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Union Budget 2021: Senior citizens above 75 years get this major exemption

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Among several key announcements made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget 2021-22, the senior citizens above 75 years with only pension income have been exempted from filing Income Tax returns. Reading out the Union budget 2021-22 through a 'Made in India' tab, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman extended tax benefits to senior citizens, above the age of 75. 

Union Budget 2021: Senior citizens above 75 years get this major exemption

NEW DELHI: Among several key announcements made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget 2021-22, the senior citizens above 75 years with only pension income have now been exempted from filing the Income Tax returns.

Reading out the Union Budget 2021-22 through a 'Made in India' tab, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman extended tax benefits to senior citizens, above the age of 75.Under the proposal, senior citizens, depending only on pension, will no longer have to file the I-T returns now. FM Sitharaman said, "In the 75th year of Independence of our country, we shall reduce the compliance burden on senior citizens. For senior citizens who only have a pension and interest income, I propose exemption of filing of income tax returns."

"We shall reduce the compliance burden for those 75 years and above. Senior citizens above 75 years of age with only interest income will not have to file income tax returns," the Finance Minister said.To reduce instances of tax harassments of the elderly, the government has also announced reducing the time frame for reopening of income-tax assessment cases from 6 years to 3 years. For reopening of serious tax evasion cases up to 10 years, the government has put in a monetary limit of cases involving over Rs 50 lakh in a year.

The tax slab until now for senior citizen aged 60-80 years:

Up to Rs 300,000 Nill Rs 3,00,001 to 5,00,000 - 5 per cent Rs 5,00,001 to 10,00,000 - ₹10,000 + 20 per cent of total income exceeding Rs 5,00,000 Above Rs 10,00,000 - Rs 1,10,000 + 30 per cent of total income exceeding Rs 10,00,000 A senior citizen is an individual resident between the age of 60 to 80 years. A super senior citizen is an individual resident who is above 80 years. Most senior citizens rely on fixed-income investments but have been adversely hit by the pandemic. This happened as the preferred choice of investment for senior citizens has been bank fixed deposits (FDs) that offer a rate of interest of less than 6 per cent per annum across different tenure. But the drop in interest rates has hit the income of most senior citizens. FM Sitharaman stated that the tax system should put a minimum burden on the taxpayers. A faceless dispute redressal platform to be set up for small taxpayers. Hence, a reduction of time in income tax proceedings is being proposed, while the time limit to reopen the assessment case proposed to be reduced to 3 years from the current 6 years limit.  

"Tax audit limit increased from 5 crores to 10 crores," the Finance Minister said. 

Budget relief for middle class , business in wakeup of Covid-19 And Now Get High Accuracy Tips For Intraday And Commodity Tips for Daily profit.

Budget 2021 Live Updates: Sitharaman flags 2 major features of Budget -- infrastructure and healthcare boost

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Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: Agri infra cess not to result in price increase for end users; higher cess adjusted with lower customs duty, says FM Sitharaman assures in post-Budget presser

Budget 2021 Live Updates: Sitharaman flags 2 major features of Budget -- infrastructure and healthcare boost
Union Budget 2021: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Budget 2021: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made several key announcements in her budget speech today. The Centre has empahsised more on healthcare to infrastructure this time, while giving no particular relief for middle class in terms of income tax exemption. Senior citizens above 75 years of age with only pension income,however, are exempted from filing tax returns. The central government will borrow around Rs 12 lakh crore in FY22, said the FM. The government's expenditure is pegged at Rs 34.83 lakh crore, including Rs 5.54 lakh cr of capital spending, she added. She said the fiscal deficit for FY21 has been pegged at 9.5 per cent of India's GDP due to Covid-19, which is highest so far.

4.49 PM: Union Budget 2021: FICCI welcomes reduction of margin money requirement under Stand-Up India

Puneet Dalmia, Chair, FICCI Affirmative Action Council said that the federation has welcomed the budgetary announcement of cut in margin money requirement from 25 per cent to 15 per cent, under Stand-Up India to enable credit flow for SCs and STs.

4.38 PM: "Budget 2021 anti-people": Mamata Banerjee slams Centre

Addressing a rally in poll-bound West Bengal, state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that "India's first paperless sold almost every sector. There is nothing for the unorganised sector in the budget," she added.

4.30 PM: FM Sitharaman hits back at Rahul Gandhi, says he "doesn't understand what he tweets"

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a rebuttal to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that either he doesn't understand what he tweets or he is ill-advised. Addressing a post-Budget presser, FM Sitharaman said, "My budget is enough to speak for itself. He needs to check Kerela's record also, the Congress government in Kerela had invited a 'crony capitalist' to run a port. Before he writes this tweet, he should answer about what his government did."

4.17 PM: Rahul Gandhi slams Budget 2021

Criticising the budget Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claimed that the Centre was planning to hand over India's assets to crony capitalists. Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said, ""Forget putting cash in the hands of people, Modi Govt plans to handover India's assets to his crony capitalist friends."

4.10 PM: Budget 2021: We welcome FM's emphasis on healthcare spending, says Serum Institute's Adar Poonawalla

"We welcome the Finance Minister's emphasis on healthcare spending & immunization especially for COVID-19 & the pneumococcal vaccines as this will help India recover rapidly from this pandemic," Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla.

4.00 PM: Budget 2021 overlooked farmers' issues, says Randeep Singh Surjewala

Union Budget 2021 overlooked farmer concerns, claimed Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. Taking to Twitter, Surjewala said the government slashed allocation for agriculture by 6 per cent in the budget, cut PM Kisan Samman budget by 13 per cent, and reduced budget for Market Intervention Scheme (MIS-PSS) by 25 per cent.

3.53 PM:Centre has little say in petrol, diesel rates, says FM Sitharaman

When asked about soaring rates of petrol and diesel, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government has little say in the same as the prices are decided by the open market. "Petrol-diesel already open to the market, government, especially for Union government, has no big role or say in that," she said.

3.42 PM: FM Sitharaman on fiscal deficit

FM says the Centre's fiscal deficit, which started at 3.5 per cent during February 2020, has increased to 9.5 per cent of the GDP, which shows "we have spent, we have spent and we have spent". "At the same time, we have given a clear glide path for deficit management," she adds.

3.37 PM: Budget will give impetus to economy: FM

"This Budget comes at a time when all of us decided to give impetus to the economy and that impetus, we thought, would be qualitatively spent and give necessary demand push if we choose to spend big on infrastructure," says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

3.20 PM: Centre thought of giving great impetus to economy: FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds a press conference on Union Budget 2020. Sitharaman says the government has put special focus on building infrastructure, including roads, bridges, ports, power generations, among others. The Centre says there was also a special focus on the healthcare sector. Overall, the FM said the Centre thought about giving a great impetus to the economy.

3.10 PM: Union Budget 2021-22 highlights: What PM Modi said on budget

  • This budget lays a strong foundation for the new decade
  • Budget has provisions for further strengthening APMC mandis via AIF
  • Budget for MSMEs more than doubled to boost growth and create jobs
  • Budget focuses on strengthening agriculture, boosting farmers' income
  • This Budget talks of all-round development for all parts of country
  • Budget aims to widen new opportunities for growth, new openings for youth
  • Budget boost to infra, structural reforms will give major fillip to growth and job creation -- PTI

2.58 PM: The Budget 2021 focuses on increasing farmers' income, several measures have been taken in this direction. Farmers will be able to get loans easily. "Provisions have been made to strengthen APMC markets with the help of Agriculture Infrastructure Fund," says PM Modi. - ANI

2.56 PM: Today's Budget shows India's confidence, says PM

"The Budget has the vision of self-reliance and features every section of the society," says Prime Minister Narendra Modi

2.55 PM: Union Budget 2021-22 has been presented amid unprecedented circumstances, says PM Narendra Modi

2.44 PM: FY22 budget much better than market's expectations: Motilal Oswal

"The FY22 budget has been much better than the market's expectations. The feared and anticipated measures around Covid-Cess/higher capital Gains tax/Wealth Tax etc did not materialise. This will provide a huge relief to market and economy and help in sustaining the buoyant sentiments in the economy. The government has clearly articulated the focus towards Infra and Capex spending with five key measures: [1] Capex spends proposed to go up by 26% in FY22 vs. FY21 RE [2] Setting up of Development Financial Institution [3] Setting up of ARC/AMC to deal with stressed assets [4] Asset monetization plans in various segments and [5] List of CPSE's for divestments," says  Motilal Oswal, MD & CEO, Motilal Oswal Financial Services. 

2.30 PM: FM has fullfilled all expectations: Rajiv Kumar

Finance Minister has raised a lot of expectations regarding Budget 2021 and she has fulfilled all of them. "Given the current times, the budget is focussed on India's growth and is tailored to accelerate the growth rate," says NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar. - ANI

2.28 PM: Budget 2021 Highlights: Agri cess of Rs 2.5 per litre on petrol, Rs 4 on diesel

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced agriculture infrastructure and development cess (AIDC) of Rs 2.5 per litre on petrol and Rs 4 per litre on diesel to improve agricultural infrastructure in the country. "An Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC) of Rs 2.5 per litre has been imposed on petrol and Rs 4 per litre on diesel. Overall there would be no additional burden on the consumer," she said.

1.15 PM: Budget 2021: Other key highlights

  • Rs 1.5 lakh deduction on payment of interest for affordable housing extended by 1 yr
  • Govt proposes to relax norms to attract more foreign investment in infrastructure sector
  • Advance tax liability on dividend income shall arise only after payment of dividend
  • Exemption from tax audit limit doubled to Rs 10 crore turnover for companies doing business via digital modes
  • Govt proposes to make income tax appellate tribunals faceless
  • Serious tax offences of concealment of income of over Rs 50 lakh can be reopened after 10 years
  • States to get 41 per cent share of taxes as per 15th Finance Commission recommendation

1.07 PM: Union Budget Highlights: Tax exemptions announced by FM

  • Govt to review over 400 old exemptions in indirect taxes
  • Tax holiday for startups extended by 1 year in view of Covid
  • Exemption on capital gains on investment in startups also extended by 1 year
  • Tax exemption for aircraft leasing companies
  • Tax exemption for notified affordable housing for migrant workers

1.00 AM: Union Budget Highlights: Announcements on auto, customs, steel

  • Customs duty on certain auto parts, solar equipment raised
  • Govt rationalises customs duties on gold and silver for FY22
  • Govt exempts duty on steel scrap up to March 2022
  • Customs duty on naphtha cut to 2.5%

12.55 PM: Budget 2021 Highlights: No I-T returns filing for pensioners over 75

Senior citizens above 75 years of age with only pension income exempted from filing tax returns, says the FM.

12.50 PM: Budget 2021 Highlights: Govt to borrow Rs 12 lakh crore in FY22

The central government will borrow around Rs 12 lakh crore in FY22. The expenditure pegged at Rs 34.83 lakh crore, including Rs 5.54 lakh cr of capital spending, says the FM.

12.45 PM: Union Budget Highlights: Govt to borrow Rs 80,000cr in next 2 months

The FM says COVID-19 relief led to rise in expenditure to Rs 34.50 lakh crore in the current fiscal as against Rs 30.42 lakh crore budgeted a year back. "The government will borrow Rs 80,000 crore in the remaining two months to meet FY21 expenditure," says FM.

12.40 PM: Union Budget 2021 Highlights: Forthcoming census to be digital, says Sitharaman

The forthcoming census would be the first digital census in the history of India. "For this monumental task, I have allocated 3,768 crores in this year 2021-22," says FM Nirmala Sitharaman. Over Rs 3,726 crore allocated for forthcoming Census, which will be the first digital census.

12.36 PM: Union Budget 2021 highlights: Fiscal deficit pegged at 9.5%

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says in the RE 2020-21, the fiscal deficit has been pegged at 9.5 per cent of India's GDP, while the fiscal deficit in BE 2021-22 is pegged at 6.8 per cent of the GDP. The central government is aiming to bring it down to less than 5 per cent of the GDP by 2025-26, says Sitharaman.

12.33 PM: Budget 2021 highlights: More opportunities under apprenticeship law

The Centre has proposed to amend apprenticeship law to enhance opportunities for youth. Modalities have been worked out for national research foundation. The Centre has earmarked Rs 50,000 crore over five years.

12.31 PM: Watch live presentation of Union Budget 2021-22 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here

12.28 PM: Union budget 2021 highlights: Other key announcements made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

  • Allocation to rural infra development increased to Rs 40,000 crore in FY22 from Rs 30,000 crore in FY21
  • Operation green scheme to cover 22 more perishable commodities.
  • FM announces development of 5 major fishing hubs.
  • Over 1,000 more mandis to be integrated with electronic national market.
  • Agri infra fund to be made available to APMCs to augment infra facilities.
  • Agri Infra Fund increased to Rs 40,000 cr, Micro Irrigation Corpus doubled to Rs 10,000 cr.
  • Social security benefit to be extended to platform and gig workers.
  • One nation, one ration card plan under implementation in 32 states and 1 UT
  • Central university to be set up in Leh.
  • Govt proposes portal to collect info on gig-workers, building and construction workers, among others.

12.22 PM: Budget 2021 highlights: Farmers paid Rs 75,100cr wheat MSP

Over 43.36 lakh wheat growing farmers benefited from the Centre's MSP procurement scheme against 35.57 lakh previously, says FM Sitharaman. Farmers paid Rs 75,100 crore on wheat MSP in FY21, says FM. "Agriculture credit target raised to Rs 16.5 lakh crore in 2021-22."

12.16 PM: Budget 2021 highlights: Govt committed to farmers' welfare: FM

Agri procurement has increased steadily, benefiting farmers, says FM Sitharaman, amid opposition slogan shouting against three farm laws.

12.15 PM: FM announces new disinvestment policy

The Centre to divest PSUs in all sectors, except four, says FM; announces new disinvestment policy. NITI Aayog will work on the next list of central public sector companies for disinvestment.

12.12 PM: FM announces disinvestment receipts of Rs 1.75 lakh cr

Finance Minister puts disinvestment receipts at Rs 1.75 lakh crore for fiscal year beginning April 1, 2021. "Two PSBs and one general insurance company to be divested, legislations amendments to be introduced in this session," says the FM.

12.05 PM: Budget 2021-21 Live Updates: NCLT framework to be strengthened

The central government will strengthened NCLT framework. The finance minister says the definition of small companies will be revised by raising capital base to Rs 2 crore from current limit of Rs 50 lakh. Asset reconstruction and management company to be set up for stressed assets of banks.

12.03 PM: Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: FDI up in insurance to 74%

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announces the enhancement of foreign direct investment (FDI) in insurance to 74 per cent from 49 per cent. The FM also earmarks Rs 20,000 crore forfurther recapitalisation of state-owned banks.

12.00 AM: Union Budget 2021-22: Other key announcements in FM's Budget speech

  • FM announces Rs 25,000 cr road projects in poll-bound West Bengal
  • Power sector seen many reforms in last six years, 138 GW of installed capacity added, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman
  • FM allocates Rs 65,000 cr for road, highway projects in Kerala, Rs 3,400 cr for Assam
  • A framework to be put in place to give power consumer option to chose discoms: FM
  • Finance Minister says 100 pc electrification of broad gauge rail tracks by December 2023
  • FM announces 7 port projects worth more than Rs 2,000 cr via PPA mode
  • FM announces Rs 18,000 cr scheme to augment public transport in urban areas
  • Framework will be put in place to allow electricity consumers to choose from more than one distribution company: FM

11.56 AM: Budget 2021: Over 1.1 lakh crore for railways

Record Rs 1.1 lakh crore provided for railways, of which Rs 1.07 lakh crore for capital expenditure in 2021-22, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman.

11.55 AM: 8,500 kms of road, highways by 2022

The government to award about 8,500 kms of road and highway projects by March 2022 to further augment road infrastructure.

11.54 AM: Budget 2021: Rs 2 lakh cr to meet capex

The government will provide Rs 2 lakh crore to states and autonomous bodies to meet capital expenditure, says the FM 

11.50 AM: GAIL, IOC, HPCL to be monetised

The Centre government will monetise the pipelines of GAIL (India) Ltd, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and HPCL, says FM Sitharaman.

11.45 AM: Govt to monetise dedicated freight corridors

Railway to monetise dedicated freight corridors, says FM Sitharaman in her Budget speech on monetisation of assets.

11.41 AM: Union Budget 2021: Announcements made by Nirmala Sitharaman so far

  • Voluntary vehicle scrapping policy to phase out old vehicles; fitness tests after 20 years for personal vehicles
  • National monetisation pipeline for potential brownfield infrastructure assets will be launched
  • PLI scheme with outlay of Rs 1.97 lakh crore for 5 years starting this fiscal
  • Govt to introduce bill to set up development financial institution with an outlay of Rs 20,000 cr
  • Swachh Bharat 2.0 will be implemented with outlay of Rs 1,41,678 cr over 5 years
  • Scheme of mega investment textiles park in addition to PLI scheme will be launched
  • Jal Jeevan mission with outlay of Rs 2.87 lakh crore for 4,378 urban local bodies
  • Govt to provide Rs 35,000 cr for Covid-19 vaccination in 2021-22
  • FM proposes Aatmanirbhar health programme with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore in addition to national health mission

11.37 AM: Rs 2.87 lakh crore for Jal Jeevan Mission

Jal Jeevan Mission Urban to be launched, outlay Rs 2.87 lakh crore over 5 years. Aimed at universal water supply in all 4,378 urban local bodies, with 2.86 crore household tap connections and liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT cities. 

11.34 AM:Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: FM proposes sharp increase in Capital Expenditure

"For 2021-22, I propose a sharp increase in Capital Expenditure & thus have provided Rs 5.54 lakh crores which is 34.5% more than the BE 2020-21," says FM Nirmala Sitharaman.

11.33 AM: Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana to be launched, says FM

"A new centrally sponsored scheme PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana will be launched with an outlay of about 64,180 crores over 6 years," says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. 

11.32 AM: Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: Investment on health infra priority for govt: FM

Investment on health infra in Budget 2021 has increased substantially, says Sitharaman. "Three areas - preventive health, curative health and well-being - to be strengthened during the current year," she adds.

11.27 AM:Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: FM lays out six pillars of Budget 2021

Budget 2021 proposals rest on six pillars

  • Health and Well-Being
  • Physical and Financial capital and infrastructure
  • Inclusive Development for Aspirational India
  • Reinvigorating Human Capital
  • Innovation and R&D
  • Minimum Govt., Maximum Governance

11.20 AM: Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: Govt announced PMGKY worth Rs 2.76 lakh crore 48 hours after first lockdown, says FM

"When I presented Budget 20'-21' we couldn't have imagined that global economy would be pushed into an unprecedented contraction. Within 48 hours of declaring lockdown PM @narendramodi announced PMGKY valued at Rs 2.76 lakh Crores," says the Union Minister.

11.17 AM: Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: FM Sitharaman lays out vision for AatmaNirbhar Bharat

As Part A of Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lays out a vision for AatmaNirbhar Bharat. "To strengthen the vision of Nation First, doubling farmers' income, strong infra, women's empowerment, healthy India, good governance, education for all, and inclusive development," says the FM

11.16 AM: Budget provides opportunity to grow sustainably: FM

Only three times has the Budget followed a contraction in the economy, says the FM. "This time, unlike before, the situation is due to a global pandemic. Budget 2021 provides every opportunity for economy to capture pace and grow sustainably," she said.

11.15 AM: Two more vaccines accepted soon

Sitharaman says India today has 2 vaccines available and has begun safeguarding not only her own citizens against COVID-19 but also those of 100 or more countries. "It has added comfort to know that 2 more vaccines are also expected soon," she adds.

11.14 AM: Govt delivered mini-budgets amid Covid crisis

The government stretched its resources for the benefit of the poorest of the poor, says the FM. "The PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, the three Aatma Nirbhar Bharat packages and subsequent announcements were like five mini-budgets in themselves," says Nirmala Sitharman.

11.12 AM: Aatmanirbhar Bharat a success: FM

The total financial impact of all Aatmanirbhar Bharat packages, including measures taken by the RBI, was about Rs 27.1 lakh crore, more than 13 per cent of GDP, says Nirmala Sitharaman.

11.10 AM: Watch FM speaks in Parliament on Budget 2021-22

10.56 AM: India Inc wishlist

Industry representatives are hopeful that the Union Budget 2021 would play a vital role in achieving the objective of putting India on a sustained high-growth trajectory. In this year's budget, the Centre is expected to primarily focus on manufacturing, Atmanirbhar Bharat and healthcare as main themes. Agriculture and infrastructure may also receive a push.

10.50 AM: Congress MPs wear black gown as mark of protest

Congress MPs Jasbir Singh Gill and Gurjeet Singh Aujla wear a black gown to the Parliament, as a mark of their protest against the three farms bills. Thousands of farmers are protesting these bills at Delhi borders for over two months now. 

10.46 AM: Cabinet clears Budget document

Union Cabinet approves the Union Budget 2021-22 that will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Parliament. The FM will soon announce budget from Parliament. 

10.45 AM: Where to watch live coverage of Budget 2021?

One can watch all the latest updates on the Union Budget on the government's YouTube channel.

10.40 AM: Rahul Gandhi's suggestions on Budget 2021

Budget 2021 must:

  • Support MSMEs, farmers and workers to generate employment.
  • Increase Healthcare expenditure to save lives.
  • Increase Defence expenditure to safeguard border

10.28 AM: PM Modi chairs Cabinet meeting 

Union Cabinet's meeting begins ahead of the presentation of Union Budget 2021-22 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at Parliament today. All prominent leaders have reached the parliament. The Budget is going to be paperless this time. The PM is chairing the meeting. 

10.15 AM: Latest visuals of FM arriving in Parliament

FM Nirmala Sitharaman to present a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the Government of India for the year 2021-22 at 11 AM today. 

10.12 AM: Sensex rises on Budget Day

Sensex surges 443 pts to 46,728.83 in opening trade ahead of Budget presentation; Nifty up 114.85 pts at 13,749.45

10.10 AM: 'Hope Sitharaman will acknowledge seriousness of situation'

Congress leader and MP Manish Tewari says this is the most crucial budget after 1991. GDP is in the 37 th straight month of Decline. "I do hope @nsitharaman acknowledges the seriousness of the situation. However if economic Survey was anything to go by then all you may get is a Talkathon of fluff sans any substance," he adds.

10.00 AM: Sitharaman reaches Parliament

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and MoS Finance & Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur have reached the Parliament. Sitharaman will speak in Parliament at 11 AM today. This is expected to be big bang budget for India.  Photo: -ANI

9.50 AM: In a first, paperless budget for FY22

For the first time ever, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present a paperless budget due to COVID-19. People will be able to access the Budget document via online modes only.

9.40 AM: FM leaves for Parliament

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with MoS Finance Anurag Thakur has left from the ministry. They will meet President Kovind shortly before presenting the Budget.

9.30 AM: FM to read out budget via 'Made in India' tab

Both Nirmala Sitharaman and MoS Finance Anurag Thakur have left from the Ministry of Finance. The FM will present Union Budget 2021-22 at Parliament today. For the first time ever, the Budget 2020 will be paperless this year due to COVID-19. It will be available for all as a soft copy.

9.27 AM: FM to present paper-less budget

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present and read out the Union Budget 2021-22 at the Parliament through a tab, instead of the traditional 'bahi khata'.

9.18 AM: A new national bank to finance infra projects?

FM may announce a national bank to finance infrastructure projects in the upcoming budget. The FinMin has reportedly prepared a draft of the bill called - the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill, 2020, which will have an authorised capital of one lakh crore rupees and twenty thousand crore rupees as an initial paid-up capital.

9.10 AM: Where to watch live coverage of 

  • Catch the live updates of the "budget like never before" on Aaj Tak, India Today and Lok Sabha TV channels
  • Catch live coverage on YouTube channels of PIB India, Aaj Tak, India Today and Lok Sabha
  • Get latest updates on the Union Budget 2021 via BusinessToday.In website

9.05 AM: Will India see changes in I-T regime?

The new income tax regime did not pick up the way it was anticipated, so a move to include more exemptions for people who invest in provident fund and other schemes was being considered.

9.02 AM: FM arrives at ministry

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman arrives at the Ministry of Finance. She will present the Union Budget 2021  in the Parliament at 11 AM.

9.00 AM: Anurag Thakur arrives at finance ministry

MoS Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur arrives at the Ministry of Finance.

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Rail Budget 2021: Here is what to expect

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will begin presenting the Union Budget on February 1 at 11 am

Railway Station (Representative image)

During the Budget for 2021-21, the Ministry of Finance is expected to make certain announcements for the Railways sector.

Indian Railways was severely impacted in 2020 since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted services, which were completely halted for a few months.

In December 2020, the government had announced a draft National Rail Plan. The Budget for FY22 might include allocations and proposals to supplement this plan.

"In effect the National Rail Plan envisages an initial surge in capital investment right up to 2030 to create capacity ahead of demand and increase the modal share of the Railways in freight by 45 percent," the railways ministry said in a statement.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will begin presenting the Union Budget on February 1 at 11 am.

Here is what the Railways sector can expect:

The Ministry of Railways has sought gross budgetary support (GBS) of about Rs 75,000 crore, according to a Business Today report.

"In our budget representation, we have pegged the total outlay for Railways at Rs 1,80,000 crore for 2021-22 to the Ministry of Finance. Out of this, GBS of Rs 75,000 crore has been demanded,” the report said.

There might be some announcements related to high-speed private trains.The Centre could potentially announce some funding for bullet train projects. Work on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor has been delayed amid the pandemic. A survey on the Delhi-Varanasi High Speed Rail has already begun.

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Digital 'Bahi Khata': FM Nirmala Sitharaman to deliver Budget 2021 speech from made-in-India tablet

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FM Nirmala Sitharaman, in her first budget in 2019, replaced a leather briefcase that had been for decades used for carrying budget documents with a traditional red cloth 'bahi-khata'.

With Digital India's movement getting a big push due to various changes brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is set to keep up with the trend. Sitharaman has apparently ditched the traditional bahi-khata and is likely to deliver the budget speech using a made-in-India tablet.

She was seen carrying a tablet in a red sleeve with the national emblem embossed on it.

Sitharaman, in her first budget in 2019, replaced a leather briefcase that had been for decades used for carrying budget documents with a traditional red cloth 'bahi-khata'.

In the run-up to the Budget Day, Sitharaman promised a Budget like 'never before'. A number of things were done differently this year due to the pandemic, including paperless preparations and no pre-Budget meetings.

In a first since India's Independence, the Budget papers will not be printed. The traditional method of printing the Budget, which involves about 100 people working together for a fortnight, was skipped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All Members of Parliament (MPs) will get soft copies of the document.

As India emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, the ninth budget under the Modi government, including an interim one, is widely expected to focus on boosting spending on job creation and rural development, generous allocations for development schemes, putting more money in the hands of the average taxpayer and easing rules to attract foreign investments.

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Transforming 1.4 million kirana stores can generate 3.2 million new jobs, boost retail consumption: Report

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The Accenture-Trust For Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN) report outlined a strategic approach for unlocking value by transforming kirana stores through a seven-stage framework.

The transformation of just 10 percent of the 13 million kirana stores (traditional grocery retailers) in the country could boost the retail consumption by more than 5 percent and generate about 3.2 million new jobs, a report said on Thursday.

The Accenture-Trust For Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN) report outlined a strategic approach for unlocking value by transforming kirana stores through a seven-stage framework.

These include factors like store location and layout, technology, store funding, and product placement, the report titled 'Transforming Kirana Stores to Drive Economic Growth' said.

"The rapid changes in consumer behaviour and acceleration of online commerce, mandate that the Indian retail ecosystem transforms to meet (the) emerging consumer needs," Accenture India Market Unit lead Piyush N Singh said.

As the lifeline of the Indian retail sector, a digital-led transformation of kirana stores can result in significant economic gains, including a nearly 1 percent employment growth in India, he added.

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Nervous traders pull markets down again ahead of Budget

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mumbai: Indian stocks dropped on Friday for the sixth straight session in a late sell-off as nervous traders trimmed bets ahead of Budget announcements by finance minister on Monday. A weak opening in European markets also soured sentiment. Sensex ended down 588.59 points or 1.3 per cent at 46,285.77 and Nifty ended down 182.95 points or 1.3 per cent to close at 13,634.60.

With this fall, Sensex and Nifty have corrected 7.8 per cent and 7.6 per cent, respectively from all-time highs hit  on January 21 and have equaled the losing streak of last September when indices fell for six straight days. This is also the first time since May 2020 that the indices have posted two straight weekly losses.

Markets across the globe have seen a big move since March and valuations are no more cheap. So some corrections at various points will happen. Typically, they also happen ahead of an event like the Budget, where people turn cautious and want to see if any change in taxation rates are there,” said Rajat Rajgarhia, CEO, Motilal Oswal Institutional Equities. “Post budget, focus will shift on economic recovery, corporate earnings and global sentiment,” said Rajgarhia.

The latest bout of correction in the market is the first big fall in the otherwise near vertical rally seen since March 23, 2020. The correction mirrors the sentiment in global markets, which have been unsettled of late by a bounce in the dollar, signs of liquidity squeeze in China and concerns over retail trading frenzy in the US. Owing to these concerns, markets have weakened ahead of the Budget day.

Bank of America Securities said the Budget is likely to be growth focused. “We expect Budget to step up capex, recap PSBs, push asset sales/break government monopolies, see sops for real estate, tax cuts for lower income groups & potential for creation of 'bad bank',” said Bank of America Securities.

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Is it time to expand maternity leave for adoption of children across age groups?

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Women are entitled to maternity leave for adoption, only if the child is below three months of age at that time. This has posed several challenges to women who chose to adopt.

Natasha Sikdar*, an assistant professor at a Kolkata-based engineering college adopted a six-month-old girl child in 2020. She presumed that she would be entitled to maternity leave by her institute but was denied one citing the law.

"Since I had some reproductive issues and had reached the age of 36 years, I decided to go for adoption. The adoption process itself took more than a year and I really needed time off to spend with the baby. But my workplace refused leave since it is legally not mandatory," she added.

The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act states that 26 weeks of paid maternity leave will be available to all working women for pregnancy and child-birth.

However, when it comes to adoption the law states provides only 12 weeks of maternity leave from the time the child is handed over to them. This too is applicable only if the child is below the age of three months. Women adopting children above three months are not legally entitled to any leave.

Internationally, the leave laws are similar for adoption and maternity. For instance, the US allows for upto 12 weeks leave for maternity and adoption at companies with 50 or more employees. This is available for men and women.

In India, the absence of proper leaves for adoption of children above a certain age is a cause of concern. Organisations do not permit such adoption leaves, justifying their actions by saying that there is no legal provision for it.

Human resource heads, especially at mid-size and small companies, told Moneycontrol that it isn't feasible to offer long adoption paid leaves.

"Paid maternity leave of 26 weeks for upto two pregnancies for women employees is itself a costly proposition. If you add adoption leaves to it, this wouldn't be sustainable," said the head of human resources at a Mumbai-based insurance broking firm.

He added that this would in fact be counter-productive and could lead to companies consciously avoiding the recruitment of female staff of a certain age group.

For women, not having access to leaves post adoption can often be a nightmare.

Sanchita Mukherjee*, who is a senior investment professional at a Mumbai-based bank told Moneycontrol that when she adopted a 4-year-old boy in 2019, he took a lot of time to adjust to the surroundings.

"He had separation anxiety and would react aggressively whenever I stepped out to go to the office. It was very difficult for me and I needed atleast two to three months to be with him and care for him. That itself was denied to me citing law," said Mukherjee.

She finally decided to take a sabbatical in 2019 and now offers investment consulting services as a freelance professional.

Psychologists state that especially in cases of adoption, it is critical that the parents spend time with the child on a full-time basis atleast for the initial  few months.

Trisha Kamath, who is a Delhi-based child psychologist told Moneycontrol that adopted children who are left in the care of creches or nannies in the initial one to six months of adoption could see issues related to anxiety or attention issues.

"When you bring a child home, it is a new environment for him/her. They would look upto the parents for complete attention and care in the first few months so it is also crucial that the partners are able to give the child the time," she added.

But in the absence of defined leave in the law, corporates use this as a loophole to deny these facilities.

Danica Lobo*, a 30-year-old advertising professional in Mumbai had to switch three jobs in a two-year period in search of an organisation that would be accommodative towards an adoption.

"I would have to run around for documents, attend court hearings and meet multiple stakeholders for the initial adoption process in 2016. I finally adopted a one-year-old girl in 2018 but wasn't even granted a week's leave by my company. I quit that job and then quickly switched two companies in the hope of a 'flexible leave policy'. But I was denied even two days of work-from-home a month post adoption citing work pressure," he added.

For Lobo, Mukherjee, Sikdar and many other women who adopt a child after a lengthy legal process in India, the basic requirement is atleast a three-month leave that they can use to spend with the child.

When a 26 weeks leave facility is available for child-birth, why not start off with atleast 12 weeks of adoption leave irrespective of the age of the child?

*Names changed to protect identity

Budget 2021: How COVID-19 pandemic has stretched Income Tax Return last date since Budget 2020

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Amid coronavirus pandemic, the Income Tax (I-T) department had extended the return filing deadline three times. The July 31 due date was extended till November 30 in May 2020. Later it was again extended till December 31

The last date to file income tax returns (ITR) was on January 10 for the financial year 2019-20 (assessment year 2021-22).

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Income Tax (I-T) department extended the return filing deadline three times. The due date of July 31 was extended till November 30, 2020 and was again extended till December 31, 2020.

In view of the challenges faced by taxpayers, the I-T department has further extended the deadline by 10 days till January 10, 2021.

Those whose accounts are not required to be audited and those who usually file their return using ITR-1 and ITR-4 forms need to file ITR on January 10.

January expected to see record GST collection: Report

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After clocking record collections in December 2020 at Rs 1.15 lakh crore, the January 2021 GST collection is expected to be in the range of Rs 1.21-1.23 lakh crore and may still have an upside, SBI Research said in a noted on Thursday.GST | Representative Image

GST | Representative Image

With record GST collections expected in January at Rs 1.21-1.23 lakh crore, the shortfall in state GST can be narrowed to a minimal Rs 11,000 crore, according to a report.

Ongoing efforts to plug the leakages in GST collection has been bearing fruit since September.

It has helped the government borrow marginally less. As of January 22, it had borrowed Rs 11.46 lakh crore, and the remaining gross borrowing of Rs 1.6 lakh crore is expected as per the calendar year, taking the total gross borrowing to Rs 13.03 lakh crore, lower than Rs 13.10 lakh crore earlier.

The SGST collection for states is 12 per cent lower at Rs 1.87 lakh crore in April-December 2020 and the allocated IGST is 13 per cent lower at Rs 1.26 lakh crore.

The GST cess collection has stood at Rs 60,312 crore, 17 per cent lower than last year. The combined amount of SGST, allocated IGST and cess stands at Rs 3.73 lakh crore, which is 13 per cent lower but is equal to 58 per cent of their budgeted SGST of Rs 6.49 lakh crore.

If the Centre keeps 60 per cent of the IGST revenue, then the states could be staring at a shortfall of around Rs 67,000 crore.

After clocking record collections in December 2020 at Rs 1.15 lakh crore, the January 2021 GST collection is expected to be in the range of Rs 1.21-1.23 lakh crore and may still have an upside, SBI Research said in a noted on Thursday.

If 50 per cent of the IGST collected is disbursed to the states by March, then the state GST shortfall can narrow down to only a minimal Rs 11,000 crore after taking into account the full compensation cess, the report added.

Meanwhile, the government''s surplus cash balances have increased significantly recently to Rs 3.34 lakh crore as on January 28, from Rs 1.08 lakh crore in September 2020 and Rs 2.26 lakh crore in December.

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Petrol price at Rs 101.80 per litre in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar

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Across Rajasthan, the price of petrol is above Rs 93 and diesel more than Rs 85 per litre.Representative image (Source: Reuters)

The cost of premium petrol has reached Rs 101.80 per litre with a hike of 38 paise in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan. The petrol price has increased to reach Rs 93.86 per litre and diesel price to Rs 85.94 per litre in capital, Jaipur.

Across Rajasthan, the price of petrol is above Rs 93 and diesel more than Rs 85 per litre.

Prices of petrol and diesel across the country are market-determined and attract uniform central excise duty. But, their prices differ from state to state because of the wide variations in the local levies or value-added tax (VAT).

The VAT on diesel prices is 28 percent whereas VAT on petrol was in access of 38 percent, according to an official notification released by the Rajasthan government in May 2020.

VAT ranges from 20 percent to 33 percent on petrol and 16 percent to 23 percent on diesel in the neigh bouring states. Petrol in Rajasthan is costlier by 8 to 10 rupees and diesel by 4 to 11 rupees than other states.

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