Budget given 12,000 crore benefits to salaried class and senior citizens: Arun Jaitley

Vastavam web: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the Budget has given Rs 12,000 crore benefits to salaried class and senior citizens and also defended the long-term capital gains tax on equities, saying this government knows how to “bite the bullet.” Jaitley further said demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will benefit the economy in the medium and long term and the country will again become the fastest growing large economy of the world next fiscal.Observing that India has missed the tag of fastest growing economy by 0.1 per cent, Jaitley said, that as per the IMF, India will again become the fastest growing economy.

Taking a dig at the Congress, Jaitley said during the UPA regime, nobody spoke in terms of the Indian economy being the brightest spot. “It has only happened now,” he added.On impact of demonetisation, he said the growth fell only by 0.4 per cent as against 2 per cent indicated by the Congress.”The total cost of relief to salaried class is Rs 8,000 crore, to the pensioners and senior citizens it was Rs 4,000 crore. Even in challenging times to give Rs 12,000 crore relief was demanding and yet I have kept the tradition of the last four budgets,” he said.

Talking about the long-term capital gains tax, Jaitley said it would be wrong to attribute crash in stock market to the tax proposal.Stock market crash is due to global reasons and not because of imposition of LTCG, he said, adding the tax proposal could not have impacted the global markets.Pointing out that there are challenges concerning the agri sector, poverty alleviation and employment generation, Jaitley said the Congress should introspect whether the party during its tenure contributed “in removing these problems or creating these problems”.He also said that there is still a great potential for India to improve its ranking in World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

The minister admitted that structural reforms, including GST and demonetisation, have created momentary difficulty, but he said in the long run, they would bring huge dividend to the economy.Referring to the GST, he said the government has been able to stabilise its implementation “in a matter of months”.”We have started rationalising the GST rates,” he said, adding the effort has been to bring them down with increase in revenue collection.On the timing of GST implementation, Jaitley said the government could not have postponed it as there was a constitutional deadline.