Union Budget 2015-16 At a Glance

The BJP-led NDA government on March 01, 2015, presented the much hyped Budget for 2015-16. Presenting its first full budget, finance minister Mr. Arun Jaitley clearly sent a strong message to middle-class, masses that there is nothing much for them in this budget; they should take care of themselves. The budget has disappointed masses as the finance minister has not handed out soaps as they expected.

However, the government has termed the budget a high growth oriented, pro-investment saying the pace of cutting the fiscal deficit would slow as it seeks to boost investment and ensures that middle-class benefit.

Here are the highlights of Jaitley’s budget that would begin on 1st April:

Taxation / Personal Income Tax

  • Service tax rate and Edu Cess raised to 14% from 12.36%
  • Income tax exemption on premium paid for health insurance policy raised to Rs 20,000 from current Rs.
  • 15,000. For senior and most senior citizens (age above 80 years) exemption will be up to Rs 30,000, at present it is Rs 20,000.
  • Income tax exemptions limit for individual tax payers continues to be same
  • An additional exemption of Rs 25,000 for the disabled
  • Limit on exemption for investment under pension fund and new pension scheme (NPS) increased to Rs 150,000 rupees from existing Rs 100,000
  • Transport allowance exemption raised to Rs 1,600/month
  • Import tax on iron and steel increased to 15% , an increase by 5%
  • Import tax on metallurgical coke doubled to 5%
  • Puts an end to wealth tax
  • Additional 2% surcharge on super rich (annual income of Rs 1 crore or above)
  • Reduces corporate tax by 5% to 25% over next four years, saying current 30% corporate tax is uncompetitive
    Goods and services tax to be implement by April 2016
  • Custom duty on 22 items to be reduced
  • Basic custom duty on commercial vehicle raised to 20%, at present-10%
  • Tough penalties for tax evasion (can be awarded 10 years of imprisonment)

Fiscal Deficit:

  • Fiscal deficit is at 3.9% of GDP in 2015-16
  • Govt. sets to achieve fiscal target of 4.1% of GDP
  • Current account deficit below 1.3 % of GDP

Growth:

  • Government aims to achieve double digit growth rate.
  • GDP growth seen between 8 % to 8.5 % y/y

Inflation:

  • Government to expect consumer inflation to remain close to 5 % by March.
  • Objectives of monetary policy framework agreement with the RBI to keep inflation below 6 %

Disinvestment:

  • Target to garner Rs 410 bn from stake sales in companies
  • Total stake sale in 2015-16 at Rs 695 bn

Market Reforms:

  • Proposal to merge commodities regulator with SEBI
  • Proposal to set up public debt management agency
  • Proposal to introduce a public contract resolution of disputes bill
  • Government to set up an autonomous bank board bureau to enhance management of PSU banks

Policy Reforms:

  • FM plans to bring a comprehensive new law to curb black money
  • Government to create a universal social security system for all Indians
  • In order to increase employability of rural youth, government to bring a national skills mission
  • Visa-on-arrival facility to 150 countries, currently it’s for 43 countries
  • An allocation of Rs 346.99 bn for rural employment guarantee scheme

General anti-avoidance rules (GAAR):

  • Rollout of anti-tax avoidance rules GAAR deferred by two years
  • Retrospective tax provisions to be avoided

Infrastructure:

  • Investment in infrastructure expected to go up by Rs 700 bn in 2015-16 over previous year
  • Govt. to set up national investment infrastructure fund
  • Proposal to introduce tax-free infrastructure bonds for projects in railway, roads and irrigation
  • Five ‘ultra mega’ power projects for 4 thousand megawatt each
  • Second unit of ‘Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station’ to be commissioned
  • Target to build additional one lakh kilometers of road
  • Public sector ports to be corporatise under Companies Act

Expenditure:

  • Allocation of Rs 2.46 trillion for defence spending
  • Allocation of Rs 331.5 billion for health sector

Investment:

  • A proposal to bring different type of foreign investment ceiling, to replace with a composite ceiling
  • Govt. to allow foreign investments in alternative investment funds

Gold:

  • Proposal to bring a sovereign gold bond
  • To bring gold monetisation scheme with a view to allow depositors earn interest
  • A proposal to introduce made in India gold coin to discourage demand of foreign gold coins

Cigarettes:

  • Excise duty on cigarettes raised by 25% of length up to 65 mm
  • Cigarettes of other lengths, excise duty raised by 15%

Harjot Singh Narula

Harjot Narula is founder and CEO of ComparePolicy.com, an IRDAI approved insurance web aggregator focussed on selling online insurance for companies. Harjot has more than a decade of experience in software development and has also spent 5 years in US working for the mortgage and risk management industry.

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