Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented the Union Budget 2023-24 in Parliament and announced an increase in the capital expenditure for infrastructure development by 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore, at 3.3 per cent of the GDP.
Stressing that the Indian economy is on the right track and heading towards a bright future, the finance minister said India's economic growth is estimated at 7 per cent, which is the highest among all major economies, in spite of the massive global slowdown caused by COVID-19 and Russia-Ukraine War.
Sitharaman also said that the Union Government is implementing, from January 1, 2023, a scheme to supply free food grain to all Antyodaya and priority households for the next one year, under PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). The entire expenditure of about Rs 2 lakh crore will be borne by the Central Government, she said.
With the theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, India is steering an ambitious, people-centric agenda to address global challenges, and to facilitate sustainable economic development, she added.
The Amrit Kaal vision includes technology-driven and knowledge-based economy with strong public finances, and a robust financial sector and to achieve this, Jan Bhagidari through Sabka Saath Sabka Prayas is essential, she further said.
According to the minister, the economic agenda for achieving the Amrit Kaal vision focuses on three things: Facilitating ample opportunities for citizens, especially the youth, to fulfill their aspirations; providing strong impetus to growth and job creation; and to strengthen macro-economic stability. She spelt out four focus opportunities:
1. Economic Empowerment of Women: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission has achieved remarkable success by mobilizing rural women into 81 lakh Self Help Groups and we will enable these groups to reach the next stage of economic empowerment through formation of large producer enterprises or collectives with each having several thousand members and managed professionally.
2. PM VIshwakarma KAushal Samman (PM VIKAS): For centuries, traditional artisans and craftspeople, who work with their hands using tools, are generally referred to as Vishwakarma. The art and handicraft created by them represents the true spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
The minister informed that for the first time, a package of assistance for them has been conceptualized and the new scheme will enable them to improve the quality, scale and reach of their products, integrating them with the MSME value chain. The components of the scheme will include not only financial support but also access to advanced skill training, knowledge of modern digital techniques and efficient green technologies, brand promotion, linkage with local and global markets, digital payments, and social security.
3. Tourism: The Finance Minister said that the country offers immense attraction for domestic as well as foreign tourists, as there is a large potential to be tapped in tourism. She added that the sector holds huge opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship for youth in particular and emphasized that promotion of tourism will be taken up on mission mode, with active participation of states, convergence of government programmes and public-private partnerships.
4. Green Growth: Dwelling on the subject of Green Growth, the FM said that India is implementing many programmes for green fuel, green energy, green farming, green mobility, green buildings, and green equipment, and policies for efficient use of energy across various economic sectors. These green growth efforts help in reducing carbon intensity of the economy and provides for largescale green job opportunities, she added.
The Budget also mentions Legislative Changes
- Customs Act, 1962 to be amended to specify a time limit of nine months from date of filing application for passing final order by Settlement Commission.
- Customs Tariff Act to be amended to clarify the intent and scope of provisions relating to Anti-Dumping Duty (ADD), Countervailing Duty (CVD), and Safeguard Measures.
CGST Act to be amended
- To raise the minimum threshold of tax amount for launching prosecution under GST from one crore to two crore;
- to reduce the compounding amount from the present range of 50 to 150 per cent of tax amount to the range of 25 to 100 per cent;
decriminalise certain offences;
- to restrict filing of returns/statements to a maximum period of three years from the due date of filing of the relevant return/statement; and
- to enable unregistered suppliers and composition taxpayers to make intra-state supply of goods through E-Commerce Operators (ECOs).