Kerala Kaumudi Online
Wednesday, 17 April 2024 6.08 AM IST

Central budget that is not a burden


It is a situation where you have to read the budget book to know and understand the details of the allocation for many major departments. Strangely, the speech did not include details about the allocation for national defense. No pointers were there about the railway projects that were of interest to everyone.


People having high hopes for the budget of the second Modi government is quite natural. Although Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman could not fully fulfill the expectations, it is a big relief that there is nothing in the budget that makes the life of a common man more difficult. As in her previous budgets, the finance minister is emphasizing on the proposals for the growth of the country and improving the lives of the people. She prefaced by saying that the budget for the financial year 2023-24 is built on the foundation of previous budgets.

The Finance Minister, who is proud of the economic growth achieved by the country in the current year, is optimistic that the next year's growth will also reach seven percent. Adequate proposals to achieve the target can be found throughout the budget speech. She was not willing to go into the details of anything other than the outline. It was announced that the details will be declared later. As in the last few years, the railway budget was also a part of the general budget. But no details were mentioned beyond the information that an allocation of Rs 2.40 lakh crore has been earmarked for the railways. Therefore, there is no way to know the status of the new railway development projects that Kerala was waiting for. MPs and the rest are waiting for them to come out as a separate budget document. It was a long wait to know how much share the state is getting in the central budget and how much the projects and institutions will be getting.

In her bid to make India a hunger-free country, Finance Minister has tried to prioritize social security schemes as usual. Allocations to agro-industrial and infrastructure sectors have been substantially increased with this objective in mind. Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana scheme aimed at poverty alleviation will continue for one more year. 2 lakh crore rupees will be borne by the Centre for this. This year, 20 lakh crores have been earmarked for agricultural loans. Many new projects will be implemented in the agricultural sector including organic farming and start-ups. Ten lakh crores are being spent on infrastructure development projects. All states will benefit from this. Employment opportunities will also increase significantly. There will be an increase of 33 percent in capital investment and 66 percent in projects for housing the poor. 79,000 crores have been earmarked for houses under PM Awas Yojana.

New schemes have been announced for the upliftment of youth and women. 47 lakh youth will be given stipends for vocational training and training centers will also be started. A special investment scheme will be launched for women. You can invest up to two lakh rupees in this scheme at an interest rate of 7.5%. If desired, the deposit can be withdrawn before maturity as well. It has to be seen how attractive finance minister's new investment scheme for women will be as banks are offering higher interest rates on deposits.

Finance minister was not ready for any major changes in the income tax structure that the middle class was waiting for. Those who opted for the new tax structure will get minor benefits. Those in this category will benefit from the raise of the tax deduction limit to Rs 7 lakh and those in the old slab will benefit from the raise to Rs 3 lakh from Rs 2.5 lakh. There has also been a significant reduction in the surcharge on the higher slabs. It is an achievement that the limit of ₹3 lacks for tax exemption on leave encashment on government salaried employees has been changed to 25 lakhs.

The measure to reduce the import duty of gold and control smuggling was expected. Not only did that not happen, but there is a decision to increase the prices of gold, silver, and diamonds. Mobile phones, TVs, and batteries for vehicles may get cheaper. At the same time, it is indicated that the price of textiles will increase. It is a relief to the common man that there is no decision to increase the prices of other products as the GST system is in place.

The budget also has plans for the growth of tourism sector, which provides employment to many people. To promote domestic tourism, a new scheme 'Dekho Apna Desh' (See Our Country)will be implemented. The aim is to develop tourism sector in such a way that it reaches even the borders.

Schemes will be implemented for new small and micro industries. 9,000 crores have been set aside to provide loan guarantees for small businesses. Health and education sectors were also given good consideration. States will be given assistance in withdrawing polluting vehicles. 10,000 crore has been earmarked for urban development projects. There are also plans to open fifteen airports and 137 nursing colleges in the country. Recruitment of 38,800 teachers in Kendriya Vidyalayas will benefit the youth. 19,700 crores for Green Hydrogen Mission and 75,000 crores for the transport sector are new steps in the development path.

The finance minister's announcement to extend the 50-year interest-free loan to the state governments for one more year will provide relief to the states that are in financial crisis.

The announcement that the Center will bear the cost of installing sewer cleaning machinery in all cities of the country is also welcomed. The aim is to end the practice of sending poor laborers to clean manholes. Instead of manholes, machine holes will be introduced in the sewage project. It has been decided to issue municipal bonds to raise funds for urban development. There is also a plan to fully digitize the activities of cooperative societies. 2,516 crore has been earmarked for this.

After the budget speech, a complaint was raised that many things that needed to be known were hidden. The Finance Minister's budget speech was brief. It is a situation where you have to read the budget book to know and understand the details of the allocation for many major departments. Strangely, the speech did not include details about the allocation for national defense. No pointers were there about the railway projects that were of interest to everyone. It was a special moment as the budget presentation was completed in a calm atmosphere apart from the jubilation on the administrative benches along with the Finance Minister's announcements.

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