Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2023 in Parliament on Wednesday, amidst a challenging global economic landscape and rising inflation. The budget lays the foundation for India’s vision for the Amrit Kaal, a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy, with strong public finances and a robust financial sector.
The Indian economy is on the right track, according to the finance minister, and is headed towards a bright future. The government’s focus on wide-ranging reforms and sound policies helped it perform well despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
The finance minister highlighted seven priorities that will guide the Union Budget 2023: inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing potential, green growth, youth power, and financial sector.
Free Food Grain Scheme
Under PM Gaarib Kalyan Anna Yojana, the government will supply free food grains to priority households for the next year, with an expenditure of Rs 2 lakh crore to be borne by the government.
Agriculture Accelerator Fund
The finance minister announced an agriculture accelerator fund to transform the sector and increase the agricultural credit target to Rs 20 lakh crore, with a focus on animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries. A new sub-scheme with a targeted investment of Rs 6,000 crore will also be launched to aid the activities of fishermen, fish vendors, and MSMSEs.
Health, Education, and Skilling
The budget also focuses on the health, education, and skilling sectors, with the establishment of 157 new nursing colleges in co-location with existing medical colleges and a new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals. A National Digital Library for children and adolescents will also be set up.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
The outlay for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, aimed at providing affordable housing for the urban poor, is being enhanced by 66% to over Rs 79,000 crore.
Capital Investment Outlay
The capital investment outlay is being increased by 33% to Rs 10 lakh crore, representing 3.3% of the GDP. The finance minister also extended the provision for 50-year interest-free loans to state governments for another year, with an enhanced outlay of Rs 1.3 lakh crore, to spur investment in infrastructure.
The total outlay for the Indian Railway budget is Rs 2.40 lakh crore, nine times more than the total outlay in 2013-14.
PAN as Common Identifier
The PAN will be used as a common identifier for all digital systems of specified government agencies for business establishments.
Fiscal Deficit Target
The fiscal deficit target for FY24 has been reduced to 5.9% of the GDP, compared to 6.4% for FY23, with the intention of bringing it below 4.5% of GDP by 2025-26.
Customs Duty Changes
Basic customs duty rates on goods other than textiles and agriculture are being reduced from 21% to 13%, with minor changes to customs duties, cesses, and surcharges on some items including toys, bicycles, and automobiles. The customs duty on cigarettes has gone up.
Income Tax Regime
The finance minister announced big changes to the new income tax regime, with the option to choose between the old tax regime and the new tax regime. The new regime offers lower tax rates and fewer exemptions, with a standard deduction of Rs 40,000.
In conclusion, the Union Budget 2023 is focused on inclusive development and economic growth.