Friday, September 22, 2023

Union Budget 2023-24: Fiscal deficit pegged at 6.9% of GDP; FM proposes Rs 7,000 cr outlay for 3rd phase of eCourts project

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented her fifth consecutive and first Budget of Amrit Kaal, focusing on green growth, inclusive development and youth power, besides giving relief to the common man in income tax rebate.

As per the Finance Minister, the revised Fiscal Deficit in the current financial year 2023-24 was estimated at 6.9 percent of GDP as against 6.4 per cent in 2022-23. 

The Union Minister said the Fiscal deficit was consistent with the broad path of fiscal consolidation announced by her last year to reach a fiscal deficit level below 4.5 per cent by 2025-26, calling for nurturing growth through public investment, to become a stronger and sustainable economy.

Sitharaman announced an outlay of Rs 7,000 crore for Phase III of the eCourts Mission Mode Project, a Pan-India Project, monitored and funded by the Department of Justice, Union Ministry of Law and Justice, for digitising the District Courts across the country.

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had recently hinted at the start of the third phase of the Project, which aimed at making the judicial system more affordable, accessible, cost effective, predictable, reliable and transparent.

Phase III would enable a litigant or lawyer to file a case from any part of the country and at any time, without having to go to multiple windows in the premises of any specific court. 

Taking forward the policy of sound litigation management, Sitharaman said the Budget would provide that if a question of law in the case of an assessee was identical to a question of law which was pending in appeal before the jurisdictional High Court or the Supreme Court in any case, the filing of further appeal in the case of this assessee by the department shall be deferred till such question of law was decided by the jurisdictional High Court or the Supreme Court.

For the salaried middle class, the Union Finance Minister announced the proposal to raise the income tax rebate level to Rs seven lakh per annum from the current Rs five lakh per annum. 

The new tax rates, as per Budget 2023, are:

0-3 lakh   – NIL
3-6 lakh   – 5 per cent
6-9 lakh   – 10 per cent
9-12 lakh  – 15 per cent
12-15 lakh – 20 per cent
Above 15 lakh – 30 per cent

Sitharaman announced a revamped credit guarantee scheme for MSMEs in the 2023-24 Union Budget.

The scheme, which will come into effect from April 1, 2023, will infuse Rs 9,000 crore into the corpus, enabling additional collateral-free credit of Rs two lakh crore to the MSMEs. 

She said despite war and global recession disruptions, sales across different MSMEs in India reportedly reached 90 percent of the pre-pandemic levels.

The sector pinned hopes on this year’s budget to introduce schemes that could help MSMEs achieve self-reliance. The revamped credit guarantee schemes will give the sector a much-needed shot in the arm, she added.

To reduce pendency of tax appeals at commissioner level, the Budget announced deployment of 100 joint commissioners for disposal of small appeals. The Minister said that the government would also be selective in taking up cases for scrutiny of returns already received. 

Besides, she said the Central government would bear the cost of free food scheme for the next one year, estimated to be around Rs two lakh crore. She estimated the current year’s growth at seven percent, while saying that per capita income doubled to Rs 1.97 lakh in the past around nine years.

During her Budget speech, the Minister emphasised on seven priorities of Budget, which included inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure, green growth, youth power, financial sector, and unleashing the potential of citizens through various schemes.

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