Interim Budget 2024-25: No tax revisions, affordable houses; FM Sitharaman narrows fiscal deficit estimates

In anticipation of the upcoming elections, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has introduced an interim budget marked by a series of populist measures. With Prime Minister Modi eyeing a renewed mandate, finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman confirmed the continuation of existing tax rates, covering direct, indirect taxes, and export duties. She also disclosed an 11% surge in the upcoming year’s capex outlay, reaching ₹11.1 lakh crore. Sitharaman, during the fiscal year’s federal budget announcement, revised the fiscal gap to 5.8% of the gross domestic product. 

The Finance Minister also introduced a housing scheme for the deserving middle class, focusing on those living in rented houses, slums, chawls, or unauthorised colonies. Prime Minister Modi stated that this initiative would assist them in acquiring or constructing their own homes. Amid various announcements benefiting youth, the impoverished, women, and farmers, Sitharaman highlighted the extension of Ayushman Bharat healthcare coverage to all ASHA and Anganwadi workers and helpers.

Innovation, Empowering Startups, and Illuminating 25 Crore Lives

In the fiscal blueprint, the income tax slab rates stand resilient, startup tax breaks see an extension, and a significant upgrade of 40,000 railway bogies is slated under Vande Bharat. The budget, in a nod to innovation, injects vitality into research and development with interest-free loans. Additionally, it promises 300 monthly free electricity units to a staggering 1 crore households through solar rooftops, with the audacious claim of uplifting 25 crore people from poverty.

The Landscape of Opportunity

Education receives a transformative touch, witnessing the establishment of seven new IITs and sixteen IIITs. Infrastructure, too, is in for a facelift with tourism projects earmarked for islands, including the picturesque Lakshadweep.

The budget, in a strategic move, spotlights initiatives championing rural homes and MUDRA loans for women entrepreneurs. It proudly declares an uptick in female enrollment in higher education and increased workforce participation.

Fiscal Deficits with a Visionary Economic Gateway

While the fiscal deficit is anchored at 5.8%, the buzzword is sustainability. A visionary India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor proposal aims to become the gateway to trade.

Let’s delve into the key highlights:-

    • Free ration ensures food security for 80 crore people.
  • Eligibility for Section 80-IAC Tax Exemption extended until March 31, 2025, allowing companies formed within the next year to apply for a three-year tax break.
    • Direct Benefit Transfer of Rs 34 lakh crore through PM Jan Dhan Account results in government savings of Rs 2.7 lakh crore.
    • 78 lakh street vendors benefit from PM Swanidhi.
    • 11.8 crore farmers receive direct support through PM Kisan, with 4 crore farmers supported through insurance.
    • Electronic Agri Mandi connects 1051 Mandis, facilitating transactions worth Rs 2 lakh crore.
    • 30 crore Mudra Yojana Loans provided to women entrepreneurs.
    • Governance, Development, and Performance redefine GDP.
    • Skill India Mission trains 1.4 crore youth, retraining and upskilling 54 lakh, establishing 3000 new ITIs.
    • Capital spending for 2024-25 raised by 11% to ₹11.11 lakh crore, constituting 3.4% of GDP.
    • 83 lakh SHGs transform the rural social landscape, empowering nearly 1 crore women as ‘Lakhpati Didis.’
    • Aviation sector grows significantly, doubling the number of airports to 149.
  • Withdrawing direct tax demands: Up to ₹25,000 for the period up to FY 2009-10 and Up to ₹10,000 for FYs 2010-11 to 2014-15.
  • FDI inflows at $596 billion, twice the amount in 2014-15.
  • PM Awas Yojana (Grameen) close to achieving 3 crore house target despite COVID challenges.
  • PM SVANIDHI provides credit assistance to 78 lakh street vendors, with 2.3 lakh receiving credit for the third time.
  • PM Mudra Yojana sanctions 43 crore loans aggregating to Rs 22.5 lakh crore for youth entrepreneurship.
  • Highest-ever medal tally in the Asian Games and Asian Para Games in 2023.
  • Chess grandmasters increase to over 80 from little over 20 in 2010.
  • Healthcare cover under Ayushman Bharat Scheme extended to all Asha workers, Anganwadi workers, and helpers.
  • Free cervical cancer vaccines for girls aged 9-14.
  • Expansion of Nano DAP application on various crops in all agro-climatic zones, similar to nano-urea.
  • GIFT IFSC and Unified Regulatory Authority IFSCA create a robust gateway for global capital and financial resources.
  • Implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) intensified to enhance aquaculture productivity, double exports to ₹1 lakh crore, and generate 55 lakh employment opportunities.

Final Words

As India progresses, fueled by the dynamism of its people and the vision of its leaders, the interim budget of 2024-25 marks a pivotal chapter in the country’s ongoing journey towards progress, inclusivity, and global prominence. How did you find the 2024-25 budget ? Let us know and share your comments. 

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