Presented amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Union Budget 2021 gave a healing touch to the health sector by providing over Rs 2.22 lakh crore for health and wellness, which is 137% more than the last year’s allocation and also gave a big push to the infrastructure sector through a sharp increase in capital expenditures aimed at reconstructing the pandemic-ravaged economy and providing jobs.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made two bold Budget announcements, which included lining up two Public Sector Banks for disinvestment and putting up one state-owned insurance company for sale. The Foreign Direct Investment limit in insurance was also increased to 74% from the current 49% in the Budget.
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Sitharaman said the pandemic-hit economy would be given a required push even at the cost of a 9.5% increase in the Budget deficit in 2020-21 from 4.6% of the GDP in 2019-20. She said the government would finance its expenses through borrowings, selling of shares in public sector companies, privatisation and asset monetisation.
Economists said that her Budget would give a boost to private consumption, which is needed to kickstart the recession-hit economy. However, states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which are going to the polls, got big allocations for highway projects.
Her Budget proposals were based on 'Six Pillars' and included health, physical and financial capital. She promised to extend social security benefits to gig and platform workers.
1. Anupam Manur, Assistant Professor, Takshashila University
2. A Murali, Vice President, Toyota Tsusho India
3. Mrin Agarwal, Founder of Finsafe India Private Limited
4. Mohan R Lavi, Tax expert
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