A Simplified Homegrown Guide To The 2024 Interim Budget

A Simplified Homegrown Guide To The 2024 Interim Budget

The long-anticipated interim budget was announced yesterday by India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Parliament. It should be noted that, unlike a union budget, an interim budget is a budget outline only for a short period — the transition time before the next government assumes power through the Lok Sabha Elections. With that cleared up, let us look at the few key takeaways from this year’s interim budget.

I. No change in the existing taxation structure: The taxation structure remains the same as mentioned in the Union Budget of 2023. There have been no changes to direct or indirect tax rates. Taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief (for now).

A Simplified Homegrown Guide To The 2024 Interim Budget
A Simplified Homegrown Guide To The 2023-2024 Union Budget

II. The Rooftop Solar program: The Central Government's Rooftop Solar program a.k.a. the Pradhanmantri Surodaya Yojna aims to provide up to 300 units of free electricity per month to 10 million households, with a budget of Rs 10,000 crore.

"Savings of ₹18,000 crore are expected for households annually through free energy and selling their excess generation to the grid."

FM Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech

III. Working towards housing for all: The government is set to introduce a housing program aimed at assisting the middle class in purchasing or constructing their own homes. This initiative will involve the construction of nearly 20 million homes under the PMAY rural scheme, thereby contributing to the Housing for All agenda. The program is designed to support deserving segments of the middle class in acquiring or building their own residences. Despite the interim budget not directly addressing key demands of the real estate sector, such as granting industry status and providing tax incentives for homebuyers (e.g., increasing the deduction limit on home loan interest under Section 24), it does place emphasis on affordable housing, infrastructure, and green energy initiatives, according to real estate experts.

IV. An improved focus on healthcare: The government aims to use existing infrastructure to create new medical facilities, including additional medical colleges. They also plan to promote cervical cancer vaccination for girls and integrate various maternal and child health programs. The budget includes a proposal to launch the U-WIN platform for managing immunization and expanding healthcare coverage. Additionally, the Ayushman Bharat scheme will be expanded to include Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, Anganwadi workers, and helpers, providing healthcare coverage for all of them.

V. The Development of the agricultural sector: The central government has committed to increasing the value added to the agricultural industry and enhancing farmers' earnings while also reducing post-harvest losses. The Finance Minister stated in her address that this initiative will encompass the development of high-yield crop varieties, widespread integration of modern farming methods, establishing market connections, procurement, and crop insurance.

VI. A widespread adoption of electric vehicles: The interim budget prioritizes creating chances for business ventures and job opportunities for young people in the manufacturing, installation, and upkeep of electric vehicles. It aims to promote the widespread use of electric buses in public transportation systems, backed by strong payment security measures. These initiatives are anticipated to promote a transition from current resource-depleting manufacturing methods to more sustainable practices, thus aiding in sustainable development.

A Simplified Homegrown Guide To The 2024 Interim Budget
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VII. Increased investment for homegrown tech initiatives: Technological progress, such as cutting-edge technologies and data, is changing lives and businesses, generating economic opportunities, and offering high-quality services at reasonable prices. To support this, a fund of one trillion rupees will be established, providing 50 interest-free loans for long-term financing or refinancing. This initiative aims to enhance private sector involvement in Research and Innovation, particularly in emerging fields. For the tech-savvy younger generation, this signifies a promising era, promoting programs that utilize their potential and technology. A new program will be launched to bolster advanced technologies, nurturing innovation and advancement.