An interim budget is presented instead of a full budget in certain years due to the timing of general elections (as for 2024) or when a new government is expected to take office. It allows the current government to manage the country’s finances until the new government is in place to present a full budget. The interim budget covers a shorter period and includes essential expenditures and receipts but typically refrains from announcing major policy decisions or tax changes. This approach ensures administrative continuity and fiscal operations without pre-empting the policy priorities of the incoming government.
The Interim Budget for 2024, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, emphasizes fiscal discipline and focuses on various sectors to boost the Indian economy towards achieving the goal of making India a developed nation by 2047. Key highlights include:
- An 11% increase in capital expenditure, amounting to nearly Rs 11 lakh crore.
- Construction of twenty million additional houses over the next five years under the PM Awas Yojana (Grameen).
- Implementation of three economic railway corridor programs under PM Gati Shakti.
- Revamping of 40,000 standard rail coaches to Vande Bharat standards.
- Rooftop solarization for 10 million households, offering 300 units of free electricity monthly.
- Support for green energy initiatives, including viability gap funding for offshore wind energy and the setting up of coal gasification and liquefaction capacity.
- Promotion of e-buses in public transport networks and initiatives for green growth and climate resilience.
- Vaccination against cervical cancer for girls aged 9 to 14 and enhanced healthcare cover under the Ayushman Bharat scheme for ASHA workers, anganwadi workers, and helpers.
- A significant focus on research and innovation, with the establishment of a Rs 1 lakh crore corpus for fifty-year interest-free loans in sunrise domains.
- Strategies for achieving self-reliance in oil seeds and comprehensive support for dairy farmers.
Tax proposals in Interim budget 2024
- The budget outlines the continuation of the same tax rates for both direct and indirect taxes, including import duties.
- There are a large number of petty, non-verified, non-reconciled or disputed direct tax demands, many of them dating as far back as the year 1962, which continue to remain on the books, causing anxiety to honest tax payers and hindering refunds of subsequent years. Hence It is proposed in budget to withdraw such outstanding direct tax demands up to twenty-five thousand rupees (₹ 25,000) pertaining to the period up to financial year 2009-10 and up to ten-thousand rupees (₹ 10,000) for financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15.
- The initiative to withdraw outstanding direct tax demands up to Rs. 25,000 for periods up to the financial year 2009-10 and up to Rs. 10,000 for financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15 is proposed, benefiting about a crore taxpayers.
- Certain tax benefits to start-ups and investments made by sovereign wealth or pension funds as also tax exemption on certain income of some IFSC units are expiring on 31.03.2024. To provide continuity in taxation, IT is proposed in budget to extend the date to 31.03.2025
The budget also highlights the government’s efforts in improving taxpayer services, with direct tax collections having more than tripled and return filers increasing significantly. GST is credited with reducing the compliance burden on trade and industry and doubling the tax base, with average monthly gross GST collections nearly doubling.
A white paper detailing the economic progress from 2014 to the present, focusing on overcoming past challenges and setting a path for sustainable growth, is also announced