The drawing up of the Union Budget 2017 started out on a promising note for women in the country. The positive fact here being that women officers in the Finance Ministry were in prominence. 41% of the women were part of the senior level personnel handling more than 50% of the overall budget work for the government. PM Modi hailed the Union Budget 2017 as one that focuses on women empowerment.
Women contribute only 17% to the GDP in India but there have been encouraging signs of an increase in women entrepreneurs thanks to the Start-Up India initiative. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stated in his budget speech that there have been 16,000 new entities of women-led businesses have come up in the recent past. But despite that there is a sense that the start-ups will largely be hurt this year because the profit linked deduction has now been reduced to three years as opposed to a period of seven years. This is expected to be a letdown for urban women entrepreneurs since they form part of the Start Up revenue.
However, the tribal and Dalit women will be encouraged and supported by the govt to set up greenfield enterprises.
The step to strengthen MSMEs will positively impact a large section of women active in this sector as well. The tax rate for MSME companies with an annual turnover up to 50 crores rupees has been reduced to 25%. A massive 96% of Indian companies are expected to benefit by the reduction!
There were expectations on measures that the govt could take on women safety on railways, especially for those who travel alone. No announcements were made along those lines. But the area of women and children welfare continues to be a thrust area for the Modi government. An allocation of Rs 1.86 lakh crore has been made for women and children schemes as compared to Rs 1.56 lakh crore in last fiscal. Government’s maternity benefit programme goes up from Rs 400 crore to Rs 21,000 crore. The government also allocated more money for nutrition program for children under six years of age to Rs 15,245 crore.
Largely, as a boost to the working class with income between Rs 2.5 and 5 lakhs, the tax rate has been slashed by 5 points, coming down from 10% to 5%.