Citizens split on their rating of Budget 2018
- • 42% rate it good, 32% rate it average, 26% rate it poor
- • Government accepts citizen demands on key priorities and allocates most to agriculture, infra, healthcare and education in Budget 2018
- • Middle class feels the pinch with no tax relief and tax increase on consumer goods
2nd February 2018, New Delhi: As the Union Budget was announced yesterday, citizens from various parts of the country shared their views on it on LocalCircles. A post-budget spot-poll was then conducted by LocalCircles to gauge the collective citizen pulse to gather citizen rating of the budget. The results showed that 42% citizens rated the budget good, 32% rated it average and 26% rated it poor.
As a prelude to the Union Budget 2018, LocalCircles had conducted India’s largest citizen consultation on Budget 2018. The exercise conducted across a 3-week period received more than 125,000 responses from over 200 cities of India, sharing their views and opinions on what budget 2018 should do for the economic & social development, businesses and citizens.
In the lead budget poll, citizens were asked which sector according to them, should get top allocation in this year’s budget. 38% had said it should be agriculture/rural, 34% said it should be infrastructure, 12% said healthcare while 16% said education.
Accepting citizen demands, the government yesterday announced these as priority sectors for the next financial year. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made some major announcements for all these four sectors. Here is the summary of the key citizen asks that were accepted and also the ones that did not get addressed.
Budget 2018 has brought good news for the agriculture and rural sector of the country. Affirming its commitment to the sector which is often called the backbone of the Indian economy, the government has accepted citizen demand generated through LocalCircles’ Citizen Budget, of making agriculture & rural sector top priority in the budget.
38% citizens had earlier said that they wanted agriculture to get top priority in the Budget 2018. Among various announcements, the Minimum Selling Price of all crops has been increased to 1.5 times of the production cost. A corpus of Rs. 2000 crores have been created for the development of Agricultural markets and Rs. 500 crores have been allocated for better connecting farmers and consumers.
In a poll participated by 7,279 citizens, 78% had demanded that the government subsidises seeding equipment in budget 2018. Accepting the demand, government has announced subsidizing of seeding equipment for farmers to help them in the farming process, as well as reduce pollution which happens due to burning of the crop stubble. The government plans to send a total of 14.4 lakh crores on the rural sector in the next financial year. Eight crore free gas connections will also be provided for poor women through Ujjwala Yojana.
LocalCircles Citizen’s Budget had identified Healthcare as one of the top four priorities for allocation in Budget 2018. Some of the major budget announcements for this sector were health cover of up to Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for poor and vulnerable which would benefit up to 10 crore families, opening of 24 new government medical colleges and hospitals and district hospitals to be upgraded across the country.
Infrastructure was the other sector that was highlighted by citizens as priority area. Budget 2018 has allocated significant resources to both these areas. Significant investment was announced in improving infrastructure of railways, roads and airport capacity. In addition, 19,000 crores were allocated towards smart city and Amrit programs for city infrastructure and rejuvenation.
Issues unaddressed in Budget 2018
Abolishing Angel Tax remained a big ask from the startup ecosystem that did not get addressed directly in this budget. The Finance Minister however said that the government is committed to making the regulatory environment surrounding the angel investment and angel funding easier. 57% entrepreneurs in a recent LocalCircles survey had called for abolishing of the Angel Tax completely.
On the taxation front, citizens had demanded reduction of corporate income taxes to 25% and for MSMEs with turnover under Rs. 50 crores to 21%. The government did not accept that ask directly, however, the tax rate of 25% is now made applicable for companies with annual turnover of up to 250 crores from the current 50 crore threshold.
On the personal taxation front, the top asks were raising the tax exemption limit to 3 lakhs and raising the tax slabs to lower the tax incidence. The budget 2018 did not provide these benefits, however a Standard Deduction of Rs. 40,000 was introduced.
Overall, according to citizens, the budget delivers well for the farmer and the poor as well as on the social front but does little for the urban middle class.
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