The Union Budget is one of the most awaited economic affairs. Chartered accountants, lawyers, economists and other stakeholders stay glued to their seats throughout the speech of the Finance Minister. Once the speech gets over, they move on to analyzing the general impact of the good and the bad news delivered in the budget speech.
The wait for the budget was more intense in 2021, keeping in mind the great economic slowdown that India and the world had to face in 2020. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the world came to an economic standstill and went years behind in terms of growth during the previous year. Thus, the Union Budget of 2021 was seen as a ray of hope by investors, businessmen and economists.
As a young Indian, I also had certain expectations from the budget, but has it been able to fulfil them? I don’t think so.
First Half Of The Budget – A Shiny Ray Of Hope
The first half of the budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamanwas full of hope and reforms. The increased expenditure on the healthcare sector was a bold and much-needed change, while the other packages introduced for infrastructural development were also pleasing.
Additionally, the Finance Minister announced the proposed disinvestment from 2 banks and one insurance company, followed by the announcement of an Initial Public Officer (IPO) for Life Insurance Company.
While many are against the regime of privatization, I see it as the need of the hour. Poorly performing industries shouldn’t be encouraged and since the New Economic Policy of 1991, India has seen tremendous growth, thanks to privatization and globalization. Selling of underperforming entities to pace-up production is a smart move.
Second Half Of The Budget – A Sad Reality
While the first half of the budget pumped up the investors, showing a path towards long-term infrastructural growth, the second half wasn’t satisfactory.
The second half of the budget usually entails announcements regarding the direct tax regime, which directly influences the lives of commoners. As a young Indian myself, I was expecting some relief in the taxation system.
Most youngsters, in college or the early years of their career, keenly look for tax reforms. This is because such reforms affect their daily spending as well as the consolidated direct tax payments they may be required to make.
As against the anticipation, there was no increase in the exemption limit, which is a huge set-back. Several economists were anticipating an increase in exemption limit as a respite to the COVID-affected taxpayers, which didn’t happen. Additionally, no significant relief in the form of deductions and exemptions was provided to the youngsters of India.
Also, an additional cess called ‘agricultural infra cess’ has been introduced. This cess would apply to petrol at the rate of Rs. 2.5/litre and Rs. 4/litre on diesel. Crude oil prices in the international market are falling but the increase in rates of petrol and diesel hasn’t stopped in India. This additional cess is capable of burning a hole in the pockets of the common man.
To rightly conclude, this budget left the common man high and dry. The Finance Minister could offer nothing to the taxpayers, on whose money the nation runs. Youngsters weren’t provided with any ordinary or extraordinary incentive as well, making the budget unavailing.
The long-term reforms are tremendous but their results will take a lot of time to show. COVID times were tough for everyone and the budget could’ve provided immediate relief to the common men, which it has evidently failed in achieving.
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