New Delhi: Ayushman Bharat healthcare cover will be extended to all ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers and helpers, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday while presenting the interim Budget, months ahead of the Lok sabha polls.
“Ayushman Bharat cover will be extended to all Anganwadi and Asha workers. All maternal and child healthcare schemes will be brought under one comprehensive scheme. Furthermore, the government is enhancing the target for Lakhpati Didi scheme to Rs 3 crore from Rs 2 crore.”
She further said that the next five years will be the years of unprecedented development. “We need to focus on poor, women, youth and farmers/Anna Data. Their needs and aspirations and welfare are our highest priority All four require and receive government support, their empowerment and well being will drive the country forward,” she said.
Listing out the ‘strategy for Amrit Kaal’, the Finance Minister said that the government will adopt economic policies that foster and sustain growth, facilitate inclusive and sustainable development, improve productivity, create opportunities for all, help them enhance their capabilities and contribute to generation of resources to power investments and fulfil aspiration. “Many growth and development-enabling reforms are needed in the state for realising the vision of Viksit Bharat. A provision of Rs 75,000 crore as a 50-year interest-free loan is proposed this year to support those milestone-linked reforms by the state governments.”
The government will also a launch housing scheme for middle class to enable them to buy or build their own homes.
She said that outlay for infrastructure has been increased to Rs 11.11 lakh crore in FY25. Defence outlay will be 3.4% of GDP. “”…The revised estimate of the fiscal deficit is 5.8% of GDP, improving on the budget estimate notwithstanding moderation in the nominal growth estimates.
Fiscal deficit in 2024-25 is estimated to be 5.1% of GDP, adhering to the path of fiscal consolidation.
Budget Estimates for 2024-25
Total receipts other than borrowings: Rs. 30.80 lakh crore
Total expenditure: Rs. 47.66 lakh crore
Tax receipts: Rs. 26.02 lakh crore
Scheme of 50-year interest free loans for capital expenditure, to states will be continued with outlay of Rs 1.3 lakh crore.
The Finance Minister kept the tax slab rates unchanged for both new and old income tax regimes. “I propose to maintain the same tax rates for direct and indirect taxes including import duties,” she said.
The government has also proposed withdrawing direct tax demands up to Rs 25,000 pertaining to the period up to financial year 2009-10 and up to Rs 10,000 for financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15. She further said that a big focus of the budget was improving services for tax payers. “Introduction of updated IT returns, new form 26AS and pre-filling of tax returns have made filing simpler and easier Average processing time has been reduced from 93 days in 2014 to 10 days this year, thereby making refunds faster.”
Sitharaman also proposed to extend tax exemptions for some IFSC Units to March 31, 2025.
She said that the GST has reduced compliance burden on trade and industry Tax base of GST has more than doubled and average monthly gross GST collection has almost doubled to Rs. 1.66 lakh crores this year. States too have benefited, states’ SGST revenue including compensation released to them in post GST period has achieved buoyancy of 1.22. Biggest beneficiaries are consumers due to reduction in logistics costs and reduced prices of most goods and services, she stressed.
“In the full budget in July, our Government will present a detailed roadmap for our pursuit of Viksit Bharat,” she added.
Her budget speech was a little less than an hour long.
Key rail infrastructure projects, including Metro Rail and Namo Bharat, will be expanded to more cities and around 40,000 rail bogies will be converted to Vande Bharat coaches.
“Three major Railway economic corridors programmes will be implemented. These are energy, mineral and cement corridor; port connectivity corridors and high traffic density corridors. The projects have been identified under the PM Gati Shakti for enabling multi-modal connectivity. They will improve logistics efficiency and reduce cost.”
“To address fervour for domestic tourism, projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure and amenities will be taken on our islands, including Lakshadweep.”
Tourism, including spiritual tourism, has tremendous opportunities and all states will be encouraged to take up iconic tourist spots and develop them, she explained.
MORE MEDICAL COLLEGES
“Our government plans to set up more medical colleges by utilising the existing hospital infrastructure under various departments. A committee for this purpose will be set up to examine the issues and make relevant recommendations.”
“A new scheme will be launched for strengthening deep-tech technologies for defence purposes and expediting self-reliance.”
“For our tech-savvy youth, this will be a golden era. A corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore will be established with 50-year interest-free loan provided. It will be for long-term financing or re-financing with low or nil interest rates.”
“Through roof-top solarisation, 1 crore households will be enabled to obtain up to 300 units of free electricity every month. This scheme follows the resolve of the Prime Minister on the historic day of the consecration of Shri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.”
“For further growth of agriculture sector, the government will further promote public and private investment in post-harvest activities.”
Revised Estimates of 2023-24
RE of total receipts other than borrowings is Rs 27.56 lakh crore, of which tax receipts are Rs. 23.24 lakh crore
RE of total expenditure is Rs 44.90 lakh crore
Revenue receipts at Rs. 30.3 lakh crore are expected to be higher than Budget Estimates RE of fiscal deficit is 5.8% of GDP