The third budget of Nirmala Sitharaman as the Finance Minister and the eighth one of the Modi government is now tabled in the Parliament amid overwhelming expectations and unprecedented challenges from fixing the broken economy, revamping the healthcare and infrastructure, to enhancing the defense system to counter the adversaries. In what has become the first paperless budget in India, Nirmala Sitharaman has tabled the digital financial blueprint on Monday in the Lok Sabha.
Drawing unprecedented attention, the Union Budget has come up with the mixtures of flaws, disappointments, and a strong signal that Modi's self-reliant India would be captained by the private sectors. Let's take a look into the fund allocations, highlights, and key points of the Budget that you should know.
- With COVID-19 being an adverse factor troubling the nation, Nirmala Sitharaman has allocated Rs 2.71 lakh crore for COVID-19 support and this is Rs 35,000 crore more than the last budget.
- The government has also allocated Rs 35,000 crore for the COVID-19 vaccines. Addressing the health crisis, the Finance Minister has announced Aatmanirbhar Health Yojana with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore over six years to enhance the health corridors and mechanisms.
- The government has allocated Rs 2,34,846 crore for health care for FY 2021-22 and Rs 20,000 crore for the infrastructure for the fiscal year 2021-22.
- Nirmala Sitharaman has allotted Rs 1.10 lakh crore for Railways for FY 2021-22 and Rs 3.05 lakh crore have been set aside for the power sector. The government had also allocated Rs 1.42 lakh crore for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
- In what has become one of the biggest allocations, the government has allocated Rs 4.78 lakh crores for the Defense and the total amount includes capital expenditure worth Rs 1.35 lakh crore. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has thanked Prime Minister Modi and Nirmala Sitharaman for increasing the defense budget.
- The government has increased the capital expenditure from Rs 4.39 lakh crore last year to Rs 5.54 lakh crore for FY 2021-22. However, the Union Budget didn't bring the change for the income tax slabs and the budget didn't carry any concrete investments towards generating the employment opportunities.
On the front of pouring relaxations, Nirmala Sitharaman had unveiled a major relaxation to the senior citizens and said that the senior citizens who are more than 75 years living with a pension as the only option for income need not have to file income tax returns. The Finance Minister said, "I offer them a pranam, and as India completes 75 years of Independence, and move to reduce their compliance burden". The Finance Minister has also extended tax holiday to startups and affordable housing projects by one year.
The Finance Minister said that the government has set a disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore for 2021-22. This is lower than Rs 2.1 lakh crore in 2020-21. Nirmala Sitharaman said that NITI Aayog would be asked to work on the next list of central public sector companies for disinvestment. Two Public Sector Banks and one general insurance company to be divested.
Along with these, the companies like Air India, Shipping Corporation, Container Corp, Bharat Petroleum, Pawan Hans, and Concor will be disinvested in 2021-22, and it has been expected that the vacuum will be filled by the private players.
While LIC would be introduced for the Initial Public Offering (IPO), the government has increased FDI into Insurance to 74% from 49%. Through the budget, the government has carpeted the participation of the private sector in important sectors like airports, highways, and ports. The Finance Minister said that there has been a significant increase in the procurement of rice and wheat and money paid to farmers had jumped remarkably took over. She said that the amount paid to wheat farmers has gone up by more than 121% while the amount disbursed to rice farmers has gone up by a massive 170.23% during his time.
She said, "Our government is committed to the welfare of farmers. The MSP regime has undergone a change to assure price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities". When Nirmala Sitharaman had claimed that the center is committed to the welfare of farmers and announced that the private players invited to invest in the Highways and ports, the members of the opposition parties in Lok Sabha had begun up roaring against the Center of upholding privatization in the crucial areas that are supposed to be with the government.