What You Need To Know

Budget 2024 FAQs: What You Need To Know

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the interim budget on February 1.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget in Parliament on February 1, 2024. Since this is an election year, it is going to be an interim budget – a temporary financial plan covering the government expenditures until a new government takes over. A full-fledged Budget will be presented after the formation of the new government following the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. A full-year Budget serves as a roadmap, directing the nation’s economic course for a complete fiscal year, while the Interim Budget presents the financial details for the transitional period.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Budget

When is the Union Budget being presented?

The Budget is presented on February 1 every year. The tradition was started by former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in 2017. Before that, the annual financial document was presented on the last day of February.

What are the key areas of focus for Budget 2024?

An interim budget is often associated with populist spending since it is presented in an election year. But a Reuters report said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to buck the trend and instead focus on infrastructure to keep the economy humming while narrowing the budget gap.

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It quoted Samiran Chakraborty, an economist with Citigroup, as saying that the government will likely aim to strike a balance between pre-election political messaging, fiscal consolidation needs and continued focus on capex.

PM Modi is also in a strong position to extend his decade in power in upcoming elections, so there’s less pressure to take populist steps, Bloomberg Economics’ Abhishek Gupta said in a report. The fiscal plan is expected to signal policy continuity, he said.

Where can I get information about the Budget?

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present Union Budget 2024 in Parliament and her speech will be telecast live on NDTV. We will also be running a live blog where users can find real-time updates on the Budget presentation.

The Union Finance Ministry has a dedicated website for Budget, which has links to previous Budget speeches, and the measures announced by the government at the end of financial years, including the statements of accounts.

When the Interim Budget was presented last time?

Just like this year, the last interim budget was presented in 2019 by then Finance Minister Piyush Goyal. He was given the additional charge of the Finance Ministry due to Mr Jaitley’s health issues.

Mr Goyal had announced some crucial changes in that year’s interim budget, presented on February 1, 2019. These were: Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme, creation of Department of Fisheries, Rashtriya Gokul Mission, allocation of Rs 1.58 lakh crore for the Railways and Rs 19,000 crore for construction of rural roads under Gram Sadak yojana. Mr Goyal had also announced that individual taxpayers having taxable annual income up to Rs 5 lakhs will not be required to pay any income tax.

What will happen to the economic survey?

The economic survey is one of the integral part of the entire Budget exercise, but this year, the government will not present the document.

Instead, the Centre has come out with a report on India’s journey from the past 10 years titled ‘Indian Economy: A Review’, said Chief Economic Advisor (CEA), V Anantha Nageswaran.

India’s first Economic Survey was presented in 1950-51. The document was presented with the Union Budget till 1964. Later, it was separated and presented before the Budget announcement.

Key terms to know about the Budget

There are some common financial terms associated with the Budget. Here’s a look at them:

Annual Financial Statement: This is a document presented to Parliament every financial year as part of the Budget process, as required under Article 112 of the Constitution of India. Usually, this document is divided into Consolidated Fund, Contingency Fund and Public Account.

Economic Survey: This is the document that’s unveiled by the government a day before the Union Budget. The Economic Survey provides an overview of economic performance and the key macroeconomic indicators.

Tax regime: This defines the tax slabs and rates for salaried and other earning individuals. The government had introduced an optional simplified income tax regime, known as New Tax Regime in 2020. Under the New Tax Regime, the government reduced the tax rates for different slabs. In the last Union Budget, Ms Sitharaman introduced the New Tax Regime as the default option.

Money Bill: It is a specific type of Finance Bill that deals with matters related to taxes, revenues and government expenditure. A bill will be treated as a Money Bill only if it contains the matters specified under Article 110 (1) (a) to (g) of the Constitution of India. The Money Bill can only be presented in the Lok Sabha.

Finance Bill: A Finance Bill is a key Budget document as it contains all details of the government revenue, expenditures and allocations for a financial year. It contains all the details about new taxes and alterations to existing tax structures. The Finance Bill is presented for a period of one year and after the bill is passed it becomes the Finance Act. The Finance Bill is prepared as per the provision under Article 117 of the Constitution of India.

Fiscal Deficit: This is the difference between the government’s total expenditure and the revenue receipts in a financial year. To bridge this gap, the government adopts several measures, including borrowing funds from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): One of the most commonly used macroeconomic indicators, GDP serves as an important tool to judge how an economy is performing. It is the total value of consumer goods and services produced domestically in a country, within a given period of time.

Budget estimates: With regards to the Union Budget, the Budget estimates refer to the estimated funds allocated to various ministries, departments, sectors and schemes of the central government. It determines the costs that will be incurred over a specific time period as well as how and where the money will be used.

Capital expenditure: Capital expenditure includes the money that the Centre proposes to allocate for the various developmental projects, acquisition, or depreciation of machinery and assets linked with economic development.

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