The Indian Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the Union Budget 2023 on 1st February 2023, laying out the government’s plan to steer the economy towards a higher growth trajectory and address the key challenges faced by various sectors. The budget, which was keenly watched by various stakeholders, focused on seven priority areas, including inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing potential, green growth, youth power, and the financial sector.
One of the key highlights of the budget was the government’s emphasis on infrastructure development. The government announced a massive Rs. 1,000 crore allocation towards building new highways, developing the airport network and enhancing the inland waterways network. The budget also focused on expanding the rural road network and providing affordable housing to the poor and economically weaker sections of the society.
Another major focus of the budget was the government’s commitment to green growth. The government announced several initiatives aimed at promoting clean energy and reducing carbon emissions. The Green Hydrogen Mission was announced with the aim of producing 5MMT of hydrogen by 2030. The budget also provided for the construction of an inter-state transmission system for the evacuation and grid integration of 13GW of renewable energy from Ladakh.
The budget also made several important announcements for the education sector. The government announced the establishment of three centres of excellence for artificial intelligence in top educational institutions, 100 laboratories in engineering institutions to develop applications using 5G services, and a national digital library for children and adolescents. The Centre also committed to recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff for 749 Eklavya Model Residential Schools to educate 3.5 lakh tribal students.
The health and family welfare ministry received a meagre 12% increase in allocation, compared to the revised budget estimate of FY23, with Rs. 89, 155 crore allocated for the upcoming financial year. The department of health and family welfare received Rs. 86,175 crore, while the department of health research received Rs. 2,980 crore.
The Union Budget 2023 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman included significant updates for the MSME sector. To support the growth of the fintech industry, the government plans to expand the services offered by the digital certificate depository, Digilocker. The fintech sector has been largely facilitated by digital services such as Indian Stack, and UPI, PM Jan Dhan Yojana, and this expansion will help improve the documentation process for MSMEs.
Another key aspect of the budget was the Centre’s plan to borrow a record high amount of Rs. 15.43 lakh crore via bonds in the 2023-24 fiscal year. In net terms, the borrowing program has been set at Rs. 11.8 lakh crore. These numbers align with market expectations, indicating the government’s focus on improving the financial health of the economy.
In conclusion, the Union Budget 2023 presented by the Indian Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, highlighted the government’s plans to steer the economy towards a higher growth trajectory and address the key challenges faced by various sectors. The budget was a balanced one, with a focus on inclusive development, infrastructure development, green growth, and the education sector. However, the lack of significant allocations to the health sector is a cause for concern and will require further scrutiny in the coming days.