The Union Budget for the financial year 2024–25 was presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman amidst anticipation and scrutiny. Given that this budget precedes the Lok Sabha elections, it holds significant implications for the country’s economic trajectory and social development.
- Fiscal Deficit Targets: The government aims to maintain fiscal discipline, with the fiscal deficit target set at 5.1% of GDP for FY25, down from 5.8% in FY24. There’s a commitment to further reduce the deficit to below 4.5% of GDP by FY26.
- Tax Slabs: No alterations were made to the existing income tax slabs, providing stability in the tax regime.
Tax Reforms and Direct Tax Relief
- The government has taken a proactive step by withdrawing outstanding direct tax demands, offering relief up to Rs 25,000 for demands up to FY 2009–10 and up to Rs 10,000 for demands between FY 2010–11 and FY 2014–15.
- Tax exemptions for start-ups have been extended until March 31, 2025, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation.
Economic Stimulus and Infrastructure Development
- In a bid to enhance rail and port connectivity, the government announced three significant economic railway corridor programs. These corridors aim to improve logistics efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance passenger train operations.
- The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) is set to receive a boost with the addition of 2 crore more houses, facilitating rural housing development.
- A substantial corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore has been earmarked to foster research and innovation, particularly in emerging technological domains, providing impetus to India’s youth and technology-driven sectors.
Healthcare and Social Welfare
- The government plans to leverage existing hospital infrastructure under various departments to establish more medical colleges, addressing the critical need for healthcare education and infrastructure.
- Initiatives like making triple talaq illegal and enhancing women’s representation in political bodies and housing schemes underscore the government’s commitment to gender equality and social justice.
Environmental Sustainability and Energy Initiatives
- The ambitious rooftop solarization scheme aims to provide 1 crore households with up to 300 units of free electricity per month, aligning with the government’s commitment to renewable energy and sustainability.
- The government’s pledge to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2070 reflects its commitment to environmental stewardship and combating climate change.
Conclusion: Building Towards Viksit Bharat
- The Union Budget 2024–25 reflects a comprehensive approach to economic growth, social justice, and environmental sustainability. Through strategic investments, tax reforms, and social welfare initiatives, the government aims to propel India towards a future characterized by inclusive development and progress for all.
- As the nation moves towards the next full budget post-elections, the vision of’sabka sath, sabka vikas’ remains central to the government’s agenda, shaping India’s journey towards becoming a ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047.