With Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley undergoing medical treatment in the US, Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal today presented the country’s annual budget allocations as a vote-on-account measure, with the final budget allocations to be made after upcoming state elections.
The government announced a consumer-friendly raft of measures that include raising the tax threshold to minimum annual earnings of Rs. 5 lakh ($7,015) and also granting tax relief to those earning up to Rs. 6.5 lakh ($9,120) per annum if they invested in provident funds and prescribed equities. The threshold for tax on rental incomes was also raised substantially.
Reacting to the budget announcement, Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Chairman Pramod Agarwal said, “We understand that what was presented today was a vote-on-account and not a full budget. We welcome the government’s thrust on ensuring progress and prosperity through the budget. The relief given in direct taxes to middle classes and farmers will be good for increasing jewellery demand in the country. “
Referring to the government giving several distressed public-sector banks a cash infusion and the Reserve Bank of India taking three off the prompt corrective action (PCA) regimen, Agarwal added, “We also hope that the infusion of capital into the banking sector and some banks coming out of PCA will help in solving the shortage of working capital for our exporters.”
The GJEPC Chairman went on to say, however, “At the same time we are disappointed that the demand for a decrease in the import duty on raw materials like gold, silver, cut and polished diamonds and coloured gemstones was not included in the budget today. We hope that during the declaration of the full budget after elections, the gems and jewellery sector’s demands will be addressed.”