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Insight into Budget 2023: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents budget for fifth consecutive year

The 2023 Budget was approved by the Union Cabinet and was presented by Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman who did so for the fifth consecutive year.  Bhagwat Karad, the state minister for finance for the Union, led prayers earlier. Before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, this is the last comprehensive budget presented by the Narendra Modi government. When asked about the budget, Pankaj Chaudhary, Union minister of state for finance said, “The Union Budget 2023 will meet every sector’s expectations. The Modi government has worked in the favour of the people of the country and will keep on doing so.” The things which will get expensive are electric kitchen chimneys, articles made of gold and platinum, silver doors and bars, copper, compounded rubber, cigarettes and cloths. On the other hand, the things which are getting cheaper are camera lenses, mobile phones, TV parts, denatured ethyl alcohol, acid-grade fluorspar and domestic manufacture of shrimps. 


The Union Budget 2023 has seven priorities including inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing potential, green growth, youth power and financial sector.  Nirmala Sitharaman also highlighted that the Indian economy has increased in size from being the tenth to the fifth largest in the world in the last nine years and that the economy is on the right path towards a bright future. “In order to address global concerns and promote sustainable economic development, the G20 Presidency presents us with a special chance to reinforce our position within the global economic system,” Sitharaman stated.


While presenting the Union budget 2023-24 Nirmala Sitharaman told that the promotion of tourism will be taken up in a mission mode and there will be active participation of the states and PPPs. She further told that the Center would hire 38,800 teachers and support staff over the course of the next three years for the 740 Eklavaya Model Residential Schools that will educate 3.5 lakh indigenous youngsters. As the second priority is ‘reaching the last mile’ the Centre will provide Rs 5,300 crore in assistance to the drought-prone central region of Karnataka. 


Railways have been allocated a capital outlay of 2.4 crores which is the highest ever amount since the year 2013-14. Sitharaman also added that 50 additional airports, helipads, water aero drones, and advanced landing grounds will be revamped to improve regional connectivity. A new sub-scheme of the PM Matsya Sampada Yojana would also be introduced with a targeted investment of Rs. 6000 crores, the minister said, adding that the agriculture credit objective will be enhanced to Rs. 20 lakh crores with an emphasis on animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries. A Pradhan Mantri Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups Development Mission will be launched to improve the conditions of vulnerable tribal groups. 


Sitharaman added that the KYC process will be much simple and PAN will be used as the common identifier for all digital systems of specified government agencies. The government will also be providing relief in customs duty on the import of certain things like camera lenses and concession on the import of lithium-ion batteries to further promote mobile phone production in the country. The salaried class had a lot of hopes from Nirmala Sitharaman and she did not disappoint them, firstly the income tax rebate has been increased from 5 lakhs to 7 lakhs in the new tax regime. Secondly, the minister proposed a change in the tax slab under the new tax regime.the new tax rates will be: 0 to ₹3 lakhs - nil; ₹3 to 6 lakhs - 5%; ₹6 to 9 Lakhs - 10%; ₹9 to 12 Lakhs - 15%; ₹12 to 15 Lakhs - 20%; and Above 15 Lakhs - 30%. 


Sitharaman then announced the setting up of an Urban Infrastructure Development Fund for urban infrastructure in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. For this ₹10,000 crores will be made available annually. Rs 35,000 crores have also been allocated for priority capital investments towards energy transition and to achieve India’s goal of net zero emission by the year 2070. In response to President Droupadi Murmu's moving speech on impoverished inmates suffering in prisons, Sitharaman suggested providing financial assistance to undertrial poor prisoners who are unable to adhere to the terms of their bail during Budget 2023–24.


At a post-budget press conference, Sitharaman stated that the budget's four main focal points were "empowerment of women, giving a lot more attention to Self Help Groups, emphasis on tourism and training of youth and empowerment of Vishakarmas who create soft power of India through their craftsmanship, and fourth, green growth." However, the opposition criticised the budget, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the union budget is not at all futuristic and is totally opportunistic. The total estimated expenditure in crores is Rs. 45,03,097. 


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