Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1 presented the Union Budget 2017 and announced that the government has set Rs 2.74 lakh crore as a budget for the Defence. In the Budget 2016, the government had allocated Rs 2.58 Lakh crore for the defence. Jaitley added that this expenditure is excluding the pension.
It must be noted that in terms of defence spendings, India ranks 4th in the world. The Finance Minister, however, did not give a detailed break up of the military spending in his speech. The budget for the defence was much-awaited after a number of jawans recently posted several videos online highlighting the problems they have to undergo at the border and the lack of facilities provided to them.
Railways got a specific mention in the Budget 2017 with the government allocating Rs 55000 for the Railways.
The Finance Minister asserted that the rail safety fund with corpus of Rs 100,000 crore will be created over a period of 5 years adding that a new metro rail policy will be announced which will open up new jobs for the youth. He also announced that the maximum donation that a party can accept as a cash donation is Rs 2000. He added that political parties will be entitled to receive donations by cheque or in the digital mode from their donors.
It is for the first time in the history, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget as well as Rail Budget 2017 together in the Parliament at 11 am on February 1. Earlier, the budget was usually presented on the last business day of the month of February.
The decision to advance the date of budget presentation to February 1 was taken with an aim to complete the entire process before the end of financial year. However, there was a lot of criticism from opposition parties who alleged that the decision was taken to benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in five states. The BJP though has claimed that the economic growth of the nation cannot be put on hold just because some states are going to polls.