Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her maiden budget in the Parliament on Friday, becoming only the second woman to present the Union budget in the history of independent India.
Emphasising that Budget 2019 is for all, FM Sitharaman said that the government's approach towards every programme is based on 'Gaon, Garib and Kisan'. Presenting the 89th budget, the Finance Minister announced a slew of schemes and measures, from rural development to women empowerment.
Bidding adieu to a colonial-era tradition, Sitharaman carried the budget papers in a 'bahi khata', which is a ledger, wrapped in a red coloured cloth, instead of a briefcase.
ALSO READ: Budget 2019 highlights
In the budget speech, she acknowledged that crowdsourced inputs from the public were of huge help in formulating the Union Budget.
Here's Budget 2019 at a glance:
In a big relief for taxpayers, FM announced income tax exemption for income up to Rs 5 lakh per annum. Also, now one can file I-T returns using Aadhaar card in place of PAN card, making it interchangeable. For the super-rich, there is an additional 3% increase in tax for an income from Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore and 7% for an income above Rs 5 crore.
2. Affordable housing:
To facilitate affordable housing, the FM announced an additional deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on loans borrowed up to 31 March, 2020 for purchase of a house up to Rs 45 lakhs. Also, from now on, the housing finance sector will be regulated by the RBI and not National Housing Bank.
In a major push for e-vehicles, electric vehicle purchasers will get an additional Rs 1.5 lakh incentive for loans. With that, India is also set to become a global hub for manufacturing e-vehicles.
4. Bharat Net:
In an initiative to provide better internet connectivity to all the panchayats in India, the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Digital Saksharata Abhiyan has been announced. BharatNet will help bridge the rural and urban digital divide.
5. Rural development:
In the second phase of PMAY-Gramin, 1.95 crore houses, including amenities such as toilets, LPG and electricity, will be provided to eligible beneficiaries. By 2022, every single rural family except those who are unwilling to take the connection will have electricity and clean cooking facilities.
6. Swachh Bharat Mission:
India will become open defecation free by 2 October 2019 as over 9.5 crore toilets have been built under the Swachh Bharat mission since October 2014. The FM also proposed to extend the mission to undertake sustainable solid waste management in every village.
7. Women empowerment:
The FM stated that the government is going beyond just women-centric policies to build a gender-neutral nation. Amid huge applause in the lower house, she proposed to expand the Women Self Help Group (SHG) Interest Subvention Programme to all districts in India to encourage women entrepreneurship.
8. Water management:
'Jal Shakti Mantralaya' to work with states to ensure 'Har ghar jal' for every household by 2024, under #JalJeevan Mission. The FM also emphasised that water and sanitation for all is the priority of the government. The proposal comes at a time when major cities of the country are reeling under a severe water crisis.
A new National Educational Policy will be brought in to transform the Indian educational system. The FM also proposed to bring in major changes in higher education as well as the school system. Foreign students will be invited to the country under the ‘Study In India’ programme. Rs 400 crore will be allocated for world-class higher education institutions in FY20.
10. The Aadhaar upgrade:
The FM announced that Aadhaar and PAN cards are interchangeable while filing I-T returns. She also said Aadhaar cards would be issued to NRIs with Indian passports on their arrival in India without the mandatory 180-day wait.