Middle class got ₹2 lakh-crore tax rebate annually during Modi regime, says Jaitley

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2019 Published on January 11, 2019

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

‘Taxes of most commodities brought down under GST’

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the government has given ₹2 lakh-crore tax benefit annually to the middle class without a single tax being raised. This is a first by any government in its five-year tenure, Jaitley claimed in his blog post.

“The GST (Goods and Services Tax) is the single most important ‘consumer friendly measure’ in India. Taxes of most commodities have been brought down. Commodities have been made cheaper, even though the revenue sacrificed now after the rates revision, would be close to ₹1 lakh crore,” Jaitley wrote.

After the introduction of the GST on July 1, 2017, tax rates were lowered on over 350 items and 66 types of services and now nearly 97.5 per cent goods attract GST rate either at 18 per cent or below. Just 28 goods are in the 28 per cent slab, the highest tax rate.

On Direct Taxes (Personal Income Tax, Corporate Tax), Jaitley said that every Budget since 2014 gave some benefit — directly or indirectly. Even though the taxation slab is ₹2.5 lakh, those with an earning upto ₹3 lakh need not pay any tax. A ₹40,000 standard deduction has been given to all employees. Similarly, all investments in housing, insurance and other savings instruments, have been increased in the last four years.

“The cost of this to the exchequer is almost ₹97,000 crore per annum,” he said.

Housing subsidy

Listing the various other measures, he said the subsidy for housing for the middle class has been liberalised. The government staff has benefited from the speedy implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission, the Services have benefited from the implementation of the OROP, the pensioners have benefited by the New Pension Scheme. The government contribution is being increased from 10 per cent to 14 per cent and greater part of rebate being given to the entire amount of 60 per cent which can be withdrawn at the time of superannuation.

Amidst all these, another important good news has been lower inflation. “Inflation during the five-year tenure has been kept between 3 and 4 per cent as against 10.4 per cent during UPA-II,” he said.

Highlighting the importance of the recently approved 124th amendment in the Constitution, the Minister said that the Prime Minister’s decision to force an agenda for poverty based reservation is the single greatest recognition/ concern for poor across the general categories and the need to eliminate poverty.

“The principal Opposition party showed only lip sympathy for the measure and grudgingly supported it while poking holes in the same,” he blamed.

He explained that the original Constitution (unamended) in its Preamble mentions Equality of Opportunity and Justice for all whether political, social or economic to be ensured by the State. The Preamble expresses the intent of the Constitution framers. It is an aid to the interpretation of what constitutes the basic structure. Nor does the carve out amongst the general non-reserved categories for 10 per cent of their poor in any way get restricted by the 50 per cent reservation embargo placed by the Supreme Court. In the Indra Sawhney case, the Supreme Court had categorically mentioned that 50 percent criteria applies only to the caste- based reservations envisaged in Article 16(4) of the Constitution, he clarified.

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Published on January 11, 2019
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