Transformative Financial Budget: Prosperity Ahead

Navigating Toward Prosperity - A Visionary Interim Budget Paving the Way for Viksit Bharat's Development

The Financial Budget articulates a transformative agenda, prioritizing comprehensive development, fostering economic growth, and addressing key challenges. Additionally, noteworthy initiatives include promoting tourism, supporting state-level reforms for ‘Viksit Bharat,’ and sustaining fiscal discipline. Consequently, this budget exemplifies the government’s commitment to prosperity, innovation, and a developed India.

Before delving into the financial budget of 2024-25, let’s further discuss…

Comprehensive development of tourist centres

  1. G20 meetings displayed India’s diversity and economic prowess, attracting business and conference tourism. The expanding middle class, keen on exploration, creates opportunities, especially in spiritual tourism, promoting local entrepreneurship.
  2. Encouraging states to comprehensively develop iconic tourist centers and market them globally is a key focus. Establishing a rating framework for centers based on quality, backed by interest-free state loans.
  3. Initiating island projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and employment.

Promoting Investments

During 2014-23, India experienced a golden era marked by USD 596B FDI, doubling that of 2005-14. Furthermore, active bilateral investment treaty negotiations prioritize India’s development first. In the upcoming financial budget, the government continues its focus on fostering a conducive environment for foreign investments and sustaining economic growth.

Reforms in the States for ‘Viksit Bharat’

To achieve the vision of a ‘Viksit Bharat’ (Developed India), growth-enabling reforms at the state level are imperative. Consequently, proposing Rs 75,000 crore as 50-year interest-free loans to states for milestone-linked reforms is essential. This initiative aims to foster good governance practices and bolster development, ensuring sustainable progress for the nation.

Societal Changes

Setting up a committee to address challenges of rapid population growth for ‘Developed India’ (Viksit Bharat). Furthermore, this committee will play a crucial role in shaping policies and strategies to address these challenges effectively.

Amrit Kaal as Kartavya Kaal

  1. Fortifying the economy, fulfilling aspirations, and embracing national development with new inspirations, as opportunities abound in the 75th year of our Republic.
  2. Furthermore, this is our ‘Kartavya Kaal.’
  3. The government overcame every challenge from the pre-2014 era through astute economic management and governance. Country on path to sustained high growth with right policies. In July’s full budget, detailed roadmap for ‘Viksit Bharat’ pursuit will be presented.

Revised Estimates 2023-24

  1. The Revised Estimate for total receipts, excluding borrowings, is ₹27.56 lakh crore, with tax receipts amounting to ₹23.24 lakh crore. The revised projection for total expenditure amounts to ₹44.90 lakh crore.
  2. Revenue receipts projected at ₹30.03 lakh crore surpass Budget Estimate, signaling robust economic growth and formalization.
  3. Revised fiscal deficit estimate: 5.8% of GDP, an improvement despite moderated nominal growth.

Budget Estimates 2024-25

  1. As we transition to 2024-25, the estimated total receipts, excluding borrowings, and total expenditure are ₹30.80 lakh crore. The anticipated tax receipts stand at ₹26.02 lakh crore.
  2. Continuing the fifty-year interest-free loan scheme for capital expenditure to states, this year’s total outlay is ₹1.3 lakh crore.
  3. Maintaining our commitment to fiscal consolidation, we aim to reduce the fiscal deficit to below 4.5% by 2025-26. The estimated fiscal deficit in 2024-25 is 5.1% of GDP, staying true to this path.
  4. In 2024-25, we estimate gross and net market borrowings through dated securities at ₹14.13 and ₹11.75 lakh crore, respectively.
  5. Both figures are lower than those in 2023-24. With private investments gaining traction, reduced central government borrowings will enhance credit availability for the private sector

Vote on Account

I will seek ‘vote on account’ approval from the Parliament through the Appropriation Bill for a portion of the financial year 2024-25. Now, let’s transition to Part B.

Part B

Nirmala Sitharaman presented some proposals to the Hon’ble Speaker.

Direct Taxes

Over the last decade, direct tax collections have more than tripled, and return filers have increased by 2.4 times. I assure taxpayers that we have judiciously utilized their contributions for the country’s development and the welfare of its people.

The Government has reduced and rationalized tax rates. In the financial budget, taxpayers with income up to ₹7 lakh (previously ₹2.2 lakh in 2013-14) now have no tax liability under the new scheme. The threshold for presumptive taxation for retail businesses has been raised from ₹2 crore to ₹3 crore, and for professionals, it increased from ₹50 lakh to ₹75 lakh. Furthermore, the corporate tax rate has been lowered from 30% to 22% for existing domestic companies and to 15% for certain new manufacturing companies, reflecting the commitment to fiscal reforms and economic growth.

In the past five years, our emphasis has been on enhancing taxpayer services. We revolutionized the age-old jurisdiction-based assessment system with Faceless Assessment and Appeal, boosting efficiency, transparency, and accountability. The introduction of updated income tax returns, a new Form 26AS, and prefilling of tax returns has streamlined the filing process. In anticipation of the financial budget, these measures align with our commitment to further improve the taxation landscape, ensuring responsiveness and swift processing, as evidenced by the average processing time for returns reducing from 93 days in 2013-14

Indirect Taxes

Moreover, GST has streamlined India’s fragmented indirect tax regime, easing the compliance burden for trade and industry. Additionally, a survey reveals 94% of industry leaders see the transition to GST as positive, with doubled tax base and monthly GST collection of ₹1.66 lakh crore. States’ SGST revenue shows significant improvement, with a buoyancy ratio of 1.22 compared to the pre-GST period’s 0.72.

Customs procedures have streamlined to facilitate international trade, resulting in significant reductions in import release times at various cargo facilities.

Tax Proposals

In adherence to convention, no alterations to tax rates proposed for direct, indirect taxes, and import duties in the financial budget. However, tax benefits for start-ups, investments by sovereign wealth or pension funds, and specific income exemptions for some IFSC units set to expire on 31.03.2024. To ensure continuity, propose extending this date to 31.03.2025.

To improve taxpayer services and resolve long-standing issues, I declare the withdrawal of outstanding direct tax demands up to ₹25,000 for the fiscal year up to 2009-10 and up to ₹10,000 for the years 2010-11 to 2014-15. Consequently, taxpayers will benefit from reduced financial burdens and streamlined processes.

Economy – Then and Now

In 2014, when our Government assumed office, the colossal task was to repair the economy incrementally and reinstate governance systems. The aim was to inspire hope, attract investments, and secure backing for crucial reforms, all guided by the principle of ‘nation-first.’ Looking ahead to the financial budget, these efforts continue in our commitment to national progress.

Having overcome the challenges of previous years, the economy now thrives on a sustainable growth path, characterized by comprehensive development. Reflecting on the journey from 2014 to the present serves as a valuable lesson from the mismanagement of those years. Moreover, the government will present a White Paper to the House, elucidating its strategic plans and lessons learned.

The Government’s exemplary record in governance, development, performance, effective delivery, and ‘Jan Kalyan’ has earned the trust, confidence, and blessings of the people. Furthermore, with good intentions, true dedication, and hard work, we are poised to achieve the goal of ‘Viksit Bharat’ in the coming years and decades, ensuring sustained progress and prosperity for all.

With this, I present the interim budget to this esteemed House, signifying the culmination of diligent efforts and comprehensive deliberation.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the interim budget establishes a strong economic framework, outlining strategic plans to address challenges and seize opportunities. Committed to good governance, fiscal responsibility, and people-centric policies, the government aims to achieve the vision of ‘Viksit Bharat’ in the years ahead.

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