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Budget Highlights: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman opts for Digital Budget

Budget 2021

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2021-22 in Parliament today. This budget marks the start of a new decade and also the first digital budget of the country in the backdrop of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. She laid the vision for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ and said it to be an expression of 130 crore Indians. She stressed that this Budget will further strengthen the Sankalp of ‘Nation First’, ‘Doubling Farmer’s Income’, ‘Strong Infrastructure’, ‘Healthy India’, ‘Good Governance’, ‘Opportunities for youth, Education for All’, ‘Women Empowerment’, and ‘Inclusive Development’ among others. 

The Budget proposals for FY 2021-22 rest on six pillars which will strengthen the country’s economy and growth. The six pillars were: 

  1. Health and Wellbeing
  2. Physical & Financial Capital, and Infrastructure
  3. Inclusive Development for Aspirational India
  4. Reinvigorating Human Capital
  5. Innovation and R&D
  6. Minimum Government and Maximum Governance

Highlights

As the country started the distribution of Coronavirus Vaccines, a budget of Rs. 35000 crores has been allocated to the vaccination expenditure and 27.1 lakh crores for COVID-19 support. Also, a total of Rs. 2,23,846 crore is allocated to the overall health sector.

The center has also planned to launch a mission Poshan 2.0 which will focus on providing improved nutritional outcomes.

This year, the budget focussed on global warming and pollution as they allocate Rs 2217 crore to tackle air pollution in all the metropolitan cities and the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ will be implemented with a total financial allocation of  Rs 1,41,678 crore over a period of 5 years for FY 2021-2026.

Talking about technological development, two new technologies i.e., ‘MetroLite’ and ‘MetroNeo’ will be deployed to avail metro rail systems at a much lesser cost with the same experience. The budget also mentioned the construction of another metro stretch of  1016 km.

It was observed that the center focussed on infrastructure and asset monetization for this financial year which reflects the importance of the involvement of the private sector in the long run.

With the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, a gas pipeline project has been announced for development.

Alcoholic beverages will be levied with 100% agri-infra cess. However, in wake of the reduced Basic Customs Duty from 150% to 50%, the prices of alcoholic beverages will remain the same.

A new ‘agri-infra cess was imposed today on petrol (₹2.5 per litre) and diesel (₹4). But Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, however, assured that the burden on the taxpayers would be offset by a cut in excise duties.

Though, the budget provided no relaxation for middle-class families as the Income Tax slabs remained unchanged in the Union Budget 2021. However, senior citizens aged 75+ will be exempted from filing income tax returns.

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Ravisha Poddar
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