Budget day is finally upon us. And as usual, speculations are running rife regarding what it might entail. Senior BJP leaders have often equated the General Elections in 2019 with the Third Battle of Panipat. From that perspective, it will be safe to assume that there will be at least a few significant announcements in the Budget.
Let us have a look at what we can expect from the Budget.
1. Income Tax exemption slab to be raised to Rs. 5 lakh
There have been reports of middle-class disenchantment with the NDA government. To quell such sentiments and to ensure that the middle-class stays firmly with the BJP, the last budget presented by the Modi government may consider exempting Income Tax on income up to Rs. 5 lakh per annum. Other sops for the middle class is also likely to feature.
A wave of populism has been rising across the country. With Congress President Rahul Gandhi making the promise of a Universal Basic Income for the unemployed, it is to be expected that the BJP will incorporate some extremely populist measures to counter the Mahagathbandhan’s populist tactics. Targeted Basic Income might feature in the budget as one such measure.
3. Sops for farmers
Farmer distress has been a huge issue across the country. The opposition has been trying hard to project the Modi government as anti-farmer. Therefore, it is only natural that the government will take the extra step in its last budget to counter the narrative. Interest free loans, equipment and fertilizer at subsidized rates or even loan waivers may feature in today’s budget.
4. Sops for small businesses
The business-class has always been a core voter-base for the BJP. Of late, accusations have been made that they have suffered a lot due to the implementation of GST and demonetization. Therefore, the MSMEs are likely to be rewarded by the Modi government in their last budget. Lower corporate taxes for them is a strong possibility.