Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2024 in Parliament, marking it as an interim budget due to its timing just ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections. Both the old and new tax regimes witnessed no alterations in the tax slabs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended Nirmala Sitharaman for delivering a well-balanced budget.
This marked Nirmala Sitharaman's sixth Union Budget, and the complete budget will be presented by the new government post the elections. Key highlights of Budget 2024 include:
Nirmala Sitharaman's concise budget speech emphasized initiatives to enhance tourism, housing, and promote the adoption of renewable energy. However, the proposed spending on roads, ports, and airports in the world's fastest-growing major economy fell short of expectations. The status quo on taxation for salaried individuals was noted as a disappointment.
The government increased the capital expenditure target by 11.1%, amounting to Rs 11.11 lakh crore for the next fiscal starting April 1. This represents 3.4% of the GDP, as stated by the Finance Minister in her speech.
For FY24, the fiscal gap was reduced to 5.8% from the estimated 5.9%. The target for 2024-25 is set at 5.1%, below the revised budget for 2023-24, with the aim to achieve a fiscal deficit target below 4.5%.
A divestment target of Rs 50,000 crore has been set for FY25, with a revised figure of Rs 30,000 crore against the previous Rs 51,000 crore.
No significant changes were made to the tax rates for FY25. The government also announced the withdrawal of outstanding direct tax demand, benefiting up to one crore people, with amounts up to Rs 25,000 for FY10 and up to Rs 10,000 for FY11-FY15.
Healthcare facilities under Ayushman Bharat have been extended to include all Aasha workers and Aanganwadi workers.
Vaccination for cervical cancer is now available for girls aged 9-14.
Allocation for MNREGA has been increased by 43.3% to Rs 86,000 crore.
Allocation for Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY has seen a 4.2% increase, reaching Rs 7,500 crore.
Allocation for PLI Schemes has been raised by 33.5%, reaching Rs 6,200 crore.
The Railways have been allocated Rs 2.55 lakh crore for the fiscal year 2024-25, surpassing the previous year's allocation of Rs 2.4 lakh crore.
The Defence sector also received a boost with increased expenditure to Rs 6.25 lakh crore from the budgeted estimate of Rs 5.94 lakh crore in FY24, reflecting a 4% hike.