India's 'Modicare' to cost about $1.7bn a year

India on Thursday announced a national health care scheme for half a billion of its poorest citizens in a major giveaway to voters in the final budget before a general election. FM's budget. We had sought a reduction in levies and taxes, and an urgent intervention is critical for resuscitating the sector, which is now experiencing its worst financial health and hyper competition.

Jaitley raised the health and education cess, levied on all taxable income, to 4% from current 3%, and introduced a social welfare surcharge of 10% to fund social welfare schemes.

A standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for salaried taxpayers is restored. Indian Railways aims to cover all 8,500 stations by March 2019.

Top-of-the range phones, pricey items of personal care and entertainment, all these will cost more as import duties go up.

India's stock market took a hit after Jaitley announced a 10 percent tax on some long-term capital gains, saying stock market returns were "quite attractive and it was time to bring them under the ambit of capital gains tax". Presently, gains from equity investments held for more than 12 months are exempt from tax.

Speaking in Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also announced a liberalization of agricultural exports, which will increase from $30 billion a year to $100 billion, to help push up crop prices for farmers.

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Rs 56,000 crore for SCs and Rs 39,000 crore for STs. The National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) which the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has dubbed as "Modicare" will incur a total cost of up to Rs 10,000 crore in the first year.

"This will be the world's largest government-funded healthcare programme". The premium for every household for the insurance scheme is expected to be around Rs 1,000-1,200 annually. "Assuming each family will avail of Rs 50,000 - one-tenth of Rs 5 lakh - the amount required per year will be Rs 5 lakh crore", he said.

"The 7000 companies left out from enjoying the lower 25 per cent corporate tax rate will have to wait for the phase-out of all exemptions". Kumar said around 6-7 crore persons fall into poverty each year due to medical expenses and they are often in non-poor category.

India, a $2.5tn economy, has one of the lowest public spending rates on public healthcare with just over 1% of the GDP - less than the global average. It is farmer friendly, common man friendly, business environment friendly as well as development friendly, he said.

Articulating his vision for the general election of 2019 quite clearly, he has recognised the existence of rural distress, amplified by a string of farmer protests and suicides a year ago provoked by falling commodity prices and increasing debt. The 2017-18 Budget estimate had pegged an outlay of Rs 79,685.95 crore, which was later revised to Rs 81,868 crore.

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