Bonanza for farmers, IT limits raised, Hike in Defence Budget

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (UNI) Setting the country in an election mode, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today announced a bonanza for farmers by waiving off their loans to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore, substantially raised allocations for the UPA government's flagship programmes, altered the income tax slabs to benefit various classes and hiked defence spending by 10 per cent.

Presenting the Budget 2008-09 in the Lok Sabha that brings 'Bharat' centrestage in the government's policy, Mr Chidambaram said the loan waiver scheme would benefit five crore farmers -- three crore small and marginal farmers and and two crore other farmers.

The loan waiver scheme would be implemented by June this year, he said, adding that farmers who have been given a debt waiver could apply for fresh loans.

To placate the middle class, Mr Chidambaram, in the last budget of the UPA government, hiked the exemption limit on income tax to Rs 1,50,000 and brought down the tax rate to 10 per cent for incomes between Rs 1,50,000 and Rs 3,00,000, 20 per cent for incomes in the range of Rs 3,00,000-Rs 5,00,000, and 30 per cent for incomes above Rs 5,00,000.

The income threshold limit for senior citizens was raised from Rs 1,95,000 to Rs 2,25,000.

To revive credit cooperative institutions, Mr Chidambaram said the government had accepted the Vaidyanathan Committeee report on long-term coooperative credit. A package of Rs 3704 crore would be given to the states in this regard.

Defence allocation is to be raised to Rs 1,05,600 crore from Rs 96,000 crore.

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