NEW DELHI – India's finance minister has announced a federal budget with a string of populist giveaways, from free cooking gas to a health plan for the poor, in an attempt to woo voters ahead of national elections next year.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has also announced a sharp increase in agricultural exports to help increase prices for farmers. Exports of agricultural products have long been restricted by regulations. The government will also help in building more than 5 million affordable houses for the poor in the next financial year.
This is the last budget of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which will seek a second five-year tenure in May 2019 national elections. The new government will determine the full-year budget for 2019-20.