Economy

Jaitley urged to provide balm for demonetisation pains in Budget

Richa Mishra New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 15, 2017

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to give a rural focus in the upcoming Budget   -  PTI

Alliance partners call for proposals to aid farmers, small businesses

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s party colleagues and alliance partners are expecting him to ease the ‘inconveniences’ caused due to demonetisation in the upcoming Union Budget.

This could be in the form of financial incentives and not just restricted to welfare schemes such as MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act).

Whether the government will actually see a windfall of over ₹2 lakh crore or settle in with just about ₹1 lakh crore following its move to scrap ₹1,000 rupee notes and replace the ₹500 notes with new ones remains to be seen.

“Whatever are the windfall numbers — close to ₹2.5 lakh crore or even less — the same needs to be used for the economically weaker section with a focus on rural economy,” a senior BJP member said.

While stating that a favourable proposal on the personal Income Tax front should also be considered, some of the NDA members BusinessLine spoke to said, special attention should be given to small traders, shopkeepers, manufacturers and farmers who have been impacted by demonetisation.

The NDA would like Jaitley to do something for those belonging to the lowest pyramid of the economy and worst hit by the demonetisation drive, a member said.

Rural focus

There are indications that the Budget will focus on the rural economy while expanding economic enterprises by creating jobs, affordable housing targeted at young professionals among others, say political analysts.

But the announcement should not breach the model code of conduct as elections are due in five States soon, they caution.

“The incentive could be for education, health, LPG connection, etc. A certain amount of money from the government could be given to the beneficiaries without the burden of repayment. However, the mechanism should be such that the money actually goes to the beneficiaries,” said a member of the NDA alliance.

Though the Budget is essentially not a political statement, but given the circumstances, NDA members would want Jaitley to focus on pro-poor proposals.

Besides, the 2018-19 Budget will be formulated with an eye on the next general elections, said a senior political analyst.

Also the results of the government’s flagship schemes — Swachh Bharat, Skill India, Start-up India, Smart Cities — should be revealed, though this is not connected with the Budget exercise.

“We should know what the results have been. The programme should show physical results as well for us to talk about,” another member added.

Published on January 15, 2017
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