Expectations are high as Nirmala Sitharaman to present her 5th Budget

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Representative photo)

New Delhi: With Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman getting ready to present the last full budget of the Modi 2.0 government, expectations are high that she will meet the demands of all stakeholders, including the common man who is reeling under the price rise.

The finance minister has held several rounds of discussions with various stakeholders, and final touches are being given to the Union Budget for 2023-24 which will be unveiled in the Lok Sabha on February 1.

"The Budget to be announced will be an exercise of managing several objectives: movement to fiscal prudence, stimulating growth without accompanying inflation, garnering more resources through non-tax measures and providing sops where necessary.

"As all these objectives would run in different directions, the FM will exercise considerable dexterity to move ahead decisively on all counts," said Madan Sabnavis, Chief Economist, Bank of Baroda.

Since this will be the last full Budget before the 2024 general elections, Sitharaman may also announce income tax relief for salary earners, and people in small businesses.

Shailendra Kumar, the Chairman of TIOL Knowledge Foundation, said the government should enhance various deductions limits.

"Given the precipitous drop in the national gross savings from 37 per cent to 27 per cent, the perimeter of Section 80C of the I-T Act needs to be expanded to Rs 2.5 lakh. This will put more money in the hands of the government to bankroll the infrastructure sector or higher capex," he said.

There is also a demand for raising exemption limits for home loans with a view to encouraging more people to buy residential properties, and give a boost to the real estate sector, which is the second largest job creator after agriculture.

"With the Union Budget 2023 around the corner, the government may introduce conducive measures to provide relief to borrowers. Hopefully, the government will consider the long-pending demand to enhance the deduction limit against home loan interest from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh," said V Swaminathan, executive chairman, Andromeda Loans and Apnapaisa.

Deepak Kapoor, Director, Gulshan Group, said the Budget should mirror the aspirations of the realty sector and support growth-inducing factors.

The Budget should offer a premise of agents of development and progress and stamp out hindrances impeding the growth of the sector," Kapoor said.

India's GDP growth in the current fiscal is estimated to decline to 7 per cent from 8.7 per cent in the previous year requiring the government to take action to boost the economy amid ongoing geopolitical tensions.

With regards to relief to salary earners, Vivek Jalan, Partner, Tax Connect Advisory opined that it has become an urgent necessity to reduce the personal tax rates for individuals so that there is a degree of equity and fairness in relation to structuring decisions as well as being competitive with other countries.

Meanwhile, the electronics components makers body ELCINA has requested the government to allocate USD 10 billion (about Rs 80,000 crore) for eight years to boost the manufacturing of electronic components and key modules other than semiconductors.

It has sought a four-year extension to the Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS), with an increased outlay of Rs 16,000 crore in the Union Budget for 2023-24.

The startup segment too has high hopes from Sitharaman who would be presenting her fifth Budget.

Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, Cofounder and Managing Director of Venture Catalysts said the anticipation around the approaching Budget has been palpable.

"The union government will need to address various demands that will aid the growth of the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem. To begin with, there is a crucial need for a simple and separate tax framework for Private Equity and Venture Capital investors, along with startups," Sharma said.

Ravi Annavarapu, President, FMC India said 2022 was a challenging year for agriculture and food industry globally with factors such as climate change, supply chain, inflation and geopolitical issues disrupting every economy and triggering a possible global slowdown, apart from the food crisis.

This year’s budget outlay must be directed towards not only cushioning but also adding resilience to Indian agriculture, he said.

Arun Agarwal, Vice President, Kotak Securities said that given the government’s focus towards clean energy, some measures can be expected to facilitate further electric vehicle (EV) adoption and to support the development of EV ecosystem in the country.

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