New Delhi, Feb 1: All eyes are on Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, and he must deliver to make one and all happy by tabling a smart and populist budget in Parliament. Tough task, nonetheless, experts say not impossible.
In a few hours from now, Jaitley will reach Parliament with his budget briefcase on Thursday. Will the last full budget of the Narendra Modi government be an exercise in politics to woo voters ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, or a smart economic outlay for the country for 2018-2019?
Jaitley will present one more budget in 2019, but it will be only a vote-on-account.
Here are a few quick things to check out hours ahead of the presentation of the much-anticipated--the Union Budget 2018:
Will the government likely to meet fiscal deficit target of 3.2 per cent for FY18? Experts say higher fiscal deficit would hint at pre-election spending spree.
Will there be tax cuts? According to a survey done by the tax and advisory firm EY, in the upcoming budget, the Modi government may tweak income tax slabs and rates to bring down the burden on individuals.
The tax slabs in the last budget were left unchanged. However, the FM gave some relief to the small taxpayers by reducing rate from 10 per cent to 5 per cent for individuals whose annual income is between Rs 2.5 lakh-Rs 5 lakh.
·Long-term and short-term capital gain tax:
Will there be a change in the tax regime? Experts say it would rattle the Dalal Street for sure.
Will corporate tax be reduced to 25 per cent in budget 2018? In the Budget 2015, FM Jaitley had assured that the basic rate of corporate tax would be cut to 25 per cent from 30 per cent over a four-year period. However, the progress has been slow.
Will Modi govt reduce stress in the farm sector? Experts say in order to help agriculture bounce back from the current slump, Jaitley needs to do these things--provide bigger allocation for food subsidy to widen MSP-based intervention, new scheme to pay difference between MSP and market price to farmers, nationwide loan waiver for farmers and bigger allocation for farm sector to improve infrastructure, to name a few.
Will it be just disinvestment or major privatisation drive for Jaitley and his team? Experts say big-bang asset sales will provide more resources without impacting fiscal deficit and help the government to fulfill its target of earning Rs 72,500 crore in disinvestment in 2018-19.
However, many say that the government should take up privatisation drive seriously.
·Universal basic income:
Talks regarding implementation of a universal basic income scheme have been ongoing among Indian officials for years. Now, it seems closer to fruition than ever before, say experts. Will the scheme truly eradicate poverty?
It's the election season and the government is likely to take a populist route by being generous in doling out subsidies. In the budget 2018, the government is likely to spend 2.72 lakh crore in subsidies from 2.6 lakh crore in the budget 2017.
The government may go in for an excise duty cut on petrol and diesel as prices of the two fuels have touched a record high.