The Union Budget for 2021-22 was presented in the parliament on the 1st of February. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman outlined that the Budget proposals for this year lie on six main foundations namely health and well-being, physical and financial capital and infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, reinvigorating human capital, innovation, and R&D, and 'Minimum Government, Maximum Governance'.
Here are the key highlights of it:
Health and sanitation sector
A new scheme, named PM Atma Nirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana, to be initiated to boost primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. Mission POSHAN 2.0 aims to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts. The Budget proposes the operationalization of 17 new public health units at points of entry. It also aims to modernize existing health units at 32 airports, 15 seaports, and land ports. With an idea to increase spending on health care, it announced Rs 35,000 crore on the development of a covid vaccine.
To talk about the plans in the education sector, the Budget looks at setting up 100 new Sainik Schools and also 750 Eklavya schools in tribal areas. A Central University is also proposed at Ladakh.
The Budget for 2021-22 had some chief developments in the infrastructural sector. The vehicle scrapping policy is to do away with old and unfit vehicles. Hence all vehicles undergo a fitness test at automated fitness centers every 20 years for personal vehicles and every 15 years for commercial vehicles. With assembly elections coming up, highway and road work projects were declared for Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Assam. One of the significant aims is to finish 100% electrification of Railways by 2023. Furthermore, metro services were announced in 27 cities. Also, a gas pipeline project to be set up in Jammu and Kashmir
The Budget announced that no IT filing will be required for people above the age of 75 years who earn through pension and interests from deposits. It was also seen that several Customs duties have been revised. Duty of copper scrap reduced to 2.5%, while Duty on naphtha reduced to 2.5%. It also said that Custom duty on gold and silver to be rationalized. The re-opening window for IT assessment cases has been reduced from 6 to 3 years. However, it can be extended up to 10 years in cases of extreme tax evasion.
Economy and Finance
In the current scenario, this sector demanded a high focus from the budget. Hence it was said that the fiscal deficit stands at 9.5% of the GDP, and the estimated GDP in 2021-22 is 6.8%. It also had a proposal to allow States to increase borrowings up to 4% of GSDP this year. Consolidating provisions of the Sebi Act, Depositories Act, and two other laws, the Budget aimed to create a Unified Securities Market Code. It also proposed to increase the FDI limit from 49% to 74%. The strategic sale of BPCL, IDBI Bank, Air India is planned to be completed.
To expand agricultural infrastructure, the agriculture infrastructure fund is to be made available for APMCs. It was proposed that 1,000 more Mandis are to be involved in the E-NAM marketplace. The Budget also aimed at developing five major fishing hubs, including Chennai, Kochi, and Paradip.
The Budget 2021-22 aims to expand the social security of gig and platform workers. It also proposed a portal to maintain information on gig workers and construction workers. Further, the margin capital required for loans via the Stand-up India scheme was reduced from 25% to 15% for SCs, STs, and women.
The Union Budget of 2021-22 experienced a series of mixed reactions. The ruling party and prime minister Narendra Modi congratulated the finance ministry team and said that the budget speaks for an “all-round development.” However, several opposition members were rightfully disappointed about the BJP using the budget as a tool for the upcoming assembly elections.
With a change of traditions this year, the budget has been only made available in a digital format. Nirmala Sitharaman quoted Tagore during the Budget presentation. She said, “Today, India has two vaccines and is not only comforting citizens of her own country but those of neighboring nations too.” Thus, the ruling party hopes to utilize this as a way ahead to move from covid related reforms to several other schemes that are needed for the overall development of the country.