FM Arun Jaitley announced what could be termed as Modi’s version of Obamacare, Modicare. A wide-reaching government-funded health insurance that will cover the most disenfranchised part of the Indian population. If implemented right, the move will help several such families in reaching out the healthcare facilities, the cost of which has sunk them into poverty over and over again.
Rs 48,318 crore
What is it? The amount of slippage in fiscal deficit target for current financial year ending March 2018.
Why is it important? This pushed fiscal deficit to 3.5% of GDP as compared to budgeted level of 3.2%. Low Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue and deferment of telecom spectrum auction are cited as reasons for shortfall in revenue, leading to higher fiscal deficit. Market borrowings, to fund the deficit, will increase by Rs 129,636 crore (or 37%) in current fiscal.
Tell me more: A worrying trend is government resorting to drawing down of cash balance to the tune of Rs 39,379 crore to fund the deficit. Had this not been resorted, the deficit would have been higher than 3.5%.
Rs 5 lakh
What is it? The amount of health coverage a poor family would receive under the proposed National Health Protection Plan. Government aims to cover 10 crore families under this.
Why is it important? If implemented, this would effectively bypass the state-run health facilities to meet the healthcare needs of the public, especially in tertiary and secondary care. Arun Jaitley did not provide any money for this scheme, touted as largest government funded health care programme, in the budget. Further details will be announced in six months’ time.
Tell me more: A similar scheme (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana) covers upto Rs 30,000 per family, and it has 3.58 crore families enrolled till September last year. Non-life insurance coverage is very low in India at 0.7% of population.
What is it? The long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax imposed on transfer of listed shares, after holding it for a year or more.
Why is it important? This measure will help the government mobilise additional tax revenue of Rs 20,000 crore, the highest among new tax measures. Capital gain upto Rs 1 lakh will continue to be exempt, and any gains made till January 31st will not be calculated under LTCG. BSE Sensex initially shed close to 500 points after this announcement, but recovered most of the losses.
Tell me more: Total amount of exempted capital gains from listed shares were Rs 3,76,000 crore as per Income Tax returns filed last year, claimed Arun Jaitley. Additional cess on direct tax payers will net Rs 11,000 crore – the second highest revenue increase measure.
What is it? The number of assembly constituencies under Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha seats, which was won by Congress candidates on Thursday.
Why is it important? BJP, the ruling party in Rajasthan, did not lead in any of the 17 constituencies, as Congress vote share increased by 25 and 11 percentage points in Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha bypolls. If the same trend repeats in the assembly elections to be held later this year, Congress will sweep Rajasthan. Congress also won the Mandalgarh assembly seat by a margin of 13,000 votes.
Tell me more: Congress won only 21 out of 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan state elections, and in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it lost all the seats.
What is it? The number of years since IG Metall, an European trade union with 3.9 million members, went on strike.
Why is it important? Workers belonging to IG Metall walked out of factories as part of one-day ‘warning strikes’. They are demanding a 8% pay hike over 27 months, and reduced work hours combined with full pay for workers who have to take care of kids or sick relations or elders for two years. In addition, they want an assurance that workers returning after two years will be assured of full-time role.
Tell me more: Germany reported fastest economic growth (2%) in six years and very low unemployment. Employers are offering 6.8% wage hike, and rejected the idea of full pay for part-time work for two years.