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Interim Budget bonanza for Central staff
* Rs 25,000-crore defence fund created
* IT rates unchanged
New Delhi, February 3
Finance Minister Jaswant Singh today made good use of the interim Budget (2004-05) for doling out largesse to the Central Government employees but disappointed the sizeable middle class by not proposing any changes in the income tax structure, though he gave a post-dated cheque to the salaried class by promising to reconsider the present income tax exemption limits.

FM promises to hike standard deduction, IT exemption limit
New Delhi, February 3
Finance Minister Jaswant Singh today averred that his government was committed to enhancing the standard deduction and the exemption limit but said this required an amendment to the Income Tax Act.

MEA discretionary expenditure up
New Delhi, February 3
The Vajpayee government has stepped up discretionary expenditure of the Ministry of External Affairs by Rs 16.49 crore.

2 crore Central employees to benefit
New Delhi, February 3
The merger of the 50 per cent Dearness Allowance with the Basic Salary of the Central Government employees, as announced by Finance Minister Jaswant Singh could have major financial implications.

Itís pro-rich: Oppn
New Delhi, February 3
The political parties stuck to their traditional stance as they reacted to the sops in the interim Budget presented by the Union Finance Minister Jaswant Singh today.

Presentation of Budget delayed
New Delhi, February 3
The presentation of the interim Budget by Finance Minister Jaswant Singh in the Lok Sabha today was delayed due to a procedural wrangle as the Opposition maintained that there was no provision for such a budget in the Constitution.

Allocation for police bodies hiked
New Delhi, February 3
In the interim Budget for 2004-05 presented by Union Finance Minister Jaswant Singh in the Lok Sabha today, the Home Ministryís overall budgetary allocation for Central Police Organisations, including the Delhi police, has been increased by 16.11 per cent.

Save for rainy day, says PM
New Delhi, February 3
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said that the Interim Budget would help India achieve a developed nation status by 2020 and advised the Central Government employees, who would be benefited by the merger of DA with the basic pay, to save the additional money for future.

25,000-cr defence fund set up
New Delhi, February 3
In a boost to the defence sector, the government today took a significant step by setting up a non-lapsable defence modernisation fund of Rs 25,000 crore which will go a long way in the modernisation of the armed forces.

Rs 1,150 cr set aside for poll expenses
New Delhi, February 3
In view of the coming general election, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh has made a provision of Rs 1,150 crore for meeting poll expenses in the interim Budget, which includes preparation of voter photo identity cards.

50 pc Central staff DA merged with basic pay
New Delhi, February 3

The government has decided to merge 50 per cent of the DA with the basic pay of the Central Government employees and this will come into effect from April 1 this year, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh announced in the Lok Sabha.

GDP growth projected at over 7.5 pc
New Delhi, February 3

Finance Minister Jaswant Singh today projected a growth of 7.5 to 8 per cent for the current year in the face of strong economic fundamentals.

IT rates unchanged
New Delhi, February 3
Belying expectations, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh proposed no changes in the income tax structure in the interim Budget 2004-05 presented by him in the Lok Sabha today.

Finance Bill introduced
New Delhi, February 3
Finance Minister Jaswant Singh introduced the Finance Bill, 2004, in the Lok Sabha today after presenting the Interim Budget and vote-on-account.

AIIMS-level hospital for J&K
New Delhi, February 3
Finance Minister Jaswant Singh today said a medical college each in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal would be upgraded to the level of the All-India Institute of Medical Science.

A lacklustre affair
New Delhi, February 3

With the Lok Sabha elections heavily on their mind, MPs of all hues were a subdued lot, making the presentation of the interim Budget, 2004-05, in the Lok Sabha today a lacklustre affair despite many sops.


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