Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hailed his Arun Jaitley for the pro-poor budget, saying the focus was on women, farmers and rural India after the finance minister announced new aid schemes skimping on a bank bailout.
“This budget is about the dreams of the people. I congratulate finance minister Arun Jaitley and his team,” Modi said.
In his speech, Jaitley had reiterated a forecast that India would grow by 7.6% in the fiscal year that is drawing to a close. He said the government wanted to spread the benefits of growth more widely among the country’s 1.3 billion people.
The PM said the general budget was focused on the development of agriculture, farmers, women and rural areas.
“The budget clearly calls for electrifying all villages... By 2018, every village will have electricity, rural economy will get boost and the common man’s life will change,” he said in his comments.
The PM said the government in its budget has also laid emphasis on “strengthening the houses sector and give a house to poor” in India.
“Ask a common man, ask a poor man. They have a dream to own a house… And the government can help them fulfil that dream,” Modi said in his post-budget comments which were televised on national TV.
“Through this budget, the housing sector will be strengthened and this will boost our dream of ‘Housing for All’.”
In his budget speech in Lok Sabha, Jaitley said the government will provide assistance to those looking to purchase their first homes. He announced deduction for additional interest of Rs. 50,000 per annum for loans up to Rs. 35 lakh sanctioned in 2016-17 for first time home buyers, where house cost does not exceed Rs. 50 lakh.
The government also proposed to provide relief to millions of families living in rented houses in the country by increasing the deduction for rent paid from Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000.
Modi also said this year’s budget has given an emphasis on improving the education sector and fulfil the aspirations of the country’s youth.
“For us, primary education is very important. We are giving priority to a qualitative transformation of the education sector,” he said.
“Our youth, especially the Dalit youth and tribal youngsters, want to be job creators and not job seekers.”
The PM highlighted the government’s initiatives in the health sector, saying “We want to stand shoulder to shoulder with people in times of illness.”
Jaitley announced 3,000 more pharmacies to sell generic medicines and an insurance scheme with hospitalisation cover up to Rs 1 lakh per family, aimed at making healthcare affordable to the poor and marginalised.
The health protection scheme, expected to protect one-third of India’s population against financial stress during illness and hospitalisation, will offer an additional Rs 30,000 top-up to people above 60 years.
The pharmacies will be set up under the government’s Jan Aushadhi Yojana, launched in 2008 to provide quality medicines at affordable prices for all, especially the poor.
Public-private partnership (PPP) in healthcare also got a boost with the finance minister proposing using the model to launch a national?dialysis service under the National Health Mission to provide services in all district hospitals to bring down cost and increase accessibility for those with end-stage kidney failure.
Jaitley also announced basic custom and excise exemptions on import of dialysis equipment.