Union budget 2021-22: Huge outlay for health post Covid

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced a new Centre-sponsored scheme with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore to boost healthcare infrastructure across the country amid ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. With no change in individual IT slab, the Budget saw Rs 1,03 lakh cr being allocated for Highway projects in Tamilnadu.

The Finance Minister said that the Budget proposals for 2021-22 rest on six pillars –health and well-being, physical and financial capital and infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, reinvigorating human capital, innovation and R&D, minimum government, and maximum governance.  Keeping Covid in mind, Nirmala presented country’s first paperless Budget.

All eyes on IT

The Finance Minister did not announce change in income tax slabs for individuals in the Union Budget. The only change announced in regards to individuals’ income tax was that senior citizens aged more than 75 years will now be exempted from filing Income Tax Returns, provided their income is through pensions.

In her Budget speech last year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had introduced a new income tax regime under which tax rate were reduced. However, the reduced rates were applicable only for those who would forego their exemptions. People who wished to include the exemptions were allowed to stick to the old tax regime.

Health

Tabling the Union Budget 2021-22, she said the Prime Minister Atmanirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana will develop the capacity for primary, secondary, and tertiary care health systems in the country. Nirmala Sitharaman said that the main interventions under the scheme will support over 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban wellness centres.

“Even at the outset investment in health infrastructure in this budget increased substantially progressively as institutions observe more. Taking a holistic approach, we focus on strengthening three areas- preventing, curative and well being. Health system a new Centrally sponsored scheme PM Atmanirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana will be launched with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore,” she said.

“Over six years, this will develop the capacity for primary, secondary, and tertiary care health systems and strengthen national institutions and create new institutions to cater and cure new and emerging diseases. This will be in addition to the National Health Mission,” she added.

The Budget also provided Rs 35,000 crores for Covid 19 vaccine in this year 2021-22.

More for farmers

The government has proposed to increas the agriculture credit target to Rs 16.5 lakh crore. “Our government is committed to the welfare of farmers. The MSP regime has undergone a change to assure price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities,” said Nirmala Sitharaman, in assurance to the farm sector.

In her budget speech for the next fiscal, she said the procurement of crops like paddy, wheat, pulses and cotton has jumped manifold in the last six years. Nirmala Sitharaman said a total of 43.36 lakh farmers have benefited from these payments. In Budget 2021, Sitharaman also proposed to increase agriculture credit target to Rs 16.5 lakh cr.

Railways

The Finance Minister come up with some big bang measures on Indian Railways that envisages it to become future-ready by 2030. In her speech, she has announced a package of Rs 1.15 lakh crore for the railways. In terms of priorities, she announced the commissioning of Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors and basically the whole idea is to bring down the cost of logistics to promote Atma Nirbhar Bharat. Both the corridors will be commissioned by June 2022.

She further announced that a section of the dedicated freight corridors will be made on Public-Private Partnership mode and railways will monetize dedicated freight corridors. We will work towards raising the share of public transport with an outlay of Rs 18,000 crore,’ she announced adding that 100% electrification of broad gauge rail tracks will be done by December 2023. Sitharaman also said a national monetisation pipeline for potential brownfield infrastructure assets will be launched and pipelines of GAIL (India) Ltd, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and HPCL will be monetized.

FDI cap in insurance sector hiked

The Budget 2021 proposed to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in the insurance sector to 74 per cent, a move aimed at attracting overseas players.

Nirmala Sitharaman also said investor charter would be introduced as a right of all financial investors across all financial products.

She proposed to amend the Insurance Act 1938 to increase the permissible FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent in insurance companies and allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards. Under the new structure, the majority of directors on the board and key management persons would be resident Indians with at least 50 per cent of directors being independent directors and specified percentage of profits being retained as general reserve, she said.

Cheer for start-ups

Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed the extension of tax holiday for start-ups by one year. Tax holiday for affordable housing has also been extended for one more year till March 31, 2022, she announced. ‘Tax holiday for startups extended by one year. Exemption on capital gains on investment in startups extended by one year,’ she said.

To promote digital payments

There has been a manifold increase in digital payments in the recent past. “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 digital mode of payment,” the Finance Minister said while presenting the Budget for 2021-22.

“…We have now worked out the modalities and the NRF outlay will be Rs 50,000 crore over five years. It will ensure the overall research ecosystem in the country is strengthened with focus on identified national priority thrust areas,”
she said.

The Finance Minister also stated that a new initiative National Language Translation Mission will be undertaken.

Highlights

* Farm cess of Rs 2.5/litre on petrol, Rs 4/litre on diesel proposed

* Sea weed park planned in Tamilnadu

* A faceless dispute resolution mechanism for small taxpayers to be set up

* Ujjwala scheme will be expanded to over one cr more beneficiaries

* SEBI will be notified as regulator for a gold exchange

* Social security benefits will be extended to gig and platform workers

 

NT Bureau