NEW DELHI: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will table the Interim Budget 2024 before the country heads for Lok Sabha polls later this year. This will be her sixth Budget as the Finance Minister and last in the second term of the Narendra Modi government. The interim budget will take care of the financial needs of the intervening period until a government is formed after the Lok Sabha polls. A full budget will be presented by the new government.
The Budget Session of Parliament commenced on Wednesday with President Droupadi Murmu addressing a joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Union Budget 2024 Expectations
There’s not much anticipation for major announcements in this budget preceding the elections, yet it presents a significant opportunity for the government to sway the voter bank. While the budget may focus on four major sectors – Farmers, Poor, Youth, and Women, there’s also the possibility of significant announcements revolving around the 3F factor.
What Are The 3 Fs In The Budget?
In previous budgets, the government has emphasized subsidies for food, fuel, and fertilizers. Various schemes provided subsidies to farmers, the poor, women, and other demographics. During its first tenure, the Modi government spent Rs 1,96,769 crore on subsidies, significantly increasing it in the subsequent tenure. It’s expected that the government will maintain or possibly increase subsidies in this budget as well. In the previous session of Parliament, the government proposed an additional expenditure of Rs 28,630.80 crore for food, LPG, and fertilizer subsidies. In the fiscal year 2022-23, food accounted for 47.7%, fertilizer 44%, and fuel remained at just 1.2% of the government’s total subsidy bill.
Government’s Emphasis On Food, Fuel, And Fertilizers
With the budget slated right before elections, the government will likely attempt to appease the voter base through subsidies. It’s anticipated that the government may capitalize on the electoral budget by enhancing subsidies. According to experts, this budget might see significant increases in funding for schemes like the Prime Minister’s Kisan Samman Nidhi and subsidies under the Ujjwala Yojana. There’s speculation that the government could allocate Rs 4 lakh crore for food and fertilizer subsidies. Additionally, the government may announce an extension of the Free Grain Scheme for the next five years. Currently, there are no plans to alter subsidies for schemes ranging from PM-KISAN to MGNREGA, fertilizers, and food, which primarily benefit rural and middle-class demographics. Any changes to these subsidies could spell trouble for the government in an election year.
As the budget date approaches, all eyes are on how the government will navigate its economic policies, particularly concerning subsidies. With the electoral battlefield looming, any misstep in subsidy allocation could have significant political repercussions.