BUDGET 2018 LIVE UPDATES: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hailed his government’s last pre-poll budget as a “big step” towards achieving Ease of Business and Ease of Living. Farmers, rural India and healthcare were the main focus of Budget 2018 — the last pre-poll budget — presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier today, but the middle class hopes for Income Tax relief were dashed. While the farmers were assured an MSP 1.5 times the cost of production, the poorest of the poor will be covered by universal healthcare to the tune of Rs 5 lakh per year. As consolation prize, the middle class got Rs 40,000 standard deduction against travel and medical expenses. The Budget also gave a boost to Make in India by increasing custom duty on mobile phones, which means handsets made by foreign companies will cost more. In the Budget speech, Jaitley vowed to keep fiscal deficit at 3.3%. Jaitley also announced hike in President’s salary to Rs 5 lakh a month, the Vice-President’s salary will rise to Rs 4 lakh per month and the Governor’s pay will rise to Rs 3.5 lakh a month. Jaitley announced a Rs 150 crore fund to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. As per Budget 2018, Bengaluru Metro will get Rs 17,000 crore and Rs 11,000 crore will be allocated to Mumbai rail network. Breaking with tradition, Jaitley delivered the speech both in Hindi and English.
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