Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman began reading her Budget 2022-23 proposals by expressing empathy for those who suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic. The finance minister said that India’s growth was estimated to be at 9.2%, the highest among all large economies. The top announcements from her budget proposals follow.
- For farmers to adopt to natural farming, comprehensive package for participation of state governments and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to be introduced.
- Hospitality services by the small and medium sector are yet to bounce back, therefore, the government has decided to extend the ECGL service for this sector by March 2023 with an increased cover of Rs 50,000.
- Skilling programmes will be reoriented. For skilling, upskilling and reskilling of our youth, Digital DESH e-portal will be launched.
- ‘One Class One TV Channel’ will be increased from 12 to 200 TV Channels to provide supplementary education in regional languages for Classes 1-12.
- A digital university will be developed to provide access to students for world-class quality education with ISTE Standards.
- For mental health counselling, a National Tele Mental Health Programme will be launched.
- “Our government is committed towards Atmanirbhar Bharat in armed forces. 68% of capital procurement budget will be earmarked for domestic industry for 2022-23 up from 58% in 2021-22,” the finance minister said.
- Rs 19,500 crore marked for PLI for manufacturing of high efficiency module for polysilicon.
Financial support will be provided to farmers wanting to take up agro-forestry.
- Between 5% and 7% biomass pellets will be co-fired in thermal power plants resulting in carbon dioxide savings of 38 mmt annually.
- Outlay for capital expenditure increased by 35.4% from previous year to 7.50 lakh crore in 2022-23.
Sovereign Green Bonds to be issued in public sector projects to reduce carbon footprint initiatives in the economy.
The union budget is the annual report of expenditure and revenue of India as a country. It contains the government of India’s revenue and expenditure for the end of a particular fiscal year, which runs from 1 April to 31 March.
The budget is the most extensive account of the government’s finances, in which revenues from all sources and expenses of all activities undertaken are aggregated. It comprises the revenue budget and the capital budget. It also contains estimates for the next fiscal year. Keeping with recent tradition, Union Finance Minister Sitharaman read out Union Budget proposals, 2022-23, today, on 1 February. This year will be her fourth Budget after 2019, 2020 and 2021. She had read out the Budget from a tablet last year in the parliament; and from a Bahi Kata in the preceding years.
The union budget was preceded by a virtual meeting of the Rajya Sabha floor leaders, chaired by Chairman of the House and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on 31 January. President Ram Nath Kovind also addressed the joint sitting of two Houses on 31 January, kick-starting the budget session of the the parliament.
The Economic Survey 2022 was presented in both houses of the parliament on 31 January. Rajya Sabha is likely to function from 10 AM till 3 PM on working days while the Lok Sabha will function from 4 PM to 9 PM. The first part of the budget session will begin on 31 January and will continue till 11 February. The second part of the budget session will be held from 14 March to 8 April.
This budget session of the parliament is being held amid electioneering for assembly elections to five states — Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. With voting scheduled later in the month, it is to be seen whether the 2022-23 Budget will focus more on populist measures.
What’s new with the budget this year?
— Digital Budget: In 2021, for the first time, the union budget in India was read out from a tablet. In the customary photo before the presentation of the budget in Parliament, Finance Minister Sitharaman was seen carrying the device in a compact red case. This is expected to continue this year too.
In the preceding years, finance ministers had carried budget documents in brown, red or tan briefcases, in keeping with British tradition. That changed in 2019, when Nirmala Sitharaman replaced them with a traditional Bahi Khata or cloth ledger. “I thought it is high time we move on from the British hangover, to do something on our own,” the finance minister had said. “And well, easier for me to carry too.”
— Budget on mobile app: The finance minister will present the Union Budget in “paperless form” this year, the government said on 27 January. The entire budget document will be released on a mobile application named ‘Union Budget Mobile App’, for lawmakers and the general public after it is presented in the Parliament on 1 February.
The app allows complete access to 14 Union Budget documents, including the Budget Speech, Annual Financial Statement (commonly known as Budget), Demand for Grants (DG), and Finance Bill etc., as prescribed by the Constitution, the ministry stated. The application is bilingual (English & Hindi) and is available on both Android and iOS platforms.
— No Halwa ceremony: This year, to mark the final stage of the Union Budget making process, sweets were provided to the core staff due to undergo “lock-in” at their workplaces, instead of a customary Halwa ceremony held every year in view of the prevailing pandemic situation and the need to observe health safety protocols, the ministry said.
“To maintain the secrecy of Budget, there is a “lock-in” of the officials involved in making the Budget. Budget Press, situated inside North Block, houses all officials in the period leading up to the presentation of the Union Budget. These officers and staff will come in contact with their near and dear ones only after the Budget is presented by the Union Finance Minister in the parliament,” it further noted.