Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely is likely to present the Interim Budget of the Narendra Modi government on February 1. As expected, the last budget of the Modi government will be an effort to woo the masses before the Lok Sabha Elections. Sources say that Jaitley is likely to increase the Income tax threshold to Rs 4 lakh. Apart from this, Jaitley may also introduce Universal Basic Income, which will help people pull out of poverty. There were reports that the Modi government is particularly keen on UBI rollout after the massive loss in the Assembly Elections in Hindi heartland.
Jaitley is also set to dole out sops to ease out the agricultural distress. The pro-poor, populist Interim Budget will also see some other schemes for the middle class. Two years after the demonetisation, the government will also introduce ways to promote digital payments.
On Thursday, in a bid to give relief to small businesses, the GST Council had doubled the exemption limit and raised the threshold for availing the composition scheme. The GST Council doubled the GST exemption limit to Rs 20 lakh for north eastern states and Rs 40 lakh for the rest of the country, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday. The scope of the GST Composition Scheme, under which small traders and businesses pay a small tax based on turnover rather than value addition, was raised to Rs 1.5 crore from Rs 1 crore.
The twin move would give relief to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), he said. The council also allowed Kerala to levy 1 per cent calamity cess on intra-state sales for a period of up to two years.
On including real estate and lottery under the Goods and Services Tax, the council decided for form a seven-member group of ministers after differences of opinion emerged at the meeting, he said.
Last year on December 22, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council reduced the tax rates of as many as 33 items on Saturday. Jaitley added that "Monitors and TV screens, tyres, power banks of Lithium-ion batteries have brought down from 28% to 18% slab. Accessories for carriages for specially-abled persons were also brought down to 5%." Informing about the other tax cuts, Jaitley said that "movie tickets up to Rs 100 brought down to 12% and above Rs 100 has been brought down to 18% from 28%."
As of now, it has been decided that the Budget session will be held from January 31 to February 13. The Interim Budget is likely to be presented on February 1, the sources said. President Ram Nath Kovind is likely to address the joint sitting of the two Houses on January 31 and the Economic Survey may also be tabled on the same day. The Budget session which usually happens in two phases is likely to be held in a single phase as the general elections are due in April-May this year. It is expected to be the last session of the current Lok Sabha.