Pre-poll budget showers sops


In a big push for income tax relief, the government has reworked the income tax slabs in the new tax regime…reports Asian Lite News

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a big ticket budget ahead of next year’s general elections which included huge capital outlay in infrastructure and agri sectors and reworked tax slabs in a massive relief to the middle class.

The government has outlined seven priority areas in the last complete budget before next year’s general elections. The areas, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, are “inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing the potential, green growth, youth power and financial sector”.

In the next fiscal, capital investment outlay will be raised by 33% to ₹ 10 lakh crore — which would be 3.3 per cent of the GDP in 2023-2024 fiscal, the finance minister said.

In a big push for income tax relief ahead of an election year, the government has reworked the income tax slabs in the new tax regime and said there will be no tax on income of upto ₹ 7 lakh a year — up from ₹ 5 lakh.

In a big move for senior citizens, investment cap for the Monthly Income Scheme and Senior Citizens’ Saving Scheme have also been raised. 

The agricultural credit target has been increased to ₹ 20 lakh crore and in another populist measure, allocation for PM Awas Yojna increased by 66 per cent to over ₹ 79,000 crore.

For the railways, the minister has announced an outlay of ₹ 2.4 lakh crore — the highest in almost a decade and four times the last year’s budget. “This is about nine times the outlay made in 2013-14,” she said, comparing it with the last year of the Congress-led UPA governance.

With a focus on switching to green fuel, the government is targeting 5 MT of Green Hydrogen production by 2030, Ms Sitharaman said.

For ease of business and to settle commercial disputes, the government will bring another dispute resolution scheme under Vivad Se Vishwas-2. There will be a one-stop solution for reconciliation of IDs maintained by various government agencies, the minister said. PAN will be used as common identifier for all digital systems of specified government agencies.

The government will also set up a national digital library for children and adolescents, re-frame teachers’ training through various programmes and begin fresh initiatives to promote research and innovation in pharma. Over the next three years, the government will recruit 38,800 teachers for Ekalavya Model Residential Schools.

The fiscal deficit target of 6.4 per cent will be retained in the revised estimate for the current fiscal. For the next fiscal 2023-2024, it will be cut down to 5.9 per cent, Sitharaman said.

₹5,300 crore central aid to Karnataka

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said the centre will provide ₹5,300 crore assistance to the drought-prone regions of Karnataka for irrigation purposes. Sitharaman was speaking in Parliament while presenting the union budget for the fiscal year 2023-24. This is the last full-year budget before the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

The ₹5,300 crore assistance to the poll-bound southern state was part of the centre’s second priority: ‘reaching the last mile’. “The centre will provide ₹5,300 crore assistance to drought-prone central region of Karnataka,” announced Sitharaman.

Karnataka is set to go into assembly elections in April – May this year.

Rs 15,000 cr push for tribal development

Sitharaman has allocated Rs 15,000 crore for tribal affairs in Union Budget 2023-2024. This is at least five times more than the sum announced last year.

The Modi government, which is the last full budget before nine states go to the polls and the general elections next year. It is also the first budget in the Amrit Kaal. With the schemes and announcements made today, the focus of the budget is the tribal population across states including the ones in the north east.

The tribal population is a key vote-bank for political parties this year, with assembly elections scheduled to be held in nine states — Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

Two of these states, Chhattisgarh and Tripura, have more than 30 per cent tribal population (Scheduled Tribes or STs), while three, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, account for over 85 per cent of tribal population.

The 2023-2024 Union Budget, which will be the last full budget for the current BJP-led government at the Centre, before 2024’s scheduled general elections, was widely expected to have sops and schemes for the tribals.

“To improve the social-economic condition of the particular tribal groups, PMPVTG(Prime Minister’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) Development mission will be launched, to saturate PBTG habitations with basic facilities. Rs 15,000 cr to be made available to implement the scheme in next 3 years”, announced FM Nirmala Sitharaman.

The BJP already has much at stake in certain poll-bound states. For instance, it needs to retain Madhya Pradesh, where the tribals form over 20 per cent of the total population, and Tripura, where too the tribals are key voters. The need to win the assembly elections was emphasised by BJP president J.P. Nadda at a meeting of party workers in January.

The party further needs to win over Chhattisgarh, which is currently under Congress rule. The state’s tribal population has previously voted for the Congress.

ALSO READ-New Airports To Fuel India’s Growth

[mc4wp_form id=""]