Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is presenting the Interim Budget for the financial year 2024-25 (FY25). Given that 2024 is an election year, this interim Budget is often referred to as a vote on account, paving the way for the full budget to be presented by the next government.
Despite being an interim budget, considerable attention will be on Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, as stakeholders seek insights into the government's guidance for the path ahead. India's ambition to become the third-largest economy by 2030 adds significance to the budgetary announcements.
Over the past decade, successive budgets have underscored the government's commitment to doubling farmers' incomes and injecting liquidity directly into their hands. Budget allocations to the agricultural sector have surged fivefold in the last 10 years, from Rs 22,652 crore in FY15 to Rs 1.15 trillion in FY24. A continuation of this trend is expected in Budget 2024.
Preliminary indications also suggest the government's focus on fiscal consolidation this year. Consequently, the interim budget might emphasise stimulating growth while managing inflation. The government faces the task of aligning expenditures, particularly on Minimum Support Price (MSP), food, fertilisers, and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 4.5 per cent of GDP by FY26.
The Union Budget 2024 is also expected to align with the Modi government's inclusive development and welfare agenda, emphasising growth initiatives such as Ujjwala, Jal Jivan Mission, PM Kisan, and Swatchh Bharat.
Anticipating potential relief for consumers, Budget 2024 may also witness fuel retailers adjusting prices, a move not seen since April 2022.
Furthermore, the railway sector could receive a boost with higher capital allocation, building on the government's focus on revitalising railway assets and infrastructure development. The Railway Ministry achieved a record Rs 2,40,000 crore in budgetary support in the Union Budget 2023-24, marking an all-time high allocation.