As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman prepares to unveil the Interim Budget 2024-25, all eyes are on the pivotal announcements expected to shape India’s economic trajectory ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Far more than a routine financial statement, this budget holds significance as a blueprint for India’s journey towards becoming a developed economy.
Anticipated Budgetary Measures
- Support for Farmers: Amidst challenges like export bans on essential crops and adverse weather conditions affecting harvests, heightened expectations rest on increased financial support for farmers. This could translate into augmented allocations for farm sector schemes and subsidies on essentials such as fertilizers and cooking gas.
- Job Creation Focus: Addressing the pressing issue of unemployment, the budget is likely to prioritize initiatives aimed at fostering job creation. Investments in sectors with potential for significant employment generation are anticipated.
- Infrastructure Development: Continuing the government’s emphasis on infrastructure, the budget is expected to sustain investments in key areas like roads, railways, and digital infrastructure, vital for driving economic growth.
- Fiscal Prudence: Balancing the imperative for expenditure with fiscal discipline remains a priority. The government’s aim to reduce the fiscal deficit to 4.5% of GDP by FY26 underscores its commitment to prudent fiscal management.
- Income Tax Relief: While major changes in personal taxation are unlikely, there may be calls for additional benefits under both old and new income tax regimes to alleviate the impact of high inflation on taxpayers.
- Social Security Boost: An introduction of a social security fund for informal sector workers, including those in gig jobs, is anticipated, aligning with the government’s focus on inclusive growth.
- Affordable Housing: Addressing housing needs is likely to feature prominently, with expectations of increased funding for low-cost housing projects to stimulate the construction sector.
- Divestment and Asset Monetization: To bolster fiscal health without burdening taxpayers, the government may continue its divestment initiatives, seeking to raise funds through strategic asset sales.
- Women Empowerment Initiatives: Special measures to empower women, such as increased subsidies for cooking gas and access to loans, are expected, recognizing their pivotal role in the electorate.
- Green Energy Investments: Aligning with the global shift towards sustainable energy, the budget could allocate funds for initiatives in green hydrogen and electric vehicles, positioning India as a leader in the green revolution.