Desired Reforms – Union Budget 2019
New training programmes will be introduced to train students in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, language training, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, virtual reality, and Big Data. These new-age skills will make the youth in India ready to be employed in the country or in foreign countries.Other Highlights of the Union Budget related to the Youth
- A National Research Foundation will be established to fund, co-ordinate, and promote activities related to research in India. The proposed body is targeted at taking the Indian research ecosystem on to the next level.
- A budget of Rs.400 crore has been allocated by the government under the title ‘World Class Institutions” which is a three-fold increase over the previous year’s estimates.
- A new programme called ‘Study in India’ has been proposed as an attempt to attract foreign students to India for higher education.
- A Higher Education Commission will be set up to radically reform the regulatory mechanism of India’s higher education.
Desired Reforms – Union Budget 2018
The expectations from the Union Budget 2018 are many; some of these are associated with the empowerment of the youth, as described below:
- Tax deductions for educational donations - The government should encourage sponsorship or donations for educational purposes through complete tax deductions on such transactions. This is particularly relevant because the contribution is for a social cause. At the moment, the tax deductions allowed for donation to educational institutions are in the range of 50% of the contributed amount. These figures need to be revamped as it would lead to the empowerment of the youth, the pillars of the nation.
- Separate tax relief for educational expenses - The tax deductions that are currently in place for educational purposes correspond to children’s education and hostel facilities. This is, however, offered only to the salaried class of the economy. If there was a blanket tax deduction for this purpose, the larger mass would benefit greatly. Also, a separate deduction can be established for expenses related to computer-aided learning, transportation, infrastructure, lodging, special coaching, mess, etc.
- Savings scheme for education purposes - There are several savings schemes for the backward sections of the society. The introduction of the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana for the empowerment of the girl child is a notable social security initiative. However, there are no such provisions for the educational needs of children. A robust strategy for education of the youth will be an encouragement to parents to fulfill their children’s educational aspirations.
- Impact of GST - The Goods and Services Tax Act exempts some basic educational services from tax, while majority of the others are levied 18% GST. This implies that input services such as maintenance and repairs, canteen facilities, placement services, etc. are liable to be taxed at 18% and the tax credit for the same cannot be claimed. Additionally, when youngsters opt for higher education at private institutions, 18% GST is levied. Tax is also levied for education at coaching institutions that train students for competitive exams. Since the government stresses on the importance of education for the youth, there should be reforms to exempt educational and associated services from the ambit of GST.
- Foreign investments - With the government’s focus on increasing the number of research and innovation centres in the field of education, private investment will be of utmost importance. The government currently allows 100% foreign direct investment in the field of education; however, the inflows are still insufficient. The hierarchy of approvals and multiple regulations are some of the obstacles in the process. Simplification of the process will be helpful in achieving the milestones. Since the government’s tax policy projects a clear message of its priorities, an overall reduction in the cost of education will be the right way to go.
- National Employment Policy - The government is looking to introduce the first National Employment Policy (NEP) in the country. This policy will provide a comprehensive roadmap for the generation of job opportunities across various segments. This is likely to be introduced in the Union Budget 2018. The policy is expected to incentivise employers to create quality job opportunities, apart from introducing reforms for attracting small and medium enterprises that provide ample jobs in the economy.
The Union Budget 2017 had created job opportunities in the textile sector and facilitated the launch of 100 international centres from where youngsters could seek international jobs. There were also several measures taken to strengthen the skills of employees. The metro rail segment and tourism sector were other areas where employment opportunities were created. The 2018 Union Budget is expected to focus on the empowerment of the youth by offering similar reforms.
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