The budget for the year 2023-24 presented by the finance minister today has been quite pragmatic with no populist measures taken. This was widely expected considering that it was the last full budget before the general elections. The revenue expenditure has been compressed and capital expenditure account for almost all the increase in total budget size. Among the broad themes visible in the budget are use of technology to improve ease of living and business, more effective intervention in education & skilling, rationalizing the tax structure etc. Measures taken using technology as backbone are significant as they are not high on cost but highly effective in terms of its benefits. Here is a look at some of the details.

Leveraging technology

  • Permanent Account Number (PAN) of business establishments will be used as the single common identifier for all digital systems of government agencies to bring ease of doing business.
  • A system of ‘Unified Filing Process’ for businesses will be set-up for obviating the need for separate submission of same information to different government agencies. This information will be shared with other agencies as per filer’s choice.
  • DigiLocker will be set up for use by MSMEs, large business and charitable trusts to help them store documents online and share with various authorities, regulators, banks and other business entities as needed.
  • A national financial information registry will be set up to serve as the central repository of financial and ancillary information. This will facilitate efficient flow of credit, promote financial inclusion, and foster financial stability.
  • A national data governance policy will be brought out to enable access to anonymized data by the start-ups and academia for research and finding solutions to pressing issues such as urban mobility, logistics and so on.
  • Extension of DigiLocker and Aadhaar to consolidate identity and address of individuals maintained by various government agencies, regulators and regulated entities.
  • Creation of a digital public infrastructure for agriculture as an open source with information regarding crop planning, improved access to farm inputs, credit, market intelligence etc. This will help agri-tech industry and start-ups bring about products for enhancing value addition and reducing the inefficiency in the sector.
  • Setting up of three centres of excellence for artificial intelligence in top educational institutions to develop solutions in the areas of agriculture, health, and sustainable cities.
  • Setting up of 100 labs for developing applications using 5G services to build applications such as smart classrooms, precision farming, intelligent transport systems, health care applications etc.
  • Developing an App including information about 50 destinations to enhance tourism experience.

Education & skilling –

  • A National Digital Library for children and adolescents.
  • Recruitment of 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools, serving 3.5 lakh tribal students in the nest three years.
  • Teachers’ training will be re-envisioned through district institutes of education and training.
  • Stipend support to 47 lakh youth under a pan-India national apprenticeship promotion scheme over next three years.

Tax rationalization –

  • Reduction in customs duty on import of certain parts and inputs for manufacture of mobile phones and TVs to deepen domestic value addition.
  • Correction of inverted duty structure (where duty on raw material is higher than that on finished product) for certain items.
  • Tweaking of direct tax structure to encourage move towards exemption-less tax regime.
  • Measures to expand tax base and reduce tax avoidance.

Other important measures include –

  • To better allocate scarce resources for competing development needs, the financing of select schemes will be changed, on a pilot basis, from ‘input-based’ to ‘result-based’.
  • Financial support for poor persons who are in prisons and unable to afford the penalty or the bail amount. It may be recalled that President Droupadi Murmu had, in a recent speech, expressed concern about people spending long years in jail for petty crimes due to inability to bail money.
  • Setting up of decentralised storage capacity for farm produce to help farmers store their produce and realize remunerative prices through sale at appropriate times.
  • Measures towards green energy transition including National Green Hydrogen Mission with an outlay of Rs 19,700 crores launched recently and Rs 35,000 crore provided in the budget for priority capital investments towards energy transition.
  • Significant increase in capex by about 33% with focus on railways and highways. One hundred critical transport infrastructure projects for last and first mile connectivity with investment of Rs 75,000 crore to be taken up on priority.

Revenue & expenditure analysis to be taken up in subsequent articles.

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