Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Narendra Modi led government’s budget on Thursday, emphasizing on the needs of farmers, women, youth, and the poor.
For the time being, the government maintained the current tax rates in accordance with the interim budget tradition. Sitharaman did, however, voice confidence that the Modi government will present a comprehensive plan for a “Viksit Bharat” in July following the Lok Sabha elections.
These are the top 10 takeaways from the Interim Budget 2024:
Unchanged tax rates
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not make any significant announcements for the salaried class on Thursday, so the tax slabs remained unchanged. This implies that the current system of old & new regimes will be there for the time being.
In terms of tax proposals, Sitharaman stated that she proposes to maintain the same tax rates for direct taxes and indirect taxes, including import duties, in accordance with the convention. She does not propose to make any changes relating to taxation.
To address long-standing direct tax issues, the finance minister did state that the government intends to withdraw outstanding demands up to Rs 25,000 for years up to 2009–10 and Rs 10,000 for years 2010–2015. This move will benefit up to 1 crore taxpayers.
Bogies like Vande Bharat
According to Sitharaman, in order to improve passenger safety, convenience, and comfort, up to 40,000 standard railway bogies will be converted to Vande Bharat standards.
The energy, mineral, and cement corridors, port connectivity corridors, and high traffic density corridors are the three main economic railway corridor programs that the Centre will carry out, she added.
She stated that passenger safety and higher travel times will result from the consequent decongestion of the high-traffic corridors and improved passenger train operations.
Focus on women
In her pre-election budget speech, Sitharaman announced a number of initiatives aimed at empowering women.
She discussed the remarkable achievements of the Centre’s Lakhpati Didi scheme, which trains women in self-help groups (SHGS) for them to earn a minimum of Rs 1 lakh annually as a sustainable source of income.
She stated that the decision to increase the beneficiary target for Lakhpati Didi, from Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore, was taken because of the success.
She further stated that all Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, Anganwadi workers, and helpers would receive healthcare coverage under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
In order to enhance early childhood care and development, nutrition delivery, and early childhood education, the finance minister announced that the government will expedite the upgrading of Anganwadi centers under “Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0.”
FDI – First Develop India
Sitharaman stated that the government is negotiating bilateral investment treaties with India’s foreign partners in the spirit of foreign direct investment, or FDI, or “First Develop India,” in an effort to encourage investments.
Research & Innovation
To encourage private sector research and innovation in emerging fields, a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore will be established with 50-year interest-free loans.
The private sector will be encouraged to greatly increase research and innovation in sunrise domains as a result. Programs that harness the potential of technology and youth are essential, Sitharaman stated.
Startups tax benefits
The government has extended, by one year, certain tax benefits for start-ups and investments made by sovereign wealth and pension funds, as well as an exemption from paying taxes on a portion of certain IFSC units’ income.
The finance minister also mentioned the rising popularity of domestic island destinations like Lakshadweep among tourists.
According to her, the Centre intends to start projects for port connectivity, tourist facilities, and amenities in island groups, including Lakshadweep, in order to meet the emerging fervour for domestic tourism.
According to Sitharaman, funding for significant infrastructure projects, to be undertaken in 2024–2025, has increased to Rs 11.1 lakh crore, an increase of 11.1 percent over the previous year.
According to her, there has been a multiplier impact on job creation and economic growth as a result of the ‘massive tripling’ of capital expenditure outlay over the previous four years.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Sitharaman has created a plan to help people in purchasing a house who are living in slums or rented homes.
Sitharaman said that the government intends to initiate a program to assist deserving sections of the middle class who are residing in rented homes, slums, chawls, and unauthorized colonies in purchasing or constructing their own homes.
In addition, she declared that 2 crore more houses for the poor in rural areas would be built over the course of the next five years as part of the ongoing Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Grameen).
The government has increased the defence budget by Rs 6.2 lakh crore this year, or about 8% of total expenditure.
Sitharaman also announced the introduction of a new program aimed at bolstering deep tech in the defence sector.