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 Sarkar.
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 lower and middle class have been the focus of the NDA Government during the last three years. Hence, accordingly Arun Jaitley announced the following initiatives in the Union Budget 2018:
• The government had launched Ujjwala Yojana earlier to make poor women free from the smoke of wood.
• Though initially, their target was to provide free LPG connections to about 5 crore poor women, the government has now proposed to increase the target to 8 crore poor women.
• Under Saubhagya Yojna, around 4 crore poor households are being provided with free electricity electricity connections at a cost of Rs 16000 crore
• Swachh Bharat Mission- Under the mission, Government has already constructed more than 6 crore toilets to enable proper hygiene and sanitation especially among women. The government is now planning to construct 2 crore more toilets.
• The government plans to build houses for all the poor in the country by 2022. To ensure the same, it launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in rural and urban areas of the country.
• Under the Yojana, 51 lakhs houses in year 2017-18 and 51 lakh houses during 2018-19 will be constructed exclusively in rural areas. In urban areas the assistance has been sanctioned to construct 37 lakh houses.
• The government has also established a dedicated Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) in National Housing Bank, funded from priority sector lending shortfall and fully serviced bonds authorised by the Government of India.
• The government also plans to increase the loans to Self Help Groups of women to Rs 75000 crore by March 2019.
• The government has also proposed to substantially increase the allocation of National Rural Livelihood Mission to Rs 5750 crore in 2018-19.
• Further, the ground water irrigation scheme under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna- Har Khet ko Pani will be taken up in 96 deprived irrigation districts where less than 30 per cent of the land holdings gets assured irrigation presently. The government has allocated Rs 2600 crore for the same.
• In the year 2018-19, for creation of livelihood and infrastructure in rural areas, total amount to be spent by the Ministries will be Rs 14.34 lakh crore, including extra-budgetary and non-budgetary resources of Rs 11.98 lakh crore.
• Overall, the budgetary allocation will give way to increased employment opportunities, lead to the development of 3.17 lakh kilometres of rural roads, 51 lakh new rural houses, 1.88 crore toilets and provide 1.75 crore new household electric connections besides boosting agricultural growth.