Budget Recommendations For FY 2023-24

Budget Recommendations For FY 2023-24

The Halwa ceremony of the Finance Ministry has already been organized but will the budget be tasty enough for Indians? Documents wrapped up in red cloth tied with a string, with the national emblem adorned on it, wait to be presented on February 1. It is to be seen if this year’s budget will align with the expectations of common people. This year’s budget is quite special as the nation will be busy in many state elections followed by Lok Sabha elections in 2024. The Central government will try to regain power by announcing chief reforms and might introduce take steps to make the middle class happy. The reforms should pave India’s way to long-run growth targets and shield it from brewing global recession.

Income tax rates

The income tax slabs were last modified in 2014–15. A new tax regime was introduced in April 2020 which increased the number of tax slabs and scrapped all the exemptions available under the old tax regime. Individual taxpayers can opt for the best-suited tax regime. The tax rates under the new and old tax regimes are as follows:

Income (in ₹ lakhs) Old tax regime New tax regime
Below 2.5 0 % 0%
2.5-5 5% 5%
5-7.5 20% 10%
7.5-10 15%
10-12.5 20%
12.5-15 30% 25%
Above 15 30%


Surcharges are applicable in the following way:

  • 10% of income tax if the total income exceeds ₹50 lakhs
  • 15% of income tax if the total income exceeds ₹1crore
  • 25% of income tax if the total income exceeds ₹2 crores
  • 37% of income tax if the total income exceeds ₹5 crores

Including all surcharges and cess, the highest effective income tax in India reaches 42.744%. The tax rate is much higher than in countries like Hong Kong (17%), Malaysia (30%), and Singapore (22%).


  1. 30% of Indian households are classified as middle class, earning between 5 lakhs and 30 lakhs, and just 3% of total households are rich with income of more than 30 lakhs. As the middle class prospers, they are accorded higher tax rates. The tax slabs have not changed in the last few years. The rising inflation makes the present tax slabs outdated, and to provide relief to Indian middle-class families, an amendment in tax rates is necessary.
  2. The income tax threshold should rise from 2.5 to 5 lakhs or higher. The tax rate on income exceeding 15 lakhs should be reduced to 25%. Accordingly, tax rates in other income slabs must be reduced. This move will be a relief to Indian middle-class households and will boost consumption from this strata.
Consolidation of new and old tax regimes

The Indian government introduced a new tax regime in April 2020 which scraps the deductions availed under the old tax regime. More than 50 deductions were allowed under the old tax regime, though few deductions were kept prevalent under the new tax regime.

A list of a few deductions that are not available under the new tax regime are:

  1. Leave travel allowance
  2. Deductions under sections 80TTA and 80TTB
  3. House rent allowance
  4. Standard deduction
  5. Tax-saving investment deductions under sections 80C, 80D, 80E, 80CCC, 80DD, 80GG, etc
  6. Deductions on interest payable on a home loan for a self-occupied property with a maximum deduction of  ₹2 lakhs.
  7. Conveyance allowance
  8. Entertainment allowance

Salaried individuals can choose which regime to opt for before the start of the financial year, whereas self-employed and business individuals can choose which regime to follow only once in their lifetime. Those who claimed deductions of at least 2.5 lahks have remained under the old tax regime. Hence, most of the high-net-worth individuals have chosen the old tax regime. The new tax regime is best suited for lower-income groups and freshers who do not want to keep their income in tax-saving investments.


The option to choose between the old and new tax regimes has created a procedural complication for both employers and chartered accountants. Corporate organizations believe that choosing between two regimes has increased complexities and paperwork.

The majority of people prefer the old tax regimes. Lack of awareness and advanced planning has led to less traction for the new tax regime. The tax regimes must be consolidated into one with simplified tax rates and exemptions. It will reduce the paperwork burden on the corporate side and the lack of adequate information on the taxpayer side. The taxpayer will not have to plan in advance and compare the two tax regimes at the end of the financial year and then choose the regime based on a low tax liability.

Corporate income tax rates

In 2019, the government announced a reduction in corporate income tax (CIT) from the existing 25-30 percent depending upon threshold turnovers to 22 percent for all domestic companies. The effective tax rate including all surcharges and cess under the new tax rate is 25.17%.  The companies adopting the new tax rate have to give up exemptions available under the corporate tax regime. Some of these exemptions are exemptions available to companies in Special Economic Zones (SEZ), deductions for scientific research expenditure, deductions for depreciation, and deductions for donations to charitable organizations. Any new domestic manufacturing company, incorporated on or after October 1, 2019, is liable to a corporation tax of 15%. A company can choose which tax rate to follow. But, once it opts for the new tax rate, it cannot move back to the earlier tax regime.


Tax rate Surcharges and cess Effective tax rate
Companies with turnover upto 400 crores (section 115BA) 25% *7% /12% +4% 27.82% /29.12%

Companies not claiming any deductions

(Section 115BAA)

22% 10% + 4% 25.17%

New domestic manufacturing companies

(Section 115BAB)

15% 10% + 4% 17.16%
Companies not falling under any of the above categories 30% *7% /12% + 4% 33.38%/ 34.94%

*A surcharge of 7% is applicable if taxable income is between ₹1-10crores, and a 12% surcharge is applicable if taxable income is above ₹10 crores.


Despite having a peak CIT rate high as 30%,  India’s CIT revenues-to-GDP ratio was low as 2.31 in FY2021, which rose to 2.68 in FY2022. China’s peak CIT is 25%, still has a CIT revenues-to-GDP ratio of 3.59 in FY2020. Countries like Malaysia (4.44), Thailand (3.94), Singapore (4.25), and Philipines (2.82) had a higher CIT revenues-to-GDP ratio than India in FY2020.

The concept of the Laffer Curve does not apply to India’s context. The Laffer curve suggests that a cut in tax rate will spur economic activity, raising tax revenue. The government must have expected tax buoyancy to improve after the introduction of the new tax rate in 2019. But, the story is different, India’s CIT revenues-to-GDP ratio in FY2022 was 2.68%, less than the 6-year peak of 3.51% in FY2018.

Two factors have been observed that hinder the tax revenue growth, first, the companies reporting negative profit before tax (PBT) and zero profit have risen to 49% (44% in FY2015) and 4% (3% in FY2015) respectively in FY2020. More than half of the companies pay zero CIT.

Second, there is an inverse relation between ETR and PBT. The ETR of companies with PBT of more than ₹500 crores was significantly less than the ETR of companies with PBT nil to ₹10 crores. It implies that large firms pay lower ETR than small firms. It is because companies reporting lower PBT pay peak tax rates and avail deductions whereas large firms reporting higher PBT avail deduction-free lower CIT. In FY2020, companies with PBT ₹ 0 to 10 crores pay 25.11% ETR whereas companies with PBT higher than ₹500 crores pay ETR of  20.19%.



The tax rate system needs to be more progressive that is companies with higher PBT should pay higher taxes. The complexities in the two tax rates need to be removed. The two tax rates could be consolidated with simplified tax rates that improve tax buoyancy. Higher tax rates increase the chance of tax evasion, the government must incentivize corporates to report their profits accurately. Budget 2023 should address reforms in this regard.

The government must expand the scope of the Small Industries Development Bank of India to a First Loss Default Guarantee that reimburses a fraction of the outstanding principal to banks for defaults by profitable MSMEs. This move will improve credit access for MSMEs at competitive rates and increases the ease of doing business.


The Kothari Commission of 1968 recommended that education expenditure be equal to 6% of GDP. However, for the last few years, education spending has remained stable at 3.1% of the GDP. The 2020 New Education Policy also recommended that initiatives should be taken up to increase education expenditure to 6% of GDP. The share of education in GDP is high in other countries like Nepal, Bhutan, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, etc.

The Kothari Commission proposed a conservative target based on depressing parameters such as a high pupil-teacher ratio, lower investments, and no provisions for free school meals, stationery, or uniforms. Though reforms have been made, these services are currently provided. The fact that, despite such reforms, India has not been able to allocate 6% of its GDP to education for over five decades seems a bit concerning. India is stuck on achieving higher public investment, which was supposed to have been achieved in the 1970s. Schemes like midday meals have helped raise enrollment ratios, but dropout ratios are still high.

The latest budget for 2022–23 allocated ₹1,04,278 crores for education, which was an 11.86% rise from the previous budget. During 2021–22, the allocation to education declined by ₹6,088 crore, which is a 6.13% fall from the budget 2020–21.

  1. Digital University

The budget 2022-23 announced the development of a Digital University which will provide access to world-class quality education in all spoken languages. The move will help improve digital infrastructure in rural areas. Digital University is to start its operations in 2023, and a significant amount needs to be disbursed from this year’s budget. The Digital University will partner with renowned institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi University (DU), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). The Digital University will offer certificate and diploma courses in partnership with these organizations. The digital content will be hosted on the Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) portal, while the Samarth portal will provide IT and administrative services. It poses a solution to the shortage of seats in higher education institutions.

  1. Education scheme for Madrasas and Minorities

The education scheme for Madrasas and Minorities is one of the schemes aiming to uplift minorities. In 2020–21, an amount of about ₹214 crores was disbursed to this scheme, but in subsequent years, no amount has been allocated to this scheme. There must be an allocation for this scheme in the upcoming budget. It will bridge the gap between majorities and minorities. It will help with quality improvement in madrasas and enable Muslim students to attain formal education.

  1. GST on educational services

Currently, a few educational services like commercial training and coaching services, online certification courses offered by various universities, and services provided by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) through the Executive Development Programme are taxable at 18%. Such services need to be included in lower GST slabs as lower costs will encourage students to take up these services, boosting their productivity.

Ways to raise college endowments

College endowments consist of money or financial assets donated to academic institutions that can be further used to support teaching, learning, and research projects at educational institutions. Some endowments are invested, and the income generated from the investment can be used further for the organization’s development. Endowments in India are managed by educational institutions themselves or charitable organizations running educational organizations.

Many institutions are not able to utilize these funds optimally. Institutions prefer bank deposits for investments. The over-reliance on FDs can be problematic for college endowments in India. Institutions like Harvard and Stanford diversify their endowments across public equity, hedge funds, natural resources, real estate, private equity, and bonds. Separate committees like the Harvard Management Company and the Stanford Management Company are formed to manage such investments. Harvard University tops the list of whopping college endowments with $42 billion as of 2020, while a report reveals five IIMs and IITs combined have a corpus of $200 million.


  1. Provisions need to be made so that university endowments rise. Charitable organizations running educational institutions should be allowed to create an internal corpus not exceeding 10% of total receipts received. The fund should not fall under Section 11(2) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. As per Section 11(2), a charitable trust cannot hold more than 15% of the total income for more than five years. This five-year maximum permissible limit should be increased to help better disburse funds rather than simply consuming them before the acceptable limit.
  2. The internal corpus will provide an assured source of annual income, which can be strategically used for student incentives, fee waivers, freebies, research and innovation, and infrastructure development. The corpus should be subject to the same level of scrutiny as per provisions applicable to regular receipts, ensuring endowment income created will be utilized for advancing education and deter institutions from engaging in avoidable expenditures to meet the 85% target.
  3. Banks are hesitant to provide credit facilities to trusts running educational institutions. The Higher Education Financing Agency provides financial assistance to centrally funded technical institutions, while others do not have access to adequate funds. The government can guarantee loans for better-performing institutions with stringent recovery mechanisms.
Asset Management Companies

Asset Management Companies (AMC) invest a pooled fund of capital on behalf of their clients. Mutual Funds are run by AMCs; there are only a few AMCs in India. AMCs charge a fee and offer customers a net asset value. All losses and gains are incurred by the customers.


The AMC sector includes only well-established names like ICICI and SBI, while young and out-of-the-blue companies are missing in this sector because of barriers to entry. AMCs must have a minimum capital of 50 crores, whereas, in the US, the limit is only $100,000. It deters young entrepreneurs from entering the sector.

AMCs do not guarantee returns to their customers; all the losses and gains are incurred by the customers. So, AMCs do not need to have such a high capital requirement.

India needs to focus on the ease of entering the business, not just the ease of doing business. The government should lower the capital requirement so that firms can emerge in this sector. Healthy competition will lead to overall sector growth and provide users with diverse options.


The Indian startup culture is booming, reserving its position as the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. Startups are based on multiple sectors like healthcare, education, IT services, agriculture, professional services, etc. The 87,988 recognized startups contributed to the generation of 8.6 lakh jobs and constituted a major part of the GDP. As of September 2022, 107 unicorns have emerged with an aggregate value of about $341 billion. The biggest challenge that Indian startups face is access to funding. A drop in funding is seen from $37.2 billion in 2021 to $24.7 billion in 2022, a fall of 35%.

The government offers various tax exemptions and recognition to only those entities which meet the definition of startup under the Startup India Action Plan. The prerequisites for a startup are, the entity should have a turnover of less than ₹100 crores in any FY, should be up to 10 years from the date of incorporation, and condition that “the startup should be working towards innovation or improvement of existing product or services and should have the potential to generate employment and wealth. Startups find it difficult to fulfill such requirements.

Further, entities recognized as startups need to have an Inter-Miniterial Board (IMB) certification to qualify for available tax exemptions. Less than 1% of Indian startups have opted for this certificate.

Another issue that Indian startup culture faces is that most startups prefer to launch their operations outside India and be headquartered outside India. It helps startups to tap foreign capital, find larger markets, allow for raised valuations, and greater brand recognition, and allow for specialized companies to invest in their companies. It leads to a huge loss in India’s GDP and creates a situation of brain drain.


Budget 2023 must address the issues of Indian startups. Startups have majorly relied on private investments, and a policy push of the sort that Startup India (2016) provided would be beneficial. Formalities required for tax exemptions must be simplified so that more and more startups attempt to avail them. This will create a more robust startup ecosystem in India. Startups require a budgetary push, and investments by the government in emerging startups need to be raised.

Real Estate

The real estate sector was majorly affected by the pandemic as buyers’ economic conditions were adversely affected. Incentives to boost affordable and rental housing need to be implemented.

The government had committed to ‘housing for all’ by 2022 through its schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY) – Gramin and Urban. The PMAY scheme has been extended to 2024. PMAY-Gramin had a target of building 2.94 crores houses but it misses the target by 28%. In urban areas, only 51% of the target was achieved.


  1. An increase in the standard deduction and deductions for interest on housing loans would create more financial room for homeowners, which can drive up the real estate sector.

The term ‘standard deduction’ refers to the portion of an individual’s income that is not taxed and can reduce an individual’s taxable income. The current provisions offer a standard deduction of ₹50,000 that is deducted from gross salary and lowers taxable income. The real estate sector expects a rise in the standard deduction so that buyers have a higher disposable income and help revive the sector after COVID.

Many provisions under the Income Tax Act of 1961 offer deductions on home loans.   Under Section 24, individuals can claim deductions up to ₹2,00,00 for buying or constructing a new house, which must be completed within five years from the end of the financial year in which the loan was taken. A maximum deduction of 50,000 can be claimed under Section 80EE on loan amounts up to 35 lakhs and property values up to 50 lakhs. A deduction of ₹1.5 lakhs is offered for properties having a stamp value of up to ₹45 lakhs under Section 80EEA. A rise in such exemptions will incentivize people to take out more loans and help the real estate sector grow.

  1. The PMAY targets have yet to be met. In rural areas, 72% of the targets were achieved, while the situation is worse in urban areas, where only 51% of the target was achieved. Budget 2023 needs to push up the allocation for PMAY.
  2. A redefinition of the affordable housing bracket can help boost the sector. In urban areas, houses with values up to 45 lakhs and areas up to 60 square meters are considered affordable. In rural areas, houses with a carpet area of less than 90 square meters and a value of fewer than 45 lakhs are considered affordable. Affordable houses attract a GST of 1%, while other housing units are subject to a GST rate of 5%. This affordable housing bracket needs to be expanded so that more houses come under the affordable category, which will lead to a rise in buyers.
Green Finance

Green finance is the financing of investments that support sustainable projects. Green finance flows in India are falling short of the required funds.

In 2021, the government presented India’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework. These updates are regarded as ‘Panchamrit,’ which are:

  1. Reach 500GW non-fossil energy capacity by 2030
  2. Renewable energy accounts for 50% of the total energy requirements by 2030
  3. Reduction of the carbon intensity of the economy by 45%
  4. Reduction of carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030
  5. Achieving net zero emissions by 2070

Lack of funds is one of the biggest hindrances to achieving such climate targets. It is estimated that achieving India’s NDCs under the Paris Agreement will require about ₹162.5 lakh crores from 2015 to 2030. India needs a massive sum of ₹716 lakh crores, or US $10 trillion, to achieve zero emissions by 2070. The current tracked green finance amount represents less than 25% of the required funds.

  1. The establishment of a dedicated financing institution in the form of an Indian Green Bank can help with the better allocation of green investments and create an efficient financial structure for green bonds.
  2. Tax incentives on green bonds

Green bonds are bonds issued by a sovereign entity designed to support climate or environment-related projects. Green bonds were first issued in India in 2015, with a total of US$ 16.3 billion issued since then. Green bonds constitute only 0.7% of all bonds issued in the Indian financial market. Current provisions do not offer any tax incentives or concessions on green bonds. Green finance in India is currently scarce in comparison to annual requirements. In order to attract investors in green finance, some provisions for tax incentives on green bonds need to be implemented.


India has been traditionally an agrarian economy, employing almost half of its population. The agriculture sector attracts most of the budget discussions and remains one of the focuses of the budget. With agriculture in the limelight, the agriculture input sectors like fertilizers, pesticides, and agrochemicals are expected to flourish. It is projected that the agriculture sector will grow at 3.5% in FY23–24, which is a slight improvement from the growth of 3% in FY21-22. Advancements in agrarian methods can drive up the growth rate.

  1. Fertilizer subsidy and use of nano urea

The commercial prices for fertilizers have risen due to logistics issues and the Ukraine-Russia war. The government has raised fertilizer subsidies to an all-time high of ₹2.25 lakh crores from ₹1.65 lakh crores. It will reduce the burden on the farmers. A bag of urea could have cost about ₹2700, due to subsidies it cost ₹266. The market price for a bag of diammonium phosphate is ₹2,650; with subsidies, it costs ₹1,350.

India needs to become self-sufficient in the production of fertilizers and introduce measures to increase the production of urea in the country. India’s requirement for urea is 350 lakh metric tonnes (LMT), while it can produce only 250 LMT. A shift from urea to nano urea could be an alternative to this situation.

Nano urea is urea in the form of a nanoparticle consisting of 20–50 nanometer-sized nitrogen particles. A 500-ml bottle of nano urea is equivalent to 45 kg of urea. Urea is applied in two dosages: first, before sowing, solid fertilizers are evenly spread throughout the field, and second, fertilizers are applied directly to the leaves. The nano urea is meant to replace conventional urea in the second dosage. Conventional urea is still necessary for the first stage. Nano urea is supposed to cause less soil, water, and air pollution. The average productivity increase from the use of nano urea is 8%. The efficacy of nano urea is 60–80%, whereas urea shows an efficacy of 40%. The cost of importing a 45 kg bag of urea is ₹ 3,000, while farmers pay only ₹ 242. The difference is incurred by the government as subsidies. A 500 ml bottle of nano urea cost ₹240 which can save money spent on subsidies. Measures need to be taken to promote the use of nano urea. The shift to nano urea can help the government save foreign exchange worth about ₹40,000 crores per annum because of the reduction in urea imports.

  1. Doubling farmers’ income by 2022

In 2015–16, the government announced plans to double farmers’ income from ₹8,059 per month to ₹21,146 per month by 2022, considering inflation. But, the promise still remains a dream. As per the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) 77th round data, the estimated monthly income of farm households in 2018–19 was ₹10,218. The income in 2022 was projected to be ₹ 12,445; this falls short of the target by a large amount. Though the government has taken up several schemes to uplift farmers.

The NSSO round data showed that the highest income for farming households comes from wages. In 2018-19, the monthly income was ₹10,218 out of which ₹4,063 constituted income from wages, ₹3,798 was income from crop production, ₹1,582 was income from farming animals, ₹641 came from non-farm businesses, and the remaining ₹134 came from leasing land. The share of income from crop cultivation dropped from 48% in 2012-13 to 37.2% in 2018-19. The rise in household income in agrarian households is coming from a rising share of income from wages.


In past years, the agriculture ministry has spent less than what was budgeted for centrally sponsored schemes (CSS). In 2019–20, the actual expenditure was 29% less than the allocated spending. The deficit reduced to 18% in 2020–21.

Under the PM Kisan scheme, the government provides ₹6,000 in income support to each landholding agrarian household. In 2018–19, about 31.6 million households received the installments, which accounted for only 33% of the then-total farming households. But a sum of ₹6,000 hardly makes a difference; it could hardly cover the rising inflation.

Another scheme by the government in this regard was the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), which was meant to promote sustainable agriculture and was allocated ₹450 crores in Budget 2021 while only ₹100 crores were spent. In Budget 2022, PKVY and various other schemes were subsumed under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) with no clarity on allocations for sub-schemes.

Better infrastructure development and advancement in technology can only make a difference. The productivity of farming needs to be improved, which could be achieved by investing in research and development. In India, the share of agricultural research expenditure as a share of agricultural GDP is less than 0.35, while the ratio is as high as 0.80 in China. It is estimated that an investment of US$ 272 billion in agritech and allied sectors can generate a revenue of about US$ 812 billion by 2030. Budget 2023 must allocate a significant amount to R&D and improvements in irrigation facilities.


India requires structural changes in various sectors. To benefit the middle class, this year’s budget must address issues pertaining to income tax rates. The zero tax exemption must increase and tax rates need to be reduced. The share of education in GDP has been stagnant for decades. Education poses the foundation for the economic growth of a nation. The establishment of Digital University will help overcome the challenge of a shortage of seats in higher institutions. Reduction in GST on commercial educational services will lead students to take up more such services and perform better.

The Corporate income tax system requires strong reforms. Currently, large firms pay lower taxes than smaller enterprises. The tax rates need to be more progressive.

There are very few AMCs in India. A reduction in barriers to entry will help the sector to flourish, raising employment opportunities and contributing more to the economic progress of the nation.

The Budget must address issues faced by Indian startups and ensure that a robust startup ecosystem is maintained in India.

The real estate sector needs a little push in demand as it was adversely affected by the pandemic. A rise in the standard deduction and a redefinition of affordable housing can contribute to boosting the sector.

To achieve India’s ambitious environmental targets, it needs to pace up the green finance. The establishment of a green bank and tax incentives on green bonds can help achieve targets of green finance.

India is an agrarian economy, employing half of its population in agriculture. The government announced an ambitious target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, but the targets are yet to be met. A major part of the incomes of farming households comes from non-agricultural activities indicating a shift from farming to non-farming activities. Advancements in agricultural practices can raise farmers’ income. A major part of the agriculture Budget should be disbursed to research and development of advanced practices.


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Vrinda, a policy researcher, an avid writer, pursuing Economics Honours from Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, DU