Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Interim Budget 2024 in the Lok Sabha today, highlighting the Modi government’s achievements in building an “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India). She underscored the government’s motto of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas” in nation-building, focusing on poverty alleviation, housing, green energy and entrepreneurial Mudra loans to “Garib Kalyan” Yojanas (social welfare schemes). Let’s understand the Interim Budget 2024 Highlights: From Income Tax, Ayushman Bharat To PM-Awas Yojana—All You Need To Know.
Sitharaman said the “Trinity of demography, democracy and diversity, backed by ‘Sabka Prayas’ (everyone’s efforts), has the potential to fulfil aspirations of every Indian”.
She introduced a new acronym for GDP as, “Governance, Development and Performance,” highlighting the government’s successful projects and programmes over the past 10 years that helped chart a new growth trajectory for India. She also announced rooftop “solarisation” (solar energy) that will provide 300 units of free electricity to one crore households monthly.
All accredited social health activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers will be covered under the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) without additional budget allocation. “Healthcare coverage under Ayushman Bharat to be extended to all ASHA and Anganwadi workers and helpers,” the minister said, adding that a committee will be set up for medical colleges for healthcare coverage under Ayushman Bharat.
PM Awas Yojana, set with the objective of “Housing For All”, is close to its goal of 3 crore houses in rural areas. However, two more crore houses will be built within the next five years. The new target is set as demand for new homes increases with population growth. The budget also announced that there would be a new scheme for middle-class families residing in chawls, slums, rented houses, and unauthorised colonies. The budget’s emphasis on rented homes and slums indicates a targeted approach to uplift the underprivileged and address the housing crisis in these vulnerable communities. Sitharaman said the scheme will empower women with sole or joint ownership of the houses.
Personal Tax Policy For Seniors
Sitharaman emphasised tax reliefs provided to salaried individuals in continuance with the previous budget. She pointed to tax exemptions for income up to Rs 7 lakh in the new tax regime. Besides, the decision to write off disputed tax demands up to Rs 25,000 is expected to benefit many senior citizens impacted by the unresolved tax issues raised by the Income-tax Department.
Also Read: Interim Budget 2024: What Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Said About Personal Tax?
“In line with our government’s vision to improve ease of living and ease of doing business, I wish to improve taxpayer services. There are a large number of petty, non-verified, non-reconciled, or disputed direct tax demands, many of them dating as far back as the year 1962, which continue to remain on the books, causing anxiety to honest taxpayers and hindering refunds of subsequent years”, she said.
She also announced the Lakhpati Didi Yojana, which will work for women’s economic empowerment and teach them skills necessary to earn a livelihood, such as weaving, tailoring, plumbing, etc. She said the government has set a target of empowering three crore women. This target will work towards women’s economic empowerment and as a catalyst for fostering confidence in women. PM Mudra Yojana has sanctioned 43 crore loans totalling Rs 22.5 lakh crore for youth entrepreneurs, of which 30 crore loans went to women, she said.
She said the budget will foster inclusive growth, providing opportunities for women, the middle class, youth, senior citizens and the underprivileged through schemes such as Lakhpati Didi, AB-PMJAY, PM-AWAS Yojana and Tax incentives.
Commenting on the budget, Manish Maryada, co-founder and CEO of Fello, an online investment portal, said: “In a pivotal interim budget announcement, the Finance Minister unveiled key measures for economic rejuvenation. Highlighting a remarkable 50 per cent surge in average real income, Sitharaman introduced a groundbreaking Rs 1 lakh crore corpus, facilitated by a 50-year interest-free loan, to provide long-term, low-interest financing. The vision is for India to achieve ‘Viksit Bharat’ status by 2047.”
Maryada added, “Fiscal prudence was also emphasised, with a target to reduce the fiscal deficit below 4.5 per cent by 2025-26, despite the current deficit at 5.8 per cent of GDP. Tax certainty is assured through extending benefits until March 31, 2025, signalling the government’s commitment to sustained economic growth.”