On February 1st, 2024, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the much-anticipated Budget 2024 to the Lok Sabha, outlining the government’s fiscal roadmap for the upcoming financial year. This year’s budget comes at a crucial time, with India navigating the post-pandemic recovery phase amid global economic uncertainties. As such, it was keenly awaited by various stakeholders, including businesses, investors, and the common man, hoping for measures to boost growth, alleviate inflation, and address key social issues.
Key Pillars of Budget 2024:
Sitharaman’s budget speech highlighted five key pillars:
- Inclusive Development: Focusing on empowering vulnerable sections of society through targeted schemes like PM Garib Kalyan Yojana and increased allocation for healthcare and education.
- Financing the Future: Prioritizing infrastructure development through increased capital expenditure and public-private partnerships.
- Reaching the Last Mile: Emphasizing digitalization and technology adoption across sectors to improve governance and service delivery.
- Unleashing the Potential: Promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and green initiatives to drive sustainable economic growth.
- Fiscal Consolidation: Balancing growth aspirations with fiscal prudence by aiming for a gradual reduction in the fiscal deficit.
Major Announcements and Allocations:
- Capital expenditure increased by 35.4% to ₹10 lakh crore: This significant boost aims to accelerate infrastructure development in key sectors like railways, roads, and urban transportation.
- National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) receives ₹7.5 lakh crore: Continued focus on the NIP to bridge India’s infrastructure gap and create jobs.
- Dedicated freight corridors to receive ₹1.7 lakh crore: Prioritizing efficiency and decongestion in the logistics sector.
Agriculture and Rural Development:
- Agriculture credit target raised to ₹20 lakh crore: Supporting farmers with access to credit for agricultural activities and allied sectors.
- Focus on promoting natural farming and sustainable practices: Encouraging farmers to adopt eco-friendly methods to improve soil health and productivity.
- Increased allocation for rural development schemes: Aiming to improve rural infrastructure, create jobs, and uplift rural livelihoods.
- PM Garib Kalyan Yojana extended with an allocation of ₹80,000 crore: Providing essential support to vulnerable sections of society.
- Increased allocation for health and education: Addressing critical areas of healthcare access, affordability, and quality education for all.
- Focus on women empowerment and skilling: Promoting women’s participation in the workforce through various schemes and initiatives.
- No major changes in income tax slabs or rates: Maintaining stability for individual taxpayers.
- Focus on simplifying tax compliance: Introducing measures to ease tax filing processes and reduce tax-related litigation.
- Incentives for startups and new businesses: Encouraging entrepreneurship through tax breaks and other support mechanisms.
Other Key Highlights:
- Green push with increased allocation for renewable energy and sustainable initiatives.
- Focus on digitalization with investments in digital infrastructure and e-governance.
- Emphasis on boosting domestic manufacturing through the “Make in India” initiative.
Reactions and Analysis:
Budget 2024 has received mixed reactions from various stakeholders. Some experts lauded the government’s focus on infrastructure, social welfare, and digitalization, while others expressed concerns about the lack of significant tax reforms and potential inflationary pressures. The success of the budget will ultimately depend on its implementation and its ability to achieve the stated objectives.
Overall, Budget 2024 presents a balanced approach, focusing on inclusive growth, infrastructure development, and social welfare. While some key areas like healthcare and education received increased allocations, it remains to be seen how effectively the budget can address the challenges of job creation, inflation control, and sustainable economic development.