Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Interim Budget, a short-term financial plan, in the Lok Sabha on February 1, 2024. Earlier in the morning, the Union Cabinet met and approved the Budget.
In her Budget speech, she said that the Indian economy has seen a “profound” transformation, and now the government’s focus is on women, youth, the poor, and farmers. “The country progresses when they progress,” she said.
FM Nirmala Sitharaman proposed that no structural changes have been made to direct taxes or indirect taxes, including import duties.
This scheme will help deserving sections of the middle class living in rented houses, slums, chawls, and unauthorised colonies to buy or build their own houses. Two crore more houses will be built in the next five years to meet the requirement arising from an increase in the number of families.
The processing time of tax returns has been reduced from 93 days to 10 days due to digitalisation. This is expected to increase taxpayer confidence and encourage more people to pay their taxes.
Investments made by notified sovereign wealth funds and pension funds in the infrastructure sector by March 31, 2025, will be eligible for exemption. This will boost investments in national projects.
To enhance the safety, convenience and comfort of rail travel FM also announced the conversion of 40,000 normal rail bogies to the premium Vande Bharat. The FM also announced 3 major railway corridors - the port connectivity corridor, the energy, mineral, and cement corridor, and the high traffic density corridor. These corridors will help in decongestion of the current corridors and pave the way for improving the operations of passenger trains.
Women's empowerment and upliftment
Following the success of the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme, which resulted in almost one crore women becoming ‘Lakhpati Didi’, FM has decided to enhance the target from 2 crores to 3 crores. Through this scheme, beneficiaries will be able to receive 1 lakh which would help in uplifting the economic status of rural women.
Free electricity to 1 crore households - the green way
With its roof top solarisation initiative the government aims to provide 300 units of electricity free to 1 crore households. According to the FM this will help houses save up to Rs.18000 of electricity and the surplus could be sold to distribution companies.
EV ecosystem to be strengthened, expanded
The interim budget 2024 also laid emphasis on growing the EV ecosystem by supporting manufacturing and charging infrastructure. This will help in overcoming range anxiety and promoting EVs as a sustainable mode of transport.
The interim budget focuses on the government’s objective of making India a $5 trillion economy and a developed nation by 2047. With newer and apt policies and schemes, India will soon be on its way to achieving it.