Budget focusses on women empowerment, green growth: Sitharaman

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS): Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that the focus of the Union Budget 2023-24 is on women empowerment, green growth and artisans as well as the tourism sector.

Addressing the post-budget press conference, she said that the Budget gives a lot of scope to capital investment. At the same time, it also focusses on the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as they are the engine of growth, she added.

Accompanied by her entire team of officials from the Finance Ministry including Finance Secretary T.V. Somanathan and Chief Economic Adviser V Anantha Nageswaran, the Finance Minister said that the budget sustains capital investment and also gives a push to the private sector.

The budget also gives tax reliefs to individuals and middle class.

She also said that the new taxation regime, under which no tax would be levied for those having income of up to Rs 7 lakh per annum, will now attract more people compared to the old tax regime.

The minister said that the government is not compelling anybody to join the new tax regime.

"Those who want to remain in the old regime can still remain there. But the new scheme is attractive because it gives a greater rebate. It also provides for simplified and smaller slabs, smaller lower rates of taxation and also slabs which are nicely broken down," she said.

"This country has been waiting for direct taxation to be simplified. Therefore the new taxation regime that we brought in for direct taxation two, three years ago has now got greater incentives and greater attraction so that people can unhesitatingly move from the old to the new," she added.

Focussing on the agriculture sector, Sitharaman said that there is a lot of increase in agriculture credit availability and around Rs 20 lakh are being made available for agriculture credit.

The government has decided to release wheat into the market due to which the price of wheat will come down. Before the budget, we had already taken action to ease wheat prices, she said.

On price rise, the Finance Minister said that both retail and wholesale price index-based inflation have come down as the government has taken desired steps.

Sitharaman further said that the government is looking at a futuristic fintech sector, where people will be trained through Industrial Revolution 4.0.

"We are trying to unleash digital economy in various walks of life," she said.

"The commitment of 4.5 per cent fiscal deficit was reiterated in this budget, which shows that we believe we have the means and the ability to reach that target by 2025-26," Somanathan said.


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