Kumar Mangalam Birla. Photo: special arrangement
The Union Budget 2023-2024 is a bold step towards a prosperous and inclusive India. One of the pillars of the Indian economy remains agriculture. And the budget has given a much-needed boost to agriculture and related sectors. The unique and innovative approaches proposed will increase farmers’ incomes and promote rural development. Among the various initiatives announced by the Minister of Finance, the most ambitious is the proposal to provide new era digital technologies and platforms to farmers and rural entrepreneurs. This will ensure better access to agricultural inputs, credit and insurance. Digitization will help increase productivity by improving crop estimation and market intelligence. These initiatives will surely strengthen the agri-tech industry and start-ups by providing not only adequate funds but also technological support.
Another important initiative is to make India the global hub of ‘millet – Shree Anna’. India is already the largest producer and exporter of millet and the targeted approach will further strengthen our presence globally. The proposed agricultural credit, budgeted at ₹20 lakh crore for related sectors such as livestock, dairy and fisheries, will ensure increased incomes for the rural population.
Beyond the focus on agriculture, the EU budget contains other key proposals such as a focus on capital spending, green growth, improving the health and of education and the rationalization of income and indirect taxes. The budget proposed a 33% increase in capital expenditure to ₹10,000,000,000 in FY24, which is nearly 3.3% of GDP. Railroads will account for a substantial share of nearly 25% of total capital expenditures in FY24. Strengthening railroads as a mode of transportation will not only improve the safety and experience of rail passengers , but will also allow more efficient movement of trade goods. It will also reduce the cost of logistics. Spending for ‘PM Awas Yojana’ is also improved, with an allocation of ₹79,000 crore. This will help achieve the government’s ‘housing for all’ objective.
Better health care
Proposals for better health care and strengthening the education sector will improve well-being. A similar focus has been placed on the urban population with a higher allocation to strengthen urban infrastructure and reduce the incidence of personal income tax. This will increase the disposable income of the urban labor force and stimulate consumption.
Stimulating economic growth has been well balanced with a focus on sustainability. The budget aims to achieve the country’s long-term sustainable goals while being the fastest growing major economy in the world. The rise of green technologies and battery and storage solutions will enable India to integrate growth into its energy security and energy transition plans. This will truly enable India to be ‘Atmanirbhar’ in a global sense. Beyond the focus on agriculture and industry, the budget also provided incentives to the service sector. The budget proposed specific incentives for the tourism, artificial intelligence (AI) and fintech sectors. Improving and developing skills in these sectors will go a long way to increasing employment opportunities for a young population.
The budget presents a bold, comprehensive and inclusive strategy that will ensure prosperity for all. It also lays the foundation for the Indian Amrit Kaal.
Kumar Mangalam Birla is Chairman of Aditya Birla Group