A simplified tax regime and the LIC divestment announcement were probably the highlights of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget.
The finance minister, who started her speech by listing out a 16-point development agenda for the farm sector, walked up the expected line with a slew of measures for farmers. She said horticulture output had far exceeded foodgrain production and steps would be taken to cash in on that. She said the Railways would operate a Kisan Rail service to reach fruits and vegetables to various parts of the country in the PPP mode.
This apart, the Civil Aviation Ministry will operate Krishi Udan freight servicers. The FM announced a three-pronged agenda for development which would characterise the agenda of the government. The three aspects are: aspirational India, economic development, and caring society.
Alluding to the five jewels that poet Thiruvalluvar mentioned in one of his works, she said Prime Minister Modi was also working towards making the country prosperous through five such jewels. Elaborating, she said, the five jewels were: an epidemic-free society, wealth, good crop, happiness, and national security.
A five-slab simplified tax regime will be in force, she said and the new regime, like the old one, would exempt those earning up to ₹5 lakh from paying any tax. The new regime would be as follows: ₹5-7.5 lakh: 10%, ₹7.5 lakh to ₹10 lakh: 15%, ₹10 lakh-12.5 lakh: 20%, ₹12.5 lakh-15 lakh: 25%. For those earning above ₹15 lakh, the tax will be 30%.
She said the tax system would be further simplified and the exceptions and reductions would be rationalised soon. The government would sustain a ₹48,000-crore revenue loss due to income tax relief.
In a bid to boost investment and improve liquidity, the minister said in addition to the ₹105 lakh crore infrastructure pipeline, the government would give 100% tax concession on sovereign wealth funds on investment in infrastructure projects.
Another announcement of importance to the common man is that PAN would be allotted instantly with the Aadhar.
The Finance Minister wound up the longest-ever speech due to fatigue and said the rest would be ‘considered read.’