New Delhi: Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a big ticket budget ahead of next year’s general elections which included huge capital outlay in infrastructure and agri sectors and reworked tax slabs in a relief to the middle class.
The government has outlined seven priority areas in the last complete budget before next year’s general elections. The areas, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, are “inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing the potential, green growth, youth power and financial sector”.
Calling it the “first Budget of Amrit Kaal” — the 25-year period culminating in the centenary of India’s independence – Ms Sitharaman said the country’s economy has grown from 10th to 5th largest in the world and per capita income has more than doubled.
In the next fiscal, capital investment outlay will be raised by 33% to ₹ 10 lakh crore — which would be 3.3 per cent of the GDP in 2023-2024 fiscal, the finance minister said.
In a big push for income tax relief ahead of an election year, the government has reworked the income tax slabs in the new tax regime and said there will be no tax on income of upto ₹ 7 lakh a year — up from ₹ 5 lakh.
For the railways, the minister has announced an outlay of ₹ 2.4 lakh crore — the highest in almost a decade and four times the last year’s budget. “This is about nine times the outlay made in 2013-14,” she underlined, comparing it with the last year of the Congress-led UPA.
With a focus on switching to green fuel, the government is targeting 5 MT of Green Hydrogen production by 2030, Ms Sitharaman said.
Ms Sitharaman said the fiscal deficit target of 6.4 per cent will be retained in the revised estimate for the current fiscal. For the next fiscal 2023-2024, it will be cut down to 5.9 per cent.
For ease of business and to settle commercial disputes, the government will bring another dispute resolution scheme under Vivad Se Vishwas-2, Ms Sitharaman said. There will be a one-stop solution for reconciliation of IDs maintained by various government agencies, the minister said. PAN will be used as common identifier for all digital systems of specified government agencies.
The government will also set up a national digital library for children and adolescents, re-frame teachers’ training through various programmes and begin fresh initiatives to promote research and innovation in pharma. Over the next three years, the government will recruit 38,800 teachers for Ekalavya Model Residential Schools.
In a big move for senior citizens, the investment cap for the Monthly Income Scheme and Senior Citizens’ Saving Scheme have been raised.