Budget 2021 Highlights: FM Nirmala Sitharaman Emphasises Women Empowerment

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Budget 2021 Highlights: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Indian Union Budget for financial year 2021-22 in Parliament on Monday. Experts claim this budget is positioned as one of the most important in recent times, since the government is tasked with pressures of an economy grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. Sitharaman emphasised that women empowerment is to be among the goals outlined in the ‘Aatmanirbhar’ India vision. 

Here are some key Budget 2021 highlights: 

  • Persons above the age of 75 who only have pension incomes to be granted exemption from filing income tax returns 
  • Healthcare and infrastructure given a significant boost; Rs 35,000 crore allocated for COVID-19 vaccines  
  • Rs 1500 crore allocated for the development of digital payment schemes 
  • No big changes to income tax slabs 
  • Minimum wages applicable to all categories of workers in construction and infra; women to be given work in all categories with necessary protection   

Budget 2021 Highlights: For Women 

Sitharaman announced that the centre’s Ujjwala Scheme will now be extended to one crore beneficiaries. City gas distribution of CNG and piped household cooking gas will also be expanded to 100 more districts. 

For workers in construction projects and building gigs, Sitharaman said, “Social security benefits will be extended to gig and platform workers. Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers. Women will be allowed to work in all categories and also in night shifts with adequate protection. To further extend efforts towards unorganised labour force, I propose to launch a portal to collect relevant information on gig workers, building/construction workers among others. It’ll help formulate health, housing, skill, insurance credit &food schemes for migrant workers.”

A budget of Rs 1000 crores has been allocated for tea-workers, with an emphasis on women workers, especially in states of Assam and West Bengal.   

Budget 2021 Highlights: Tax 

While there was no notable change in the income tax slab rates and Direct Tax structure, Sitharaman announced several benefit proposals.

  • No ITR for senior citizens above 75 with pension incomes 
  • Tax exemption in case of rental housing projects
  • Tax holiday for start-ups extended to another year 
  • Income Tax Appellate Tribunal goes faceless; committee to be set up for small and individual taxpayers 
  • Exemption from tax audit limit increased to Rs 10 crore turnover for enterprises with primarily digital functions 
  • Details of capital gains and interest to come pre-filled for ease of IT filing returns 

Sitharaman also proposed to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit amending the Insurance Act 1938, to attract a greater volume of foreign investors. Russell Gaitonde, Partner at Deloitte India, reacting to this change was quoted saying in Indian Express, “The Government’s decision to increase the FDI limit in the insurance sector from 49 percent to 74 percent is a welcome move as it was a long standing industry request…”