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On February 1st, 2024, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the much-anticipated Interim Budget, outlining the fiscal roadmap for India. Amidst the positive signals for specific sectors, cautious optimism prevailed in the market. In this blog, we will delve into the key takeaways, tax implications, and the best investment options for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in the wake of Budget 2024.

The Transformative Journey:

FM Sitharaman highlighted the transformative journey of the Indian economy, crediting structural reforms for lifting 25 crore people out of poverty over the past decade. The government’s dedication to inclusive growth was evident through initiatives like Direct Benefit Transfers, PM Jan Dhan Yojana, and schemes supporting artisans, street vendors, and women entrepreneurs.

Budget Highlights:

  • Inclusive Empowerment: The ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme expansion, the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, and development in the eastern part of India were focal points.
  • Health Initiatives: Plans for more medical colleges, cervical cancer vaccination, and the U-Win app for vaccination management showcased the government’s commitment to healthcare.
  • Housing: Subsidised construction of 30 million affordable houses in rural areas and a target of 2 crore more houses under PM Awas Yojana (Grameen) aimed at providing shelter.
  • Agriculture and Fisheries: Support for farmers through initiatives like ‘Nano DAP’ and the Matsya Sampada department for fishermen highlighted self-reliance.
  • Railways: Economic railway corridor programs under PM Gati Shakti and conversion of rail bogeys to Vande Bharat standards were announced.
  • Environmental and Economic Sustainability: Commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2070 and increased capital expenditure for economic growth showcased a sustainable vision.
  • Fiscal Prudence: Fiscal deficit kept at 5.8% (of GDP) in FY24 and was estimated at 5.1% in FY25, reflecting lower-than-expected figures.
  • Tax Reforms: No major income tax announcements; tax rates remain unchanged. Extensions of tax benefits to startups and specific IFSC units were highlighted.

Budget Estimates and Economic Outlook:

The budget estimates for 2024-25 showcased an increase in total expenditure, with revenue expenditure growth at 3.2% and capital expenditure at 16.9%. The fiscal deficit was targeted at 5.1% of GDP, reflecting prudent financial management.

Tax Implications:

For NRIs, the budget brought no major changes in income tax. The rates remain unchanged, providing stability for NRI investors. The extension of tax benefits to startups and specific IFSC units until March 2025 presents opportunities for NRI entrepreneurs looking to invest in innovative ventures.

Best Investment Options for NRIs:

  • Banking and Financial Services: The budget’s careful financial management lowers interest rates, creating a favourable environment for banks. Opportunities arise in housing and renewable energy investments.
  • Infrastructure: Steady capital expenditure in vital sectors like roads, railways, and urban development opens up opportunities for businesses in construction, engineering, and materials.
  • Logistics: Substantial investments in infrastructure development benefit rail and road transport companies, promising increased efficiency and reduced operational costs.
  • Metals & Mining: Increased capital expenditures boost steel demand, benefiting companies in the metals and mining sector, especially steel producers and pipe companies.
  • Energy: A focus on sustainable development presents opportunities in renewable energy and related infrastructures, while the shift towards cleaner energy impacts traditional oil marketing companies.

Sustainable Development:

The budget’s strong emphasis on sustainable development aligns with the government’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2070. Renewable energy, electric vehicles, and bio-manufacturing emerge as key areas for investment, fostering a green and sustainable economic growth model.

As NRIs evaluate investment opportunities in the wake of Budget 2024, the stability in tax rates, coupled with the government’s focus on inclusive growth and sustainability, creates a promising landscape. NRIs can explore avenues in banking, infrastructure, logistics, metals, and sustainable energy to align their investments with India’s dynamic economic vision.

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