Announced by Piyush Goyal, Interim Finance Minister
By Tania Arora, Staff Reporter
On February 1, 2019, Piyush Goyal presented the Interim Union Budget for 2019 to 2020.
Piyush Goyal is an Indian politician who currently holds the position of Minister of Railways & Minister of Coal in the Government of India. From 2014 to 2017, he was the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Minister of Mines for 2016 to 2017.
According to his website, Goyal is a firm believer that “Good economics makes for good politics. We are today at the cusp of a development explosion.”
India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley couldn’t present the budget this year due to illness. As a result, in January India’s President Ram Nath Kovind announced Goyal as Interim Finance Minister and Minister of Corporate Affairs. He was also appointed to the position once before, in May of 2018.
For the country, the Union Budget is not just a piece of paper showing expenses and revenue but rather a model depicting the economy and its growth prospects. The government plans yearlong how it will allocate its resources to different sectors and what return it will get from its investments.
During his speech for the budget, Goyal stated, “Inflation is a hidden and unfair tax on the poor and the middle class. The average rate of inflation during 2009 to 2014 was a backbreaking 10.1 percent.”
The budget this year could be seen bringing relief to millions of people as the Minister announced a full tax rebate for people with annual income of up to five lakh rupees (about $9,300 CAD). Those who make investments in funds and equities with a gross income up to 6.5 lakh rupees won’t be required to pay tax. The rental income threshold for Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) was raised to 2.4 lakh rupees from the previous 1.8 lakh. The TDS threshold on income from interest earned on deposits was raised as well.
Arushee Singh Rana, an Indian citizen preparing for the Indian Administrative Service exam, said in an interview with the Other Press, “The government could be actually seen thinking and executing measures to benefit the citizens. The tax rebates have brought huge saving opportunities for citizens.”
Promoting the infrastructure development, Goyal announced the tripling of construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), a nationwide plan for improving road connectivity to remote villages. Goyal stated, “15.80 lakh habitations out of a total of 17.84 lakh habitations have already been connected with pucca roads and work is going on to complete the rest very soon.”
Harnoor Kaur Abrol, an international Indian student at Douglas College, said in an interview with the Other Press, “I highly appreciate the work by the government and how the pace of work has been [hastened] considering the fact that India always comes up with great measures but lacks in its implementation, which the Ministers have kept in mind this time.”