New Delhi, 1st February 2024: Today, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the interim budget for India in a session marked by optimism and promises of inclusive growth. The budget places a significant emphasis on uplifting women and youth across the nation, heralding a new era of empowerment and progress.
In her opening address, Minister Sitharaman recounted the achievements of the Modi government, highlighting its commitment to empowering the underprivileged. She underscored the government’s unwavering focus on four key demographics – women, the poor, youth, and farmers.
Accompanied by several major announcements, let’s delve into the key highlights of this budget:
No Changes in Tax Slabs: Minister Sitharaman announced that there would be no alterations in the tax slabs this year, maintaining the income tax threshold at 7 lakhs. This decision aims to ensure stability for salary earners, providing them with financial predictability.
Free Electricity Initiative: One of the most groundbreaking announcements was the pledge to provide free electricity to households through rooftop solarisation. This initiative is expected to benefit over one crore families, ensuring free electricity up to 300 monthly units and potentially saving them between 15,000 to 18,000 rupees annually.
Government Housing Scheme: Minister Sitharaman unveiled a new housing scheme aimed at providing homes to every underprivileged individual, whether residing in rental accommodations, slums, or unauthorized colonies. The government aims to achieve a target of four crore houses, with a significant focus on empowering women by allocating homes to 70% of female beneficiaries.
Expansion of Medical Colleges: A plan to establish more medical colleges, utilizing the existing infrastructure of hospitals, was also announced. A committee will be formed to facilitate this expansion, ensuring better access to healthcare and medical education across the country.
Cervical Cancer Vaccination Campaign: The government plans to launch a vaccination campaign targeting girls aged 9-14 years to combat cervical cancer, promoting preventive healthcare measures and ensuring the well-being of young women.
Expansion of Ayushman Bharat Scheme: Under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, health coverage will be extended to all ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers, and assistants, furthering the reach of affordable healthcare services to grassroots-level workers.
Increase in Defence Spending: Minister Sitharaman declared an increase in defence spending by 11.1%, amounting to 3.4% of GDP, demonstrating the government’s commitment to national security and modernisation of the armed forces.
Railway Upgradation: Plans were unveiled to manufacture 40,000 railway coaches of international standards under the ‘Vande Bharat’ initiative. Additionally, three separate corridors will be developed to alleviate congestion on heavily trafficked railway routes.
Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: The Finance Minister highlighted the government’s initiative to create three crore women entrepreneurs, with one crore already achieving millionaire status, indicating substantial progress towards gender equality and economic empowerment.
In conclusion, the interim budget for 2024 reflects a visionary approach towards inclusive development, with a strong emphasis on harnessing the potential of women and youth to drive India’s growth story forward. As the nation looks ahead with optimism, these initiatives are poised to create a more equitable and prosperous future for all citizens.