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Budget 2020 – Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Vikas

Disinvestment road map will help reduce government dependence of tax revenue and improvement of the primary and secondary bond market will help reduce the dependence of corporate sector on bank finance alone.

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This is an Epoch-making Budget 2020. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has kept in mind all the segments of the economy. It enforces Prime Ministers Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of achieving 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024, with Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas.

The Government has not bogged down by the resource constraints and has continued with its spending on infrastructure and asset creation. It has taken care that the social welfare schemes of the government have sufficient funds allocation and can continue on its path of benefit to the last man (Antyodaya). Though the fiscal deficit targets have been relaxed the government gives a fiscal consolidation path and has also, for the first time, annexed a list of off-budget borrowing in the budget document and settled a very significant debate about transparency in government borrowing. All previous governments had been resorting to off-budget borrowing like oil bonds etc. but were not disclosing it. FM has estimated a nominal GDP growth rate of 10 per cent for the coming year, keeping inflation below 4 per cent our real GDP growth will be above 6 per cent.

The budget focuses on wealth creation and pro-business policy talking about minimal government intervention under the Economic development Theme of the Budget. For resource generation, it has desisted from increasing direct or indirect taxes. The government has reiterated its commitment to recognizing and honouring honest taxpayer and is taking care of unwarranted harassment by a tax authority by bringing accountability in the tax administration. Announcement of Taxpayer’s Rights Charter within the statute is an important step in this direction. Provision for statutory taxpayer’s right exists only in three other countries worldwide. 

Direct personal tax slabs have been changed to benefit middle-income segment and taxpayers up to income level of Rs 15 lakh will be benefited if they opt for a new regime of personal tax. FM has also promised that many tax concessions enjoyed currently by individual taxpayers will be incorporated in the new regime also depending upon nature, the option can be revised by the taxpayers on a yearly basis.  Deposit insurance for the scheduled banks has been increased to Rs 5 lakh from the current level of Rs 1 lakh only per depositor, about which there was very little awareness amongst the general public. This will help in building more confidence in the banking industries, bringing transparency. 

Cooperative sector gets the benefit of lowering of tax structure as in the case of reduced taxes for the corporate sector, helping farmers’ producer organisations, milk cooperatives and other charitable institutions operating under a cooperative structure. Even registration for charitable organisations under 80G and 12A has been made online provisionally so that they face less harassment and can start their activities early. 

The agriculture sector has been sufficiently provided for with the 16 new initiatives announced under Aspirational India theme for rural and agriculture sector. Financial market’s long-pending demand for the abolition of dividend distribution tax (DDT) has been accepted. Stressed assets under MSME has been given an extended one year time period for resolution and limit to go to resolution mechanism has been reduced to Rs 100 crore from earlier Rs 500 crore. The tax audit requirement has been increased to a turnover of Rs 5 crore. MSME also meets its demand for invoice financing under TReDS. Startup ecosystem gets several hand-holding supports like payment of taxes for ESOPs only at the point of sale. GIG economy, involving technological development, gets a big push from the government. Education sector seas several reforms for connecting academic to industries, providing them with industrial internship and skilling etc. setting of online educational facilities and new Police and Cybercrime University are an important development. Employment through National Recruitment Agency for non-gazetted posts will smoothen the employment process and make it completely transparent.    

Under the theme of Economic Development, the government provides for all the important sectors like Technological Textile Centres, power, renewable energy, connectivity like airports, seaports and railways. Finance minister works out a mechanism for the ambitious plan of investment of Rs 103 lakh crore under National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) identifying 6500 projects through Center, State and foreign direct investments (FDI). Government has also opened up its bond markets for foreign sovereign debt investment in rupee denomination, securing against exchange fluctuations, a concern shown earlier for sovereign debt funds.  The budget also provides for gap funding for new hospitals in the aspirational districts for servicing Ayushman health care scheme and provision for drinking water. Under the GST announcement, the government has provided for its commitment to compensate the states for increased 14 per cent revenue every year through compensation cess.

Government has also taken care of inverted duty structure that has seeped in the domestic industry under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It also protects domestic industries from dumping securing domestic industries through clauses like country of origin value addition. Income accruing to NRI in zero-tax countries like UAE will be taxed on income generated in India only, a logical step to fill the gap in taxation. 

Discrimination of civil acts under Company Law and removal fear in the corporate sector has been hailed across every section. Faceless appeal provision and Vivad se Vishwas scheme will help to resolve long-pending tax disputes in tax administration and will also release funds for the government. Disinvestment road map will help reduce government dependence of tax revenue and improvement of the primary and secondary bond market will help reduce the dependence of corporate sector on bank finance alone.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Union Budget 2020

Gopal Krishna Agarwal

He is National Spokesperson BJP and has a keen understanding of economic affairs.

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