Earlier today, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the budget for the financial year 2021-22. This is the first digital budget in Indian history and very crucial given that India’s economy is struggling with the slump induced by COVID-19 lockdown. Keeping that in mind, the government has announced a considerable outlay for healthcare and COVID-19 mitigation measures.
In a total budget of Rs 3,768 crore for FY21, the government has made some crucial announcements pertaining to the health sector and vaccination amid other announcements. Here are all the highlights of Union Budget 2021-2022:
3. In a relief, while COVID-19 cess was being expected in this year’s budget (i.e. an added tax levied on us for the pandemic mitigation measures), none of it has been announced this year.
4. While it's being said that significant changes have been announced in the taxation process, they have little to no implication for salaried people. The Finance Minister has announced the scrapping of income tax for senior citizens under certain conditions. In addition to this, startups will get an extension in their tax holiday for an additional year.
5. Additionally, the reopening of the income tax assessment window has been reduced from six years to three years. Earlier, this window was 10 years. In simple words, this means that while tax evasion could have been interrogated by opening up the company’s records for upto six years earlier, now this window would be limited to only three years.
6. In a decision that is perhaps being discussed the most on social media right now, Rs 300 crores have been allocated to the govt of Goa for the celebration of 50 years of independence from the Portuguese.
7. Sitharaman has also proposed social security benefits for gig-workers, building, and construction workers. “Social security benefits will be extended to gig and platform workers. Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers,” she said during the budget speech.
8. Making another important announcement for women workers, she further added, “Women will be allowed to work in all categories and also in night shifts with adequate protection. To further extend efforts towards unorganised labour force, I propose to launch a portal to collect relevant information on gig workers, building/construction workers among others. It’ll help formulate health, housing, skill, insurance credit and food schemes for migrant workers."
9. Additionally, a special scheme for welfare for tea workers (women and children) in Assam and West Bengal has also been announced. "I propose to provide ₹ 1,000 crores for the welfare of tea workers especially women and their children in Assam and West Bengal," she said while presenting the Union Budget 2021-22.
10. In the education department, the Finance Minister plans to qualitatively strengthen 15,000 schools across the country. The plan to open a central university in Leh. She also plans to open 100 new Sainik schools in the country.
11. An outlay of Rs 34,219 crores over the next six years has also been announced to benefit Scheduled Caste students in the country.
12. In the Power Sector, the consumers would now be given the choice to choose their electricity provider. However, not all of us would be able to avail this choice given that a lot of cities in India don’t really have a choice when it comes to the power provider.
13. The Finance Minister has further announced a Rs 3.05 lakh crore outlay for the power sector in the country. The aim is to benefit 100 cities in the country which would now be added to the gas distribution network.
14. Last year, a simplified return format for GST was introduced in April 2020. In the 2021-22 budget, the financial minister shared that the government intends to further simplify the GST process this financial year.
15. A new gas pipeline project has been announced for Jammu and Kashmir.
16. The finance minister extended the additional relief of Rs 1.5 lakh for home loans for affordable housing. The scheme was first announced in the July 2019 Budget. Later finance minister extended the period till March 2021. Now, homebuyers can avail an additional tax relief on home loans till 31 March 2022.
As per the finance minister's claim, the budget "would boost the economy." However, given that there have been scanty announcements for the salaried population, we are yet to see how this promise actually materialises.
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