India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds up a folder with the Government of India's logo as she leaves her office to present the federal budget in the parliament, in New Delhi, India. Reuters
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that the focus of the Union Budget 2023-24 is on women empowerment, green growth and artisans as well as the tourism sector. Addressing the post-budget press conference, she said that the Budget gives a lot of scope to capital investment. At the same time, it also focusses on the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as they are the engine of growth, she added.
Accompanied by her entire team of officials from the Finance Ministry including Finance Secretary T.V. Somanathan and Chief Economic Adviser V Anantha Nageswaran, the Finance Minister said that the budget sustains capital investment and also gives a push to the private sector. The budget also gives tax reliefs to individuals and middle class. She also said that the new taxation regime, under which no tax would be levied for those having income of up to Rs7 lakh per annum, will now attract more people compared to the old tax regime.
The minister said that the government is not compelling anybody to join the new tax regime. “Those who want to remain in the old regime can still remain there. But the new scheme is attractive because it gives a greater rebate. It also provides for simplified and smaller slabs, smaller lower rates of taxation and also slabs which are nicely broken down,” she said.
“This country has been waiting for direct taxation to be simplified. Therefore the new taxation regime that we brought in for direct taxation two, three years ago has now got greater incentives and greater attraction so that people can unhesitatingly move from the old to the new,” she added. Focussing on the agriculture sector, Sitharaman said that there is a lot of increase in agriculture credit availability and around Rs 20 lakh are being made available for agriculture credit. The government has decided to release wheat into the market due to which the price of wheat will come down. Before the budget, we had already taken action to ease wheat prices, she said.
On price rise, the Finance Minister said that both retail and wholesale price index-based inflation have come down as the government has taken desired steps. Sitharaman further said that the government is looking at a futuristic fintech sector, where people will be trained through Industrial Revolution 4.0.
“We are trying to unleash digital economy in various walks of life,” she said.
“The commitment of 4.5 per cent fiscal deficit was reiterated in this budget, which shows that we believe we have the means and the ability to reach that target by 2025-26,” Somanathan said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday described the Union Budget as the “first Budget of Amrit Kaal” (the 25-year period from 2022 till 2047, when the country will celebrate 100 years of Independence), which would lay a strong foundation for a developed India.
“The first Budget of Amrit Kaal will build a strong foundation for building a developed India. It gives priority to the deprived. This budget will fulfil the dreams of an aspirational society including poor people, middle-class people, and farmers. I congratulate Nirmala Sitharaman and her team for this historic Budget,” he said in a televised address after the Union Budget was presented.
Modi described the middle-class as a big force and said that the government has made many decisions to empower them. Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said that this first budget in Amrit Kaal is envisioning a prosperous and inclusive India in which the fruits of development will reach all sections and citizens, especially our youth, women, farmers, OBCs, SCs, and STs.
He said driving the nation to Atmanirbharta, this budget will equip India with new-age infrastructure, decline in imports and strengthen our energy sector with a futuristic approach.
Gadkari said Inclusive Development, Reaching the Last Mile, Infrastructure and Investment, Unleashing the Potential, Green Growth, Youth Power, and Finance Sector; this budget adopts the above 7 priorities which complement each other and act as a Sapt Rishi. He said “Janbhagidari” through “sabka saath, sabka prayaas” is essential; our vision for the Amrit Kaal includes a tech-driven & knowledge-based economy, with strong public finances and a robust financial sector.
Gadkari said the government’s efforts since 2014 have ensured a better quality of life for all citizens. The per capita income has doubled to 1.97 lakh rupees and the Indian economy has moved to become the 5th largest from the 10th in the last 9 years. The Minister said digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture will be built as open source, open standard, inter-operable public goods which will enable inclusive farmer-centric solutions, and support for agri-industry as well as start-ups. Gadkari said he would like to thank Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for proposing Rs20,700 crore investment in the renewable energy sector, Rs19,700 crore for the National Green Hydrogen Mission, and enforcing the provisions for a Vehicle Scrappage Policy for a sustainable and energy-efficient future.
Indo-Asian News Service