The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 1 February 2018 presented the Union Budget 2018 in the parliament. In the independent India, this will be the 88th budget and the fifth of the Modi Government.
This year's budget session is crucial as it comes after government's two big financial decisions - demonetisation and the implementation of Goods and Services Tax. It will be also NDA government's last full budget presentation before next year's Lok Sabha elections.
The Budget 2018 has identified Financial Sector as key driver of the economy. Accordingly, Arun Jailtley announced following initiatives:
• NITI Aayog will establish a National Programme to direct government's efforts in the area of Artificial Intelligence towards national development.
• The government will explore use of blockchain technology proactively to boost digital economy. However, the government will not consider cryptocurrency as legal tender.
• Individual Enterprises will now have their own unique IDs.
• System of toll payments by cash will be digitized.
• Government will be bringing out an industry-friendly defence production policy in this year.
• The Union Commerce Ministry will develop a National Logistics Portal as a single window program to boost the logistics sector.
• For the Financial Year 2018-19, disinvestment target of Rs 80000 crore has been set.
• Recapitalisation: The Union government will recapitalise public sector banks to help them lend an additional Rs 5 lakh crore.
• Unit Trust of India, Oriental Insurance and National Insurance will be merged and then listed.
• Gold Monetisation Scheme will be reworked with an aim to enable people to open hassle-free gold deposit accounts.
• Union Government will monetise selected central public sector enterprises using Infrastructure Investment Trusts.
Salaries of Members of Parliament (MPs)
• Emoluments will revised for the President to Rs 5 lakh, Rs 4lakh for Vice-President and Rs 3.5 lakh per month for Governors.
• Emoluments to MPs will be refixed with effect from April 1, 2018. The law will provide automatic revision of emoluments of MPs after every five years, indexed to inflation.