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Key Highlights of Union Budget 2019-20

The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman made her maiden Budget Speech today and presented the Union Budget 2019-20 before the Parliament. The key highlights of Union Budget 2019 are as follows:

10-point Vision for the decade

  • Building Team India with Jan Bhagidari: Minimum Government Maximum Governance.
  • Achieving green Mother Earth and Blue Skies through a pollution-free India.
  • Making Digital India reach every sector of the economy.
  • Launching GaganyanChandrayan, other Space and Satellite programmes.
  • Building physical and social infrastructure.
  • Water, water management, clean rivers.
  • Blue Economy.
  • Self-sufficiency and export of food-grains, pulses, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables.
  • Achieving a healthy society via Ayushman Bharat, well-nourished women & children, safety of citizens.
  • Emphasis on MSMEs, Start-ups, defence manufacturing, automobiles, electronics, fabs and batteries, and medical devices under Make in India.

Towards a 5 Trillion Dollar Economy

  • “People’s hearts filled with Aasha (Hope), Vishwas (Trust), Aakansha (Aspirations)”, says FM.
  • Indian economy to become a 3 trillion dollar economy in the current year.
  • Government aspires to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy.
  •  “India Inc. are India’s job-creators and nation’s wealth-creators”, says FM.
  • Need for investment in:
    • Infrastructure.
    • Digital economy.
    • Job creation in small and medium firms.
  • Initiatives to be proposed for kick-starting the virtuous cycle of investments.
  • Common man’s life changed through MUDRA loans for ease of doing business.
  • Measures related to MSMEs:
    • Pradhan Mantri Karam Yogi Maandhan Scheme
  • Pension benefits to about three crore retail traders & small shopkeepers with annual turnover less than Rs. 1.5 crore.
  • Enrolment to be kept simple, requiring only Aadhaar, bank account and a self-declaration.
    • Rs. 350 crore allocated for FY 2019-20 for 2% interest subvention (on fresh or incremental loans) to all GST-registered MSMEs, under the Interest Subvention Scheme for MSMEs.
    • Payment platform for MSMEs to be created to enable filing of bills and payment thereof, to eliminate delays in government payments.
  • India’s first indigenously developed payment ecosystem for transport, based on National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) standards, launched in March 2019.
  • Inter-operable transport card runs on RuPay card and would allow the holders to pay for bus travel, toll taxes, parking charges, retail shopping.
  • Massive push given to all forms of physical connectivity through:
    • Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
    • Industrial Corridors, Dedicated Freight Corridors.
    • Bhartamala and Sagarmala projects, Jal Marg Vikas and UDAN Schemes.
  • State road networks to be developed in second phase of Bharatmala project.
  • Navigational capacity of Ganga to be enhanced via multi modal terminals at Sahibganj and Haldia and a navigational lock at Farakka by 2019-20, under Jal Marg Vikas Project.
  • Four times increase in next four years estimated in the cargo volume on Ganga, leading to cheaper freight and passenger movement and reducing the import bill.
  • Rs. 50 lakh crore investment needed in Railway Infrastructure during 2018-2030.
  • Public-Private-Partnership proposed for development and completion of tracks, rolling stock manufacturing and delivery of passenger freight services.
  • 657 kilometers of Metro Rail network has become operational across the country.
  • Policy interventions to be made for the development of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), to achieve self- reliance in aviation segment.
  • Regulatory roadmap for making India a hub for aircraft financing and leasing activities from Indian shores, to be laid by the Government.
  • Outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore for 3 years approved for Phase-II of FAME Scheme.
  •  Upfront incentive proposed on purchase and charging infrastructure, to encourage faster adoption of Electric Vehicles.
  • Only advanced-battery-operated and registered e-vehicles to be incentivized under FAME Scheme.
  • National Highway Programme to be restructured to ensure a National Highway Grid, using a financeable model.
  • Power at affordable rates to states ensured under ‘One Nation, One Grid’.
  • Blueprints to be made available for gas grids, water grids, i-ways, and regional airports.
  • High Level Empowered Committee (HLEC) recommendations to be implemented:
    • Retirement of old & inefficient plants.
    • Addressing low utilization of gas plant capacity due to paucity of Natural Gas.
  • Cross subsidy surcharges, undesirable duties on open access sales or captive generation for industrial and other bulk power consumers to be removed under Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY).
  • Package of power sector tariff and structural reforms to be announced soon.
  • Reform measures to be taken up to promote rental housing.
  • Model Tenancy Law to be finalized and circulated to the states.
  • Joint development and concession mechanisms to be used for public infrastructure and affordable housing on land parcels held by the Central Government and CPSEs.
  • Measures to enhance the sources of capital for infrastructure financing:
    • Credit Guarantee Enhancement Corporation to be set up in 2019-2020.
    • Action plan to be put in place to deepen the market for long term bonds with focus on infrastructure.
    • Proposed transfer/sale of investments by FIIs/FPIs (in debt securities issued by IDF-NBFCs) to any domestic investor within the specified lock-in period.
  • Measures to deepen bond markets:
    • Stock exchanges to be enabled to allow AA rated bonds as collaterals.
    • User-friendliness of trading platforms for corporate bonds to be reviewed.
  • Social stock exchange:
    • Electronic fund raising platform under the regulatory ambit of SEBI.
    • Listing social enterprises and voluntary organizations.
    • To raise capital as equity, debt or as units like a mutual fund.
  • SEBI to consider raising the threshold for minimum public shareholding in the listed companies from 25% to 35%.
  • Know Your Customer (KYC) norms for Foreign Portfolio Investors to be made more investor friendly.
  • Government to supplement efforts by RBI to get retail investors to invest in government treasury bills and securities, with further institutional development using stock exchanges.

Direct Taxes

  • Tax rate reduced to 25% for companies with annual turnover up to Rs. 400 crore
  • Surcharge increased on individuals having taxable income from Rs. 2 crore to Rs. 5 crore and Rs. 5 crore and above.
  • India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking under the category of ‘paying taxes’ jumped from 172 in 2017 to 121 in the 2019.
  • Direct tax revenue increased by over 78% in past 5 years to Rs. 11.37 lakh crore

Tax Simplification and Ease of living – making compliance easier by leveraging technology:

  • Interchangeability of PAN and Aadhaar
    • Those who don’t have PAN can file tax returns using Aadhaar.
    • Aadhaar can be used wherever PAN is required.
  • Pre-filling of Income-tax Returns for faster, more accurate tax returns
    • Pre-filled tax returns with details of several incomes and deductions to be made available.
    • Information to be collected from Banks, Stock exchanges, mutual funds etc.
  • Faceless e-assessment
    • Faceless e-assessment with no human interface to be launched.
    • To be carried out initially in cases requiring verification of certain specified transactions or discrepancies.

Affordable housing

  • Additional deduction up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs for interest paid on loans borrowed up to 31st March, 2020 for purchase of house valued up to Rs. 45 lakh.
    • Overall benefit of around Rs. 7 lakh over loan period of 15 years.

Boost to Electric Vehicles

  • Additional income tax deduction of Rs. 1.5 lakh on interest paid on electric vehicle loans.
  • Customs duty exempted on certain parts of electric vehicles.

Other Direct Tax measures

  • Simplification of tax laws to reduce genuine hardships of taxpayers:
    • Higher tax threshold for launching prosecution for non-filing of returns
    • Appropriate class of persons exempted from the anti-abuse provisions of Section 50CA and Section 56 of the Income Tax Act.

Roadmap for future

  • Simplification of procedures.
  • Incentivizing performance.
  • Red-tape reduction.
  • Making the best use of technology.
  • Accelerating mega programmes and services initiated and delivered so far.