The Union Budget 2017-2018 will be the annual budget of the Republic of India for the financial year 01/04/2017 to 31/03/2018. It is the annual financial statement of our Republic and is in accordance with the provision in Article 112 of the Indian Constitution. The budget will be presented by the Indian Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley on the first day of February 2017 (Wednesday), a significant departure from the practice of presenting the annual budget on the last day/working day of February every year. This will be the 4th budget presentation of Shri Jaitley and the 87th budget of Independent India, counting from the year 1947 when the first budget was presented on November 26.
For the first time in the history of Free India and after 92 years, the Railway budget will form part of the Union budget. This welcome merger of railway budget with the general budget is a good decision as all financial matters will now be consolidated under one umbrella, namely, the Ministry of Finance.
It is reported in media, spoken by the government or its spokesperson, and now confirmed by the country’s apex Court that this year’s budget will be presented on 1st day of February. This advancement of the budget presentation by 27 days is because the government wants the budget to be materialized before the new financial year commences on April 1, 2017. But I believe, this date (01/02) is going to be a permanent feature of the Union Government. Also, I believe that the boundary dates and months of the financial year will be shifted from the present 1st April and 31 March. If these changes do not take place this year, likely, they will take place in the next year (2018) or the year after next (2019), the election year. These are my personal conjectures.
My immediate interest here is to present an outline of 7 suggestions with the intent that some of them would be incorporated into the current Union Budget before it is finally sent for the President’s assent.
Suggestion 1: Introduce special allowance for those retired persons who are living in Mumbai and Delhi metropolises since these two mega-cities have higher costs of living than the other Indian cities.
Suggestion 2: Leave out from tax net the total interest earned on all savings fund accounts up to and inclusive of Rs.1 lakh in a financial year, instead of the current niggardly sum of Rs.10,000/.
Suggestion 3: Hike the tax exemption limit to 5 lakhs for senior citizens above 65 years of age, 4.5 lakhs for those in the age band of 60-65 years, and 4 lakhs for the general public.
Suggestion 4: Make provisions for tax payers, who have no tax arrears for the last 5 years, by way of extra tax breaks or through any other benefits.
Suggestion 5: Tax-free interest for earnings up to 1 lakh from Bank and Company fixed deposits in a financial year for retired persons above 65 years of age.
Suggestion 6: Give Transport Allowance to those retired persons from government service living in cities with population exceeding 40 lakhs. This measure would facilitate their safe and hassle-free movements.
Suggestion 7: Pay book allowance, newspaper/magazine allowance and professional allowance to highly qualified (holding PhD degrees and above) retirees from the scientific departments of the government’s civil and military services as a life-long learning incentive. The serving employees are already receiving these allowances such as in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
By Dr. Sachidanand Das