On the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, the Indian economy has received global recognition for its strong performance. The country’s economic growth is projected at 7%, a significant achievement given the current economic climate. Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented this information during the 2023-24 Union Budget speech in Parliament, emphasizing that despite any challenges, the Indian economy is poised for a bright future.
A Vision for an Empowered and Inclusive Amrit Kaal Economy
The Finance Minister envisions Amrit Kaal as a tech-driven, knowledge-based economy with strong public finances and a robust financial sector. The plan for this involves collective efforts through “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”. The economic agenda has three objectives: offering opportunities for citizens, driving growth and jobs, and maintaining macroeconomic stability. Four transformative opportunities have been identified to support these goals and propel India towards India@100.
- Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment: The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission has achieved significant success in empowering rural women by forming 81 lakh Self Help Groups. The government aims to take these efforts further by enabling the formation of large producer enterprises or collectives, consisting of several thousand members, managed professionally. This initiative aims to promote the next stage of economic empowerment for these groups
- Green growth: The Finance Minister talked about how important it is to have a green economy. India is doing many things to become greener, like using clean energy, growing crops in a way that’s good for the environment, having green buildings and using clean transportation. All these efforts help lower the amount of harmful pollution in the air and provide many job opportunities. The goal is to have a strong and healthy economy that also helps protect the planet.
- PM Vishwakarma Kaushal Samman (PM VIKAS): The Prime Minister Vishwakarma Kaushal Samman (PM VIKAS) recognizes and honors the traditional artisans and craftspeople of India, known as Vishwakarma, who have been responsible for bringing international recognition to the country for centuries. Their art and handicraft embody the essence of self-reliant India.
- Tourism: The Finance Minister highlighted the vast potential of the tourism industry in India, recognizing it as a major source of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, especially for the youth. She emphasized the need to actively promote the country as a tourist destination, by collaborating with states, leveraging government programs, and fostering public-private partnerships. By doing so, India will be able to tap into its vast tourism potential and further boost its economy.
Priorities of Union Budget 2023-2024
Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has identified seven core priorities that work in harmony to drive the country forward, acting as the guiding stars, or “Saptarishi”. These priorities are as follows:
- Infrastructure and Investment
- Inclusive Development
- Green Growth
- Empowering Youth
- Strengthening the Financial Sector
- Last Mile Connectivity
- Unleashing Potential
Also Read: New Income Tax Slab Rates for FY 2023-24
Priority 1: Inclusive development
The government believes in bringing everyone together for the benefit of all. This belief has led to inclusive development, specifically for farmers, women, youth, OBCs, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, people with disabilities, and the economically weaker sections. The government also places a special emphasis on helping the less fortunate. The budget builds upon these efforts and puts a continued focus on the growth and development of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, and the North-East regions.
- Agriculture Accelerator Fund: The FM announces the creation of an Agriculture Accelerator Fund to support young agri-entrepreneurs in rural areas. It aims to provide innovative and affordable solutions for farmers and modernize agricultural practices for increased productivity and profitability.
- Agriculture and Cooperation: The Finance Minister plans to build an open-source digital agriculture infrastructure to benefit farmers with information and support for startups.
- Atmanirbhar Horticulture Clean Plant Programme: The Finance Minister announced a new program called the “Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Programme” with a budget of Rs 2,200 crore. The goal is to improve access to high-quality, disease-free plants for horticultural crops.
- Enhancing productivity of cotton crop: The government will enhance extra-long staple cotton productivity through cluster-based public-private partnerships.
- Global Hub for Millets: ‘Shree Anna’: The Prime Minister supports millets for improved nutrition and food security for farmers. The Indian Institute of Millet Research will be supported as a center of excellence for sharing knowledge and research globally.
Priority 2: Connecting to the Final Destination
- Programme for Aspirational Districts and Blocks: Finance minister announces 500-block Aspirational Blocks Program for comprehensive gov’t services in domains like health, education, agriculture, etc.
- Water for Drought Prone Region: Sitharaman announces Rs 5,300 crore central aid for Upper Bhadra Project in drought-prone Karnataka for micro irrigation and drinking water.
- Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission: The Finance Minister announced a mission to improve tribal lives with basic necessities and Rs 15,000 crore for implementation. They will also hire 38,800 teachers and staff for tribal schools.
- PM Awas Yojana: FM announces a 66% increase in PM Awas Yojana’s outlay to over Rs 79,000 crore and the establishment of “Bharat Shared Repository of Inscriptions” digital museum.
Priority 3: Investment & Infrastructure
FM announces a 33% increase in capital investment outlay to Rs 10 lakh crore for growth & employment, 3 times the outlay in 2019-20. Effective Capital Expenditure of the Centre at Rs 13.7 lakh crore, 4.5% of GDP.
- Railways: FM announces record capital outlay for Railways, 100 transport infra projects, 50 revived airports, Urban Infrastructure Development Fund, and annual allocation of Rs 10,000 crore.
- Capital Investment Assistance for State Governments: Finance Minister extends 50-year, zero-interest loan for state govts with increased budget of Rs 1.3 lakh crore to improve infrastructure and incentivize policy.
Priority 4: Unlocking Potential
FM announces ease of business improvements: reduced compliances, decriminalized provisions, and Jan Vishwas Bill for trust-based governance.
- Centres of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence: Finance Minister announces 3 AI centers of excellence in top educational institutions to achieve “Make AI in India and Make AI work for India.” Industry leaders will collaborate on research in agriculture, health and sustainable cities to drive AI ecosystem and cultivate skilled AI professionals.
- National Data Governance Policy: FM announces National Data Governance Policy for start-ups, academia to access anonymized data, DigiLocker for MSMEs, businesses, trusts to securely store/share documents online. 100 5G labs in engineering institutions to be set up for smart classrooms, farming, transport, health care applications.
Priority 5: Green Growth
FM announces “LiFE” vision for green lifestyle, green growth, National Green Hydrogen Mission (Rs 19,700 crore) for low carbon economy, technology leadership. Budget allocates Rs 35,000 crore for energy transition, energy security. Battery Energy Storage Systems (4,000 MWH) to be supported with funding, 13 GW renewable energy grid in Ladakh to be constructed (Rs 20,700 crore).
- GOBARdhan scheme: FM announces 500 “waste to wealth” plants under GOBARdhan (Rs 10,000 crore), including 200 CBG plants (75 in urban areas). CBG mandate of 5% for natural/bio gas marketers and fiscal support for bio-mass collection, bio-manure distribution.
- Bhartiya Prakritik Kheti Bio-Input Resource Centres: FM announces 1 crore farmers to adopt natural farming in 3 years, facilitated by 10,000 Bio-Input Resource Centers for micro-fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing. Adequate funds allocated for vehicle scrapping policy, support for old vehicle replacement for Central Govt. and States.
Priority 6: Youth Power
FM says National Education Policy and economic policies support job creation and business opportunities for youth. PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 to skill lakhs in 3 years with industry-aligned courses, including AI, robotics, 3D printing, drones, etc. 30 Skill India International Centers to be established for international opportunities.
- Unity Mall: The FM announced states will be encouraged to open Unity Malls in their capital, major tourist center, or financial hub to promote and sell local handicrafts and GI products, with space for products from other states.
- National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme: The FM announced a National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme with Direct Benefit Transfer to support 47 lakh youth with stipends over the next three years.
Priority 7: Financial Sector
- Credit Guarantee for MSMEs: The Finance Minister announced a revamp of the credit guarantee scheme for MSMEs with an infusion of Rs 9,000 crore and additional collateral-free guaranteed credit of Rs 2 lakh crore. A National Financial Information Registry will be set up for efficient flow of credit and financial stability. A Central Processing Centre will be established for faster response to companies.
- Senior Citizens: The deposit limit for Senior Citizen Savings Scheme increased from 15 lakh to 30 lakh rupees. The limit for Monthly Income Account Scheme increased to 9 lakh rupees for single accounts and to 15 lakh rupees for joint accounts, up from 4.5 and 9 lakh rupees respectively.
- Fiscal management: Nirmala Sitharaman announced that states must spend all of the 50-year loan on capital expenses by 2023-24. Some of it will be determined by states, with some being contingent on increased capital spending. The funds will also be used for scrapping outdated gov’t vehicles, urban planning, financing reforms for creditworthy municipal bonds, housing for police, building Unity Malls, children’s libraries and digital infrastructure, and central scheme capital expenses.
Also Read: Union Budget For Financial Year 2022-2023