What’s in the Budget ?

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The Union Budget for 2021-22 was promised to be one like “never before” by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. While she has been right to the extent that a “Made in India” tablet replaced the traditional “bahi khata” briefcase, has it lived up to or even exceeded the expectations like never before?

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s third Union Budget rests on six pillars – health and well-being, physical, financial capital and infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, reinvigorating human capital, innovation and R&D and minimum government and maximum governance. The finance minister has announced a total spend of around Rs 2 trillion on healthcare and mega national highway projects in election-bound states of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala.

It is no surprise that health infrastructure comes as a priority for the Government during the pandemic year, as the FM announces an outlay of INR 541.8 billion for the Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana. The Government of India has also planned to provide INR 350 billion for the Covid-19 vaccine in the FY 2021-22, and is committed to sanctioning more funds if required.

Speaking on the farmers issue, FM Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Modi Govt is committed to the welfare of farmers. The MSP regime has undergone a change to assure price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities, she said. Rs 75,060 crore is paid to farmers for wheat procurement in 2020-21, she added.

PM Narendra Modi has praised the budget presented by the FM Nirmala Sitharaman and called it a budget that shows India’s confidence and instils self-confidence.

Gold, Silver, Iron, steel, nylon clothes, copper items, insurance, steel utensils, Silk and cotton got cheaper while refrigerators, air conditioners, LED lights and mobile phones are among commodities that are set to get costlier.

Senior citizens above 75 years of age with only pension income are exempted from filing tax returns. The central government will borrow around Rs 12 lakh crore in FY22, said the FM. The government’s expenditure is pegged at Rs 34.83 lakh crore, including Rs 5.54 lakh cr of capital spending. The fiscal deficit for FY21 has been pegged at 9.5 per cent of India’s GDP due to Covid-19, which is highest so far.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram lashed out at the Centre saying the figures were just a “conjurer’s trick” and that the government had only marginally raised health funding, which when adjusted to inflation becomes nil.

Congress said that the Budget 2021 presented by the Narendra Modi government was a “betrayal” as it provides no relief to the common people. It asserted that Budget 2021 was a “let down like never before” and claimed that it will unravel soon. It said the new agriculture infrastructure cess on petrol and diesel in the budget is a “vengeful act” against thousands of farmers who took out the tractor rally.

Rahul Gandhi said instead of putting cash in the hands of the poor, the government is handing over the country’s assets to the capitalists

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