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Major Schemes and Promotions Announced in General Budget 2014-15 (Part-1)
Jul 12, 2014

Digital India Programme: Centre has proposed to launch a pan India Programme called Digital India to further bridge the divide between digital ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. This would ensure Broadband connectivity at village level, improved access to services through IT enabled platforms, greater transparency in Government processes and increased indigenous production of IT hardware and software for exports and improved domestic availability. Special focus would be given on supporting software product startups. 

National Rural Internet and Technology Mission: The Government has also proposed to set-up a National Rural Internet and Technology Mission for services in villages and schools, training in IT skills and E-Kranti for government service delivery and governance scheme with an initial corpus of Rs. 500 crore.

Expenditure Management Commission: The Government will constitute an Expenditure Management Commission (EMC) who will look into various aspects of expenditure reforms to be undertaken by the Government.  Government is committed to the principle of Minimum Government Maximum Governance. To achieve this goal, time has come to review the allocated and operational efficiencies of government expenditure to achieve maximum output.  The Expenditure Management Commission will give its interim report within this financial year.

Overhaul of Subsidy Regime: The Finance Minister also proposed to overhaul the subsidy regime, including food and petroleum subsidies, and make it more targeted while providing full protection to the marginalized, poor and SCs/STs. A new urea policy would also be formulated.  

Smart Cities Scheme: A sum of Rs. 7060 crores has been provided in the current financial year for developing 100 smart cities. The Prime Minister has a vision of developing one hundred smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernizing the existing mid-sized cities. With development reaching an increasingly large number of people, the pace of migration from the rural areas to the cities is increasing. The new cities should be developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people. Otherwise, the existing cities would soon become unlivable.

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme: Government has introduced a new scheme called Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, which will help in generating awareness and improving the efficiency of delivery of welfare services meant for women with an initial corpus of Rs. 100 crore. The government would focus on campaigns to sensitize people of this country towards the concerns of the girl child and women. The process of sensitization must begin early and therefore the school curriculum must have a separate chapter on gender mainstreaming. 

For women’s safety, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will spend Rs. 50 crore on pilot testing a scheme for Safety of Women on Public Road Transport. Similarly, Ministry of Home Affairs will spend Rs. 150 crore on a scheme to increase the safety of women in large cities. There is also a proposal to set up Crisis Management Centres in all the districts of NCT of Delhi this year in all government and private hospitals. The funding will be provided from the Nirbhaya Fund. 

E-Visa to be Introduced at Nine Airports: The facility of Electronic Travel Authorisation (e-Visa) shall be introduced in a phased manner at nine airports in India. The necessary infrastructure would be put in place within the next six months. Tourism is one of the largest job creators globally. The facility of e-Visa would give a major boost to tourism in India. The countries to which e-Visa facility would be extended would be identified in a phased manner. This would further facilitate the Visa-on-Arrival facility.

Bharat Depository Receipt Scheme: Financial sector regulators are advised to take early steps for a vibrant, deep and liquid market. He also proposed to extend a liberalized facility of 5% withholding tax to all bonds issued by Indian corporate abroad, extending validity up to 30 June 2017. There are some important recommendations for the sector i.e., enactment of the Indian Financial Code which is considered necessary for better governance and accountability. 

The Finance Minister also announced much more liberal and ambitious Bharat Depository Receipt (BhDR) scheme. He also allowed international settlement of Indian debt securities and completely revamped the Indian Depository Receipt (IDR) scheme. Indian capital market have been a source of risk capital for growing India and suggested introduction of uniform KYC norms with inter-usability of the KYC records across the entire financial sector. He also announced introduction of one single operating demat account to access and transact all financial assets through one account. He also announced introduction of Warehouse Development and Regulatory Authority to improve post-harvest lending to farmers. There is a proposal for the adoption of new Indian Accounting Standards by the Indian companies from the financial year 2015-16.

FDI Promotion in Select Sectors: Government has announced several steps to promote Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) selectively in sectors where it helps the larger interest of the Indian economy. The composite cap of foreign exchange is being raised from the existing 26 per cent FDI to 49 per cent in defence manufacturing with full Indian management and control through the FIPB route. 

The composite cap in the insurance sector is being increased upto 49 per cent from the current level of 26 per cent with full Indian management and control through the FIPB route. Insurance sector is investment starved and several sectors of the insurance sector need an expansion. 

To encourage development of Smart Cities, requirement of the built up area and capital conditions for FDI is being reduced from 50,000 square metres to 20,000 square metres and from USD 10 million to USD 5 million respectively with a three year post completion lock in. 

To further encourage this, projects which commit at least 30 per cent of the total project cost for low cost affordable housing will be exempted from minimum built up area and capitalization requirements, with the condition of three year lock-in. 

In the manufacturing sector, the manufacturing units will be allowed to sell its products through retail including e-commerce platforms without any additional approval. FDI in the manufacturing sector is today on the automatic route. 


(To be Continued)


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