The anticipation surrounding the month leading up to the Interim Budget 2024 was palpable, with stakeholders across the nation eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the fiscal roadmap. Today, on February 1st, 2024, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stepped into the Lok Sabha to deliver the much-anticipated Budget.
In her speech, the Finance Minister underscored the profound transformation witnessed in the Indian economy, attributing it to a series of structural reforms implemented by the government. FM Sitharaman acknowledged the transformative journey the Indian economy had undertaken. Notably, the government provided free food to 80 crore individuals through various schemes.
Over the past decade, the government successfully lifted 25 crore people out of poverty, demonstrating its dedication to inclusive growth. Direct Benefit Transfers totalling Rs. 34 lakh crore through initiatives like the PM Jan Dhan Yojana led to significant savings amounting to ₹2.7 lakh crore. Schemes such as the PM Vishwakarma Yojana and PM-SVANidhi provided crucial support to artisans, street vendors, and women entrepreneurs. Skill India Mission trained over 1.4 crore youth, enhancing their employability and contributing to economic empowerment.
Emphasising the government’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity, she highlighted the pivotal role played by women, youth, poor, and farmers in propelling the nation’s progress forward.
The Highlights of the Interim Budget 2024 are as follows:
1⃣️ Inclusive Empowerment
- Expansion of the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme to empower rural women and stimulate the rural economy.
- Emphasis on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor for global trade.
- Development focuses on the eastern part of India to fuel overall economic growth.
- Plans to set up more medical colleges, with a dedicated committee for recommendations.
- Promotion of cervical cancer vaccination in girls between 9 – 14 years.
- Nationwide rollout of the U-Win app for efficient vaccination management.
- Integration of existing schemes for maternal and child healthcare into one comprehensive program.
- Extension of healthcare coverage under the Ayushman Bharat scheme to all ASHA Workers and Anganwadi workers and helpers.
3⃣️ Housing Initiatives
- Subsidised construction of 30 million affordable houses in rural areas.
- The government aims to build 2 crore more houses for the rural poor in the next five years under PM Awas Yojana (Grameen).
4⃣️ Agriculture and Fisheries
- Encouragement of ‘Nano DAP’ for various crops and its expansion across all agro-climatic zones.
- Formulation of policies to support dairy farmers and combat Foot and Mouth Disease.
- Strategic approach towards achieving AtmaNirbharta (self-reliance) in oilseeds, covering research, procurement, value addition, and crop insurance.
- Establishment of the Matsya Sampada department to address the needs of fishermen.
- Conversion of 40,000 normal rail bogeys to Vande Bharat standards, focusing on safety and passenger convenience.
- Three major economic railway corridor programs under PM Gati Shakti were announced: energy, mineral and cement corridors; port connectivity corridors; and high traffic density corridors.
6⃣️ Environmental and Economic Sustainability
- Commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2070, including funding for offshore wind energy generation, biomass aggregation machinery procurement, and e-vehicle sector expansion.
- Capital expenditure increased to ₹11.11 lakh crore for 2024-25 to fuel economic growth.
- Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana aims to provide rooftop solar power generation to one crore households. The aim is to generate up to 300 units of free electricity monthly.
7⃣️ Fiscal Prudence
- Fiscal deficit kept at 5.8% (of GDP) in FY24 and estimated at 5.1% in FY25, showcasing lower-than-expected figures.
8⃣️ Tax Reforms
- No major income tax announcements; tax rates remain unchanged.
- Extension of certain tax benefits to startups and exemptions to specific IFSC units until March 2025
- Withdrawal of outstanding disputed tax demands to benefit one crore taxpayers.
- Extension of tax benefits and support through schemes like Fund of Funds, Start-Up India, and Start-Up Credit Guarantee until March 2025.
9⃣️ Tourism and Connectivity
- Infrastructure and connectivity enhancements for domestic tourism on islands, including Lakshadweep.
- Promotion of spiritual tourism and iconic tourist spots, with states receiving long-term interest-free loans for world-class facilities.
- An inclusive approach to boosting tourism and facilitating economic growth in diverse regions.
🔟 Start-Up and Innovation
- Allocation of a 1 Lakh Crore fund for long-term, low-interest loans towards deep tech in defence.
- Continued support through schemes like PM Mudra Yojana, with 43 crore loans sanctioned, totaling 22.5 lakh crore.
- In a move to bolster research and innovation, the government will establish a ₹1 lakh crore corpus, providing a 50-year interest-free loan.
Commending the interim budget, Prime Minister Modi praised the unprecedented allocation of ₹11,11,111 crore for capital expenditure, characterising India’s capital expenditure and infrastructure spending as being in an optimal position. Describing it as a ‘sweet spot,’ PM Modi emphasised the budget’s potential to generate a multitude of job opportunities for the youth in the forthcoming years.
“This budget mirrors the youthful aspirations of our nation. Two pivotal decisions have been incorporated. A fund of ₹1 Lakh Crore has been earmarked for research and innovation,” remarked Prime Minister Modi, highlighting the government’s commitment to nurturing a dynamic and forward-thinking India
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