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Budget 2018: Wheeling In A Confident And Compassionate India

The spending on rural infrastructure has been set at a whopping Rs 14.34 lakh crore, which should translate into more jobs and help boost small and medium-sized enterprises

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In its fourth year, the Narendra Modi government announced the most anticipated budget of its term so far with a commendable pro-poor focus while continuing to retain a tight leash on fiscal deficit concerns. Overall, the budget presented by the honourable finance minister, Arun Jaitley, does a fairly good job of balancing good economics with prudent politics without compromising on the country’s growth trajectory.

The spending on rural infrastructure has been set at a whopping Rs 14.34 lakh crore, which should translate into more jobs and help boost small and medium-sized enterprises. A clutch of stimulus packages aimed at India’s rural economy will help in laying lakhs of miles of rural roads, build new houses, toilets, and provide electricity — all of which will help rural India realise, reimagine and redefine the power of practical growth-oriented Modinomics.

This rural focus will be encouraging for the farm and two-wheeler segment, including tyres. The increased push on infrastructure, especially towards roads, railways, airports, and building of smart cities, will be a positive for the commercial vehicle segment as well. Besides, the increase in customs duty on imported truck-bus radials to 15%, from 10%, is going to boost our commercial vehicle tyre sales.

The finance minister has also announced a new Rs 5 lakh-a-year public health insurance scheme which will cover hospitalisation costs for 10 crore households and a Rs 10,000-crore fund to boost fishery, aquaculture development and animal husbandry. This will help provide relief to crores of needy households by raising their incomes, thereby helping them cope with challenges brought on by inflation. The Rs 4000 crore health insurance scheme, the government has said, is the largest public healthcare scheme anywhere in the world—a proud realisation for every Indian.

The budget will only add to the confidence in the Indian economy that has increased substantially on account of the policy measures of the government and of the RBI, courtesy of the goods and services tax and the bankruptcy code.

Another commendable aspect of this budget is the relief it offers to women. Targeting a total lending of Rs 3 lakh crore under the Mudra Yojana, in which 76% loan accounts are held by women, will encourage them to start new businesses and create jobs. Eight crore free gas connections for women under the Ujjwala Yojana along with a 37% increase in loans to women self-help groups is yet another heartening highlight of this year’s budget.

The 2018 economic survey, released earlier this week, predicted that India's GDP growth will accelerate from 6.75% in 2018 to 7%-7.5% in 2019. If realised, would match the 7.1% growth seen in the 2017 fiscal. All in all, the country under the able leadership of the Prime Minister seems to be headed in the right economic direction.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Budget 2018

Onkar Kanwar

The author is chairman, Apollo Tyres

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