File image: Nirmala Sitharaman, India's finance minister Image Credit: PTI

Follow live updates from the announcement of Indian budget 2021-22 in New Delhi on Monday

Healthcare investments

India is setting aside a whopping Rs2.2 trillion on healthcare related investments. In the year immediately after the COVID-19 attack, healthcare being assigned priority was a given.

The country’s existing infrastructure by and large managed to withstand the worst of the pandemic onslaught, but that requires topping up. This is what Minister Sitharaman had to do… and she did just that.

“India has fared well in keeping the COVID-19 death rate and active case rate one of the lowest in the world, and also emerging as a supplier of vaccines to many countries,” said Dr. Azad Moopen of DM Aster Healthcare. “As FM highlights health and wellbeing of the population is one of the core pillars to strengthen the Sankalp of the Nation-first- Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

'Rationalising' import duties

India’s Finance Minister promises to ‘rationalise’ import duties on gold and other precious metals. Currently, India has an import duty of 12.5 per cent, and it was widely speculated that the government would consider further hikes.

NRIs can launch one-man companies

NRIs are being invited to take on a direct role in India’s business landscape, with the latest Budget allowing NRI entrepreneurs to launch one-man companies in the country.

This move, the government reckons, will free up funding inflows into various sectors of the economy, and removes much of the red-tape associated with launching a new business in India.

Rupee impact

The Indian rupee could be heading for a 72.75 to 73.10 range, according to currency exchange sources.

“The Government might not be in favour of rupee strengthening as it might hurt exporters. The thrust would be there to accelerate and encourage exports,” said a spokesperson at LuLu International.

This seems to be the broad theme among industry experts looking at the direction of the ongoing Budget proposals.

Sitharaman: "The Budget proposals for 2021-12 rest on six pillars —health & well-being, physical & financial capital & infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, reinvigorating human capital, innovation & R&D, Minimum Govt & Maximum Governance."

Sitharaman is in the Parliament for budget presentations. She said, "The preparation of this Budget was undertaken in circumstances like never before, in view of calamities that have affected a country or a region within a country. But what we have endured with COVID-19 to 2020 is Sui generis..."

India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is presenting a 'budget like no other' in New Delhi on Monday, February 1. The latest budget comes amid the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant economic impact and is expected to boost economic revival.

First 'paperless' budget

With the Union Budget 2021 set to be delivered in paperless form for the first time, Sitharaman replaced the Swadeshi 'bahi khata' and switched to a tablet. The Finance Minister was seen carrying a tablet kept inside a red coloured cover with a golden coloured national emblem embossed on it.

Dressed in a red and cream colour saree, accompanied by MoS Finance Anurag Thakur and other officials from her ministry, Sitharaman is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind before presenting the budget at 11 am today.

Finance Minister had launched the "Union Budget Mobile App" for hassle-free access of Budget documents by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the general public using the simplest form of digital convenience, according to the Finance Ministry.

The App facilitates complete access to 14 Union Budget documents, including the Annual Financial Statement (commonly known as Budget), Demand for Grants (DG), and Finance Bill as prescribed by the Constitution.