Union Budget 2021 is going to be completely different this year, so will be the expectations from the Finance Minister. This will be the first time in the history of India that the budget papers will not be printed. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s third budget will be paperless. And, for the first time, a budget will be tabled amid a pandemic that has affected both the Indian and global economies. So, FM Nirmala Sitharaman has a daunting task of steering the economy out of the pandemic peril and provide fiscal stimulus to boost growth.
Why paperless budget
In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre took the decision to go paperless. Around 100 people were required to stay at the printing press for nearly a fortnight. They were also needed to stay on till the budget documents were printed, sealed and delivered on the day of the budget. Thus, the finance ministry decided to go digital and ensure that soft copies are available to all members of the parliament.
What does budget mean
Like we have a monthly and annual budget for our house, similarly, there is a budget that comprises the estimated earnings and expenditures of the government during a financial year. The Union Budget is an annual financial statement comprising the estimated earnings and approximate expenditures of the government during a particular financial year.
Nirmala Sitharaman’s Team behind Budget 2021
The Union Budget is prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, which is then presented by the Finance Minister.
- Revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey
- Expenditure secretary Somanathan
- Economic affairs secretary Tarun Bajaj
- Tuhin Pandey, the secretary of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management.
- Debashish Panda heads the Department of Financial Services.
- Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Krishnamurthy Subramanian
Budget 2021 date and time
Union Budget 2021 will be presented in the Lok Sabha on February 1. Budget 2021 proceedings will begin at 11 am.
Where to watch the Union Budget 2021
The Budget 2021 will be telecast Live on Doordarshan, Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV. You can also tune in to Story Pitch to catch the live proceedings of this year’s budget. The budget 2021 speech can also be downloaded from indiabudget.gov.in website.
‘Union Budget Mobile App’
The newly launched ‘Union Budget Mobile App’ will ensure hassle-free access to Budget documents. All the Budget documents will be accessible for users of the app after the completion of the Budget speech by the Finance Minister on February 1.
Economic Survey forecasts ‘V-shaped’ recovery
The Economic Survey, which has been tabled two days before the Union Budget 2021-22, on Friday, forecast a “V-shaped” economic recovery, the real GDP to grow 11 per cent. It also projected the country’s GDP to contract 7.7 per cent in the current fiscal year ending March 31. It is authored by the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Krishnamurthy Subramanian and his team.
What is an Economic Survey
It is an annual document that reviews the state of the economy and the country’s development over the past fiscal year and projects India’s gross domestic product growth.
Merger of Railway and Union Budget
In February 2016, the NDA administration subsequently changed the date of the budget presentation to 1 February and merged the railway budget with the general budget.
Budget 2021 Expectations
Following the coronavirus pandemic, the healthcare sector expects the government to increase budgetary allocation for ramping up infrastructure in the sector. It also expects a reduction in taxes on healthcare and treatment.
Income tax expectations
The salaried individuals are pinning high hopes on the government to increase the basic exemption limit. At present, the limit is Rs 2.5 lakh. According to reports, it is also expected that the government may increase the income tax exemption limit under Section 80C.
While presenting last year’s budget, FM had announced the new income tax regime which was optional. In the new tax regime, lower tax rates were introduced, but after foregoing various deductions and exemptions including EPF contribution, tuition fee payment, principal and interest outgo on home loans, standard deduction of Rs 50,000, and medical insurance premium, among others.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the savings sector hard. Household savings, which dropped last year, meant people were hesitant to invest in long-term savings.
Relief packages to distress sectors like tourism, hospitality, airlines in form of tax exemptions, cash incentives on basis of past sales will help them to survive in this bad time.
The other major focus area of Budget 2021 will be on job creation that will provide immeasurable economic relief to India’s middle and lower-middle-class who have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Specific reforms to help sectors under stress will also be on the agenda.
Consolidation of Public Sector Banks
Another major expectation from the 2021 Budget is to further reduce the number of public sector banks in the country by merging them. at present, there are 12 PSBs. The number had already been reduced from 27 to 12 by merging several public sector banks.
So, will Sitharaman present a good budget that will stand out in an environment of fragile growth and edgy markets? Or will she play safe like last year? It would be interesting to see considering the fact that there are high expectations from the government.