Union Budget 2021: Textile Industry to Get a Boost, Healthcare Gets ₹2 Lakh Crore Injection, New Cess to Agri Infrastructure
By: Sashwata Saha
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2021-22 at the Parliament, earlier today. The new budget makes significant changes to the taxation process, scraps income tax for senior citizens pending certain conditions, removes double taxation for NRIs, and reduces the time period of tax assessments. Other measures include startups getting an extension in their tax holiday for an additional year.
The Finance Minister also announced that the advance tax liability on dividend income shall arise after declaration of payment of dividend. At the conclusion of her speech, according to news agency PTI, Sensex was at 47451.62, up 1165.85 points.
In her speech, Sitharaman announced that India’s fiscal deficit is set to jump to 9.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020-21 as per Revised Estimates. This is markedly higher than 3.5% of the GDP that was projected in the budget estimates as made by The Hindu, Indian Express and Mint. In the health care sector, the Budget has allotted around ₹2 lakh crore with ₹35,000 crore on COVID-19 vaccine development and inoculation.
In her speech, Sitharaman talked about an emphatic push to the textile industry. Custom duty on cotton and raw silk has hiked accompanied with a new cess on agriculture development – ₹2.5 per litre on petrol and ₹4 per litre on diesel – and a central university in Leh.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu will find a new focus on sea-weed farming with a new facility opening in the state and a new vehicle scrapping policy that aims to provide the auto sector a boost among other announcements. Sitharaman also announced that an additional 1 crore families will now benefit under the Union’s Ujjwala scheme. Four poll-bound states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and West Bengal – will see significant spending on highway road expansion.
Addressing the nation after the Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it speaks of all-round development. “From COVID-related reforms to Atmanirbhar resolve, we moved ahead with this mantra in Budget 2021. It’s an active and not a reactive budget,” he said, congratulating the Finance Ministry.
The Opposition had some strong criticism for the Union Budget. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh Monday said that it reflects the Centre’s “persistent efforts to sideline non-BJP ruled states.” His Cabinet member and state Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal pointed out that the “entire north India” was ignored in the Budget and that it was also silent on agricultural unrest, unemployment and problems of the country’s majority middle class.
This was Sitharaman’s third budget under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a significant departure from the tradition, this year’s Budget was not printed and was only made available as a PDF.
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