Union Budget 2023-24: Here are the key highlights
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 on Wednesday. This is the 11th annual budget of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government, and the fifth for Sitharaman as Finance Minister. The new budget includes a few significant decisions amid a series of economic challenges, especially the steep inflation. Here's more on the Budget for 2023.
Key announcements by Sitharaman
For the fiscal year (FY) 2023, growth has been estimated at 7%. Sitharaman also announced spending Rs. 2,200 crore for the horticulture sector. The agricultural credit target has also been increased to Rs. 20 lakh crore. She also proposed a capital expenditure of Rs. 10 lakh crore for the next FY. The outlay for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna will be Rs. 79,000 crore.
Government to bear Rs. 2 lakh crore under foodgrain scheme
According to the finance minister, the entire expenditure of about Rs. 2 lakh crore under PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will be borne by the central government under new budget outlays. She said the free food grain scheme has already been implemented in the country. Sitharaman added that the scheme would be a top priority for the government next year as well.
Big boost to the investment sector
Sitharaman said the capital investment outlay would be increased by 33% to Rs. 10 lakh crore (3.3% of GDP). The provision for interest-free 50-year loans to state governments had been extended for another year. She said this would be done with an increased budget of Rs. 1.3 lakh crore to encourage infrastructure investment and to reward complementary policy initiatives.
Railway outlay increased nine times since 2013-14
Railway outlay is now at Rs. 2.40 lakh crore, as per the finance minister. She announced that the total outlay for the Indian Railway budget will be Rs 2.40 lakh crore, which is nine times more than the total outlay in 2013-14.
Green energy comes under priority sector
Sitharaman said the government will focus on green energy in the next fiscal year. She said green hydrogen, clean energy storage, and transmission are the key drivers of the government's "Green Growth" priority sector. She announced the inter-state transmission system of 13 GW of renewable energy from Ladakh with an investment of Rs. 20,700 crore including Central support of Rs. 8,300 crore.
ICMR labs, 157 new nursing colleges announced
According to Sitharaman, the country would get 157 new nursing colleges and additional Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) labs to get more trained nurses as well as boost research and innovation. She said a mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047 would be launched soon. It will include raising awareness and universal screening of seven crore individuals in afflicted areas, she noted.
Major relief under new income tax regime
The government announced significant changes in the new tax regime and extended rebates on income up to Rs. 7 lakhs. The tax slabs have been made more flexible under the new tax regime. The new tax rates are 0-Rs. 3 lakh (nil), Rs. 3-6. lakh (5%), Rs. 6-9 lakh (10%), Rs. 9-12 lakh (15%), Rs. 12-15 lakh (20%) and above 15 lakh (30%).
Fiscal deficit cut significantly
The fiscal deficit target for FY24 has been cut from 6.4% of GDP to 5.9%. "I reiterate my intention to bring the fiscal deficit below 4.5 percent of GDP by 2025-26," the finance minister said.