In meet with FM, BJP MPs seek clarity on old and new tax regime, cut in MGNREGA allocation

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman leaves after briefing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs on the Union Budget 2023-24, at Parliament House, in New Delhi on Friday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

BJP MPs on Friday interacted with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the merits and demerits of the new and old income tax regimes at a briefing here on the Union Budget, which was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

Members from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were present at the briefing on the Budget, the last full one before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, and for which the BJP has drawn up a massive outreach programme explaining the main highlights.

“There was a power point presentation on the Budget and its highlights, but the Finance Minister went into great detail about the new and old income tax schemes, and the changed slabs. Tax issues always require this kind of explanations, they are never easy, and many MPs had queries on the relative merits and demerits,” said a BJP MP present at the meeting.

There were also questions on the slashing of allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) compared with the past few years. The Budget allocated ₹60,000 crore for the MGNREGS, which is 18% lower than the Budget Estimates of ₹73,000 crore for the current year, and 33% lower than the Revised Estimates of ₹89,000 crore for the scheme.

“On this, the Finance Minister said that the the hiked allocations for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, up 66% in this Budget, especially for tier two and three cities will make up for creation of similar employment. She said that during COVID-19 there were situations for increasing the allocations, and that the scheme is largely demand-driven,” the source said.

The capital expenditure detailed in the Budget was also gone into in detail, and flagged as something that the BJP MPs should speak about when talking about the Budget. The Mahila Samman Patra, a small savings instrument for women with interest rate up to 7.5% for deposits of up to ₹2 lakhs was also talked about.

The BJP kicked off its outreach programme on the Budget on Friday, with Chief Ministers of the States ruled by the party holding press conferences. As part of the programme, Union Ministers will also fan out to the State capitals to talk about the highlights of the Budget.

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