MSMEs, EVs, and women-centric policies dominate Budget 2024 announcements
While Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented major reforms for electric vehicles, MSMEs, farmers and women, announcements around tax policies, climate and other sectors were brief.
Garib (poor), mahilayen (women), yuva (youth), and annadata (farmers) were the four main tenets of Interim Budget 2024.
“Their needs, aspirations, and welfare are our highest priority. The country progresses when they progress. All four require and receive government support in their quest to better their lives,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, addressing the Parliament in her shortest Budget speech till date, spanning 58 minutes.
The government proposed to borrow Rs 14.13 lakh crore by issuing dated securities to meet the revenue shortfall in the next financial year starting on April 1—lower than last year's gross borrowing estimate of Rs 15.43 lakh crore, which was the highest ever.
Meanwhile, the capital expenditure for FY2024-25 was increased by 11.1%, from the previous financial year, to Rs 11.1 lakh crore.
The Budget comprised some hits and a few misses. While major reforms were announced for electric vehicles, farmers, MSMEs, and women, announcements around tax policies, climate and other sectors were brief.
EV sector to get support for charging infrastructure, public transportation
The government said it would expand and strengthen the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem by supporting manufacturing and charging infrastructure, meeting a big expectation of the ecosystem.
The Budget also focused on public transportation. The FM said greater adoption of e-buses would be encouraged through a payment security mechanism that provides interest-free capital in case of defaults.
In 2023-24, the government spent Rs 4,807 crore as part of the FAME India scheme. For 2024-25, the government has allocated Rs 2,671 crore under FAME, which could change once a fresh Budget is presented following the Lok Sabha election.
Private-public investment, Blue Revolution to strengthen agriculture
“Farmers are our annadata (provider of food),” said Sitharaman.
This year, the government will step up efforts to bolster farmers’ income and the agricultural sector by focusing on reducing post-harvest losses and improving productivity.
To ensure faster growth of the sector, the government said it would further promote private and public investment in post-harvest activities, including aggregation, modern storage, efficient supply chains, primary and secondary processing, and marketing and branding, said the finance minister.
The Budget also outlined a strategy to achieve atmanirbharta for oil seeds such as mustard, groundnut, sesame, soybean, and sunflower.
Skilling and education reforms to enhance employment prospects for youth
The government’s Skill India Mission has trained 1.4 crore youth and upskilled and reskilled 54 lakh youth to date, said the FM. The Skill India Mission, launched in 2015, has also established 3,000 new Industrial Training Institutes.
“Our government plans to set up more medical colleges by utilising the existing hospital infrastructure under various departments. A committee for this purpose will be set up to examine the issues and make relevant recommendations,” Sitharaman added.
Training to MSMEs, strategies for self-reliance to help India become ‘Viksit’ by 2047
Sitharaman underscored the government's focus on micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) under the banner of Viksit Bharat by 2047. This includes training for MSMEs, strategies for self-reliance, and plans to boost the economy and trade.
The finance minister announced that the government would prioritise timely and adequate finances, relevant technologies, and appropriate training for MSMEs—widely acknowledged as pivotal to the country's economic growth—to enhance their global competitiveness.
The Budget noted that 43 crore loans, aggregating Rs 22.5 lakh crore, were sanctioned under PM Mudra Yojana to encourage the entrepreneurial aspirations of India's youth. The scheme provides loans up to Rs 10 lakh to non-corporate, non-farming small and micro enterprises.
Nari Shakti emerged as a major theme
With nari shakti gaining momentum in a growth-led economy, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced some important developments that have empowered women in recent years.
“Empowerment of women through entrepreneurship, ease of living and dignity has gained momentum in the last 10 years. Thirty crore MUDRA Yojana loans have been given to women entrepreneurs,” she said.
Sitharaman asserted that the government was working towards development that is all-round, all-inclusive, and all-pervasive, and covering all castes and people at all levels.
New scheme for encouraging deep tech in defence sector
A new scheme will be unveiled to boost deep-tech technologies in the defence sector.
According to the estimates provided by the Ministry of Finance, the allocation for the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems has been increased to a corpus of Rs 614 crore in FY2024-2025 from a revised estimate of Rs 435 crore in FY2023-2024.
Tourism infrastructure development to help generate employment
The government said it would encourage Indian states to take up comprehensive development of iconic tourist centres, branding and marketing them at a global scale.
A framework for rating of the centres based on the quality of facilities and services will be established.
“Long-term interest-free loans will be provided to states for financing such developments on a matching basis,” Sitharaman remarked.
To address the emerging fervour for domestic tourism, projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities will be taken up in Indian islands, including Lakshadweep.
“This will help in generating employment also,” the finance minister said.
Viability gap funding to support green energy sector
The government announced its commitment to offer viability gap funding to support one gigawatt of offshore wind capacity as part of Budget 2024 to promote the growth of India's green energy sector.
The government has allocated Rs 930 crore towards the wind power grid for FY2024-25—marginally higher than what it spent last year—Rs 916 crore.
The Finance Ministry will present the full Budget after the General Elections to be held in April-May.
Edited by Swetha Kannan