The week in 5 charts | Interim Budget 2024, India ranks 93 in corruption index, and more

Here are five charts that will help you understand some of the key stories from last week

Updated - February 04, 2024 03:56 pm IST

Published - February 04, 2024 03:44 pm IST

(Left) An anti-piracy operation by the Indian Navy’s INS Sumitra. (Centre) Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shows the Union Budget tablet. (Right) A nurse and health worker prepares the mammogram.

(Left) An anti-piracy operation by the Indian Navy’s INS Sumitra. (Centre) Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shows the Union Budget tablet. (Right) A nurse and health worker prepares the mammogram.

(1) Interim Budget 2024

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced a Rs 11.11 lakh crore spending on infrastructure and vowed to continue reforms as she resisted resorting to populist measures in Modi government’s last Budget before general elections, instead choosing to stay on the path of cutting deficit while bolstering measures for focus groups.

Presenting a vote on account or an interim Budget for 2024-25, Sitharaman proposed no changes in income tax rates for individuals and corporates, as well as import duty but offered amnesty for disputed income tax demands of the period prior to 2014-15 as a relief to small taxpayers. In her close to an hour-long Budget speech in the Lok Sabha, she listed her government’s achievements across sectors in the last 10 years and announced measures to boost tourism, housing and renewable energy.

Also read | Puffed-up and poll-ready: Nirmala Sitharaman’s first Interim Budget

Sitharaman’s Budget proposes to cut fertilizer, and fuel subsidies by 8 percent in 2024-25 over last year while keeping the allocation for rural employment scheme MGNREGA unchanged.

Spending on infrastructure such as roads, ports, and airports has been raised by 11 percent to Rs 11.1 lakh crore in a bid to sustain the current world-record-beating economic growth and create more jobs. The Union government will also provide Rs 1.3 lakh crore long-term loans to states to spend on infrastructure.

Also read | Key takeaways from interim Budget 2024-25 in charts

The government will build 2 crore affordable houses in the next 5 years and will launch a scheme for housing for the middle class. It will develop tourist centres and market them at global scale as also provide viability gap funding for harnessing wind energy potential for an initial capacity of 1 gigawatt.

All this while sticking to the fiscal consolidation path which will see the fiscal deficit being reduced to 5.1 percent of GDP in 2024-25 as compared to the revised deficit estimate of 5.8 percent for the current financial year ending March 31. The deficit for the current fiscal is lower than the 5.9 percent that was projected when Sitharaman presented her last Budget in February 2023.

Also read | Nirmala Sitharaman’s interim Budget reveals BJP’s confidence in comeback

Total revenue receipts for 2024-25 were estimated at Rs 30 lakh crore as compared to the revised estimate of Rs 26.99 lakh crore in the previous year. Tax-GDP ratio is seen at 11.7 percent as opposed to 11.6 percent of GDP in 2023-24.

The interim Budget seeks Parliament’s authorisation for spending for four months and the full Budget for the fiscal year starting April will be presented in July by the government elected in April-May general elections.

In videos | Highlights and key features of Interim Budget 2024

Stating that every challenge of the pre-2014 era was overcome through economic management and governance, she said the government, in its July Budget, will present a detailed roadmap to make India a developed country.

(2) India ranks 93 in Corruption Perceptions Index 2023

India ranked 93 out of 180 countries on the corruption perceptions index for 2023 as its overall score remained largely unchanged, according to a Transparency International report.

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

In 2023, India’s overall score was 39 while in 2022, it was 40. India’s rank in 2022 was 85.

“India (39) shows score fluctuations small enough that no firm conclusions can be drawn on any significant change. However, ahead of the elections, India sees further narrowing of civic space, including through the passage of a (telecommunication) bill that could be a ‘grave threat’ to fundamental rights,” the report said.

Also Read | A step towards fighting corruption

“Countries with continued high scores, such as New Zealand (3) and Singapore (5), maintain their positions at the top of the index globally,” it said. The bottom of the index includes fragile states with authoritarian regimes, including North Korea (172) and Myanmar (162).

(3) Focus on cervical cancer

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1 announced the government’s plans to focus on vaccination against cervical cancer for girls aged 9 to 14 as part of her Interim Budget 2024.

Cervical cancer, which develops in a woman’s cervix, is the second-most common cancer among women in India. It is caused by persistent infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV). India accounts for nearly a quarter of all cervical cancer deaths in the world.

Also read | Cervical cancer detection at an advanced stage remains a cause for concern: experts

According to the National Cancer Registry Programme Report, the estimated prevalence of cervical cancer cases in India in 2023 was 3,42,333. Uttar Pradesh’s estimated prevalence of cases was 45,682, followed by Tamil Nadu 36,014, Maharashtra 30,414 and West Bengal 25,822.

In June 2022, based on fresh evidence on disease burden, evidence on effectiveness of single dose of HPV vaccine, clinical trial data and experience of the Sikkim government on the introduction of the vaccine, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization recommended the introduction of HPV vaccine in the universal immunisation with “a one-time catch-up for 9-14 year-old adolescent girls followed with routine introduction at nine years.

Also read | Over 8,500 new cases of cervical cancer in Tamil Nadu in 2023, says Centre

Presently, the Serum Institute’s made-in-India vaccine against cervical cancer, CERVAVAC, is available in the private market for about Rs 2,000 per dose. MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck Sharp and Dohme (known as Merck and Co, Inc in the US and Canada) continues to sell its HPV vaccine Gardasil 4 (quadrivalent vaccine) in India which is currently priced at Rs 3,927 per dose.

(4) Indian Navy foils hijacking bid by Somali pirates

In the second successful intervention within 36 hours and neutralising a hijack situation, Indian Navy’s offshore patrol vessel INS Sumitra, deployed in the Gulf of Aden, rescued Iranian-flagged Fishing Vessel Al Naeemi and her Crew of 19 Pakistani nationals from 11 Somali Pirates off the East Coast of Somalia.

In another incident, a coordinated multilateral response, between the Indian Navy, Seychelles Defence Forces and Sri Lanka Navy, to the hijacking of a Sri Lankan fishing vessel, resulted in the successful rescue of Sri Lankan fishing trawler. INS Sumitra was pressed into action, to locate and intercept another Iranian flagged fishing vessel Al Naeemi, which had been boarded by pirates and her crew of 19 Pakistani nationals taken hostage, the Navy said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

This incident came just after INS Sumitra prevented a hijack incident in the area after responding to a distress message from an Iranian flagged fishing vessel Iman, with a crew of 17 Iranian nationals, which had been boarded by pirates and the crew taken hostage.

“INS Sumitra, over the course of less than 36 hours, through swift, persistent and relentless efforts has rescued two hijacked fishing vessels along with 36 Crew, 17 Iranian and 19 Pakistani, in Southern Arabian Sea approximately 850 nm West of Kochi, and prevented misuse of these Vessels as Mother Ships for further acts of Piracy on Merchant Vessels,” the Navy added on the two incidents to which INS Sumitra responded.

The Gulf of Aden has seen a sudden spurt in piracy from Somalia in the last few months after going down completely from the peak around 2010. Indian Navy has maintained continuous presence in the area with atleast one major warship deployed on anti-piracy duties since 2008.

(5) GST revenues go up to second-highest ever in Jan

India’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime delivered its second-highest monthly revenues of ₹1,72,129 crore in January, as per data collected and shared by the Finance Ministry.

On a sequential basis, January’s revenues are 4.4% above December’s ₹1,64,882 crore collections, snapping a two-month streak of month-on-month contractions in the GST kitty. 

“Notably, this is the second highest monthly collection ever and marks the third month in this financial year with collection of ₹1.70 lakh crore or more… Final collection for the month would be higher,” the Finance Ministry said.

“Coming on the Interim Budget eve, the second highest ever collections would provide even more headroom for embarking upon the next stage of GST reforms,” remarked MS Mani, partner at Deloitte India.

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