Union Budget 2018: With elections round the corner, a balancing act on cards

New Delhi, Jan 31: It will be a tightrope walk for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as he presents the last full Union Budget before 2019 general elections and the first budget, post roll out of Goods and Service Tax (GST).

Also, BJP government would be trying to give a push for some of the promises it made in the election manifesto of the  2o14 general election.

From BJP’s 2014 election manifesto

 

As it is the last budget before the 2019 polls in all likelihood more thrust will be given to welfare schemes. More sops for farmers and rural population are on cards. Some announcements are expected for job creation as ‘unemployment’ is major issue used by the opposition against the Modi government.

Another tough task for Arun Jaitley will be to take captains of Indian Inc. along. More than anyone the Finance Minister knows that the government has to keep the Indian Inc. happy  though the government would like to play to the gallery this time around.  Rationalisation of direct tax rates, simplification of Customs procedures and relief in GST rates are among key expectations of the Indian Inc on the tax front.

Education, infrastructure and  health is also slated to gain and continuing with women empowerment programmes some new announcements are also expected.  The infrastructure thrust could see highways, modernisation of railways and allotment for urban development.

Keeping up with the promise in election manifesto, BJP have already announced 100 big cities, the last ten being announced a week back.

Spike on the expenditure front is expected but the FinMin will be looking at alternative sources for the funding as he would be careful not to breach government’s fiscal deficit target.

As agriculture growth have slowed down to 2.1 per cent, the sector is poised to gain as the centre will be looking to keep its election promise.  On tax front smaller tax payers could gain as Finance Minister may give concession for smaller businesses and the smaller taxpayers.

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