing from Sanbhagya Scheme for women, Arun Jaitley said that it’s changing the lives of women and children who did not have electricity previously. Under the Saubhagya scheme, 4 crore poor households are being provided with electricity connection free of charge. “We are spending Rs 16,000 crore under this scheme,” Arun Jaitley noted.

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After the economic survey pointed to the ‘feminisation of agriculture’ in India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) will also be encouraged to take up organic agriculture in clusters. In Union Budget 2018, FM Jaitley noted that loans to Self Help Groups of women has increased to about Rs 42,500 crore in 2016-17, growing 37% over previous year.

The economic survey points to an interesting trend in Indian agriculture, and explores women’s role in the same. The economic survey says that with growing rural to urban migration by men, there is ‘feminisation of agriculture sector’, with increasing number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers.

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