BUDGET

India's Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, presented the first full-year Budget of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government on Saturday 28 February 2015.

Download Key Highlights of the 2015 Budget courtesy of Jignesh V Shah, FCA FAIA, Jignesh V Shah & Co Chartered Accountants, Ahmedabad.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2015 UNION BUDGET

FISCAL DEFICIT

  • Fiscal deficit seen at 3.9% of GDP in 2015/16
  • Will meet the challenging fiscal target of 4.1% of GDP
  • Remain committed to meeting medium term fiscal deficit target of 3% of GDP
  • Current account deficit below 1.3% of GDP
  • Jaitley says have to keep fiscal discipline in mind despite need for higher investment

GROWTH

  • GDP growth seen at between 8% and 8.5% year on year
  • Aiming for double digit growth rate, achievable soon

INFLATION

  • Expects consumer inflation to remain close to 5% by March, opening room for more monetary policy easing
  • Monetary policy framework agreement with the RBI clearly states objective of keeping inflation below 6%
  • "One of the achievements of my government has been to conquer inflation. This decline in my view represents a structural shift."

REVENUES

  • Revenue deficit seen at 2.8% of GDP
  • Non tax revenue seen at Rs 2.21 trillion
  • Agricultural incomes are under stress

DISINVESTMENT

  • Government targets Rs 410 billion from stake sales in companies
  • Total stake sale in 2015/16 seen at Rs 695 billion

MARKET REFORMS

  • Propose to merge commodities regulator with SEBI
  • To bring a new bankruptcy code
  • Jaitley says will move to amend the RBI act this year, and provide for a monetary policy committee
  • To set up public debt management agency
  • Proposes to introduce a public contract resolution of disputes bill
  • To establish an autonomous bank board bureau to improve management of public sector banks

POLICY REFORMS

  • To enact a comprehensive new law on black money
  • Propose to create a universal social security system for all Indians
  • To launch a national skills mission soon to enhance employability of rural youth
  • To raise visa-on-arrival facility to 150 countries from 43
  • Allocates Rs 346.99 billion for rural employment guarantee scheme

BORROWING

  • Gross market borrowing seen at Rs 6 trillion
  • Net market borrowing seen at Rs 4.56 trillion
  • General anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) 
  • Government defers rollout of anti-tax avoidance rules GAAR by two years
  • GAAR to apply prospectively from 1 April 2017
  • Retrospective tax provisions will be avoided

TAXATION

  • To abolish wealth tax
  • Replaces wealth tax with additional 2% surcharge on super rich
  • Proposes to cut to 25% corporate tax over next four years
  • Corporate tax of 30% is uncompetitive
  • Net gain from tax proposals seen at Rs 150.68 billion
  • Jaitley proposes modification of permanent establishment norms so that the mere presence of a fund manager in India would not constitute a permanent establishment of the offshore fund, resulting in adverse tax consequences
  • Proposes to rationalise capital gains tax regime for real estate investment trusts
  • Expects to implement goods and services tax by April 2016
  • To reduce custom duty on 22 items
  • Basic custom duty on commercial vehicle doubled to 20%
  • Proposes to increase service tax rate and education cess to 14% from 12.36%
  • Plans to introduce direct tax regime that is internationally competitive on rates without exemptions
  • Exemptions for individual tax payers to continue
  • To enact tough penalties for tax evasion in new bill
  • Tax department to clarify indirect transfer of assets and dividend paid by foreign firms

INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Investment in infrastructure will go up by Rs 700 billion in 2015/16 over last year
  • Plans to set up national investment infrastructure fund
  • Proposes tax-free infrastructure bonds for projects in roads, rail and irrigation projects
  • Proposes 5 "ultra mega" power projects for 4,000MW each
  • Second unit of Kudankulam nuclear power station to be commissioned
  • Will need to build additional 100,000km of road
  • Ports in public sector will be encouraged to corporatise under Companies Act

EXPENDITURE

  • Plan expenditure estimated at about Rs 4.65 trillion
  • Non-plan expenditure seen at about Rs 13.12 trillion
  • Allocates Rs 2.46 trillion for defence spending
  • Allocates Rs 331.5 billion for health sector
  • If revenue improves, hope to raise budgeted allocations for rural job scheme by Rs 50 billion

INVESTMENT

  • Propose to do away with different types of foreign investment caps and replace them with composite caps
  • To allow foreign investment in alternative investment funds
  • Public investment needed to catalyse investment

GOLD

  • To develop a sovereign gold bond
  • To introduce gold monetisation scheme to allow depositors to earn interest
  • To introduce Indian-made gold coin to reduce demand for foreign gold coins

SUBSIDIES

  • Food subsidy seen at Rs 1.24 trillion
  • Fertiliser subsidy seen at Rs 729.69 billion
  • Fuel subsidy seen at Rs 300 billion
  • We are committed to subsidy rationalisation based on cutting leakages

FINANCE MINISTER'S COMMENTS

  • "We inherited a sentiment of doom and gloom. The investment community had almost written us off. We have come a long way since then."
  • "We have turned around the economy, dramatically restoring macroeconomic stability and creating the conditions for sustainable poverty elimination, job creation, durable double digit economic growth."
  • "While being mindful of the challenges ... this gives us reason to feel optimistic."
  • "Domestic and international investors are seeing us with renewed interest and hope."