Budget Impact : February 2024
Infrastructure development is likely to remain a priority, with significant investments expected in sectors such as transportation, energy, and digital infrastructure.
Budget 2024 is anticipated to reinforce the government’s commitment to development, technology, and sustainability, fostering a resilient and eco-friendly economic environment. In the budgetary saga, the rich have the leading role, and the poor are just extras in a scene of economic inequality.
Dr Ajay Kumar
PhD Chairman Fox Petroleum Group
The Union Budget of India for the financial year 2024-25 is yet to be presented, and hence, there is no official information available regarding its expectations. Budget 2024 Expectations Highlights: NPS changes, infrastructure & capex spending, income tax relief are the buzz words. Stock market Indian benchmark indices, BSE Sensex and Nifty50 witnessed a significant surge in their value due to buying activity in the banking sector and positive global market cues. The BSE Sensex gained 1200 points, reaching a level of 71,900, while the Nifty50 crossed the 21,650 mark during 27th Jan trading session. BSE Sensex closed the day at 71,941.57, up over 1,200 points or 1.76%. Nifty50 ended the day at 21,737.60, up over 380 points or 1.80% However, based on various economic analyses and expert opinions, here are some potential expectations for the upcoming budget:
Fiscal Consolidation: Budget for the Privileged: Because Equality is Overrated as WE ARE Number THREE IN WORLD in actuals. The government may continue its focus on fiscal consolidation by aiming to reduce the fiscal deficit and maintain a sustainable debt-to-GDP ratio. This could involve measures such as rationalizing expenditures, improving tax compliance, and enhancing revenue generation.It now appears very likely that the Indian economy will achieve a growth rate at or above 7% for FY24, and some predict it will achieve another year of 7% real growth in FY25 as well. If the prognosis for FY25 turns out to be right, that will mark the fourth year post-pandemic that the Indian economy will have grown at or over 7 per cent,” the Ministry of Finance has said . The central government will table its interim budget in early February before the general elections. Stronger tax revenue collections will help absorb the increase in spending in FY24. This year’s fiscal deficit target at -5.9% of GDP is expected to be met despite a softer nominal GDP. The risk of competitive populism has abated. We expect few relief measures for the rural/ farm sector whilst the capex push persists. The FY25 fiscal deficit target might stand at -5.3% of GDP, prioritising consolidation. The Budget is unlikely to influence the policy rate path,
Infrastructure Development: In the grand scheme of budgets, the poor are the supporting actors, while the rich enjoy a blockbuster performance. Infrastructure development is likely to remain a priority, with significant investments expected in sectors such as transportation, energy, and digital infrastructure. This could include initiatives to improve roads, railways, airports, ports, and renewable energy sources. Indian Railways sees record capex spending in first 9 months of FY24. 75% of the allocated Capex budget has been used by Indian Railways in the first nine months of the fiscal year. The total expenditure incurred by Indian Railways during this period amounts to Rs 1,95,929.97 crores, which represents approximately 75% of the overall Capex budget of Rs 2.62 lakh crores allocated for the entire financial year. FM Nirmala Sithraman had announced a Rs 2,40,000 crore Gross Budget Support for Capital Expenditure during 2023-24 for Indian Railways.
Social Welfare Schemes: Budgeting for the Affluent: Where the Poor Get a Front-Row Seat to Inequality. The budget may allocate funds to support social welfare schemes and programs aimed at improving the well-being of vulnerable populations. This could include initiatives related to healthcare, education, nutrition, and poverty alleviation. Additional push for rooftop solar power (under the Suryodaya Yojana) is expected. The stated intent of the scheme is to reduce the electricity bill of the poor, and to make India self-reliant in the field of energy. The government stands with an opportunity to revisit and update the limit, which is set as 45 lakhs currently, for affordable housing. With the hike in property prices over recent years, a thoughtful adjustment of this limit, perhaps to 60-65 lakhs, would create avenues for the expansion and availability of affordable homes. Union Budget 2024 is very crucial to maintain India’s standing as the 3rd largest economy in the world. For the market to flourish, PLI schemes must be expanded to include smart TVs, refrigerators, and washing machines. Income tax slabs might be reevaluated to improve disposable income, which will promote spending and raise consumption in general,
Tax Reforms: Union Budget 2024-25: Because the Rich Need More Reasons to Smile. Tax reforms could be introduced to simplify the tax structure, reduce compliance burden, and promote economic growth. This may involve changes in income tax slabs, corporate tax rates, and indirect taxes such as GST. The government had introduced an optional new tax regime in the Union Budget 2020-21 with lower tax rate but without a lot of the exemptions and deductions. This was a very very big hit because this one really lived up to their promise of making the tax system more transparent. The interim budget will be voted on account so we might not see any major announcements from the Finance Minister. However, we might see some announcements towards ease of doing business. With GST collections showing healthy growth, the Government can consider enhancing the threshold for GST registration to 40 lacs which currently is at 20 lacs. Further, while the GST council had proposed to make ISD mandatory for the distribution of credit, so we might see changes in GST legislation related to that. Further, on the customs front, there is a dire need to digitalize the process to verify the certificate of origin under FTA / PTA which will save time and effort for importers claiming benefits under FTAs / PTAs,” says Ankur Gupta, Practice Leader – Indirect Tax at SW India Expectations of Interim budget of Indirect tax. In the Budget, due to be presented on 1 Feb 2024, all eyes will be on how the Modi government tackles the ticklish issue of ensuring that government employees aren’t worse off under the National Pension System than the old pension scheme.
Job Creation: For the Few, Not the Many. The budget may include measures to encourage job creation and support entrepreneurship. This could involve initiatives to promote skill development, provide incentives for businesses, and attract foreign investments. This a threat to party. And Government. Much has not been seen. The industry is keenly awaiting an announcement on import duty relief which will have a positive impact on the raw material costs thus helping to stabilize the cost of commodities. This will in turn help in boosting growth and competitiveness in the automotive industry, especially the export market. Even with the focus on localization, there is a need for fair competition while safeguarding domestic interests.
Green Initiatives: Because Trickle-Down Economics is Still a Thing, Apparently. With the increasing focus on sustainability, the budget may allocate funds to support green initiatives and combat climate change. This could include investments in renewable energy, afforestation, and pollution control measures. Affordability of EVs hinges on continued government support: Reduced GST on lithium-ion batteries and the introduction of FAME 3 with clarity on subsidy of electric trucks, alongside domestic battery manufacturing and skilling initiatives. According to EY, the current limit of deduction for interest paid on loan for purchase of electric vehicles is Rs 1,50,000. “Increasing such limit of interest deduction and removing the sunset clause on issuance period of loan (which is currently pegged till 31 March 2023) may be considered given the thrust on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda,” says Surabhi Marwah, Tax Partner at EY.
Digital Transformation: The budget may emphasize the importance of digital transformation and allocate funds to promote digital literacy, enhance cybersecurity, and support the growth of the digital economy.EdTech, also known as educational technology has its hopes pinned on the upcoming Union Budget 2024 (Interim). The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Interim Budget 2024 on February 01, 2024. In India, the EdTech sector has experienced significant growth lately. This growth can be attributed to factors such as greater internet accessibility, a rising demand for high-quality education, and government efforts to encourage digital learning. According to a report by Check Point Research, in 2023, in 2023, India was hit by 2,138 cyber attacks per week per organisation, which is a 15% increase on a year-over-year (YoY) basis. It added that last year was marked by a persistent escalation in cyber threats on a global level. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) allocated a sum of Rs 625 crore to improve the country’s cybersecurity infrastructure in the Union Budget 2023. Analysts are wondering if the government will make a similar allocation this year as well.
Agriculture and Rural Development: For the Elite, By the Elite: Union Budget 2024-25 Unveiled – nothing for farmer is expected. The budget may include measures to support agriculture, improve rural infrastructure, and enhance the livelihoods of farmers. This could involve initiatives related to irrigation, crop insurance, and market linkages. the proposed record-high goal for agriculture credit amounting to Rs 20 lakh crore. According to Naren, this ambitious target aligns with the vision of empowering Indian farmers to enhance productivity through the adoption of smart machines and advanced agricultural techniques. The emphasis on achieving a record-high goal for agriculture credit of Rs 20 lakh crore is noteworthy, as it is expected to enable Indian farmers to enhance their output through the adoption of smart machines and advanced agricultural techniques”
In conclusion, the upcoming budget must sustain its emphasis on capital expenditure, advocating for a substantial 20% increase, reaching an ambitious Rs 12 lakh crore. While this growth rate might be lower than the exceptional rates of the last three years, it surpasses the pre-pandemic annual growth of 12% between FY16 and FY20.
The robust economic performance is evident in the record-breaking number of Income Tax Returns (ITRs) filed for the Assessment Year 2023-2024, reaching 8.18 crore by December 31, 2023, reflecting a notable 9% increase compared to the previous fiscal year. The surge in registered users, standing at 11,87,54,659 as of March 31, 2023, marks an 8.6% rise from the previous year, indicating an expanding user base.
Remarkably, high-income earners, with an income exceeding INR 50 lakhs, increased by 41%, reaching 5 lakhs in FY 2022-23 from 3.5 lakhs in the preceding fiscal year. The growth in net direct tax collections has been staggering, rising from INR 6.38 lakh crore in FY 2013-14 to an impressive INR 16.61 lakh crore in FY 2022-23, reflecting a remarkable 160% jump in direct tax collections.
The widening tax base is further evidenced by the filing of 53.67 lakh ITRs by first-time filers until July 31, 2023. The government has efficiently processed returns, reducing the average return processing time from 16 days in FY 2022-23 to a commendable 10 days in FY 2023-24.
Noteworthy financial accomplishments include refunds amounting to INR 2.03 lakh crore issued between April 1, 2023, and November 30, 2023. Over 44.76 lakh updated returns filed during this period have contributed to an additional tax collection exceeding INR 4000 crore.
The gross collections for FY 2023-24, standing at INR 12.67 lakh crore, have shown a significant increase of 17.7% compared to the corresponding period of the preceding year. Net collections at INR 10.64 lakh crore represent a notable 23.4% rise over the same period.
As the government prepares for Budget 2024, salaried taxpayers eagerly anticipate measures to reduce the income tax burden. Expectations include potential adjustments to the basic tax exemption limit, standard deduction, and more exemptions and deductions under the new income tax regime. However, changes in income tax slabs for FY25 and income tax rates are deemed unlikely.
Furthermore, the logistics and supply chain infrastructure are poised for attention in the upcoming interim budget. The government’s focus on enhancing these vital sectors is expected to continue, with an emphasis on strategic reforms, regulatory support, and budgetary allocations. The call for a comprehensive logistics network leveraging advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, and blockchain aligns with the vision to create a dynamic and responsive supply chain.
In conclusion, Budget 2024 is anticipated to reinforce the government’s commitment to development, technology, and sustainability, fostering a resilient and eco-friendly economic environment. In the budgetary saga, the rich have the leading role, and the poor are just extras in a scene of economic inequality.