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Pragmatic and positive - Sandip Somany, President, FICCI 

Finance Minister Piyush Goyal has delivered a credible Budget to address the key challenges facing the economy, especially the rural economy and also provided a push to the growth levers by laying out consumption-driving proposals.

With agrarian distress being the foremost challenge facing the country today, the Budget has rightly presented a slew of positive measures for the farm community. Introduction of direct income support, under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, of ₹6,000 per year for farmers is a welcome measure. It is expected to benefit almost 12 crore small and marginal farmers with landholding up to two hectares. Additionally, animal husbandry and fisheries will also be eligible for benefits of 2-5 per cent interest subvention for loans taken through Kisan Credit Card. The interest subvention on farm loans provided during natural calamities has also been extended for the entire period as against only the first year provided earlier.

There has been a continuity in the approach of the government as seen in the previous years. The rural sector has once again received an impetus through higher allocation for construction of rural roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Already, 15.8 lakh habitations out of the 17.84 lakh have been connected with pucca roads. This will not only provide employment opportunities to rural workers but also improve connectivity from farm to cities for supply of agricultural goods.

Social security net

During the last five years of the Modi government, successive Budgets have laid stress on creating a social security net for the citizens. Right from introduction of Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana and Ayushman Bharat announced last year, comprehensive social security measures have been added in the country. This year’s Budget was no different.

The announcement of mega pension plan, Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan, for the unorganised workers is a significant step that will benefit around 10 crore workers in the unorganised sector. Workers joining the programme will have to make minimum monthly contribution, which will be matched with a contribution of equal amount from the government.

While there were not many sector-specific proposals in this interim Budget, the industry will nevertheless benefit from higher demand, through rural economy boost as well as tax benefits to the common man. The tax rebate proposed for individuals having taxable income up to ₹5 lakh along with increased amount of standard deduction will leave more money in the hands of consumers, thus boosting demand in the economy.

Laying down the roadmap for the next decade, the Finance Minister also outlined a 10-point agenda targeted towards making India a five trillion dollar economy in the next five years and a ten trillion dollar one in next eight years thereafter. While the foundation for same has been laid in the last five years of the government, persistent efforts in implementing various structural reforms will enable meeting the desired objective of growth and prosperity.

In the general Budget which is expected in July, the new government will have to take concrete measures to improve the competitiveness of Indian industry as well as the cost of doing business. A strategic direction will also have to be set in terms of employment generation.

The writer is President, FICCI



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