Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2020-21 in the Lok Sabha today, announcing a slew of measures to combat the ongoing slowdown in the economy.
Aspiration, Development and Compassion were the three key themes for this year’s budget. In her 2 hours and 40 minutes long speech, the hon’ble minister emphasised that entrepreneurship has always been the spirit and strength of India. Hence, the government recognises the need to support and energise the Indian entrepreneurial spirit, she added.
Boosting the start-up industry
She proposed the establishment of an investment clearance cell in order to assist start-ups owners and entrepreneurs in accessing funding. In addition to this, a new portal would also be set up for end-to-end entrepreneurial facilitation. This would greatly enhance the ease of doing business in India, and is expected to provide a major boost to the competitive but flourishing industry. As such, it reflects a focus on talent, technology, and entrepreneurship.
Focus on women-centric developments
The Government has also proposed an allocation for women-centric developments, to enhance the lives of women in India. To this end, Rs 28,600 crore will be allocated in FY 2020-21, towards programmes designed to support women.
The minister also drew attention to the fact that India is now the world’s 5th-largest economy, and added that the Central government debt has decreased to 48.7 percent of GDP from 52.2 percent in March 2014. She highlighted that the growth of 7.4 per cent was surpassed in 2014-19 with an average inflation of 4.5 per cent.
National Logistics Policy for MSMEs
The budget stated that the government would set up a National Logistics Policy, along with a single window e-logistics market, in order to make MSMEs more competitive, and promote employment generation. The government would also allocate Rs 27,300 crore for the development and promotion of industry and commerce in 2020-21.
Focus on technology
The minister said that the government aims to turn every district into an export house. Emphasizing the role of technology in industrial growth, she also announced an allocation of Rs 8,000 crore, over five years, for quantum technologies and applications.
For women in India, one of her key announcements was that the government would set up a task force which will relook and recommend marriageable and child bearing ages for women. She also declared that the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme has had a tremendous impact, to which, the opposition MPs raised a protest, interrupting her speech; however, she proceeded to cite its many achievements, till date.
She stated that the gross enrollment ratio of girls in schools and educational institutes in India is higher than boys today. While enrollment for girls at the elementary level is currently at 94.32 percent, it is at 89.28 percent for boys, according to the data presented by her. She added that similar trends hold true for the secondary and higher secondary levels, as well.
The minister also stated that as more than six lakh Anganwadi workers have been equipped with smartphones, using which, they would now be able to upload nutritional status of more than 10 crore households. Furthermore, the government announced an allocation of ₹35,600 crore for nutrition-related programmes for FY 2020-21.
New bridge course announced
She also stated that the government recognizes the incredible demand for medical teachers, caregivers, nurses, and paramedical staff, in foreign markets. As such, a new bridge course would be started in order to offer training and guidance to young people in these fields. She also instructed the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Skill Development to work together, with professional bodies, to create the course.
The culmination of the above allocations and announcements, along with the reduced income tax slabs and simplified income tax procedure, shows that Budget 2020-21 was designed to boost the income of people. This would not only enhance purchasing power but also the standard of living, all over the country. Finally, the multiple women-centric proposals in the budget, along with entrepreneurial announcements, also lay out a highly favourable year ahead for women entrepreneurs as well, especially start-up founders.