As Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the interim budget for the upcoming financial year (2024-25), the spotlight remained on crucial fiscal elements and policy directions. In this overview, we delve into the key highlights shaping India’s economic outlook.
The budget outlined several key highlights that shape the economic landscape. Here’s a breakdown of the noteworthy points:
Fiscal Deficit and Tax Slabs
The fiscal deficit target for FY25 was set at 5.1% of the GDP, emphasizing the government’s commitment to financial prudence. Notably, there were no alterations made to the existing income tax slabs, providing stability in the taxation framework.
Direct Tax Reforms
A major announcement included the withdrawal of outstanding direct tax demands up to Rs 25,000 for the period up to the financial year 2009-10 and up to Rs 10,000 for financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15. The move aimed at offering relief to taxpayers.
Tax Filings and Collections
Sitharaman highlighted a significant surge in tax filers by 2.4 times, with the direct tax collection tripling since 2014. Projections for tax receipts in 2024-25 reached Rs 26.02 lakh crore, underscoring the positive trajectory.
Initiatives for Economic Growth
To enhance railway operations, the Finance Minister introduced three major economic railway corridor programs focusing on energy, mineral and cement corridors, port connectivity corridors, and high traffic density corridors. Additionally, the announcement of 2 crore more houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) aimed to boost housing infrastructure.
Technology and Innovation
Acknowledging the importance of technology, Sitharaman unveiled a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore with a 50-year interest-free loan to promote long-term financing and re-financing for research and innovation in sunrise domains. A new scheme for strengthening deep tech technology for defense purposes was also introduced.
Social and Environmental Initiatives
The budget emphasized social justice with initiatives such as making triple talaq illegal, reserving 1/3rd seats for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies, and allocating over 70% of houses under PMAY-G in rural areas to women. Furthermore, plans for roof-top solarization to provide free electricity to 1 crore households and achieving ‘net zero’ by 2070 highlighted the government’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Other Key Announcements
- Long-term interest-free loans were pledged to states to encourage tourism development.
Plans to set up more medical colleges through the utilization of existing hospital infrastructure were announced.
- The government expressed its focus on making India ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047, with a commitment to all-round development that is inclusive and pervasive.
- The Interim Budget 2024-25 provided a comprehensive outlook on the government’s fiscal policies and strategic initiatives, setting the tone for economic progress and social development. The subsequent ‘full budget’ is anticipated in July after the new government assumes office following the Lok Sabha elections.