In a first-ever 100% digital Budget session, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman delivered the Union Budget for FY 2021-22 on Feb 1, 2021. And the reaction of the markets has been more or less reflective of the general population’s sense of the Budget – positive. The SENSEX rose 5% (nearly 4,000 points) in the immediate aftermath of the Budget, which was the most it has gone up by on any Union Budget day since 1999.
So, what does the Budget have in store for you, the Indian householder? Let’s see some highlights in this brief article.
Taxation – Neither Higher, Nor Lower
In a reprieve to the common Indian, the FM has not changed the basic exemption limit, income tax slabs, or income tax rates. This means that the individual taxpayer will continue to pay tax at the same rates that were applicable in FY 2020-21. On the flip side, there were those that were expecting tax burdens to reduce in light of COVID-19 and the continuing struggle, which did not pan out. Standard deduction for salaried individuals and pensioners also remain the same as before.
It’s All about Infrastructure!
Signaling the Center’s push for the sector in the coming decade or so, the Budget was Infrastructure-heavy because of the superior job-creation aspect that goes along with it. FM Sitharaman announced the creation of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) with the intention of having a portfolio of Rs 5 trillion in three years. She also announced various amendments to increase the ease access for FPIs to invest in Infrastructure Investment Trusts and Real Estate Investment Trusts.
Cleaning up the Books – Banking Sector Reforms
Via asset reconstruction companies working in tandem with asset management companies, the government intends to add further impetus to cleaning up the books of large and public sector banks in order to find a permanent solution to the problem of stressed assets.
Push to Gradually Disinvest and Privatize
The FM reiterated the Center’s commitment to disinvest and privatize, and also added that 2 more public sector banks and a general insurer would be privatized in the coming fiscal. This will be in addition to the proposed divestment in IDBI Bank. Moreover, FY 2021-22 will also see the disinvestment of some iconic public sector companies such as Bharat Petroleum (BPCL), Air India, Shipping Corporation (BEML), Pawan Hans, and Container Corporation of India (CONCOR).
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