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NEW DELHI: If Arun Jaitley disappointed by opting for no change in personal I-T slabs, he did give salaried women, and women in general cause for cheer in his Union Budget 2018. That’s in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public pronouncements to do with women’s empowerment.
Here are Jaitley’s top moves to give women – rural and urban, poor and salaried – a boost:
* A huge percentage, as much as 76%, of loan accounts are those of women. As much as 50 per cent of those accounts belong to SC, ST and OBC women. Keeping that in mind, Jaitley’s 2018 budget will target a total lending of Rs 3 lakh crore under the Mudra Yojana. This scheme provides loans to women to encourage them to start new ventures.
* Free gas connections for women under the Ujjwala Yojana will rise to 8 crore connections from the current 5 crore, in this last budget of Jaitley’s for this NDA government.
“Modi govt’s decision to provide 8 crore gas connections under the historic PM Ujjwala Yojana is a landmark decision. It is a testimony of government’s commitment towards women empowerment and improving the quality of lives of poor, both urban and rural,” said BJP president Amit Shah.
* The finance minister will also increase loans to women self-help groups by as much as 37 per cent
* As for salaried women, they can be happy too. Jaitley said that while the government will contribute 12 percent of the wages as Employee Provident Fund (EPF) in all sectors for the next three years, it will reduce contributions from women employees in that period to 8 per cent from 12 per cent.
* The EPF contribution reduction for women will also incentivise employers to hire women.