Health, Agri, infra sectors get big boost in Union Budget 2021; no change in I-T slabs, recapitalisation for PSBs announced

Union Budget 2021: Mainly focusing on health and agricultural sectors, Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to revive the economy in her shortest ever Budget speech.

By Talibuddin Khan
Mon, 01 Feb 2021 06:42 PM IST
Minute Read
Health, Agri, infra sectors get big boost in Union Budget 2021; no change in I-T slabs, recapitalisation for PSBs announced

New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman on Monday presented the Union Budget 2021 amid high hopes from across sectors in the pandemic-ridden country. The unprecedented crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic has caused huge losses to businesses and industries in the country, who are relying on the government to get back to the pre-COVID levels.

Sitharaman, while announcing the Union Budget 2021, said, "This Budget comes at a time when all of us decided to give impetus to the economy & that impetus, we thought, would be qualitatively spent & give necessary demand push if we choose to spend big on infrastructure", adding that the "Budget 2021 will boost the economy".

Mainly focusing on health and agricultural sectors, Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to revive the economy in her shortest ever Budget speech. Nirmala Sithraman also replaced Swadeshi 'bahi khata' with a tablet in order to keep the Budget paperless.

Doubling of the spending on the health sector and mentioning it in the 6 crucial pillars of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' (Self-reliant India), Sitharaman proposed a budget outlay of Rs 2,23,846 crore for health and well being in 2021-2022, an increase of 137 per cent from the previous year, with Rs 35,000 crore earmarked for COVID-19 vaccine in the upcoming fiscal.

Here are the sector-wise highlights from Union Budget 2021:

Health Sector

-"Health and well being has formed the topmost priority of the Union Government during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. It is the foremost of the six crucial pillars that form the foundation of the Union Budget," Nirmala Sitharaman said while increasing the Budget allocation of Health sector to Rs 2,23,846 crore in budget estimate 2021-22 as against last year's estimate of Rs 94,452 crore.  

-The government has also earmarked Rs 35,000 crore for the COVID-19 vaccines. Nirmala Sitharaman also said that the government is committed to providing more funds if required.

-Rs 71268.77 crore has been allocated to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as against Rs 65,011.8 crore allocated in 2020-2021.

-A new centrally sponsored scheme, Prime Minister Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, will also be launched with an outlay of about Rs 64,180 crore over 6 years and it will develop capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary health care systems, strengthen existing national institutions, and create new institutions.

Agricultural Sector

-Reiterating that the Central government is committed to the welfare of farmers, Nirmala Sithraman announced that Rs 75,100 crore has been allocated for the farmers of the country.

-Sitharaman also announced that the government has increased the agriculture credit target to Rs 16.5 lakh crore in FY 2021-22 compared with Rs 15 lakh crore announced in 2020-21.

-Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime has undergone a change to assure price to farmers that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities, Sitharaman said.

-Further elaborating, she said that in case of wheat, the amount paid to farmers in 2020-21 was Rs 75,875 cr, as compared to Rs 62,802 cr in 2019-20. In case of paddy, the amount paid to farmers was estimated to Rs 1,72,752 cr as compared to Rs 1,41,930 cr in 2019-20, while in case of pulses, the amount in 2020-21 was estimated at Rs 10,530 cr, as compared to Rs 8,285 cr in 2019-20.

-She further informed that thousands of mandis will be integrated with eNAM (National Agricultural Market).

-She also announced an Agricultural Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC) to conserve agricultural output and improve infrastructure. The cess includes Rs 2.5 per litre on petrol and Rs 4 per litre on diesel. The Special Additional Excise Duty (SAED) on unbranded petrol and diesel shall be Rs 11 and Rs 8 per litre respectively. Similar changes have also been made for branded petrol and diesel

Indian Railways

-In the Union Budget 2021, the government allocated Rs 1,10,055 crores for the Indian Railways. An outlay for capital expenditure amounting to Rs 1,07,100 crores has also been announced.

-"Indian Railways has prepared a National Rail Plan for India 2030. The plan is to create a future-ready railways system by 2030 - bringing down the logistic cost for the industry is at the core of a strategy to enable Make in India, Sitharaman said.

-Railways will also be provided with indigenously developed automatic train protection system that eliminates train collision due to human error and further strengthen, high-density network and highly utilised network routes.


-Aiming at upcoming Assembly elections, Nirmala Sitharaman announced the highway infrastructure plan for four poll-bound states -- Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Assam.

-Tamil Nadu will get Rs 1.03 lakh crore for building of 3,500 km of roads, Kerala will get Rs 65,000 crores for 1,500 km of roads and West Bengal will get Rs 95,000 crores for 675 km road. In Assam, 1,300 km roads will be constructed at a cost of Rs 3,400 crore.

-Five operational road projects with an estimated enterprise value of Rs 5,000 crore is being transferred to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Transmission assets worth Rs 7,000 crore will be transferred to Power Grid Corporation of India Limited.

-Sitharaman also proposed to significantly enhance capital expenditure to Rs 5.54 lakh crore in the next fiscal, besides creating institutional structures and giving a big thrust to monetizing assets to achieve the goals of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP).

-A sum of Rs 20,000 crore has also been provisioned in the Budget to capitalise a Development Financial Institution (DFI).

-An asset monetization dashboard will also be created for tracking the progress and to provide visibility to investors.

-Other core infrastructure assets that will be rolled out under the asset monetization programme are -- NHAI operational toll roads; transmission assets of PGCIL; oil and gas pipelines of GAIL, IOCL and HPCL; AAI airports in tier II and III cities; other railway infrastructure assets; warehousing assets of CPSEs such as Central Warehousing Corporation and NAFED, among others.

Defence Sector

-An increase in the capital outlay for the armed forces by nearly 19 per cent has been announced by Nirmala Sithraman in her Budget Speech. She has also allocated a total of Rs 4.78 lakh crore for defence budget for 2021-22 as against Rs 4.71 lakh crore last year.

-Rs 1.35 lakh crore has been set aside for capital expenditure that includes purchasing new weapons, aircraft, warships and other military hardware.

-However, the budget documents also revealed that the Defence Ministry spent an extra amount of Rs 20,776 crore for buying new weapon systems and spares for the armed forces in the present fiscal over and above the funds allocated for the purpose.

-Rs 1.15 lakh crore have also been allocated for defence pensions which are disbursed to both military and civilians who have worked for defence Ministry.

Bad Banks

-Nirmala Sithraman, during her Budget 2021 speech announced that the government will be setting up an asset reconstruction company or 'bad bank' to take care of non-performing assets (NPAs) of banks.

-Additionally, the government will infuse Rs 20,000 crore into public sector banks (PSBs) in 2021-22 to meet the regulatory norms. For the current financial year also, the government had made a provision of Rs 20,000 crore for recapitalisation.

-The CAPEX for 2021-22 is targetted at Rs 5.54 lakh crore, she said, adding that the government will provide Rs 2 lakh crore to states and autonomous bodies for it.

No change in Income Tax slabs

-In a relief to the salaried-class, Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the Income Tax Slabs for the financial year 2021-22 will remain unchanged and announced that the Centre has decided to reduce the time limit for reopening of tax cases to 3 years from 6 years, while for serious tax fraud cases where concealment of income is Rs 50 lakh or more it would be 10 years.

-In her Budget speech for 2021-22, Sitharaman also announced that senior citizens above 75 years of age having only pension and interest income would not be required to file income tax returns. Banks paying the interest would deduct the tax on their behalf.

-Sitharaman said the tax department will notify rules to remove hardships of double taxation faced by of non-resident Indians (NRIs).

-Also, pre-filled income tax returns with details on capital gains from listed securities, dividend income and interest income from banks and post offices would be available soon.

-The Budget also proposed to start faceless Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

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