With the Lok Sabha elections nearing, the upcoming budget is expected to focus on boosting consumption and providing relief to common people. Experts believe Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to announce measures aimed at putting more money in people’s hands.
One way could be enhancing rural employment schemes like MNREGA or increasing PM-KISAN payouts to farmers. More funds for marginalized sections like women, SCs/STs are also probable.
These initiatives will pump in more purchasing power to drive up consumer spending and revive the rural economy ahead of the crucial national polls.
However, major income tax changes like raising standard deduction or tax slab adjustments are unlikely in the interim budget. New schemes also may not be introduced this close to general elections.
The government has limited wiggle room to unveil dramatic reforms in the vote-on-account budget that primarily covers expenses till the next government forms.
The focus will be on populist measures for rural areas and boosting consumption by providing tax reliefs to middle class. But expectations of significant changes in direct taxes or major new programmes are modest in a pre-election interim budget.
The full- fledged budget with broader reforms will come after the general elections when the new government assumes office. For now, the focus remains on economic recovery and lifting consumer sentiment ahead of the 2024 polls.