Budget 2023-24

The fifth budget in a row for FM, the last full budget before the 2024 elections and keeping in view nine state elections this year, the budget has something for everyone. On the one hand tax rebate has been increased from three lahks to seven lahks and a reduction in the rate of taxes for all other slabs. By reducing taxes under the new regime, the government has put more money in the pockets of almost ninety per cent of taxpayers, which will lead to an increase in consumption, which in turn will increase GST collection for the exchequer. In the new regime, taxes on LIC premiums, PF, medical policy, and standard deduction are also extended. Small savings schemes get more interest and pensioners also get relief in addition to leave encashment limit increased manifold.
This “Amrit Kaal Budget’ focuses on the growth of the Indian economy at 7%, the highest among major economies, two lakh crore for rural free food grains, priority to green growth to reduce carbon intensity; and the agriculture sector with an open source digital infrastructure for relevant information for crop planning, farm inputs, insurance, and support for agro-based industries and start-ups. Hefty increase in agri-credit target, the main focus on increasing rural income with innovative ways in the field of animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries opening new avenues for youth under self-employment. The impetus to increase cotton crop productivity, a centre of excellence for millets to push millet cultivation as a prime agriculture product, and promotion to natural farming with organic fertilisers.
The big jump of thirty-three per cent in Capex target, two lakh forty thousand crores for railways, nine times more than as compared to 2014. The defence budget touches six lakh crores, a hike of almost thirteen per cent, with a focus on new weapons and indigenization. Pension and salaries are the major head. The budget deficit has been a cause for worry, so a projection of 5.9 per cent has been set against last year’s figure of 6.4 per cent.
More focus on housing for the poor with an increase of sixty-six per cent in PM Awas Yojana. Giving more importance to women, the new Mahila Samman Bachat Scheme offers an increase in the rate of interest for small deposits for women, encouraging deposits for women of the family to eventually make them financially secure. Focus on MSME and direct benefit transfer to forty-seven lakh youth in three years.
Gold and silver become costly, and so will imported rubber. Customs duty on seeds for lab-made diamonds was reduced to give impetus to the diamond industry. Revision of duty on cigarettes to support the National Calamity Contingency.
Special focus on energy, battery energy storage systems, and transmission systems to evacuate 13 GW of energy from Ladakh. Keeping in view the targeted manufacturing hub for mobile phones, customs duty on camera lenses and Li-ion cells for batteries, and machinery for their manufacturing. More focus on electric vehicles, reduction in the custom duty of components and machinery for Li-Ion automotive batteries. Giving a flip to ethanol-blend petrol, denatured ethyl alcohol has been exempted from basic customs duty.
Keeping in mind the G-20 Presidency, special schemes to promote tourism in every state and UT have been proposed. There are plans to have a Unity Mall in every state capital to showcase products from one product for each district. Fifty cities have to be developed as destination cities, to be promoted as a ‘complete package’. Fifty new airports and helipads to target new tourism destinations. Dekho Apna Desh, Vibrant Village, theme-based tourist circuits, the ‘Swadesh Darshan Scheme’ and many more will give a much-needed flip to domestic tourism, an opportunity to create lakhs of jobs, and an opportunity to earn precious foreign exchange.
Unprecedented construction of roads, bridges, and flyovers has been the USP of the government since 2014, and in this budget too, transport infrastructure will get a major boost with hundreds more projects. Thirty-three per cent increase in capital outlay to focus on roads, energy and other infra projects to push the economy. Separate funds to develop tier-1 and tier-2 cities on modern lines.
From Jammu and Kashmir’s perspective, huge potential to get benefit from the focus on tourism, a major game changer is possible if all offered projections are lapped up and implemented. Another much more important sector is agriculture with stagnated income for the last few years, a golden opportunity to perform. From Ladakh’s perspective, tourism and green energy are major focus areas, generating 13 GW of green solar power and transmitting it to the rest of the world will be the highlight of this financial year.
A mixed bag of reactions, even Sensex going flat, but the aim is to consolidate base for India @100, a tough ropewalk in a pre-election year keeping a check on fiscal prudence and fulfilling public expectations. GoI’s focus is on its support base of the middle class, women, and youth. Given crumbling economies worldwide, India has been doing exceptionally well, well appreciated by World Bank, IMF and all leading analytic MNCs. An erudite budget to remember for a long time, free doling of ‘Revdis’ has been avoided and with this futuristic budget, the ascension of India as ‘Vishaw Guru’ is not far away.