Editorial: Hopes high

Presenting the Union Budget, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it would lay the foundation for ‘New India’. The focus is clearly on simplifying procedures in tax administration. Making Aadhaar and PAN inter-operable is welcomed. The measure to streamline existing labour laws by re-grouping them under four codes and attracting capital by permitting FPIs to invest in listed REITs, FPIS/ FIIs to invest in debt issued by IDFs and easing KYC norms for FPIs are well received.

The Finance Minister announced further opening up of aviation, insurance and media sectors to foreign investment while throwing a lifeline to the struggling shadow banks (NBFCs) to boost investment and lending in the economy. The FDI in the civil aviation sector may help the government to find buyers for Air India as well as Jet Airways, which will also be put up for sale under the bankruptcy proceedings.

Interestingly, GST has been simplified. Taxpayers with an annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore can now file quarterly GST returns, a completely automated GST refund module will be implemented soon to streamline GST refunds and an electronic invoice system, soon to be introduced, will further streamline GST compliance. These deserve special mention. Nirmala announced that in order to improve the technology of MSME and similar industries, Technology Business Incubators and Livelihood Business Incubators will be set up under the ASPIRE Scheme. This has been proposed to develop and train 75,000 skilled entrepreneurs in the agro-rural sector. Also, the Central government creating a payment platform for MSMEs in order to file bills and make payments on the MSME platform itself deserves appreciation.

NT Bureau