President Pranab Mukherjee highlights the key achievement of the government during the year and presenting a roadmap for the budget ahead.
President Pranab Mukherjee highlighted the achievements of the Narendra Modi-government in his speech to mark the start of the Budget session of Parliament.
Following are the key takeaways so far:
* FDI inflows were over USD 55 billion, the highest ever in any year. India is ranked third in terms of best destinations for investment. Foreign exchange reserves are at record levels suggesting the strength of the economy domestically and in the current global scenario. This is crucial to the rupee at a time when the dollar is strengthening and remittances into the country are slackening.
* Government increased employability through various public sector spending in digital and infrastructure space. With private sector investments showing no signs of picking up any time, it is up to the government to keep the engines of the economy purring.
* Direct benefit transfer program has prevented leakages and helped save Rs 36,000 crore. Prevention of leakage is crucial if the government has to think of implementing a far more ambitious social welfare scheme like Universal Basic Income.
* Banking system taken to the poor through various programmes like Jan Dhan, Kisan credit, RuPay card and Bhim has helped in financial inclusion in the country. Postal Payment Bank will take the process forward. Shows good progress being made towards boosting financial inclusion.
* Government has pitched for simultaneous elections for all states as it could otherwise affect development programs. The ball is now in Election Commissioner’s court.
* GST – one nation one tax scheme -- has been passed with various state government ironing out the problem issues. GST can finally see the light of the day by July 2017. A big boost to the government's efforts to widen the tax base. More small firms will have to register themselves to be able to avail of tax credits along the supply chain.
* Focus on urban infrastructure continues with an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore. Metro rail for 4 cities has been sanctioned along with extension of Chennai metro has been approved. Reflects the continuing commitment of the government to upgrade infrastructure, which is vital to efficiency and export competitiveness.
* Various measures to curb black money have been taken which will continue to remain the focus area. This should help achieve the twin objects of widening the tax base as well as lowering tax rates wherever possible.
* One Rank One Pension to cost the economy Rs 11,000 crore. On the positive side, this should give a leg-up to consumption.
* Connectivity to North East India to improve through road and railway. Using North East to connect to South East Asia to ensure development of the region. The region can see all-round growth with trade from the region increasing. By end of the year all meter gauge tracks will be changed to broad gauge.
* Thrust on fuel subsidy is expected to remain high as those consumers who have given away their subsidized LPG have been given to poor consumers. Free gas connection has been provided to 1.5 crore households with the target of 5 crore households over the next two years.
* Focus on farmers continue with issuance of 20 crore RuPay cards. 3 crore Kisan credit cards will be converted to RuPay cards, insurance of 3.66 crore farmers for Rs 1.4 lakh crore.
* Irrigation is a focus area where the government has already provided micro irrigation to 1.2 lakh hectares in the country
* Government is committed to provide household for the poor. President said that the 'Housing for All' target of 2022 will be achieved. The move is good for housing finance companies, developers and cement producers.
* Most of these achievements are in the social segments including Swachh Bharat Yojana, healthcare segments, farmer insurance schemes. These highlights outline the social tilt of the government which can be expected to continue in the Budget.