On the first day of February 2024, at 11:00 a.m. in the parliament session, the present finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the interim budget for the fiscal year 2024–2025. The complete financial allocations were made across numerous sectors, with an emphasis on key areas like railways, solar energy, and tourism. To ensure that these important areas grow and are sustained, this financial roadmap outlines how resources will be distributed in the upcoming year.

Budget 2024 Highlights and Middle-Class People: Assessing Benefits and Challenges

The duration of the budget speech in 2024 is even less than 1 hour, which is the shortest budget speech of Nirmala Sitharaman in her tenure of 6 years. Last year, Nirmala Sitharaman’s speech was 87 minutes long.

The finance minister also told the parliament that the government got Rs 1.72 trillion in January GST collections, up 10.4%, the second highest ever. Whereas the fiscal deficit in 2024–25 is estimated to be 5.1% of GDP.

Let’s see what the government is going to have to prepare for us and our favourite sectors in this budget, as everyone was expecting something from them:

Budget 2024 Railways

New corridors for transporting cement, minerals, and energy are being planned by the government. They plan to transform 40,000 ordinary railway goods waggons into Vande Bharat standards. This ensures efficient movement of resources, modernization of the rail system, and economic development. Whereas last year the railway got ₹2.4 lakh crore, the railway ministry expects a lot from the finance ministry.

Budget 2024 Solar Energy

The Indian government is focusing on renewable sources of energy, which will help the government stop using fossil fuels to generate energy, which creates a lot of pollution in the air as well as at sea level. According to the government, around 1 crore households will be able to get up to 300 units of free electricity every month with the help of rooftop solar panels. This will help households save around Rs 15,000 to 18,000 per year.

Budget 2024 Tourism Industry

Recently, we’ve seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Indian island of Lakshadweep, where he asked Indians to come to Lakshadweep and visit other Indian islands and promote tourism at the national and international level. Now the government is focused on the plan of promoting Indian islands such as Lakshadweep. In his recent speech, the finance minister also mentioned that the government is going to promote national tourism and give state governments long-term interest-free loans to develop infrastructure in tourist-related places.

Budget 2024 Infrastructure Highlights

According to the finance minister, the government will spend 3.45% of the GDP on infrastructure development, and schools such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yogna and PMAY Grameen will continue to provide houses to the poor families and help them achieve their goal of having a house. In the next 5 years, the government is projected to build 2CR new houses.

Budget 2024 Agriculture Highlights:

30 suicides per day in these nine years. This is the number of farmer suicides between 2014 and 2022, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, but let’s talk about what the government said about the agriculture sector. In Budget 2024, the government will partner with the public and private sectors to make modern and cold storage for “farmers.” The finance minister also added that the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana has benefited 38 lakh farmers and generated 10 lakh jobs.

Lakhpati Didi Scheme Explained

As per government reports, the lakhpati didi scheme has already made 1 crore women in the nation lakhpati, which is a huge success. Whereas the government target of lakhpati didi was 2 crore, the government increased their standards and increased their target by 1 crore, totalling a target of 3 crore. The government will continue to support schemes such as “nari shakti,” which helps women who win and manage MSMEs.

Budget 2024 Aviation Industry Highlights

While computing government achievements, the finance minister told parliament that in the last decade, the number of airports has doubled. The total number of airports in India is 149 as of now, and the government is continuously trying to make more for ease of travel. As per budget, around five hundred and seventeen new routes are carrying 1.3 crore passengers. And Indian companies have already ordered around 1,000 new aircraft.

Budget 2024 Green Energy Highlights

As India is committed to “net zero” by 2070, the government is taking several measures to attain that target as soon as possible. A coal gasification and liquefaction capacity of 100 MT will be set up by 2030, which will also reduce imports of natural gas, methanol, and ammonia, which will eventually save India’s foreign reserves. The government will also provide financial assistance to biomass aggregation machinery to support collection.

Budget 2024 Aquaculture Highlights

The finance minister added that their government is the first government to add a ministry for fisheries, indicating how important fishermen are. Seafood exports have also doubled since 2013–2014. Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana will help in enhancing aquaculture productivity from 3 to 5 tonnes per hectare and generate 55 lakh jobs in the future.

Budget 2024 Tax announcements

Since the previous year, the government has kept its direct and indirect tax slabs unchanged. Nonetheless, a significant increase in efficiency has been seen in the processing of tax returns. It took 93 days before, but now it only takes 10 days. To facilitate faster payments of tax refunds, there is an urgent need to speed up this initiative. The timeframes under which these taxes are streamlined show that despite no change in rates of taxation, the efforts by the government are centred on improving overall effectiveness for the smooth running of all tax affairs, which includes all business persons and individuals at large.

Other key points to be noted in the Budget:

  • Average monthly gross GST collection has doubled to Rs. 1.66 lakh crore in FY24.
  • Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) has led to savings of Rs. 2.7 lakh crore
  • 25 crore people have moved out of multidimensional poverty.
  • Rs 11.1 lakh crore as capital expenditure for the next fiscal year.
  • The fiscal deficit target decreased by 1%, and the new target is 5.8% of GDP.
  • Focus on four major castes. They are Garib, Mahilaye, Yuva, and Annadata
  • The Government saved 2.7 lakh crore because of PM Jan Dhan Accounts
  • Certain tax benefits to start-ups and investments made by sovereign wealth or pension funds are to be extended to March 31, 2025.

Budget allocation ministry-wise:

Ministries2023 (in lakh crore)2024 (in lakh crore)
Ministry of Defence5.946.2
Ministry of Road and Highways2,702.78
Ministry of Railways2.412.55
Ministry of Public Distribution and Food2.062.13
Ministry of Home Affairs1.962.03
Ministry of Rural Development1.601.77
Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers1.781.68
Ministry of Communications1.231.37
Ministry of Farmer’s Welfare and Agriculture1.251.27

The budget got mixed reactions from the public. As Nirmala Sitharaman already told the public not to expect much from the budget, people kept high expectations from the budget, and it seems like they got disappointed. The government did not change anything in the tax slab, though the processing time of income tax refunds has decreased significantly from 96 days to 10 days. Whereas many experts were expecting the government to relax the income tax slab, the government continued to stay the same for the income tax region.

As per reports, the budget rating agency will continue to rate the budget well because of the 5.8% fiscal deficit, as they were expecting the deficit to be quite high. On the other hand, in this budget, the middle class will get less, but income tax return processing time will help the middle class.

Further, Nirmala Sitharaman told the budget rating agency that India is growing with more than 7% GDP growth from the last 3 years, and some experts also said that the budget is good as no such changes are needed in the country for the upcoming year.

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