On February 1, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Union Finance Minister, presented her sixth budget to the nation strategically as an interim budget in view of the upcoming general elections towards the end of this year. The Interim Budget 2024 sought to focus on youth and women’s empowerment while maintaining fiscal discipline and continuing capital expenditure. Significantly, FM Sitharaman reduced the fiscal deficit target for FY25 to 5.1% of GDP, reflecting an intent towards prudent economic governance amidst changing global and domestic dynamics. Even with the general expectations, there were no changes to direct and indirect tax rates, ensuring continuity in the taxation framework.
Key Takeaways from FM Sitharaman’s Post-Budget Press Conference
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasised five fundamental ideas that are summed up as “Disha Nirdeshak” at the post-budget news conference:
Effective Governance Through Social Justice: Sitharaman stressed the need for a governance model based on social justice principles and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to balanced growth.
Focus on the Underprivileged: The finance minister highlighted the government’s emphasis on meeting the needs of marginal groups, such as people experiencing poverty, youth, women, and farmers, who play a central role in India’s socio-economic fabric.
Infrastructure Development: A vision to propel India’s growth trajectory where much focus was given to infrastructure development as an enabler for economic boom and employment.
Technological Advancement for Productivity: The use of technology to improve productivity became the foundation upon which the government’s strategy was based, enabling innovation and efficiency across industries.
Addressing Demographic Challenges: To reflect the changing demographic scenario in India, a high-powered committee was suggested to address challenges emerging out of such changes and take advantage of opportunities linked with population dynamics.
India’s Economic Performance
The three consecutive years of 7% GDP growth in India were a testimony to the economic resilience that positioned it as one of the fastest-growing economies within the G20. Finance Minister Sitharaman echoed the government’s unwavering resolve to maintain this growth impetus through judicious economic policies and strategic interventions.
Fiscal Discipline and Management
By defining GDP as Government, Development, and Performance, Sitharaman drew attention to the government’s performance in promoting development and managing the economy effectively. However, despite the daunting challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic uncertainties, commitments to minimise the fiscal deficit were reiterated, demonstrating the commitment of the government towards maintaining austerity.
Continued Capital Expenditure
The minister accentuated the need for consistent capital expenditure and reiterated that her government would support ongoing infrastructure projects. She highlighted that capital expenditure is a vital source of economic growth and job creation, hence the need for continued investment in strategic sectors.
Strategic Initiatives and Projects
In spite of the disruptions in the Red Sea region, the government reaffirmed its commitment to developing the India-Middle East European Corridor (IMEC) project, thereby portraying that India’s presence is a growing faction within global trade and connectivity projects.
Taxation Policies and Directives
In addressing speculation regarding tax reforms, Sitharaman stated that there would be no changes in the existing policies on taxes to ensure stability and predictability among those who pay. The maintenance of existing rates for direct and indirect taxes, including import duties, creates a favourable environment that allows businesses and individuals to make sound financial decisions.
Infrastructure Development and Housing Initiatives
One of the major focus areas in the budget was infrastructure development, especially in the housing sector. The government’s resolve to foster widespread growth through affordable housing schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, was brought into focus. The substantial rise in funding, amounting to ₹79,000 crore for the scheme during FY24, reflected the government’s focus on ensuring quality housing for all sections of society.
Positive Implications for Real Estate and Economic Growth
The budgetary measures were warmly embraced by the players in the real estate sector since they realised that such moves would spur economic growth. Industry experts say that the 11% increase in capital expenditure will have a positive impact on the real estate market. Initiatives like Namo Bharat, which sought to improve connectivity and infrastructure development, were set to boost demand for property investments.
This could also be great news for investors and home buyers interested in apartments in Noida or other premium locations since great connectivity and improved infrastructure will bring in profitable real estate investment opportunities.
Inclusive Economic Policies and Social Welfare Initiatives
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, reaffirmed that his government was committed to inclusive growth and social welfare. Programmes like the Pradhanmantri Suryodaya Yojana, which sought to provide free electricity to households through rooftop solarisation, highlighted how the government prioritised sustainable development and environmental preservation. The budget allocation of ₹11 lakh crore for infrastructure development reinforced the government’s commitment to address pressing socio-economic issues and improve the quality of life of all citizens.
With India moving through ever-changing economic terrains and global uncertainties, the budget for FY 24–25 acts as a guide towards inclusive growth and sustainable development. Through targeted investments in infrastructure, housing, and technology, coupled with sound fiscal management, the government seeks to cement India’s position as a robust economy on the world stage.
Building upon the finer details and wider implications of the budget, it is clear that the Indian government’s fiscal policies form a part of its economic as well as social fabric. Through youth and women’s empowerment, fiscal discipline, and capital expenditure, the government intends to guide the nation towards a path of inclusive growth and prosperity.
In addition, the budgetary provisions for critical sectors such as infrastructure, housing, and technology demonstrate a futuristic attitude towards developing an economy. Infrastructure investments not only boost economic activity but also create jobs and improve total efficiency. Likewise, projects that focus on affordable housing and use technology to increase productivity help enhance the quality of life for all citizens, regardless of their socio-economic status.
It also promotes the notion of improved opportunities for purchasing apartments in Noida or investing in other real estate assets.
As we navigate through global uncertainties, the budget serves as a beacon of hope, guiding us towards a brighter tomorrow where opportunities abound and every citizen can contribute to and benefit from India’s progress.
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