Budget 2021: Top takeaways from India's first paperless Budget
On Monday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented what was perhaps one of the most-awaited Budgets in Indian history.
This is India's first paperless Budget, and the third Budget presented by Sitharaman. The Finance Minister started by thanking the frontline workers, who continued to serve the country amid these difficult times, and announced that Budget 2021 was prepared in "unprecedented times".
She said, "Only three times, the Budget has followed a contraction in Indian economy. This time, it's because of a global pandemic like in other countries. I want to confidently state that the government is fully prepared to support and facilitate the economic reset."
The FM said the Union Budget 2021-2022 proposals are based on six key pillars —
- Health and wellbeing
- Physical and Financial Capital Infrastructure
- Inclusive development
- Development of human capital
- Innovation and R&D
- Minimum government maximum governance
In a welcome move for Indian startups and MSMEs, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to incentivise the incorporation of one-person companies, with no restriction in paid-up capital and turnover, as well as an update to the definition of small companies under Companies Act, 2013.
The Union Budget for 2021-22 has further boosted the Indian startup ecosystem by announcing tax incentives for startups and an extension in capital gains exemption by one year.
For all the key takeaways from Budget 2021, here's a roundup of YourStory's comprehensive coverage of the Finance Minister's Budget Speech:
Government fully prepared to support and facilitate the economic reset, says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark." Quoting poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday presented India’s first-ever paperless Budget 2021, considered one of the most crucial ones in modern India’s history as the country attempts to recover from the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This morning, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made her way to the Parliament, a 'Made in India' tablet wrapped in a velvety red cloth in tow — a contrast to the traditional 'bahi khata' (ledger wrapped in a red cloth) that she'd been carrying in the past two years.
In her first year as FM, Sitharaman broke away from the Budget 'briefcase' with the bahi khata to honour age-old practices. Two years on, she's gearing up to deliver the country's first 'digital' Budget.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday provided Rs 35,000 crore towards COVID-19 vaccination in 2021-22 fiscal.
"I have provided Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccine in this year 2021-22. I'm committed to provide further funds if required. The Budget outlay for health and well being is Rs 2.23 lakh crore in 2021-22 as against BE of Rs 94,452 crore and marks an increase of 137 percent," she said while presenting 2021-22 Budget in the Lok Sabha.
In the first-ever paperless budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed a slew of changes within existing tax structures. One of these will offer major relief for companies that transact digitally.
The limit for tax audit, which was Rs 5 crore turnover initially, has been raised to Rs 10 crore now. This step aims to incentivise digital transactions and reduce compliance burden.
Iamge Credits: YS Design team
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hailed the Union Budget 2021, saying it has the vision of "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" (self-reliance) and addresses all sections of the society, while keeping farmers and villages at its heart.
"This Budget has a special focus on strengthening the agriculture sector and boosting farmers' income. Villages and farmers are at its heart," PM Modi said. He says Budget 2021 has provisions for further strengthening APMC mandis through Agri Infrastructure Fund.
Presenting the Union Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasised efforts made to bolster the economy, explaining that the Aatmanirbhar Bharat packages and other post-Covid-19 economic relief packages were like “mini budgets" in themselves.
She added this Budget is now an extension to the same effort.
In welcome move for Indian startups, FM proposes one person company without any restriction on paid-up limit
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed the incorporation of one-person companies, with no restriction in paid-up capital and turnover, as well as an update to the definition of small companies under Companies Act, 2013.
The FM proposed revising the definition of small companies by raising the capital base to Rs 2 crore from the current limit of Rs 50 lakh. Budget 2021 also focussed on decriminalisation of limited liability partnerships, with the flexibility to convert a company to any form or LLP to benefit more than two lakh companies in easing the compliance requirement.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents Union Budget 2021-2022
Finance Minister announces the launch of Aatmanirbhar Swastha Bharat Yojana with an outlay of Rs 64,180 Cr
With 2020 being one of the most challenging years for the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that health and wellbeing is one of the six pillars for Budget 2021.
While presenting the Union Budget 2021 on Monday, Nirmala Sitharaman announced the launch of Aatmanirbhar Swastha Bharat Yojana, with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore. She said these funds will be used for developing primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare over a period of six years. The finance minister clarified that this initiative will be an addition to the National Health Mission.
The Union Budget for 2021-22 has further boosted the Indian startup ecosystem by announcing tax incentives for startups and an extension in capital gains exemption by one year.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government has proposed to extend the eligibility of tax holiday for startups by another year. Further, the capital gains exemption for startups has also been extended by another year.
Aatmanirbhar packages of Rs 27.1 lakh crore sped up the pace of structural reforms: FM Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the government's Aatmanirbhar packages, totalling Rs 27.1 lakh crore to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated the pace of structural reforms.
Furthermore, the FM highlighted "our manufacturing sector has to grow in double digits on a sustained basis" to achieve the vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025. She also announced the government's commitment of Rs 1.97 lakh crore under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme.
Addressing the Lok Sabha today, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2021, focussing on the Aatmanirbhar Bharat vision to make a V-shape recovery of the economy.
She said the government's Aatmanirbhar packages, which totalled Rs 27.1 lakh crore to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated the pace of structural reforms.
Presenting the Union Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman said that this year’s Budget rests on six pillars - Health and Wellbeing, Physical & Financial Capital, Infrastructure, Inclusive Development for Aspirational India, Reinvigorating Human Capital, Innovation and R&D, and Minimum Government and Maximum Governance.
Under the third pillar of Inclusive Development for Aspirational India, the finance minister announced the launch of the “One Nation One Ration Card scheme through which beneficiaries can claim their rations anywhere in the country.” She said that migrant workers may benefit the most from this scheme since those staying away from their families can partially claim their ration where they are stationed, while their family, in their native places, can claim the rest.
In this year’s Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that for the first time, globally, social security benefits would extend to gig and platform workers.
“Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers, and they will all be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation. Women will be allowed to work in all categories and also in the night-shifts with adequate protection. At the same time, compliance burden on employers will be reduced with single registration and licensing, and online returns,” she said.
Presenting one of the most-awaited Budgets in Indian history, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced a slew of changes in customs duties in a bid to boost local manufacturing. She explained that since last year, the government is overhauling the structure of customs duties and has eliminated 80 outdated exemptions.
Proposing to review more than 400 old exemptions this year, Sitharaman promised to put in place a revised customs duty structure, which is free of distortions. MSMEs, which were severely hit by a sharp rise in iron and steel prices, will see customs duty reduced uniformly to 7.5 percent on semis, flat, and long products of non-alloy, alloy, and stainless steels.
Ahead of the 75th year of Independence for our country that will be celebrated next year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a tax filing waiver for senior citizens during the tabling of Union Budget 2021 in the Lok Sabha. This means that senior citizens who are aged 75 and above do not have to file Income Tax Returns anymore, and the tax will be directly deducted from their accounts.
“I begin my direct tax proposals by offering my pranaam to our senior citizens. Many of them, despite having foregone several basic necessities of their own, have strived to build our nation,” the Finance Minister said.
FM proposes central university in Leh, legislation on Higher Education Commission, details on NEP rollout
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in her Budget 2021 speech that the legislation for setting up of the Higher Education Commission of India will be introduced this year.
"It will be an umbrella body, having four separate vehicles for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding," she stated. The proposal to set up the commission was made earlier in Budget 2019-20. The finance minister also proposed setting up a Central University in Leh "for accessible higher education in Ladakh."
With a focus on reviving the economy, the government has announced a few key proposals to push for Infra Development. Announcing the Union Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shared that the government has prepared a National Rail Plan for India – 2030.
"The plan is to create a ‘future ready’ Railway system by 2030, bringing down the logistics costs for our industry is at the core of our strategy to enable ‘Make in India’," she said.
The use of Artificial Intelligence has made its entry into the Budget 2021 lexicon. While the Budget is about the country's projected spends in areas where there can be growth, it is now also about tracking companies that default and the need to comply with the rules of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: "During the coming fiscal 2021-22, we will be launching data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning-driven MCA21 Version 3.0. This Version 3.0 will have additional modules for e-scrutiny, e-Adjudication, e-Consultation and Compliance Management."
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed increasing the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in the insurance sector to 74 percent from 49 percent in an attempt to attract more overseas insurance players to India.
"I propose to amend the Insurance Act, 1938, to increase the permissible FDI limit from 49 percent to 74 percent in insurance companies and allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards," she said.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the government will float shares for the initial public offering of India largest life insurance company LIC in 2021-2022, finally putting to rest months of speculation by investors around when the high profile listing would take place.
Touted to be one of the biggest IPOs in the history of India, the 10 percent stake sale of LIC was initially planned for the second half of 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
India may have its first digital census where the census data or India's decadal headcount would be collected through a mobile app. Presenting the Union Budget 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that that the government has set aside Rs 3,768 crore to conduct the national census digitally this year.
"The forthcoming Census could be the first digital census in the history of India. For this monumental and milestone-marking task, I have allocated Rs 3,768 crore in the year 2021-2022," she said during the speech.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday proposed a Rs 1,500 crore scheme to develop, promote, and accelerate digital payments in the country, following the sharp growth in online and contactless payments during the COVID-19 led lockdown months.
"To give a further boost to digital transactions, I earmark Rs 1,500 crore for a proposed scheme that will provide financial incentive to promote a digital mode of payment," she said.
FM announces increase in agriculture credit target; allocation to Rural Infrastructure Development Fund to Rs 40,000Cr
Presenting India’s first-ever digital Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced agricultural reforms on Monday amidst loud protests from the Opposition. The farming sector in India has come into sharp focus, following protests around three contentious farm bills that the government is planning to introduce.
“The Central government is committed to the welfare of farmers", she said, adding that agricultural procurement has increased steadily and benefited farmers.
Presenting India's first-ever paperless Union Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed the incorporation of One Person Companies (OPCs), with no restriction in paid-up capital and turnover, as well as an update to the definition of small companies under Companies Act, 2013.
In her speech, the FM said, "As a further measure which directly benefits startups and innovators, I propose to incentivise the incorporation of One Person Companies (OPCs) by allowing OPCs to grow without any restrictions on paid-up capital and turnover, allowing their conversion into any other type of company at any time, reducing the residency limit for an Indian citizen to set up an OPC from 182 days to 120 days, and also allow Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to incorporate OPCs in India."
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the free cooking gas LPG scheme Ujjwala will be extended to one crore more beneficiaries. So far, the scheme has aided over eight crore households in India.
She further added that the city gas distribution network of providing CNG to automobiles and piped cooking gas to households will be expanded to 100 more districts. Presenting the Union Budget for 2021-22, the finance minister said fuel supplies were kept running without interruption during COVID-19 lockdown.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed a 2.5 percent custom duty on mobile parts and sub-parts. Items that had ‘nil’ custom duty until now would be charged the above custom duty starting April 1, 2021.
These include inputs, parts and sub-parts of printed circuit board assembly (PCBA), mobile chargers or adapters, camera modules, and connectors, and battery packs.
On Monday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, quoted these words of the great bard of Bengal, as she presented the Union Budget 2021. Apt words, given that the Indian economy is still in the dark, having slipped into recession last year, and the pandemic is still not over.
However, as someone from West Bengal, one couldn't miss the subtle Bengali symbolisms to the budget this year, ahead of 2021 West Bengal Legislative Assembly elections.
White sarees with a broader red coloured border known as 'Laal-paad' sarees are generally worn during auspicious and cultural festivals in Bengal, especially during Durga Puja. The finance minister was seen donning a similar saree, as she presented India's first digital and paper-less budget.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced a slew of measures for the Indian textile sector, which is the sixth-largest exporter of textiles and apparel in the world. The sector also contributes significantly to employment generation.
Sitharaman said that in a bid to rationalise duties on raw material inputs to man-made textiles, the government is now bringing nylon chain on par with polyester and other man-made fibres.
Expressing commitment to augment the country's infrastructure, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to significantly enhance capital expenditure to Rs 5.54 lakh crore in the next fiscal, besides creating institutional structures and giving a big thrust to monetising assets to achieve the goals of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP).
Sitharaman said NIP, which was launched in December 2019 with 6,835 projects, has now been expanded to 7,400 projects, and around 217 projects worth Rs 1.10 lakh crore under some key infrastructure ministries have been completed.
Over 15,000 schools will be qualitatively strengthened as per reforms proposed in the new National Education Policy (NEP), which will help in handholding and mentoring other schools, according to the Union Budget for 2021-22 announced on Monday.
A total of 100 new Sainik Schools will also be set up in partnership with NGOs, private schools, and states.
In her Union Budget speech, FM Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 15,700 crore to the MSME sector, besides laying a special framework of Data Analytics, Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to assist the sector.
“We have taken a number of steps to support the MSME sector in this Budget. I have provided Rs 15,700 crore to the sector, which is more than double of last year,” she said.
After a steep cut last year, the Department of Space (DoS) has been allocated Rs 13,949 crore in the Union Budget, of which Rs 8,228 crore is earmarked for capital expenditure.
New Space India Limited, a newly formed public sector undertaking (PSU) under DoS, has been allocated Rs 700 crore.
From increasing healthcare spending to extending social security benefits to gig workers, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget 2021 was historical in more ways than one.
While financial experts are still divided over whether the budget was "good" or "not so good," Twitteratis were clear: the event was worth meme-worthy.
Interest on employee's PF contributions over Rs 2.5 lakh to be taxed, 1 pc EPF contributors to be affected
Interest on employee contributions to the provident fund (PF) over Rs 2.5 lakh per annum would be taxed from April 1, 2021, a move aimed at taxing high-value depositors in the EPF.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) is aimed at the welfare of workers and any person earning less than Rs 2 lakh per month will not be affected by the Budget proposal.
The usage of clean and renewable energy will bring India one step closer to growth and sustainability. With that in mind, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced renewable energy initiatives during the Budget 2021 presentation.
The finance minister highlighted the National Hydrogen Energy Mission in 2021-22 for generating hydrogen from green power sources, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hinted while speaking at the Third Re-inVest Conference in November 2020.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget 2021 contained several incentives for the burgeoning financial technology industry, which saw monumental growth last year in areas, including digital payments, retail investments via online brokerage platforms, insurance buying, and digital banking, among others.
Here's what startup founders, senior executives, investors, and experts think about the finance minister's fintech boost:
Ravi Narayan, CEO of T-Hub, says several measures announced in the Budget 2021 are likely to boost the aspirations of Indian startups, but believes lot more needs to be done in the areas of funding startups.
Roopa Kudva, Managing Director, Omidyar Network
Roopa Kudva, MD, Omidyar Network India, welcomes Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget 2021 for emphasising the use of technology to enable social impact and inclusion in important areas such as healthcare, education, and provision of benefits for migrant workers.
The government has laid “immense focus” on human capital in the budget for 2021-22 while also taking steps to make doing business easier,founder Virendra Gupta said Monday.
Speaking to YourStory after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made her speech in Parliament, Gupta said it was “heartening” to see that the budget focused on human lives and didn’t just offer numbers and statistics.
Udaan Co-founder Sujeet Kumar
Speaking to YourStory after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the budget, Sujeet Kumar said the government’s intention to revive MSMEs “very positive”.
“The government has taken several bold steps for MSMEs,” said Kumar, who co-founded the business-to-business marketplacein 2016.
The Union Budget for 2021-22 is “very good” but could have done more to address the challenges that startups face, TVS Capital Chairman and Managing Director Gopal Srinivasan said Monday.
The changes in taxation are “very welcome” and will go a long way in improving the image of tax authorities, Srinivasan said at an interaction with YourStory after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the Budget. The proposals will also help reduce “tax terrorism”, he said.
Cleartax Founder Archit Gupta
The government’s decision to not impose a new tax in the budget for 2021-22 is a positive development but it must look for ways to widen the tax base,founder Archit Gupta said.
“No news is good news on taxation,” Gupta told YourStory after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Union Budget for 2021-22 in Parliament.
Vedantu CEO and Co-founder Vamsi Krishna
The government’s budget proposals for the education sector are “interesting” but a lot will depend on their implementation,Co-founder and CEO Vamsi Krishna said Monday.
Speaking to YourStory after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Union Budget for 2021-22 in Parliament, Krishna said he would love to see more investment in the school infrastructure to make them more enabled for online learning.
The Narendra Modi government has moved in the right direction with the budget for the next fiscal year laying the groundwork for reviving economic activity, ace lawyer Rajiv Khaitan said Monday.
The government is spending heavily in sectors such as roads, hospitals and ports and is trying to raise revenue without imposing new taxes, said Khaitan, senior partner at law firm Khaitan & Co.
The Union Budget for 2021-22 will likely encourage companies to step up hiring with information technology and healthcare sectors leading the pace, according to Viswanath PS, Chief Financial Officer at recruitment consultancy Randstad India.
Speaking to YourStory, Viswanath said companies have learnt to work with the pandemic over the past few months and are receptive to hiring again.
The government has outlined a number of initiatives to drive India’s digital ecosystem forward in the Budget for 2021-22 but it must give entrepreneurs greater freedom to build businesses,founder Kunal Shah said Monday.
Shah, who started the fintech company about three years ago and had previously co-founded digital wallet Freecharge, said also that he was disappointed that the budget didn’t allocate any sum to increase financial literacy.
The Union Budget for 2021-22 is ‘super-balanced’ as it focuses on a range of critical sectors such as healthcare, infrastructure and agriculture, Dailyhunt co-founder Umang Bedi said Monday.
“The focus on health, infrastructure and agriculture shows the government is looking at how to revive the economy in a long-term sustainable way,” said Bedi, the former head of Facebook India.
The Narendra Modi government has sent the right signals in its budget for 2021-22 to revive economic growth and create jobs but implementation of the proposals will be critical to be meeting the targets, Biocon Ltd chairperson and managing director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said Monday.
For the first time, the government is tasked with bolstering the economy when demand for goods and services remains sluggish and tax collections remain a challenge, amidst a slew of other hurdles.
India Inc and Indian startups are hoping for some bold reforms across sectors from the Narendra Modi government to pave the way for an economic recovery. The Indian economy, badly bruised by the coronavirus crisis, slipped into recession last year.
For YourStory's multimedia coverage of Budget 2021, visit YourStory's Budget 2021 page or budget.yourstory.com