The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 29 February 2016 presented the Annual Financial Statement or the Union Budget for 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha. In his budget speech the minister listed nine pillars on which the Government will focus on in order to transform India into a developed nation.
The nine pillars are - Agriculture and farmers' welfare, rural sector, social sector including healthcare, education, skills and job creation, infrastructure, financial sector reforms, ease of doing business, fiscal discipline, tax reforms to reduce compliance burden.
The minister announced various initiatives with a focus on empowering India’s youth and provide them with quality education, better skills and more job opportunities.
Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)
• It seeks to empower Higher Educational Institutions so that they become world class teaching and research institutions and enhance affordable access to high quality education for ordinary Indians.
• It will be set up an initial capital base of 1000 crore rupees.
• It will be a not-for-profit organisation and will leverage funds from the market and supplement them with donations and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.
• In the first phase, these funds will be used for infrastructure improvement in 10 public and 10 private institutions.
Digital Depository of Certificates
• Under this initiative, a Digital Depository for School Leaving Certificates, College Degrees, Academic Awards and Mark sheets will be set up on the pattern of a Securities Depository.
• It will help Students, Higher Education Institutions and Employers to access degree certificates of candidates in digital form.
• It will help validate the authenticity, safe storage and easy retrieval of certificates.
• 1804 crore rupees allocated for various skill developments related initiatives in 2016-17.
• National Board for Skill Development Certification will be set up in partnership with the industry and academia under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.
Employees' Provident Fund related
• The Union Government will pay the Employee Pension Scheme contribution of 8.33 percent for all new employees enrolling in EPFO for the first three years of their employment.
• This will incentivize the employers to recruit unemployed persons and also to bring into the books the informal employees.
• In order to channelize this intervention towards the target group of semi-skilled and unskilled workers, the scheme will be applicable to those with salary up to 15000 rupees per month.
• 1000 crore rupees allocated to implement this scheme in 2016-17.
Deductions under Section 80JJAA of the Income Tax Act, 1961
• The Government proposed to broaden and liberalize the scope of the employment generation incentive available under Section 80JJAA of the Income Tax Act.
• The deduction will be available not only to assessees deriving income from manufacture of goods in a factory but to all assessees who are subject to statutory audit under the Act.
• Thus, a deduction of 30 percent of the emoluments paid to such employees can be claimed for three years.
• The minimum number of days for which they should be employed during the year is proposed to be reduced from 300 to 240 days.
• No deduction will, however, be admissible in respect of employees whose monthly emoluments exceed 25000 rupees.
• Also, no deduction will be admissible in respect of employees for whom the Government is paying the entire EPS contribution.
• 100 Model Career Centres (MCCs) will be operationalised by the end of 2016-17.
• State Employment Exchanges will be inter-linked with the National Career Service platform. A National Career Service was launched in July 2015 and already 35 million jobs seekers have registered on this platform.
Model Shops and Establishments Bill
• The Union Government will circulate a Model Shops and Establishments Bill that can be adopted by the State Governments on voluntary basis.
• It will allow small and medium shops to remain open on all seven days, which is, at present, applicable only to shopping malls.
• The model bill will be prepared, among other things, keeping the interest of the workers in terms of mandatory weekly holiday, number of working hours per day, etc.
Strengthening existing schemes
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas Scheme
• 62 new Navodaya Vidyalayas will be opened in the remaining uncovered districts by 2017-18.
• The Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas Scheme was initiated in 1986.
• At present, there are approximately schools across India except Tamil Nadu.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
• The scheme was approved by the Union Cabinet in March 2015 an outlay of 1500 crore rupees.
• It seeks to impart skill training to youth with focus on first time entrants to the labour market and class 10 and class 12 drop outs.
• The scheme will scaled up to skill one crore youth over the next three years with an investment of 1700 crore rupees.
• New 1500 Multi Skill Training Institutes (MSTIs) will be set up across the country.
• Entrepreneurship Education and Training will be provided in 2200 colleges, 300 schools, 500 Government ITIs and 50 Vocational Training Centres through Massive Open Online Courses.
• Aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly those from remote parts of the country, will be connected to mentors and credit markets.
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