Finance Minister Piyush Goyal unveiled key populist elements in the Interim budget 2019 very early on in the budget speech. Mega schemes for the farmers, unorganised workforces, women and the poor in the country were the highlights in the initial part of the budget.
The minister declared in the budget text - "The first right on the nation's resources goes to the poor"
About 12 crore farmer families will benefit from the programme; it will be implemented from December 2018 itself. It will cost the government Rs. 75,000 crore annually and the scheme will be 100 per cent funded by the government
The most ambitious offer for the poor was the payout of Rs 6,000 to all small farmers every year under the PM Kishan Programme. More funds for employment generation, women welfare and for health benefits for the poor were also announced.
"The government has made a historic plan called the PM Kishan programme. Those small farmers who have less than two hectares will get a support of Rs. 6,000, It will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of farmers in three instalments of Rs. 2,000."
The minister said some 12 crore families will be the beneficiaries. The government will spend a whopping Rs 75,000 crore for rolling out the populist measure. Days before the budget, Opposition Congress had upstaged the BJP by promising a basic income scheme for the poor in the country.
"About 12 crore farmer families will benefit from the programme; it will be implemented from December 2018 itself. It will cost the government Rs. 75,000 crore annually and the scheme will be 100 per cent funded by the government," Piyush Goyal said.
Another major announcement was the promise of Rs 60,000 crore for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
"The first right on the nation's resources goes to the poor. Rs. 60,000 crore was allocated for the MNREGA, and if needed more funds will be given," Goyal said.
Electricity in all villages
Goyal highlighted that when the BJP came to power in 2014, as many as 2.5 crore families were without electricity. He said the current government brought electricity to all villages. "We have also brought the world's largest medical insurance programme, Ayushman Bharat. So far 10 lakh people have got help."
The Modi government has been haunted by the ghosts of a purported 2013 offer by Narendra Modi that he would credit Rs 15 lakh into the account of every Indian by unearthing black money.
The latest direct payment offer will obviously neutralise Rahul Gandhi's universal basic income offer. Goyal said farmers with less than 2 hectares of land holding will be eligible for the annual payment of Rs 6,000 rupees directly into their accounts.
'Overall a good budget'
The budget is expectedly populist with a mix of pragmatic statements, said Maulik Doshi, Senior Executive Director at SKP Business Consulting LLP.
''As expected the budget has been populist where many sops have been provided to middle class tax payers and farmers. Overall it appears to be a good budget with a mix of populist and pragmatic statements."
He also said the budget will benefit the real estate sector. "The most important aspect was maintaining the fiscal deficit targets even after doling out benefits. Real estate sector has also been given impetus by extending tax holiday for affordable housing, increasing period from 1 year to 2 year for taxing notional rent on unsold inventory, rollover capital gains benefit for 2 houses, etc. This will go a long way in meeting government aim of housing for all by 2020'.'