Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2021 on February 1, 2021. This was the first paperless budget. The Finance Minister read out the document from a Made-in-India tablet.
The Union Budget 2020-21 was focused on the centre's Atmanirbhar Bharat vision. It did not propose any changes in personal income tax slabs.
The Budget 2021 has proposed several new schemes and announcements including the launch of PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, Mission Poshan 2.0, Urban Jal Jeevan Mission, Urban Swacch Bharat Mission, Voluntary Vehicle Scrapping Policy, National Railway Plan, National Hydrogen Mission, First Digital Census, Investor Charter and first central university in Leh.
The Budget 2021-12 PART-A mainly rests on six pillars:
- Health & Well-Being,
- Physical & Financial Capital & Infrastructure,
- Inclusive development for aspirational India,
- Reinvigorating human capital,
- Innovation & R&D and
- Minimum Govt & Maximum Governance
Part-B was on Taxation.
1. Health & Well-Being
PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana
- New Centrally sponsored scheme PM Atmanirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana will be launched with an outlay of ₹64,180 crore. This will be in addition to the National Health Mission.
- "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.
- Around 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres to be set up across the country, Sitharaman said. The integrated public health laboratories will be set up in each district, 3,382 block public health units in 11 states, she mentioned.
The Urban Swachh Bharat 2.0 mission to be launched at outlay of ₹1.41 lakh crore over five years, Sitharaman said.
Pneumococcal vaccine rollout- The pneumococcal vaccine, which is limited to only 5 states at present, will be rolled out across the country. This will avert more than 50,000 child deaths annually.
COVID-19 vaccine- The Finance Ministry has provided Rs 35,000 crores for COVID19 vaccine in this year 2021-22. The Ministry is committed to provide further funds if required.
The supplementary nutrition programme and the Poshan Abhiyaan has been merged to launch Mission Poshan 2.0 to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome.
- Poshan 2.0 scheme is an umbrella scheme covering the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyaan, Scheme For Adolescent Girls, National Creche Scheme).
- It shall adopt an intensified strategy to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts.
- Out of Rs 24,435 crore allocated to the Women Child Development (WCD) Ministry, an amount of Rs 20,105 crore has been assigned to Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0.
Jal Jivan Urban Mission: Urban Jal Jeevan Mission to be launched and implemented over five years with an outlay of Rs 2.87 lakh crore.
Urban Swacch Bharat Mission to implemented over five years with an outlay of Rs 2.87 lakh crore.
Clean Air Programme: Proposal to allocate Rs. 2,217 crore for 32 urban centres to tackle the burgeoning air pollution problem.
Voluntary vehicle scrappage policy to phase out unfit, pollution-causing vehicles.
- The policy will help reduce vehicular pollution and cut oil import bill.
- Vehicles will undergo fitness test in automated centres.
- Age of the vehicles will be 15 years in case of commercial vehicles and 20 years in case of personal vehicles.
- The ministry of road transport and highways will announce the finer details of the policy.
Significance: According to government data, commercial vehicles, which constitute about 5% of the total vehicle fleet contribute about 65-70% of total vehicular pollution.
- The older fleet, typically manufactured before 2000, constitutes less that 1% of the total fleet but contributes around 15% to total vehicular pollution.
- These older vehicles pollute 10-25 times more than modern vehicles.
A Deep Ocean Mission will be launched with an outlay of Rs 4,000 crore over five years.
2. Physical & Financial Capital & Infrastructure
Atma Nirbhar Bharat-Production Linked Incentive Scheme
- For a USD 5 trillion economy, our manufacturing sector has to grow in double digits on a sustained basis.
- Our manufacturing companies need to become an integral part of global supply chains, possess core competence and cutting-edge technology.
- To achieve all of the above, PLI schemes to create manufacturing global champions for an AatmaNirbhar Bharat have been announced for 13 sectors. For this, the government has committed nearly Rs.1.97 lakh crore in the next 5 years starting FY 2021-22.
- This initiative will help bring scale and size in key sectors, create and nurture global champions and provide jobs to our youth.
- Similarly, to enable the textile industry to become globally competitive, attract large investments and boost employment generation, a scheme of Mega Investment Textiles Parks (MITRA) will be launched in addition to the PLI scheme.
- This will create world class infrastructure with plug and play facilities to enable create global champions in exports. 7 Textile Parks will be established over 3 years.
- The NIP was launched with 6835 projects; the project pipeline has now expanded to 7,400 projects.
- Around 217 projects worth Rs 1.10 lakh crore under some key infrastructure Ministries have been completed.
Infrastructure financing - Development Financial Institution (DFI)
- Infrastructure needs long term debt financing.
- A professionally managed Development Financial Institution is necessary to act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing.
- There is highest-ever capital expenditure of Rs 5.54 lakh crore for FY22, a proposed development finance institution (DFI), and wide-scale asset monetisation by agencies like the National Highways Authority of India and the Indian Railways, as well as an asset monetisation pipeline.
- Accordingly, a Bill to set up a DFI will be introduced.
- Government has provided a sum of Rs 20,000 crore to capitalise this institution and the ambition is to have a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 lakh crore for this DFI in three years time.
- Announcing its version of the bad bank, the government will set up an Asset Reconstruction and Management Company to take over bad loans.
- A bad bank will act as an aggregator of all stressed assets in the system. It is set up to buy the bad loans and other illiquid holdings of another financial institution.
- Once toxic assets are transferred to this entity, attempts for an early resolution by experts begins while originating banks can focus on their business.
- Monetizing operating public infrastructure assets is a very important financing option for new infrastructure construction.
- A “National Monetization Pipeline” of potential Brownfield infrastructure assets will be launched. An Asset Monetization dashboard will also be created for tracking the progress and to provide visibility to investors. Some important measures in the direction of monetisation are:
- National Highways Authority of India and PGCIL each have sponsored one InvIT that will attract international and domestic institutional investors.
- Five operational roads with an estimated enterprise value of Rs 5,000 crore are being transferred to the NHAIInvIT. Similarily, transmission assets of a value of Rs 7,000 crore will be transferred to the PGCIL InvIT.
- Railways will monetize Dedicated Freight Corridor assets for operations and maintenance, after commissioning.
- The next lot of Airports will be monetised for operations and management concession.
- Other core infrastructure assets that will be rolled out under the Asset Monetization Programme are: (i) NHAI Operational Toll Roads (ii) Transmission Assets of PGCIL (iii) Oil and Gas Pipelines of GAIL, IOCL and HPCL (iv) AAI Airports in Tier II and III cities, (v) Other Railway Infrastructure Assets (vi) Warehousing Assets of CPSEs such as Central Warehousing Corporation and NAFED among others and (vii) Sports Stadiums.
Roads and Highways Infrastructure
- More than 13,000 km length of roads, at a cost of Rs 3.3 lakh crore, has already been awarded under the Rs. 5.35 lakh crore Bharatmala Pariyojana project of which 3,800 kms have been constructed.
- By March 2022, the Government would be awarding another 8,500 kms and complete an additional 11,000 kms of national highway corridors.
- There is an enhanced outlay of Rs. 1,18,101 lakh crore for Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, of which Rs.1,08,230 crore is for capital, the highest ever.
- The big surprise is the 34% on-year increase in infrastructure capex next fiscal to Rs 4.39 lakh crore. This is positive for the entire engineering and construction space.
- Indian Railways have prepared a National Rail Plan for India – 2030.
- The Plan is to create a ‘future ready’ Railway system by 2030.
- Bringing down the logistic costs for our industry is at the core of our strategy to enable ‘Make in India’.
- It is expected that Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) and Eastern DFC will be commissioned by June 2022.
- For Passenger convenience and safety the following measures are proposed:
- Introduction of aesthetically designed Vista Dome LHB coach on tourist routes to give a better travel experience to passengers.
- Indian railways will be provided with an indigenously developed automatic train protection system that eliminates train collision due to human error.
- Budget also provided a record sum of Rs. 1,10,055 crore, for Railways of which Rs. 1,07,100 crore is for capital expenditure.
- A new scheme will be launched at a cost of Rs. 18,000 crore to support augmentation of public bus transport services.
- A total of 702 km of conventional metro is operational and another 1,016 km of metro and RRTS is under construction in 27 cities.
- Two new technologies i.e., ‘MetroLite’ and ‘MetroNeo’ will be deployed to provide metro rail systems at much lesser cost with the same experience, convenience and safety in Tier-2 cities and peripheral areas of Tier-1 cities.
- The Finance Minister proposed to launch a revamped reforms-based result-linked power distribution sector scheme with an outlay of Rs. 3,05,984 crore over 5 years.
- The scheme will provide assistance to DISCOMS for Infrastructure creation including pre-paid smart metering and feeder separation, upgradation of systems, etc., tied to financial improvements.
National Hydrogen Mission: A comprehensive National Hydrogen Mission will be launched in 2021-22 for generating hydrogen from green power sources.
Ports, Shipping, Waterways
- Major Ports will be moving from managing their operational services on their own to a model where a private partner will manage it for them. For the purpose the budget proposes to offer more than Rs. 2,000 crore by Major Ports on Public Private Partnership mode in FY21-22.
- A scheme to promote flagging of merchant ships in India will be launched by providing subsidy support to Indian shipping companies in global tenders floated by Ministries and CPSEs. An amount of Rs. 1624 crore will be provided over 5 years.
- This initiative will enable greater training and employment opportunities for Indian seafarers besides enhancing Indian companies' share in global shipping.
Petroleum & Natural Gas
- Ujjwala Scheme which has benefited 8 crore households will be extended to cover 1 crore more beneficiaries.
- Government will add 100 more districts in next 3 years to the City Gas Distribution network.
- A gas pipeline project will be taken up in Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
- An independent Gas Transport System Operator will be set up for facilitation and coordination of booking of common carrier capacity in all-natural gas pipelines on a non-discriminatory open access basis.
- The Finance Minister proposed to consolidate the provisions of SEBI Act, 1992, Depositories Act, 1996, Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 and Government Securities Act, 2007 into a rationalized single Securities Markets Code.
- The Government would support the development of a world class Fin-Tech hub at the GIFT-IFSC.
- Bank capitalisation: To address concerns around asset quality, credit loss and liquidity stress, this budget has been proactive to infuse additional capital of Rs 20,000 Crores to PSU Banks for providing continued credit access to wholesale and retail borrowers, and therefore push growth agenda.
Increasing FDI in Insurance Sector
- The budget proposed to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 to increase the permissible FDI limit from 49% to 74% 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% of Directors being Independent Directors, and specified percentage of profits being retained as general reserve.
Disinvestment and Strategic Sale
- A number of transactions namely BPCL, Air India, Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, BEML, Pawan Hans, NeelachalIspat Nigam limited among others would be completed in 2021-22.
- Other than IDBI Bank, Government propose to take up the privatization of two Public Sector Banks and one General Insurance company in the year 2021-22.
- In 2021-22, Government would also bring the IPO of LIC for which the requisite amendments will be made in this Session itself.
- Government has kept four areas that are strategic where bare minimum CPSEs will be maintained and rest privatized.
- In the non-strategic sectors, CPSEs will be privatised, otherwise shall be closed.
- To fast forward the disinvestment policy, NITI Aayog will work out on the next list of Central Public Sector companies that would be taken up for strategic disinvestment.
- Government has estimated Rs. 1,75,000 crore as receipts from disinvestment in BE 2020-21 .
3. Inclusive Development for Aspirational India
Under the pillar of Inclusive Development for Aspirational India, the Finance Minister announced to cover Agriculture and Allied sectors, farmers’ welfare and rural India, migrant workers and labour, and financial inclusion.
- The MSP regime has undergone a sea change to assure a price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities. The procurement has also continued to increase at a steady pace. This has resulted in increase in payment to farmers substantially.
- SWAMITVA Scheme. Under this, a record of rights is being given to property owners in villages.
- Government has enhanced the agricultural credit target to Rs. 16.5 lakh crore in FY22. Similarly, the allocation to the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund increased from Rs. 30,000 crore to Rs. 40,000 crore.
- The Micro Irrigation Fund, with a corpus of Rs.5,000 crore has been created under NABARD will be doubled.
- In an important announcement to boost value addition in agriculture and allied products and their exports, the scope of ‘Operation Green Scheme’ that is presently applicable to tomatoes, onions, and potatoes, will be enlarged to include 22 perishable products.
- 1,000 more mandis will be integrated with e-NAM. The Agriculture Infrastructure Funds would be made available to APMCs for augmenting their infrastructure facilities.
Development of modern fishing harbours and fish landing centres: To start with, 5 major fishing harbours – Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, and Petuaghat – will be developed as hubs of economic activity.
Migrant Workers and Labourers
- Government has launched the One Nation One Ration Card scheme through which beneficiaries can claim their rations anywhere in the country.
- Government proposes to conclude a process that began 20 years ago, with the implementation of the 4 labour codes.
- For the first time globally, social security benefits will 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.
- To further facilitate credit flow under the scheme of Stand Up India for SCs, STs, and women, the Finance Minister proposed to reduce the margin money requirement from 25% to 15%, and to also include loans for activities allied to agriculture.
- Moreover, a number of steps were taken to support the MSME sector and in this Budget, Government has provided Rs. 15,700 crore to this sector – more than double of this year’s BE.
4. Reinvigorating Human Capital
- The National Education Policy (NEP) announced recently has had good reception, while adding that more than 15,000 schools will be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of the National Education Policy.
- 100 new Sainik Schools will be set up in partnership with NGOs/private schools/states.
- There is also a proposal to set up a Higher Education Commission of India, as an umbrella body having 4 separate vehicles for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding.
- For accessible higher education in Ladakh, Government proposed to set up a Central University in Leh.
5. Innovation and R&D
- The National Research Foundation: the NRF outlay will be of Rs. 50,000 crore, over 5 years. It will ensure that the overall research ecosystem of the country is strengthened with focus on identified national-priority thrust areas.
- Government will undertake a new initiative – National Language Translation Mission (NTLM).
- This will enable the wealth of governance-and-policy related knowledge on the Internet being made available in major Indian languages.
- The New Space India Limited (NSIL), a PSU under the Department of Space will execute the PSLV-CS51 launch, carrying the Amazonia Satellite from Brazil, along with a few smaller Indian satellites.
- As part of the Gaganyaan mission activities, four Indian astronauts are being trained on Generic Space Flight aspects, in Russia. The first unmanned launch is slated for December 2021.
6. Minimum Government, Maximum Governance
- The budget proposed to take a number of steps to bring reforms in Tribunals in the last few years for speedy delivery of justice and proposes to take further measures to rationalised the functioning of Tribunals.
- Government has introduced the National Commission for Allied Healthcare Professionals Bill in Parliament, with a view to ensure transparent and efficient regulation of the 56 allied healthcare professions.
- The forthcoming Census could be the first digital census in the history of India and for this monumental and milestone-marking task, Rs. 3,768 crore allocated in the year 2021-2022.
- The fiscal deficit in RE 2020-21 is pegged at 9.5% of GDP and it has been funded through Government borrowings, multilateral borrowings, Small Saving Funds and short term borrowings.
- The fiscal deficit target for FY22 is 6.8 percent of GDP. For FY21, the fiscal deficit estimate was revised to 9.5 percent from 3.5 percent.
- Huge borrowing target of Rs 12 lakh crore: The fiscal deficit in BE 2021-2022 is estimated to be 6.8% of GDP. The gross borrowing from the market for the next year would be around 12 lakh crore.
- The fiscal expansionary stance comes days after the Economic Survey 2021-22 had pushed for the counter-cyclical fiscal policies to enable the economy to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced slowdown
- The Government plan to continue the path of fiscal consolidation, and intend to reach a fiscal deficit level below 4.5% of GDP by 2025-2026 with a fairly steady decline over the period.
- The govt. hope to achieve the consolidation by first, increasing the buoyancy of tax revenue through improved compliance, and secondly, by increased receipts from monetisation of assets, including Public Sector Enterprises and land”
- The Economic Survey 2020-21 has projected that India's real GDP growth to be 11.0% in FY 2021-22 and nominal GDP to be around 15.4%, which is the highest since independence.
- In accordance with the views of the 15th Finance Commission, Government is allowing a normal ceiling of net borrowing for the states at 4% of GSDP for the year 2021-2022.
- The FRBM Act mandates a fiscal deficit of 3% of GDP to be achieved by 31st March 2020-2021.
- The effect of this year’s unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances has necessitated the submission of a deviation statement under Sections 4 (5) and 7 (3) (b) of the FRBM Act which the Finance Minister laid on the Table of the House as part of the FRBM Documents.
- The Government has laid the Commission’s report, along with the explanatory memorandum retaining the vertical shares of the states at 41%.
- Fertiliser subsidies: Allocation for FY21 exceeds Rs 1.33 lakh crore. This will lower pending dues and improve the liquidity position of manufacturers.
- In the Union Budget 2020-21, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had projected gross tax collections to be at Rs 24.23 lakh crore.
- For FY20, the revised estimate for gross tax receipts was Rs 21.63 lakh crore, short of that year’s budget estimates by Rs 2.98 lakh crore.
- The government has set a gross tax revenue target of Rs 22.17 lakh crore for FY22 in the Union Budget 2021-22 presented on February 1. The Centre's net tax revenue for FY22 has been pegged at Rs 15.45 lakh crore.
- No Income tax (I-T) filing for senior citizens above 75 years of age having only pension.
- Further, the timeline for re-opening of tax returns has been reduced to three years from six years. To set up faceless dispute resolution committee for small taxpayers.
- Additional deduction of interest payment up to Rs 1,50,000 for first-time buyers of affordable homes (under Section 80EEA), and profit-linked tax exemption (under Section 80IBA) for developers will benefit about half of under-construction projects in India’s top 10 cities
- Tax exemption for notified affordable housing for migrants workers and the deduction on payment of interest for affordable housing has been extended by 1 year.
- Infrastructure debt funds may issue tax efficient 0 coupon bonds
- Proposed to make I-T Appellate Tribunal Faceless
- Tax audit threshold raised to Rs 10 crore for digital transactions
- Dividend payment by REITs and InvITs not subject to TDS
- Advance tax liability to arise only after payment of dividends
- There was no announcement of any change in the tax slabs for salaried individuals.
Agri Infrastructure Development Cess
The Centre will introduce a new Agri Infrastucture Development Cess, which will be applicable from February 2, 2021. Here are the particulars for New Agri Cess
- Rs 2.5/litre on petrol and Rs 4/litre on diesel
- 2.5% on gold, silver and dore bars
- 100% on alcoholic beverages
- 17.5% on crude palm oil
- 20% on crude soyabean and sunflower oil
- 35% on apples
- 1.5% on coal, lignite and peat
- 5% on specified fertilisers (urea, etc)
- 40% on peas
- 30% on Kabuli chana
- 50% on Bengal Gram/Chick Peas
- 20% on Lentil (Mosur)
- 5% on Cotton (Not Carded Or Combed)
Customs duty hike
The Union Budget 2021 announced a 2.5 percent customs duty on certain mobile phone parts and power banks, while that on gold and silver will be rationalised, the minister said.
For compressors used in AC and refrigerators, the customs duty will be hiked to 15 percent from 12.5 percent.
This means that the prices of refrigerators and ACs will go up by 2.5 percent from April 1.
The duty on leather items and finished synthetic gemstones will also be increased.
Custom duty cut on steel
- The government has proposed to reduce customs duty to 7.5 percent on imports of semi-, flat and long products of non-alloy, alloy and stainless steel.
- The government exempted duty on steel scrap till March 2022. FM Sitharaman also reduced duty, halving it to 2.5 percent, on copper scrap. This will help smaller businesses and those who recycle.
- MSMEs and other user industries have been severely hit by a recent sharp rise in iron and steel prices. Therefore, govt reduced Customs duty uniformly to 7.5 percent on semis, flat, and long products of non-alloy, alloy, and stainless steels
Impact of the budget
- After supply-side measures through the Aatmanirbhar Bharat set of announcements, the Union Budget 2021-22 came out with a host of demand-side measures, with an intention to create jobs primarily through big infrastructure announcements.
- A budget with no changes in Direct taxes is a special one.
- No Covid tax: Equity market will be enthused with no tinkering in capital gains taxes or STT or any form of Covid tax. The proposals to privatize 2 PSBs and 1 general insurance co is noteworthy as is increase in FDI limit in Insurance to 74%.
- The much-awaited proposal to set up a DFI should boost capex in the coming years .
- To summarise the revival in the economy seen in the last 4-5 months will be further enhanced with the various budget proposals.
- Tax buoyancy, successful divestments and quick monetization of operating infrastructure assets remain a key to achieving the fiscal deficit target of 6.8 % for Fy 21-22.
- Based on the FY2021 RE, expenditure is expected to more-than-double in Q4 FY2021.
- Moreover, the capital outlay for FY2022 exceeds our forecast and should support a higher pace of GDP expansion in the coming fiscal.
- Tax exemption for aircraft leasing company may finally see India getting its first player in this aviation segment. Till now, Indian aviation industry is dominated by lessors from Ireland and Hong Kong.
- The key to financial inclusion today is digital adoption and the allocation of 1500 cores as incentives for promoting digital payments is a step in the right direction
- Extension of tax holiday on affordable housing loans up to March 22 augurs well for building material companies
- Top winning sectors: Capital goods and infrastructure, financials as growth gets a push and toxic assets see a resolution.
- Insurance and asset management companies, automobile
- Pharmaceutical due to higher overall expenditure and gems and jewellery due to customs duty reduction.
- The key loser is iron and steel due to lower protection on account of reduction in customs duty
- Textile parks will boost the flagging competitiveness of Indian exporters vs Bangladesh and Vietnam.
- India’s share of readymade exports to the US and Europe has been stagnant at 5% and 4%, respectively, for years.