The NDA government presented its last interim budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 and delivered several benefits, especially for the middle class and lower class people in the country. Key announcements included – income upto five lakhs will get full tax rebate, direct income support of Rs 6,000 per year approved for small and marginal farmers with land of up to two hectares, pension scheme providing assured monthly pension of Rs 3,000 with the contribution of 100 rupees per month, for workers in the unorganised sector after 60 years of age. Below are the highlights.
- Marginal farmers with land of up to two hectares will get Rs 6,000 direct income support, this means that Rs 75,000 crores will reach the bottom of the pyramid.
- Earlier widowed pensioners would get hassled with the deduction of TDS upto Rs 10,000 and above but now they will feel a sense of relief as the government has expanded the bracket to Rs 40,000.
- Earlier if a couple owned two houses, one could only show one house as self-occupied and the other one as rented but now a person can show two homes as self-occupied.
- The Government’s announcement of tax exemptions for income up to Rs 5 lakhs, although gender-neutral, is optimistic for women returning to work.
- The fact that the government stayed silent on women’s safety in the budget in the aftermath of some of the most horrifying cases that ruled the headlines for days at an end and the MeToo movement is something that stands out.
- Government announced Rs 1330 cr for women empowerment and security but it didn’t spell out how these funds would help the issue of women’s safety.
New Social Security Coverage and Exemption for Widows
While industry specialists argued for benefits and scheme that would be more specific to women, they also assert that the current budget presentation caters immensely to women as more women fall in the category of the salary bracket spoken about in the budget. Tax Expert CA Anurag Singal told SheThePeople.TV, “The new social security coverage scheme in which marginal farmers with land of up to two hectares will get Rs 6,000 direct income support, this means that Rs 75,000 crores will reach the bottom of the pyramid. So structurally it is a good step.”
The new social security coverage scheme in which marginal farmers with land of up to two hectares will get Rs 6,000 direct income support, this means that Rs 75000 crores will reach the bottom of the pyramid. So structurally it is a good step.
He added, “Widows who were pensioner but used to get hassled with the deduction of TDS upto Rs 10,000 and above will feel a sense of relief as the government has expanded the bracket to Rs 40,000. Earlier these women would have to file tax returns which they will not have to do. Even when the government’s hands were tied in tax exemption, they have done whatever little they could do.”
Those earning no more than 5,00,000 rupees a year will get full tax rebate. And an additional rebate upto 6.5 lakh rupees if they put in 1.5 lakh rupees in government funds or savings. This is useful women who work from home or are running small enterprises.
- Income tax payers earning up to Rs. 5,00,000 will get a full tax rebate
- Those earning up to 650,000 rupees will not need to pay tax if they invest in the country’s provident funds
Other connected benefits
- The government also raised the limit for not deducting tax at source from interest from bank and post office deposits by ₹10,000 to ₹50,000.
- For making homes affordable, the income tax break given to housing projects will be extended for one more year till 31 March, 2020ALSO READ: Budget And Her: Budget 2019 From A Woman’s Perspective
Women React To The Budget
Neha Bagaria, CEO & Founder of JobsForHer, a company that helps women return to work said, “The Government’s announcement of tax exemptions for income up to Rs 5 lakhs, although gender-neutral, is optimistic for women returning to work.” She did question however, if such benefits were incentives enough. “But is this enough of an incentive for women leaving the workplace by the millions? We need to see a stronger focus on hiring and retaining more women in the workforce. We need to see impactful women specific employment policies that can absorb and support women in the Indian workplace.”
On skilling we heard from the President of India’s tech body, NASSCOM. “We appreciate the government’s shift towards women enabled economy – working towards a distress free health care and a functional comprehensive wellness system for all, which would witness women participation in the building and execution phase. We also urge the govt. to focus at reskilling women in this age of digitization and automation,” said Debjani Ghosh.
However, the All India Democratic Women’s Association expressed upset at ‘the high decibel interim budget of the NDA government.’
The associate noted, “More than 95 per cent of the women workers are in informal employment and have been demanding universal social security. However, instead of solving their immediate problems the government has shown them another pipe dream: the proposed Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Scheme for unorganized sector and domestic workers. This pension scheme will come into effect once the worker becomes 60 years of age when a person will get a paltry Rs 3,000 per month whose value may be negligible by then.”
The budget’s tax sops have been welcomed widely by experts and the middle class. Some are going to the extent of saying these tax benefits may boost consumption as well. What’s gone missing from this is any talk of key issues that women have wanted to hear from the government on. Safety was one big subject of interest to women and the budget didn’t talk of any direct or indirect allocation on this. Other issues such as jobs weren’t addressed and specifically there was no budget focus on how more women can be brought to the workforce.