The Budget 2017- 18 is unique and historic in many ways. It is the first post GST budget and also the last full budget before the 2019 general elections. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented a budget that focused on every aspect of the economy strengthening agriculture and rural economy and reinforced the party’s commitment to double the farmers’ income by 2022.
“Keeping the fiscal deficit and yet meeting the growth and social objectives is a difficult task, which I would say that the Finance Minister has achieved by carefully balancing between long-term direction versus short-term optimisation,” said G. Sambasiva Rao, President, Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation.
“The Government has focussed on key themes such as inclusive growth for all sections of the society, skill building to develop long-term capability and ‘Make in India’ programme to promote manufacturing competitiveness,” Mr Rao said.
He added, “The government has given top priority to the agricultural sector by allocating Rs 10,000 crore for aquaculture, Rs 1,400 crore to the food processing sector and Rs 2,000 crore for agriculture infrastructure with Rs 11 lakh crore farm credit as an additional boon. By this, they are encouraging 42 mega food parks in India out of which we are expecting about 13 food parks in Andhra Pradesh itself.”
The impetus for infrastructural development such as roads, railways, and civil aviation will help create smart cities and signal that revival of private investments is indeed commendable. To ease the cash flow challenges faced by the MSME sector, a sanction of ‘3,794 crores in the form of capital support and interest subsidy is a welcome initiative and sanction of ‘4.6 crore under the MUDRA scheme will achieve the desired objective.
Corporate tax has been reduced from 30 per cent to 25 per cent for companies with turnover up to Rs 250 crore. The move to boost MSME sector is a good initiative. The government’s emphasis on generating higher incomes for farmers, by helping them produce more with lesser cost and in turn, earn higher income for their produce is highly appreciative.
“The recognition of logistics as an infrastructure status was a major milestone for the sector. More importantly, the path has been laid for the sector’s development with several public-private infrastructure projects with major players which have led to faster execution, the creation of a stable ecosystem, a boost for the job market, and the economy,” Mr Rao said.
At the same time, the Government’s push for 35,000 km road development under Bharatmala project in phase-I with an outlay of ‘5.35 lakh core for seamless connectivity to rural and hinterland will lessen the logistics cost from 18 per cent to 6 per cent and will propel the region’s economy.
“To make the common citizen fly and make air travel affordable and widespread, under the UDAN scheme, the government has decided to use 56 unserviced airports and 31 unused helipads with a target of 1 billion air trips a year which will boost inclusive economic development. Meanwhile, to meet the air traffic demand so far 600 aircrafts have been ordered,” Mr Rao concludes.