The Finance Minister introduced Union Budget 2021 presented in the parliament on February 1, 2021.

Here are the highlights of the Union Budget 2021:

Atmanirbhar Bharat

The FM outlined six pillars of proposals to strengthen the vision of Atmanirbharta, namely health and wellbeing, capital and infrastructure, inclusive development, reinvigorating human capital, innovation and R&D and minimum government and maximum governance.

Shot in the arm for healthcare

The allocation to healthcare in this budget has been increased substantially. The areas of focus will be preventive and curative healthcare as well as well being, she said. The allocation is likely to be around Rs 2,23,846 crore, a 137% percentage rise from the previous budget. Rs 35,000 cr has been budgeted for COVID-19 vaccination expenditure in FY22.

A bank for roads

The Govt is set to introduce a Development Financial Institution (DFI). Rs 20,000 crore will be provided to capitalise the new DFI, with an aim to have a lending portfolio of Rs 5 lakh crore in 3 years. National Monetisation Pipeline for brownfield projects will be launched, the FM announced with NHAI and PGCIL having sponsored one InvIT each. She also added that vehicles will undergo fitness tests after 20 years for PVs, 15 years for CVs, announcing a voluntary vehicle scrapping policy.

Projects galore

FM says projects for building 8,500 km of highways will be awarded by March 2022. While presenting the Union Budget 2021-22 in Parliament, the finance minister also said poll-bound West Bengal will see highway projects worth Rs 25,000 crore.

No tax change

The government has left direct taxes unchanged, but took steps in direct tax incentives to ease compliance for taxpayers. The FM proposed making it so that advance tax liability on dividend income shall arise only after payment of dividend. The Budget also looked at pre-filled tax forms with respect to details like salary income, tax payment and TDS.

Relief for seniors citizen, small taxpayers

No tax filing for seniors above 75 with only pension, interest income. A dispute resolution committee for small taxpayers is being planned. Anyone with taxable income of up to Rs 50 lakh, disputed income of up to Rs 10 lakh eligible to approach dispute resolution committee.

Fuel and Liquor cess

Agri Infrastructure and Development Cess on a number of items including fuel and liquor was announced today but the finance minister also said there would be no additional burden on the consumer overall. Budget imposed a Rs 2.5 per litre agri infra cess on petrol, Rs 4 on diesel, and of 100% on alcoholic beverages.

Access to deposits

The finance minister announced that in case a bank fails or withdrawals from the bank are stopped due to financial pressure on the bank, the depositors will be able to get immediate access to their deposits up to the deposit insurance amount of Rs 5 lakh.

Divestment target

The Govt sees FY22 fiscal deficit at 6.8%, according to the FM, while she had pegged deficit at 3.5% for FY21 in the last Budget. Govt aims to get Rs 1.75 lakh crore through divestments in 2021-22, according to Budget documents. In FY21, it planned to raise Rs 2.1 lakh crore through divestments, falling short. CPSEs in all but four sectors will be eventually privatised.

Monetising land

The Budget 2021 gave a renewed push to disinvestment and asset monetisation as the government strives for capital creation. “Monetising of land will be taken up. A SPV will be launched to carry out this activity,” said the FM.

Big borrowing

Sitharaman said govt will borrow Rs 80,000 crore in the remaining two months to meet FY21 expenditure, and is projected to borrow about Rs 12 lakh crore in FY22.

LIC IPO

The FM announced plans to privatise 2 PSU banks and one general insurance company in FY22. The Govt will bring the long-awaited LIC IPO in FY22, adding that it plans to complete the divestments of BPCL, CONCOR and SCI in 2021-22

Banking and companies

The Govt plans to allot Rs 20,000 crore for bank recapitalisation of PSBs. The FM also proposed to revise definition under Companies Act, 2013 for small companies by increasing their threshold for capitalisation.

Cell Phone parts

The government has raised basic customs duty on import of sub-parts of mobile phones and battery chargers from nil to 2.5% in FY21-22. The price impact will be known once the details are clear.

Textile parks

India will set up seven textile parks over three years under the scheme of mega investment textile parks which was announced in Budget FY22. The parks to be setup over 1,000 acres of land with world class infrastructure, and plug-and-play facilities, will be addition to the Rs 10,683-crore production linked incentive (PLI) scheme for technical textiles and manmade fibres.

Agricultural Credit

The Budget set agriculture credit target of Rs 16.5 lakh crore for FY22, and will further increase provision to rural infra development fund to Rs 40,000 crore from earlier Rs 30,000 crore. Sitharaman said the govt is committed to welfare of farmers, pointing at how 1.54 crore farmers benefited from MSP in paddy and wheat in FY21. Furthermore, underlined that Rs 75,060 crore was paid to farmers for wheat in FY21 versus Rs 62,802 crore in FY20.

Amendments

FM Sitharaman proposed to consolidate provisions of the Sebi Act, Depositories Act, Securities Contracts Regulation Act, and the Government Securities Act. Government aims to amend Insurance Act to allow higher FDI, increasing FDI limit in insurance to 74% from 49% and allowing foreign ownership.

Railways

An allocation of Rs 1,10,055 crore to be made. Of this, Rs 1.07 lakh crore is for capital expenditure for FY22. The eastern and western dedicated freight corridors will be commissioned by June 2022, it was announced. The FM also announced plans for east coast corridor, east-west corridor, north-south corridors. 100% electrification of broad-gauge routes will be completed by December 2023, she said.

Ujjwala boost

The government on Monday said the free cooking gas LPG scheme, Ujjwala will be extended to one crore more beneficiaries. She further said city gas distribution network of providing CNG to automobiles and piped cooking gas to households will be expanded to 100 more districts.

MSME allocation

The FM proposed doubling of MSME allocation, setting aside Rs 15,700 crore for medium and small enterprises in FY22.

One-person companies

The govt plans to allow incorporation of one-person companies with no restriction on paid-up capital and turnover. Non-resident Indians will also be allowed to incorporate one-person companies in India, the FM added.

Mergers and Acquisitions

The government has withdrawn a tax benefit for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) that would result in marginal increase in the cost of transactions. The government in the Budget 2021 said that no depreciation would be allowed on goodwill.

First Digital Census

Finance Minister Sitharaman allocates Rs 3,726 crore for the forthcoming Census, calling it “the first digital census”.

Tax Holiday extended

Govt to extend eligibility of erstwhile tax sop on home loan up to FY22. The FM also said that affordable housing projects can further avail tax holiday for one more year. The FM proposed extension of tax holiday for start-ups by one more year, a tax exemption for relocating funds to IFSC, and tax holiday for aircraft leasing business in Gift city.

Tax audit limit doubled

Exemption from tax audit limit doubled to Rs 10 crore turnover for companies doing most of their business through digital modes.

Revised customs duty structure

Propose to review more than 400 old exemptions to customs duty, and from October 1 will put in place a revised customs duty structure free of any distortion, the FM said. Govt plans on reducing customs duty uniformly to 7.5% on products of non-alloy, alloy and stainless steel, exempting duty on steel scrap till March 2022. The FM added that to provide relief to copper recyclers, the govt will be reducing duty on copper scrap from 5% to 2.5%.

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