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Jaitley says Budget focus on welfare, infrastructure with fiscal prudence

Jaitley says Budget focus on welfare, infrastructure with fiscal prudence

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said his Budget for 2017-18 allocates more towards rural areas, welfare schemes and infrastructure, while ensuring that government finances do not go out of control.

Presenting his fourth budget in the Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister also outlined 10 themes for his latest exercise. "My approach in preparing the budget is to spend more on rural areas, infrastructure and poverty alleviation with fiscal prudence," he said.

On demonetisation, he said it has long-term benefits and will create an economy that is bigger and cleaner. "The pace of remonetisation has also picked up and will soon reach comfortable levels. The effects of demonetisation are not expected to spill over to the next year."

He also hoped all issues pertaining to the Goods and Services Tax will be resolved soon. "GST and demonetisation are 'tectonic' changes for the economy," he said.

Outlining that India has been singled out as a bright spot in the global economy by both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, Jaitley said: "Inflation has been controlled, low growth has been replaced with high growth and a massive war against black money has been launched."

He said there will be a sure recovery of the economy in the next fiscal.

Just ahead of the presentation, a meeting of the Cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its consent to the proposals. Prior to that, the top brass of the Finance Ministry, led by Jaitley met with President Pranab Mukherjee for his approval.

This is the first time the date of presentation has been advanced by nearly a month, even as it co-opts the Railway Budget into it, abandoning the practice that was started in 1924.

Individual tax payers are hoping for both a hike in the exemption limit and deductions under Section 80CC of the Income Tax Act, while the industry has sought a further rationalisation of corporate tax, excise and customs duty.

The central government has provided Rs 10,000 crore for recapitalisation of banks owned by it, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

Presenting the budget in Parliament, Jaitley said: "I have provided Rs 10,000 crore for recapitalisation of banks in 2017-18. Additional allocation will be provided as may be required."

Jaitley said the government continues to focus on resolving the stressed loan assets of banks.

"The legal framework has been strengthened to facilitate resolution, through the enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and the amendments to the Sarfaesi and Debt Recovery Tribunal Acts," Jaitley said.

According to him, listing and trading of Security Receipts issued by a securitisation company or a reconstruction company under the Sarfaesi Act would be permitted in Sebi registered stock exchanges.

"This will enhance capital flows into the securitisation industry and will particularly be helpful to deal with bank NPAs (non performing assets)."

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