The government will present its first Budget post coronavirus pandemic today. As the economy ravaged by the pandemic led to loss of income, livelihoods and financial security, individuals -- both salaried and otherwise -- are looking for assistance from the government. Healthcare that has been the lifeline of the country -- albeit under immense pressure -- is one of the sectors that could see considerable sops and funding.
As the pandemic broke the back of the economy, it also showed new ways to cope. As a country that had negligible presence of PPE and face mask manufacturing, India became one of the leading exporters of the same in a matter of a year. Closing down of borders in the pandemic also showed India the need to be Atmanirbhar. The Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme would be another focus this year.
Personal taxation and employment boosters could also be the subjects of focus this year.
Here's a look at what to expect this year with a focus on five key areas:
First and foremost, the Modi government is likely to make big announcements for the healthcare sector. The pandemic showed the importance of a robust healthcare system. India's is a still long way to go. As the number of cases increased, making India the second-most affected country in terms of coronavirus cases, the healthcare system found itself ill-equipped to handle such pressure. With two vaccines being administered now, the healthcare system can heave a sigh or relief. But the war is far from won.
The Modi government is likely to announce significant budgetary allocation for the sector. Keeping in line with the recommendation of the Economic Survey, the government could go for allocation of around 2-2.25 per cent of the GDP for the healthcare sector.
The coronavirus pandemic changed the way people spend and save. Nevertheless, the government would want to increase money in the hands of the salaried class to hike up spending. Nirmala Sitharaman could announce changes in the tax slab or exemptions under Section 80C. Exemption of up to Rs 1.5 lakh can be claimed for investments in life insurance premium, public provident fund, employees provident fund, equity-linked saving schemes, home loan principal amount, stamp duty and registration charges for property purchase, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, National Saving Certificate, senior citizen savings scheme, ULIPs, tax saving FD for 5 years, infrastructure bonds etc under Section 80C. Tax waiver on saving schemes to senior citizens is also likely.
PM Modi in 2019 had set a target of spending Rs 100 lakh crore in infrastructure projects in the next five years. Keeping in line with the target Nirmala Sitharaman could announce the progress on Infrastructure Vision 2025 with focus on affordable power, access to digital services, quality education, efficient transportation, housing and water.
The coronavirus pandemic took a toll on the country's employment rate. With the economy coming to a grinding halt, jobs creation was in doldrums. After the first lockdown in March, 11.3 crore people lost their jobs, as per think tank CMIE. The government announced the Atmanirbhar Bharat package worth Rs 20 lakh crore subsequently to give a leg up to affected sectors. As the economy slowly moves towards recovery, the govt is likely to bring up India's employment rate.
The government, seeing the country's need to be self-reliant, announced the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme amid the pandemic that focuses on making India self-dependent. The government has also announced production linked incentive (PLI) for multiple sectors and local manufacturing. This will not only boost domestic manufacturing and exports, but will also be key in creating jobs.