Union Budget: GST exemptions on essential items, relief on sovereign green bonds

NEW DELHI: In a bid to provide relief to the common man, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday proposed to exempt essential items like curd, lassi and puffed rice from the Goods and Services Tax (GST). She also announced a relief on sovereign green bonds and an increase in the limit of tax-free gratuity. Presenting the Union Budget 2023-24 in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said: “Curd, lassi and puffed rice are being used by the common man on a daily basis. So, I propose to exempt these items from GST.” The exemption will come into effect from July 1, 2023. Sitharaman also proposed to provide relief to investors in sovereign green bonds. “To encourage sustainable investments, I propose to provide relief to investors in sovereign green bonds. The coupon payments on these bonds will be taxable at a concessional rate of 7.5 per cent,” she said. The concessional tax rate will be applicable for a period of 10 years from the date of issue of the bonds. The Finance Minister also proposed to increase the limit of tax-free gratuity from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh. “To provide relief to the salaried class, I propose to increase the limit of tax-free gratuity from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh,” she said. The increased limit will be applicable for employees who retire or leave their employment on or after April 1, 2023. Other key highlights of the Budget include: – Increase in the personal income tax rebate limit from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh for individuals with an annual income of up to Rs 15 lakh. – Reduction in the highest surcharge rate for the super-rich from 37 per cent to 25 per cent. – Increase in the agricultural credit target to Rs 20 lakh crore for the year 2023-24. – Allocation of Rs 10,000 crore for the development of millet crops. – Establishment of a National Cooperative Development Corporation to promote cooperative societies in the country. – Launch of a new scheme to provide free food grains to 1 crore poor families over the next three years..

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