In a pivotal announcement, Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister of India, presented the Interim Budget yesterday, unveiling a roadmap that reflects the nation’s economic achievements and visionary goals. Over the past decade, India has witnessed a remarkable transformation in its economy, demonstrating resilience amid global dynamics. The budget outlines strategic initiatives spanning agriculture, rural development, education, renewable energy, infrastructure, and fiscal policies. Let’s dive into the Highlights of Budget 2024:
Economic Transformation and Vision:
Tremendous Transformation in the Indian Economy:
Highlighting significant progress, the Indian economy has undergone a tremendous transformation over the last decade, showcasing resilience and adaptability amid dynamic global scenarios.
Vision for 2047 – “Vikasit Bharat”:
The visionary goal is set to transform India into “Vikasit Bharat” by 2047, emphasizing inclusive growth and development with the principle of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas.”
Agriculture and Rural Development:
Direct Financial Assistance to 11.8 Crore Farmers:
The government prioritized farmers’ welfare through direct financial aid to 11.8 crore farmers, providing crucial support to the backbone of the agricultural sector, and ensuring their financial stability and sustenance.
Electronic Agri Mandi Connecting 1051 Mandis, Transacting ₹2-Lakh Crore:
Facilitating a modernized agricultural ecosystem, the introduction of an electronic agri Mandi connected 1051 mandis and facilitated transactions worth ₹2-lakh crore, streamlining trade, and enhancing efficiency in the agricultural supply chain.
Periodic Increment in Minimum Support Prices for Farmers:
Ensuring fair returns for farmers, there were periodic increments in minimum support prices to provide economic security and incentivize agricultural productivity, contributing to the overall growth of the agricultural sector.
Skill India Mission Training and Upskilling 1.4 Crore Youth:
The Skill India Mission took center stage, focusing on training and upskilling 1.4 crore youth.
28% Increase in Female Enrollment in Higher Education Over 10 Years:
Promoting inclusivity in education, there was a commendable 28% increase in female enrollment in higher education over the past decade.
43% Women Enrollment in STEM Courses, the Highest Globally:
Breaking barriers in STEM fields, the initiative boasted a remarkable 43% enrollment of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses.
Enhancement of ‘Lakhpati Didi’ Scheme to 3 Crore Women:
Building on financial inclusivity, the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme underwent expansion, now benefiting 3 crore women. This initiative focused on empowering women economically, enabling them to achieve financial milestones and contribute significantly to their families and communities.
Rooftop Solarization for Free Electricity:
The government introduced rooftop solarization, granting free electricity for up to 300 Units to 1 crore houses. A sustainable initiative promoting clean energy, reducing the carbon footprint, and enhancing household energy access.
Conversion of 40,000 Normal Railway Bogies to Vande Bharat Standards:
Prioritizing safety and convenience, the government initiated the conversion of 40,000 normal railway bogies to Vande Bharat standards. This upgrade aimed to enhance the overall quality and efficiency of railway services for a safer and more comfortable commuting experience.
Announcement of Three New Railway Economic Corridors:
To address congestion and streamline logistics, the government announced the establishment of three major economic railway corridors. This strategic move aimed to boost economic development by improving transportation efficiency and reducing costs across India’s diverse regions.
Focused Attention on Infrastructure Development in the Eastern Region:
With a strategic focus, the government directed significant attention to infrastructure development in the Eastern region of India.
In a groundbreaking move, the government allocated a ₹1-lakh crore corpus with 50-year interest-free financing (long-term financing or refinancing) to stimulate the private sector’s engagement in Research and Development (R&D).
Taxation and Fiscal Policies:
No Changes in Tax Rates:
The Finance Minister maintained stability, announcing no alterations in direct and indirect tax rates, including import duties. This consistent approach fostered predictability and financial planning for businesses and individuals.
Average ITR Assessment Days Reduced:
Efficiency triumphed as the average processing time for Income Tax Return (ITR) assessments decreased from 93 days in FY14 to just 10 days. This streamlined process accelerated tax refunds, showcasing significant improvements since 2014.
Extension of Tax Benefits for Start-ups and Pension Funds:
To nurture growth, the government extended crucial tax benefits for start-ups and investments by sovereign wealth or pension funds. Additionally, tax exemptions for specific income of International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) units were prolonged until 31.03.2025.
Withdrawal of Outstanding Direct Tax Demands:
In a taxpayer-friendly move, outstanding direct tax demands up to ₹25,000 for FY 2009-10 and up to ₹10,000 for FY 2010-11 to 2014-15 have been proposed to be withdrawn. This measure is set to benefit a crore taxpayers, providing financial relief.
Under PM Awas Yojana Grameen, 2 Crore Houses Target:
The government committed to addressing housing needs by undertaking the construction of 2 crore more houses under the PM Awas Yojana Grameen. This initiative aligned with the larger goal of providing quality housing for rural communities.
Introduction of Middle-Class Housing Scheme:
In a bid to assist the middle class, the government will be shortly announcing a scheme facilitating home ownership. Designed for those residing in rented houses, slums, chawls, or unauthorized colonies, this initiative will be aimed at enabling the purchase or construction of homes.
Fiscal Performance and Targets:
FY25 Capex Target:
Setting an ambitious goal, the government targeted a FY25 Capex of ₹ 11.1 lakh crore, reflecting an 11.1% increase. This substantial allocation, 3.4% of GDP will fuel infrastructural upgrades and new projects, unlocking real estate development potential.
FY24 Fiscal Deficit at 5.8% of GDP, & FY25 at 5.1%:
In FY24, revised estimate of the fiscal deficit for FY24 stands at 5.8% of GDP. For FY25, the projected fiscal deficit is 5.1% of GDP, with a strategic goal to further reduce it below 4.5% by FY26. This reflected a commitment to fiscal prudence and sustainability.
Revised Total Expenditure for FY24 at ₹44.90 Lakh Crore:
The revised estimate of total expenditure for FY24 is ₹44.90 lakh crore, outlining the government’s financial commitment to various sectors and programs for comprehensive economic development.
Total Receipts (Excluding Borrowings) for FY24 – ₹27.56 Lakh Crore:
Total receipts, excluding borrowings, for FY24 is estimated to be ₹27.56 lakh crore. This encompassed all revenues received by the government, contributing to the overall budgetary framework.
Tax Receipts for FY24 – ₹23.24 Lakh Crore:
In FY24, tax receipts are estimated to reach ₹23.24 lakh crore, underscoring the importance of taxation as a significant revenue source for the government’s operations and public services.
FY25 Total Receipts:
For FY25, total receipts are projected at ₹ 38.80 lakh crore. This budgetary estimate outlined the government’s expected revenue, crucial for balancing expenditure and sustaining economic development.
FDI Inflows at $596 Billion, Twice More Than 2014-15:
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows have soared to $596 billion, a significant achievement doubling the figures from 2014-15. This reflected increased confidence in India’s economic prospects and business environment.
Target to Double Exports to ₹1-Lakh Crore, Generating 5 Lakh New Jobs:
Ambitious export targets aimed to double exports to ₹1-lakh crore to foster economic growth and create 5 lakh new jobs. This strategic goal aligned with broader employment and economic expansion initiatives.
Government Plans to Raise ₹14.13-Lakh Crore through Bonds in 2024-25:
Addressing financial needs, the government announced that it plans to raise ₹14.13-lakh crore from the market through bonds in the fiscal year 2024-25 with net borrowing at ₹11.75 lakh crore, supporting various development initiatives.
G20 Made India an Attractive Business and Conference Tourism Destination:
India positioned itself as an appealing destination for business and conference tourism through active participation and engagement in G20, showcasing the country’s potential on the global stage.
Plans to Encourage Comprehensive Development of Iconic Tourist Centers:
With a vision for holistic tourism development, the government outlined plans to encourage the comprehensive growth of iconic tourist centers. This initiative aimed to enhance the overall tourist experience and promote India as a prime travel destination.
25 Crore People Freed from Multidimensional Poverty in the Last 10 Years:
Embracing the principle of “Garib Ka Kalyan, Desh Ka Kalyan,” the government celebrated a monumental achievement, liberating 25 crore people from multidimensional poverty over the last decade.
Elimination of Food Worries with Free Rations for 80 Crore People:
Addressing food security concerns, the government took a decisive step by providing free rations to 80 crore people, ensuring a crucial safety net and eliminating worries about access to essential sustenance.
Healthcare and Aviation Initiatives:
Ayushman Bharat Extended to Aasha and Aanganwadi Workers:
Expanding healthcare access, Ayushman Bharat was extended to include Aasha and Aanganwadi workers, ensuring comprehensive medical coverage for those at the forefront of community service.
Hospitals to be Set Up in All Districts:
Prioritizing healthcare infrastructure, the government plans to establish hospitals in all districts, promoting equitable access to quality medical facilities across the nation.
Vaccination for Cervical Cancer for 9-14 Year Old Girls:
Focusing on preventive healthcare, a vaccination initiative for cervical cancer will be targeted at girls aged 9-14 years, contributing to the nation’s comprehensive health and well-being strategy.
517 New Routes Under the Udan Scheme:
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman revealed plans to double the number of airports in India to 149 airports and enhance air connectivity with the introduction of 517 new routes under the Udan Scheme. This shall facilitate easier and more accessible travel options, particularly benefiting remote and underserved regions.
Divestment and Railway Corridors:
FY25 Divestment Target – ₹ 50,000 Crore:
Setting a strategic financial goal, the government aims for a divestment of ₹ 50,000 crore in FY25, emphasizing the importance of fiscal discipline and resource optimization.
Defence Allocation Increase – 20% to ₹ 6.22 Lakh Crore:
Demonstrating a commitment to national security, the government enhanced the defence allocation by nearly 20%, reaching ₹ 6.22 lakh crore to ensure robust defense capabilities.
Hiked Allocations for Major Schemes:
Prioritizing social welfare, the allocations will be hiked for key schemes like MNREGA, Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY, and PLI, signaling the government’s focus on inclusive development and citizens’ well-being.
FY25 Major Subsidies – 1.2% of GDP vs. 1.4% in FY24:
In fiscal planning, major subsidies for FY25 will be targeted at 1.2% of GDP, reflecting a strategic reduction from the FY24 level of 1.4%.
FY24 Food Subsidy Revised to Rs 2.12 Lakh Crore:
Responding to evolving needs, the FY24 food subsidy is revised to ₹ 2.12 lakh crore, emphasizing the government’s commitment to ensuring food accessibility.
FY25 Non-Debt Capital Receipts – Rs 79,000 Crore:
Non-debt capital receipts for FY25 have been anticipated at ₹ 79,000 crore, showcasing a planned infusion of funds for capital development outside of debt mechanisms.
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