Serial Entrepreneur & Investor Dr Somdutta Singh Deliberates Budget 2023
Is this budget designed to prepare India 2.0 for tomorrow and placing it at parity with the world's largest economies?
In her opening remarks, Nirmala Sitharaman, our honorable Finance Minister addressed Union Budget 2023 as the "first Budget of Amrit Kaal" and characterized it as a roadmap for India@100 centred around seven key goals that serve as the "Saptarishis" directing her outlook. She also highlighted that the world now acknowledges India's economy as a shining beacon with a promising future as seen by the country's growth rate of 7%.
While knowledge of our nation's finances and governance is important, the main reason any citizen follows a budget is to understand this — how will the budget impact my daily life? This time, the budget featured significant announcements affecting women and senior citizens across the nation.
Inclusionary development, unlocking potential, green growth, youth power, addressing the last mile, the banking sector, and infrastructure investment are among the priorities Sitharaman identified as Saptarshi.
But, whether these growth objectives can truly be realized without the women, who represent approximately half of India's population, is a significant subject that must be addressed. Therefore, it is essential to understand what the Union Budget 2023 has presented for Indian women and how it seeks to emancipate them — another point made in Sitharaman's speech.
The budget's primary focus on strengthening rural income and financial independence has helped women's self-help groups, or SHGs, advance to the next level of economic empowerment by giving them access to raw material supply, branding, product marketing, etc.
Why is this pivotal? Simply because SHGs have the capacity to play a transformative role in involving women — as it has already been seen during the COVID-19 pandemic — and can subsequently aid to further extend women's impact on the labour sector in the near future.
Also, the budget envisions that by instituting enabling policies, SHGs would be capable of expanding their businesses to cater to large consumer markets, as has happened with several start-ups that proceeded to becoming "Unicorns."
The establishment of a brand-new one-time small savings programme for women was also unveiled by the finance minister. Mahila Samman Saving Certificate, a programme with a fixed interest rate of 7.5%, will be offered until March 2025.
In the words of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, “Empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation, when women are empowered, society with stability is assured.”
For a maximum of two years, a deposit of up to 2 lakhs may be placed in the name of a woman or a girl child. Additionally, the programme has a partial withdrawal option to assist women in dire circumstances, making it a significant financial benefit programme.
It is encouraging to note that the budget intentionally considers gender, and looks to incentivize modest savings by women. In most households, women are the primary and dedicated savers; putting these funds in her name through a straightforward, hassle-free solution can safeguard her income and give her more authority over her financial decisions. Women often save for long-term growth and essential well-being goals including the health, nutrition, and education of family members. As a result, by doing so, she benefits along with her family, the community, and the greater global economy.
The Narendra Modi government appears to have prioritized its support base in the forthcoming state elections with substantial announcements in the Budget — the last comprehensive one before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, with an emphasis on tribals, youth, women, and the middle class. According to the new tax law, women who make up to Rs. 7 lakhs will not be subject to paying taxes, as opposed to those who make up to Rs. 5 lakh who were not subject to paying taxes.
The income tax slabs established under the new tax regime are anticipated to help salaried women and with formal jobs, especially those from middle class backgrounds, enhancing their capacity to save and make smarter financial decisions.
In the year leading up to general elections, is the budget a tight-rope walk between remaining fiscally responsible and satisfying public, societal and democratic expectations?
The fifth consecutive budget presented by Ms. Sitharaman comes at a time when the economy is weakening due to external challenges, necessitating increased spending on social sectors as well as enhanced incentives for domestic manufacturing.
All I can say is that I can infer from these indicators mentioned above that the budget for this year has made a persuasive effort to increase the financial independence of women and to support their economic empowerment by giving them access to more resources. This budget may qualify as comprehensive because it addressed and made announcements on a variety of sectors and issues.
(Above mentioned article is a Consumer Connect Initiative. This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of IDPL, and IDPL claims no responsibility whatsoever.)
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