India’s finance minister pledged relief for middle class taxpayers and small and medium-sized companies on Wednesday, saying the government would spend billions of dollars to double farmers’ incomes, upgrade ramshackle infrastructure and provide cheap housing.
In presenting to Parliament the budget for fiscal year that starts April 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the economy was doing well despite slowing growth in other emerging economies and a massive demonetization order late last year that affected the country’s mostly cash-based business activities.
Jaitley projected economic growth of between 6.75 and 7.5 percent in 2017-18.
Since taking office in May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has been pumping funds into boosting education, while increasing spending on roads, irrigation and other infrastructure. It has also been reforming India’s complicated tax regime.
The budget proposes total spending for the fiscal year of 21.47 trillion rupees ($315.74 billion). Jaitley said spending on highways would rise to 650 billion rupees ($9.54 billion) in 2017-18, up from 580 billion rupees in 2016-17.