Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced various measures in her third Budget for the financial year 2021-’22 to revive the economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic. As expected, the health sector was given the attention it deserved. Most of her Budget speech was focused on the Centre’s Atmanirbhar Bharat vision to make India self-reliant.
Here are the key takeaways from the Budget:
- Health sector: Allocation to the healthcare sector jumped 137% to Rs 2,23,846 crore as compared to last year’s Rs 94,452 crore. Out of this, Rs 35,000 crore has been allocated for developing coronavirus vaccines.
- Expenditure Budget: The capital expenditure also saw a jump of about 34% to Rs 5.54 lakh crore in comparision to the revised estimate of Rs 4.12 lakh crore in 2020-’21 financial year.
- Taxation: While Sitharaman did not provide any tax relief for the general public, who had suffered because of the coronavirus pandemic, she announced that citizens above the age of 75 will be exempted from filing income tax returns. Under the proposal, senior citizens who depend only on pension will no longer have to file I-T returns.
- Disinvestment: The Centre announced that two Public Sector Undertaking banks and one general insurance firm will be privatised this year. Without announcing the names of the institutions concerned, Sitharaman said that idle assets will not contribute to “Atmanirbhar Bharat” or self-reliant India.
- Banks recapitalistion: The government allocated Rs 20,000 crore for recapitalisation of public sector banks.
- Infrastructure: Sitharaman announced special infrastructure projects for election-bound states of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Various opposition leaders have criticised the move.
- National Infrastructure Pipeline: Sithraman expanded the National Infrastructure Pipeline to cover 7,400 projects by 2025. She also announced the setting up of a development finance institution, which has been named the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development.
- Foreign Direct Investment: The government has proposed raising of Foreign Direct Investment limit in insurance sector from 49% to 74%.
- Agriculture credit: The government allocated Rs 16.50 lakh crore for agriculture-related credit schemes. Sitharaman also assured that the procurement of produce by the government under the Minimum Support Price will continue at a steady pace.
- Fiscal deficit: The fiscal deficit has been pegged at 9.5% of the Gross Domestic Product for the current financial year. For the financial year of 2021-’22, the central government estimated a fiscal deficit of 6.8% of the GDP, Sitharaman said while presenting the Budget.