Our Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, presented the Union Budget for 2018-19 on Thursday at the Parliament. So, how will this year’s Budget affect the women of our country? Let’s take a look.
Free gas connections
In the year 2017, the Central Government provided over 3 crore women living below poverty line with free gas connections under the Ujjwala Yojana. This year, the Finance Minister has announced that the Centre intends to increase the number to 8 crore. Given the number of women in both urban and rural areas who cook with wood and other harmful and slow fuels, this is an announcement to cheer for. Clean cooking gas prevents lung diseases and is more efficient, which means that women will have the time for other activities and don’t have to be tied down with the stove.
Lower EPFO rates for new women employees
If you’re a woman who is about to join the workforce, rejoice! This Budget has provided a reduced rate of EPF (Employee Provident Fund) for new women employees for the first three years of their employment. Previously, 12% of your basic salary and dearness allowance would have been diverted to PF. However, under the new rules, only 8% will be diverted, which means that your take home pay will increase. The employer contribution, on the other hand, doesn’t decrease so your total savings in the provident fund when you retire doesn’t decrease dramatically.
An increase in allocation of funds to the MUDRA scheme
The government’s MUDRA Yojana is designed to provide first-time entrepreneurs with funds at a concessional rate of interest. The Finance Minister noted in his speech that a whopping 76% of the scheme’s beneficiaries are women! This scheme has received a boost of Rs 3 lakh crore that the government has set as a target for lending during the year 2018-19. Under the MUDRA scheme, you can avail a Rs 10 lakh loan without any collateral security and a maximum amount of Rs 50 lakh. The Finance Minister has also expressed confidence in increasing the number of loans disbursed to women’s self-help groups. If you’re a woman who has been thinking about starting something new, this is your sign to stop thinking and start doing.
Benefit for businesses hiring casual employees
The apparel, footwear and leather industry can now claim 30% of employee cost as a deduction under section 80JJAA, even if the employee has only been in service only for 150 days. This move, intended to increase job creation, should also see an increase in hiring women who work in these sectors.
Imported goods to get more expensive
There has been a marked increase in customs duty in this Budget, in a bid to incentivise ‘Make in India’. As a result, imported mobile phones, cars, television sets, gold, silver, diamonds, gemstones, perfumes, silk and imitation jewellery, among others, will get expensive. So if you’ve been adding stuff to your cart on that fancy e-commerce website with international shipping, well, you’ve been warned.