By Mukesh Butani and Shankey Agarwal
The Budget FY24 will be known for the government walking the talk to the tone of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas mantra. Though seven financial priorities underlined the blueprint of the nation’s FY24 Budget, almost all industries, sectors, or groups have been addressed. Be it the most vulnerable primitive tribal groups to the target group of women; senior citizens on one end of the spectrum to corporates on the other; foreign investors and high net worth individuals—all have been factored in the vision for the upcoming year with an idea to address ease of living, expanding the scope for savings and investments, and addressing challenges on global headwinds. Simultaneously, it invigorates the animal spirits for greater economic expansion through a massive push in investment in infrastructure and other priority sectors. The Budget ticks all the right boxes to create a multiplier effect.
Continuing on the work on the foundation laid down in previous years, uninterrupted by global pandemic and the Ukraine crisis, India appears to have maintained its focus for its domestic priorities, they being inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, green growth, and financial sector reform among others, which are futuristic growth themes. In continuing the earlier years’ themes, the Budget integrates various social schemes to create a holistic effect. Thus, one can expect the domino effect on the economy in the coming years.
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The overall vision for Amrit Kaal based on technology and a robust financial sector will clearly boost the start-up ecosystem, with employment generation in the priority areas of digitalisation, boosting indigenous production, AI and internet of things (IoT), and medical research. These rightly form the thrust of the Budget.
The stamp of a G20 Presidency is clearly evident with a focus on implementing the vision on sustainable development goals, environment, LIFE, green growth etc. With threefold increase in capital investment over five Budgets, the message is clear—to lay down a blueprint. The ball now shifts in the court of the industry to make strides, which will buoy the economy towards the attainment of the status of a developed country.
On the tax front, there are no hidden surprises. Instead, welcome changes are abound in the mechanics. There is an emphasis on the working of the nuts and bolts comprising the tax administration system. For example, the installation of a new appellate authority by way of Joint Commissioners, streamlining the Appellate Tribunal’s authority to hear appeals which were otherwise going to courts and, removing obstacles in the interface of IBC and Tax Law—all hint towards streamlining the tax law in line with the business needs. The amendments proposed in GST and income tax addressing online services and online gaming respectively reveal that the focus on tax mobilisation is not lost.
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By making the new tax regime for personal taxation as the default regime and with an increase in the tax threshold, rebate, and raising leave encashment limit for government employees, the government seems motivated to leave more disposable income in the hands of individuals. In turn, they will be a catalyst for boosting consumption. Similarly, raising threshold limits for the self-employed and MSMEs to avail presumptive taxation is aimed to propel consumption. The tweak to custom duty structure with a fine comb and across a large number of sectors also establishes the importance of flagship programmes like Make in India and PLIs. A further expansion of IFSC regulators’ ambit to give it a wider latitude is a welcome measure, given India’s appetite for global financial transactions.
A focus on health and skilling, MSMEs, e-courts, Unity Malls, Jan Vishwas Bill to decriminalise karma yogis, and the national financial information registry are necessary ground-level steps whose individual and collective importance cannot be over-emphasised. The vision is now set and the focus will be on the implementation of such laudable ideas.
Writers are respectively, Managing Partner & Partner, BMR Legal
(With inputs from Shinjani Agnihotri)