Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting Union Budget 2023-24 on Wednesday, listed seven priorities of the Amit Kaal vision budget - Inclusive Development; Reaching the Last Mile; Infrastructure and Investment; Unleashing the Potential; Green Growth; Youth Power and Financial Sector.
Priority 1. Inclusive Development
Agriculture and Cooperation - Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture
The Finance Minister said that the Digital Public infrastructure for agriculture will be built as an open source, open standard and inter operable public good. She said, this will enable inclusive, farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services for crop planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit, and insurance, help for crop estimation, market intelligence, and support for growth of agri-tech industry and start-ups.
Agriculture Accelerator Fund
Sitharaman announced that an Agriculture Accelerator Fund will be set up to encourage agri-startups by young entrepreneurs in rural areas, which will aim at bringing innovative and affordable solutions for challenges faced by farmers. It will also bring in modern technologies to transform agricultural practices, increase productivity and profitability.
Enhancing productivity of cotton crop
To enhance the productivity of extra-long staple cotton, the Government will adopt a cluster-based and value chain approach through Public Private Partnerships (PPP). This will mean collaboration between farmers, state and industry for input supplies, extension services, and market linkages.
Atmanirbhar Horticulture Clean Plant Programme
Sitharaman announced that the government will launch an Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Programme to boost availability of disease-free, quality planting material for high value horticultural crops at an outlay of Rs 2,200 crore.
Global Hub for Millets: ‘Shree Anna’
Sitharaman said India is the largest producer and second largest exporter of ‘Shree Anna’ in the world as it grows several types of 'Shree Anna' such as jowar, ragi, bajra, kuttu, ramdana, kangni, kutki, kodo, cheena, and sama. To make India a global hub for 'Shree Anna', the Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad will be supported as the Centre of Excellence for sharing best practices, research and technologies at the international level, she said.
Dwelling on welfare measures for farmers, the Finance Minister announced that the agriculture credit target will be increased to Rs 20 lakh crore with focus on animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries.
She informed that the Government will launch a new sub-scheme of PM Matsya Sampada Yojana with targeted investment of Rs 6,000 crore to further enable activities of fishermen, fish vendors, and micro and small enterprises, improve value chain efficiencies, and expand the market.
For farmers, especially small and marginal farmers, and other marginalized sections, the government is promoting cooperative-based economic development model. A new Ministry of Cooperation was formed with a mandate to realize the vision of ‘Sahakar Se Samriddhi’. To realise this vision, the government has initiated computerization of 63,000 Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) with an investment of Rs 2,516 crore.
A national cooperative database is being prepared for countrywide mapping of cooperative societies, Sitharaman said.
She said the Government will implement a plan to set up massive decentralized storage capacity, which will help farmers store their produce and realize remunerative prices through sale at appropriate times. The government will also facilitate setting up of a large number of multipurpose cooperative societies, primary fishery societies and dairy cooperative societies in uncovered panchayats and villages in the next five years.
Health, Education and Skilling
Medical & Nursing Colleges
The Finance Minister announced that 157 new nursing colleges will be established in co-location with the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014. She also informed that a mission to eliminate Sickle Cell Anaemia by 2047 will be launched, which will entail awareness creation, universal screening of 7 crore people in the age group of 0-40 years in affected tribal areas, and counseling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments. On Medical Research, she said that facilities in select ICMR Labs will be made available for research by public and private medical college faculty and private sector R&D teams for encouraging collaborative research and innovation.
Dwelling on the subject of Pharma Innovation, the Finance Minister informed that a new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals will be taken up through centers of excellence. She said that the Government will also encourage industry to invest in research and development in specific priority areas.
Sitharaman said that Teachers’ training will be re-envisioned through innovative pedagogy, curriculum transaction, continuous professional development, dipstick surveys, and ICT implementation. She added that the District Institutes of Education and Training will be developed as vibrant institutes of excellence for this purpose.
She also informed that a National Digital Library for Children and Adolescents will be set-up for facilitating availability of quality books across geographies, languages, genres and levels, and device agnostic accessibility. States will be encouraged to set up physical libraries for them at panchayat and ward levels and provide infrastructure for accessing the National Digital Library resources.
Additionally, to build a culture of reading, and to make up for pandemic-time learning loss, the National Book Trust, Children’s Book Trust and other sources will be encouraged to provide and replenish non-curricular titles in regional languages and English to these physical libraries.
Priority 2: Reaching the Last Mile
No one will be left behind in India's growth story, the finance minister said.
Aspirational Districts and Blocks Programme
Sitharaman informed that building on the success of the Aspirational Districts Programme, the Government has recently launched the Aspirational Blocks Programme covering 500 blocks for saturation of essential government services across multiple domains such as health, nutrition, education, agriculture, water resources, financial inclusion, skill development, and basic infrastructure.
Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission
The minister said that to improve socio-economic conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission will be launched. This will saturate PVTG families and habitations with basic facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, improved access to education, health and nutrition, road and telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities. An amount of Rs 15,000 crore will be made available to implement the Mission in the next three years under the Development Action Plan for the Scheduled Tribes.
Sitharaman announced that in the next three years, centre will recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools, serving 3.5 lakh tribal students.
Water for Drought Prone Region
Sitharaman said that in the drought prone central region of Karnataka, central assistance of Rs 5,300 crore will be given to Upper Bhadra Project to provide sustainable micro irrigation and filling up of surface tanks for drinking water.
PM Awas Yojana
The minister said that the outlay for PM Awas Yojana is being enhanced by 66 per cent to over Rs 79,000 crore. ‘Bharat Shared Repository of Inscriptions’ will be set up in a digital epigraphy museum, with digitization of one lakh ancient inscriptions in the first stage.
Priority 3: Infrastructure & Investment
Sitharaman said, investments in Infrastructure and productive capacity have a large multiplier impact on growth and employment and in view of this capital investment outlay is being increased steeply for the third year in a row by 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore, which would be 3.3 per cent of GDP. She said that this will be almost three times the outlay in 2019-20. The ‘Effective Capital Expenditure’ of the Centre is budgeted at Rs 13.7 lakh crore, which will be 4.5 per cent of GDP.
Support to State Governments for Capital Investment
The minister said the Government has decided to continue the 50-year interest free loan to state governments for one more year to spur investment in infrastructure and to incentivize them for complementary policy actions, with a significantly enhanced outlay of Rs 1.3 lakh crore.
The minister announced that a capital outlay of Rs 2.40 lakh crore has been provided for the Railways, which is the highest ever outlay and about 9 times the outlay made in 2013- 14.
She also informed that one hundred critical transport infrastructure projects, for last and first mile connectivity for ports, coal, steel, fertilizer, and food grains sectors have been identified and they will be taken up on priority with investment of Rs 75,000 crore, including Rs 15,000 crore from private sources.
Sitharaman said that fifty additional airports, heliports, water aerodromes and advance landing grounds will be revived for improving regional air connectivity.
The Finance Minister announced that an Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF) will be established through use of priority sector lending shortfall, which will be managed by the National Housing Bank, and will be used by public agencies to create urban infrastructure in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. She said that States will be encouraged to leverage resources from the grants of the 15th Finance Commission, as well as existing schemes, to adopt appropriate user charges while accessing the UIDF.
Sitharaman said that Government will make available Rs 10,000 crore per annum for this purpose.
Priority 4: Unleashing the Potential
The Finance Minister said that for enhancing ease of doing business, more than 39,000 compliances have been reduced and more than 3,400 legal provisions have been decriminalized. She added that for furthering the trustbased governance, Government has introduced the Jan Vishwas Bill to amend 42 Central Acts.
Centres of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence
The Finance Minister said that for realizing the vision of “Make A-I in India and Make A-I work for India”, three centers of excellence for Artificial Intelligence will be set-up in top educational institutions. Leading industry players will partner in conducting interdisciplinary research, develop cutting-edge applications and scalable problem solutions in the areas of agriculture, health, and sustainable cities, which will galvanize an effective A-I ecosystem and nurture quality human resources in the field.
National Data Governance Policy.
Sitharaman said that a National Data Governance Policy will be brought out, which will enable access to anonymized data. She also announced that An Entity DigiLocker will be set up for use by MSMEs, large business and charitable trusts for storing and sharing documents online securely, whenever needed, with various authorities, regulators, banks and other business entities.
On 5G Services, she announced that one hundred labs for developing applications using 5G services will be set up in engineering institutions to realize a new range of opportunities, business models, and employment potential. The labs will cover, among others, applications such as smart classrooms, precision farming, intelligent transport systems, and health care applications.
Priority 5: Green Growth
Sitharaman said that Prime Minister has given a vision for “LiFE”, or Lifestyle for Environment, to spur a movement of environmentally conscious lifestyle. India is moving forward firmly for the ‘panchamrit’ and net-zero carbon emission by 2070 to usher in green industrial and economic transition.
She said, this Budget builds on the focus on green growth. The recently launched National Green Hydrogen Mission, with an outlay of Rs 19,700 crores, will facilitate transition of the economy to low carbon intensity, reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports, and make the country assume technology and market leadership in this sunrise sector. The target is to reach an annual production of 5 MMT by 2030.
The Budget also provides Rs 35,000 crore for priority capital investments towards energy transition and net zero objectives, and energy security by Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
The Finance Minister said that to steer the economy on the sustainable development path, Battery Energy Storage Systems with capacity of 4,000 MWH will be supported with Viability Gap Funding.
She also informed that the Inter-state transmission system for evacuation and grid integration of 13 GW renewable energy from Ladakh will be constructed with investment of Rs 20,700 crore including central support of Rs 8,300 crore.
Sitharaman announced that 500 new ‘waste to wealth’ plants under GOBARdhan (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan) scheme will be established for promoting circular economy. These will include 200 compressed biogas (CBG) plants, including 75 plants in urban areas, and 300 community or cluster-based plants at total investment of Rs 10,000 crore.
She said, in due course, a 5 per cent CBG mandate will be introduced for all organizations marketing natural and bio gas and for collection of bio-mass and distribution of bio-manure, appropriate fiscal support will be provided.
Bhartiya Prakritik Kheti Bio-Input Resource Centres
The Finance Minister announced that over the next 3 years, the Centre will facilitate one crore farmers to adopt natural farming. For this, 10,000 Bio-Input Resource Centres will be set-up, creating a national-level distributed micro-fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing network.
The Finance Minister said that in furtherance of the vehicle scrapping policy mentioned in Budget 2021-22, she has allocated adequate funds to scrap old vehicles of the Central Government and States will also be supported in replacing old vehicles and ambulances.
Priority 6: Youth Power
The Finance Minister said that to empower the youth and help the ‘Amrit Peedhi’ realize their dreams, Government has formulated the National Education Policy, focused on skilling, adopted economic policies that facilitate job creation at scale, and have supported business opportunities.
She announced that Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 will be launched to skill lakhs of youth within the next three years. On-job training, industry partnership, and alignment of courses with needs of industry will be emphasized. The scheme will also cover new age courses for Industry 4.0 like coding, AI, robotics, mechatronics, IOT, 3D printing, drones, and soft skills.
She also announced that to skill youth for international opportunities, 30 Skill India International Centres will be set up across different States.
National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme
Sitharaman said that to provide stipend support to 47 lakh youth in three years, Direct Benefit Transfer under a pan-India National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme will be rolled out.
The FM said that States will be encouraged to set up a Unity Mall in their state capital or most prominent tourism centre or the financial capital for promotion and sale of their own ODOPs (one district, one product), GI products and other handicraft products, and for providing space for such products of all other States.
Priority 7: Financial Sector
Credit Guarantee for MSMEs
The Finance Minster said that last year, she proposed revamping of the credit guarantee scheme for MSMEs and the revamped scheme will take effect from April 1, 2023 through infusion of Rs 9,000 crore in the corpus. This will enable additional collateral-free guaranteed credit of Rs 2 lakh crore. Further, the cost of the credit will be reduced by about 1 per cent.
Sitharaman said that a National Financial Information Registry will be set up to serve as the central repository of financial and ancillary information. This will facilitate efficient flow of credit, promote financial inclusion, and foster financial stability. A new legislative framework will govern this credit public infrastructure, and it will be designed in consultation with the RBI.
She also announced that a Central Processing Centre will be setup for faster response to companies through centralized handling of various forms filed with field offices under the Companies Act.
For commemorating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, a one-time new small savings scheme, Mahila Samman Savings Certificate, will be made available for a two-year period up to March 2025. This will offer deposit facility up to Rs 2 lakh in the name of women or girls for a tenor of 2 years at fixed interest rate of 7.5 per cent with partial withdrawal option.
The Finance Minister announced that the maximum deposit limit for Senior Citizen Savings Scheme will be enhanced from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 30 lakh.
Also, the maximum deposit limit for Monthly Income Account Scheme will be enhanced from Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 9 lakh for single account and from Rs 9 lakh to Rs 15 lakh for joint account.
Fiscal Management - Fifty-year interest free loan to states
Sitharaman said that the entire fifty-year loan to states has to be spent on capital expenditure within 2023-24. Most of this will be at the discretion of states, but a part will be conditional on states increasing their actual capital expenditure. She said, parts of the outlay will also be linked to, or allocated for, the following purposes: like Scrapping old government vehicles, Urban planning reforms and actions, Financing reforms in urban local bodies to make them, creditworthy for municipal bonds, Housing for police personnel above or as part of police stations, Constructing Unity Malls, Children and adolescents’ libraries and digital infrastructure and State share of capital expenditure of central schemes.
The Revised Estimate of the total receipts other than borrowings is Rs 24.3 lakh crore, of which the net tax receipts are Rs 20.9 lakh crore. The Revised Estimate of the total expenditure is Rs 41.9 lakh crore, of which the capital expenditure is about Rs 7.3 lakh crore. Similarly, the Revised Estimate of the fiscal deficit is 6.4 per cent of GDP, adhering to the Budget Estimate.
Budget Estimates 2023-24
Sitharaman said the total receipts other than borrowings and the total expenditure are estimated at Rs 27.2 lakh crore and Rs 45 lakh crore respectively. The net tax receipts are estimated at Rs 23.3 lakh crore. The fiscal deficit is estimated to be 5.9 per cent of GDP.