Women empowerment, youth, farmers, top priority of Interim Budget 2024

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Union Budget 2024 Highlights
Nirmala Sitharaman - Budget (Photo - X)

On 1 Feb, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2024, marking her sixth budgetary announcement. 

The Budget Session of Parliament, commencing with President Droupadi Murmu’s address to the joint meeting of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, is set to conclude on February 9. The full-fledged budget will be presented by the new government post the elections.

In her comprehensive budget speech, Sitharaman underscored the government’s commitment to uplifting various segments of society, emphasizing the transformative changes witnessed in the Indian economy through structural reforms. The Finance Minister highlighted the government’s focus on four pivotal categories: women, youth, poor and farmers, stating, “The country progresses when they progress”.

Key highlights of the Union Budget 2024 are as follows :

  1. The government claims to have lifted 25 crore people out of poverty over the past decade, with 80 crore individuals benefiting from free food through various schemes.
  2. Direct Benefit Transfers amounting to Rs. 34 lakh crore via PM Jan Dhan Yojana accounts resulted in savings of ₹2.7 lakh crore.
  3. Various schemes such as PM Vishwakarma Yojana, PM-SVANidhi, and Mudra Yojana witnessed substantial engagement, providing support to artisans, street vendors, and women entrepreneurs.
  4. Focus on upskilling and reskilling with over 1.4 crore youth trained under the Skill India Mission.
  5. Government’s commitment to rural empowerment with the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme and subsidies for the construction of 30 million affordable houses in rural areas.
  6. Attention to the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor for global trade and emphasis on developing the East for India’s growth.
  7. Positive economic indicators include moderated inflation within the target band (2%-6%) and increased average real income by 50%.
  8. Allocation of over ₹6.21 lakh crore to the Ministry of Defence, a 4.72% increase from the previous fiscal year.
  9. ₹14,225.47 crore allocated to Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.
  10. A 50% increase in development assistance to the Maldives, from ₹400 crore to ₹600 crore.
  11. A substantial ₹1 lakh crore corpus for research and innovation in sunrise domains.
  12. Expansion of Ayushman Bharat scheme, combining maternal and child health care schemes, and encouragement for cervical cancer vaccination.
  13. Initiatives for agriculture, including the promotion of ‘Nano DAP’ for various crops and support for dairy farmers.
  14. Establishment of a new department, ‘Matsya Sampada,’ to address the needs of fishermen.
  15. Plans to convert 40,000 normal rail bogies to Vande Bharat standards for enhanced safety and convenience.
  16. Allocation of ₹1,300 crore for electric buses and ₹24,931 crore for various metro projects, focusing on transit-oriented development.
  17. Record allocation of over ₹73,000 crore for the Department of School Education and Literacy.
  18. Commitment to Net Zero by 2070 with funding for offshore wind energy, biomass aggregation machinery, and expansion of the e-vehicle sector.
  19. Capital expenditure increased to ₹11.11 lakh crore for 2024-25, with a focus on fiscal consolidation to reduce the fiscal deficit to 4.5% in 2025-26.
  20. Maintenance of tax rates for direct and indirect taxes, including import duties, with no changes to income tax slabs.
  21. Gross and net government borrowings for 2024-25 reduced to Rs. 14.13 lakh crore and Rs. 11.75 lakh crore, respectively, compared to 2023-24.
  22. Tamil Nadu and Kerala received substantial allocations of ₹6,331 crore and ₹2,744 crore, respectively, from the total budget of ₹12,173 crore for Southern Railway in the fiscal year 2024-25, according to Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

The interim budget, a short-term financial plan, seeks parliamentary approval for an advance grant to meet essential government expenditures for the first four months of the new financial year.

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