Union Budget 2019: Pre-Budget Expectations from Indian Industry Leaders

By : |January 30, 2019 0

As we are near the Union Budget 2019’s date, which usually determines how most industries are likely to perform throughout the year. The Budget 2019 to be held on 1st Feb 2019. Different industries like healthcare, Tech, AI, Logistics, real estate, etc. has their set of expectations. We incorporated the expectations of numerous industry leaders.As we near the Budget date, which usually determines how most industries are likely to perform throughout the year. The Budget 2019 to be held on 1st Feb 2019. Different industries like healthcare, Tech, AI, Logistics, real estate, etc. has their set of expectations. We incorporated the expectations of numerous industry leaders.

 

CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra

“We need to sustain our global competitiveness and ensure continued support to the start-up ecosystem. We need to further improve the ease and cost of doing business in the country by enabling a feasible policy and tax framework. In Budget2019, we hope to see more initiatives towards the training and skill development of our youth, thus, addressing the employability issues in crucial next generation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, 5G, Machine Learning, and Cyber security. Additionally, continued thrust to the Digital India program is essential”.

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Deepak Maheshwari, Director – Government Affairs, India, Symantec

“India is seeing rapid adoption of technology within the government, businesses and amongst its people – most visible in government services, education, healthcare, financial services, entertainment and information via mobile devices, extending beyond interpersonal communication.

With the ubiquitous hyper connectivity and horizontal integration of technology across all walks of life, it is not surprising that cyber security threats featured amongst the top four risks by the World Economic Forum in its recent report. India is not immune or an outlier to this trend. Hence, it would be best to design, develop and deploy an integrated cyber security and response strategy at every level and especially so, in the critical infrastructures including banking, energy, telecom and smart cities.

The budget should mandate setting aside 10% of the respective technology budgets for every government project to be invested in cyber security, as per the recommendations of the NASSCOM Task Force set up in response to the Prime Minister’s behest. In addition, the data protection law should be expedited, albeit via further consultations and aligning the same with the global best practices.

 

Shibu Paul, Regional Sales Director-APAC for Array Networks

“From this year’s budget we are expecting reduced duties on IT networking products. There should be a strong domestic manufacturing policy favoring global companies to invest more in India. Thebudget should reassess the preferential market access policy and ensure that honest tax paying citizens are given privilege and preference.”

 

M A Mannan, Country Manager – SAARC at Corsair

“With the implementation of the GST, the industry has flourished a lot; there has been a complete full stop for grey channel market or grey imports. The government is committed to the growth of manufacturing sector and the strides made by ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ initiatives. This evolving aspect of the IT industry brings in immense business opportunities, but requires a special attention for its optimal utilization. So, to further encourage the electronics manufacturers and take these initiatives to next level government should roll out new schemes and incentives. Also, with the fast paced developments in the IT industry, changing consumer buying patterns, variable GST rates for the various sub-parts in consumer goods, the industry is going through a demand-supply-cost gap. Hence, to address these challenges, the current 18% GST bracket can be brought down to 4-8%, which will help the IT industry as well as the consumers.”

 

Rajendra Chitale, CFO at Crayon Software Experts India Private Limited

“With initiatives like ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ and ‘Personal Data Protection Bills’, Government has certainly put India on a Digital Innovation fast track. With Budget 2019, we require government to create policy frameworks that incentivize big businesses to invest in manufacturing locally in India. Further, we would also expect the Government to remove the day-today hurdles and obstacles faced in implementation of these initiatives. Government had provided for non-deduction of withholding tax on reselling of software licenses – primarily considering the very low margins in this trade and the fact that resellers are not making any changes to the licenses purchased from the OEMs. With the changes in technology – pure play software licenses are being replaced by a bundled package – Azure, Amazon web services, etc. (Together referred to as “Cloud Services”). However, the concept largely remains the same – Resellers are not making any changes to these bundled packages and the margins are also very low. Would urge the Government to come out with specific notification to extend the scope of the term “Software” as defined under NOTIFICATION No. 21/2012 [F. No. 142/10/2012-SO(TPL)] S. O. 1323(E), DATED 13-6-2012. Another area on implementation is to remove the bureaucracy and speed up the process of refunds – on Income tax as well VAT/ Service tax refunds.”

 

Prashant Gupta, Executive Director, Sharda University

“While the upcoming Budget is crucial for all sectors, it is pivotal for the education sector. We expect to witness a higher allocation towards the education sector and provide useful and elementary education for all in the following budget. The Government  must emphasize on education at all levels and rationalize taxes, including e-learning education programs and make them affordable for the masses. More government schemes for the education sector are expected to be introduced in order to provide the benefits to the faculty as well as the masses of the country. Rapid advancement in technology and business models are creating demand for reskilling of the workforce the Government should address this issue in the forthcoming budget . The Government should also reconsider GST rates on higher education and make education loan cheaper and the term period bigger, also partially exempt GST on outsourced services in higher education from 18 per cent to 5 per cent, to create low-cost educational institutions that offer services at all levels — primary, secondary and higher education.”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Vice-Chancellor, World University of Design

“Given the current economic situation globally, it is time for the Asian economies particularly India and China to become front runners in progress. In order for us to keep maintain this growth momentum, continued impetus and allocations need to be given to the education sector. In order to improve the quality of education and keep up with the current technology trends, the government focus on encouraging existing & future faculty to take up research & doctoral studies is welcome. We expect to witness introduction of a government schemes in the higher education sector to provide benefit to the faculty opting for re-skilling, up-skilling, e-education and doctoral studies.  The Government must also increase allocation towards the education sector and strengthen teacher training programs across the country to improve the overall quality and capacity of the education ecosystem. The Government should reconsider GST rates on higher education and make education loans cheaper and the term period bigger, also partialy exempt GST on outsourced services in higher education from 18 percent to 5 percent, to help lower costs of educational institutions. ”

Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO of Super Plastronics Pvt. Ltd, a Kodak brand Licensee

“The Indian government has been very supportive to the TV manufacturing industry and the recent reduction in GST has proven to be a great example. In a move to promote domestic manufacturing, we are expecting FM to reduce customs duty on ‘open cell’ used in the manufacturing of LCD and LED television panels to 0 per cent from the current 5 per cent. As a lot of brands have started importing TVs from ASEAN countries under FTA; major brands have stopped manufacturing televisions in India. This has impacted the Make in India initiative to a larger extent, close to which 1 million TV units have already been imported this year under FTA.”

 

Akshay Singhal, Founder, Log 9 materials

“Electric mobility is extremely important for India however the adoption has been rather slow due to high cost of vehicles and challenges with daily use. This high cost is primarily driven by imports of technology and components for these vehicles. India needs to develop its own indigenous technologies which are better suited for the Indian ecosystem. Current Li-Ion technology for electric vehicles is a big strategic disadvantage for India as it does not have any reserves of Lithium or cobalt. Hence, today instead of being dependent on imports for petroleum, India is headed towards dependence on other nations for Lithium and cobalt in future. It is commendable that significant steps have been taken towards indigenous manufacturing of li-ion batteries in India, but it is vital from strategic standpoint to stress and allocate funds for indigenous development of energy technologies better suited for the Indian climate and ecosystem. One such technology is Aluminium-air batteries which not only gives you long driving range without the need for huge charging infrastructure but is also powered by Aluminium. India is the third largest producer of Aluminium in the world. Further, it is our expectation that nanotechnology is given boost by setting up grant schemes for start-ups which are coming up with innovative technologies for future readiness.”

 

Siddharth Jain, Co-Founder, Vaahika

“The seamless highway is the need of the hour, to make logistics more efficient and profitable. It is understood that the government has been looking for solutions to reduce traffic snarls on highways; which has now become a major hassle for transporters. It is very much expected that the government should share a detailed outline or implementation vision on ‘Toll-plaza free” seamless highways in this budget. It is also expected that the government will address the need of one nation – one permit in this budget; which has been suggested by the Logistics committee as well.”

 

Siddharth Angrish, Founder, Jiyyo.com

“The Modi government has shown good interest in an upcoming startup with initiatives like Start-Up India & Digital India. Startup India has been quite a success.  As an entrepreneur, I am expecting more and easy funding opportunities for startup growth in India from the 2019 budget. Also, we hope that start up’s are given more relaxation in GST and decreased regulatory interferences while applying for various tenders.”

 

Shivam Sinha, Founder and CEO, Indiassetz

“We are hoping that this interim budget will bring some relief to both the developers as well as buyers. Rationalisation of the taxes on real estate and streamlining of taxation norms will make it more attractive and incentivised for people to invest in this sector. We expect the budget to focus on facilitating smart city growth and infrastructure. Real estate holds immense potential and investment opportunities as it addresses the future challenges of the society and also goes a long way in boosting the socio – economic confidence and willingness to invest in the minds of the people. We look forward to structural incentives, funding announcements in the upcoming budget and a convincing game plan to ensure that the allocated funds are utilized as specified, within a specified deadline. We expect the government to provide interest rate subvention for first home buyers and generate separate income tax exemption limit for EMIs on housing to make housing affordable for the middle class. We also expect the government to  increase the home loan caps eligible for subsidy and abolish angel tax for Government recognized start-ups.”

 

Tejas Khoday CEO and Co-Founder FYERS

The financial year 2018-19 was a tumultuous year for the govt, with several macro headwinds in the form of high crude oil prices, a rapidly depreciating rupee, high FII outflows, agri distress across many states. Liquidity issue etc which could put the fiscal deficit beyond the 3.3% target. There are several risks to meeting the budgeted targets for revenues and expenditures – lower divestment revenues, lower GST collections, MSP implementation, Ayushman Bharat healthcare program etc. However, this should not be the priority of the govt and we expect quite a few immediate measures in various forms, in supporting the farm/agri sector. The manufacturing sector growth witnessed high variability, with the latest IIP data for manufacturing sector shrinking and the industrial growth falling to a 17-month low. We expect the govt to take adequate measures in terms of boosting liquidity and increase consumer spending, to boost economic activity.

GST Collections: Govt expected the GST collection run rate to be Rs.1.10 lakh crores per month, estimating a whopping Rs. 13 lakh crore as total collections for 2018-19. However, in this year, barring Apr and Oct months, the collections haven’t crossed Rs. 98,000 cr. which is putting pressure on the Govt revenues. The average receipts in the 1st year of GST introduction were about Rs. 89,000 crore and for this year, are averaging at Rs.96,700 cr.

If this is the stabilized GST collection run rate, we expect the govt. to be more realistic in budgeting the indirect tax collections for FY20 and thereby, rationalization of expenditure – both, planned & non-planned.

 

Tarun Dua Managing Director and Co-Founder E2E Networks

Reforms. India has too many conflicting laws with discretionary rules, interpretations, precedents based on case law and exceptions to every law/rule. Simplification of laws to make them easy for everyone to follow and removal of vested interests is the only way to help businesses and entrepreneurs. Creating a special regime for certain qualifying startups is a mistake that would only invite charlatans to rename themselves as startups to take advantage of the concessions. Laws and rules need to be simplified for every business. The reverse charge mechanisms within the country are a massive anachronism and have been created specifically to put the onus of collecting taxes from classes of businesses who have avoided taxes historically to increase the regulatory load on compliant businesses. It is a well known fact that in India it is nearly impossible to be 100% compliant with a plethora of labor, direct and indirect tax laws, coupled with special sectoral licensing and sector specific restrictions ( e.g. e-commerce, telecom etc. ) the space for entrepreneurship is loaded in favor of those with deeper pockets and armies of lawyers to deal with regulation and liaising with bureaucracy with massive discretionary powers.

 

Praveen Vashistha, CEO Gxpress

The first priority lies with the government to analyse and understand the growth inducing factors of international market i.e USA, UK about growth incubating  prospects of startup business. Government should go create dynamic learning opportunities straight from the education level to inculcate creativity, innovation, and a business spirit in budding entrepreneur. The policies should smoothen the barricades and hurdles arising in the aspect of start-ups. Focus should lie upon simplification of these procedures to initiate cohesive start-up culture in the nation.

 

Vikas Garg Co-Founder EzySlips

Govt should ensure that startups should have an easy access to credit and lower rates as well as make GST filing process simpler so that it reduces the compliance costs. Govt should also reduce the transaction fees on online transactions to boost the digital economy.

 

Kiran Dham, Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) and Managing Director (M.D.), Globus Infocom Limited.

Surveillance industry also demands a considerable part of budget to be focussed towards providing advanced technology-based surveillance solution. As the Indian security market is growing 20-25% annually, the rise in CCTV coverages can be observed anecdotally. Multiple factors are driving the growth of this industry. Govt initiatives like Smart city projects, Women safety project, Traffic & mobile surveillance for street & Children safety are few examples of such drivers. AI & IoT based security cameras have become a need for safety in existing scenario.

 

Sonit Jain, CEO of GajShield Infotech

“We would like the budget this year to give a strong push to Make In India which may include larger tax exemption limit for employees working in companies which are manufacturing products locally in India. A strong push towards rural e-infrastructure with added emphasis on security compliance and data protection would be beneficial. Implementing zero GST set-off for companies using SaaS application hosted outside India will enforce companies to setup data centers in India thus boosting jobs as well as infrastructure. Incentives should be given for making digital payments for the additional transparency they provide. This year’s budget should promote companies manufacturing IT products locally by giving them added advantage like tax exemption or incentive on IT exports.”

 

Krishna Raj Sharma, Director & CEO, iValue InfoSolutions

“It’s exciting times doing business in India, which clipped China recently as the fastest growing large economy in the world. It is also set to surpass UK and become the 4th largest in size during the year. Digital and Digital Transformation (DX) are the buzz word across the state and central government and corporate across size and vertical for some time now. Data has indeed become the most valuable IP for both government and corporate for targeted programs with higher impact, faster results and efficient growth. Enterprises have realized the importance of DX to enhance their business relevance and remain competitive in a fast evolving world, with new business models driven largely by technology.

Recent policy initiatives such as GSTN and IBC have enhanced confidence of investors and helped in increasing the ease of doing business. Projects like Digital India and Make in India have promoted manufacturing activities leading to employment creation. Software and Service continue to lead Indian IT focusing on emerging technologies such as Hybrid Cloud, Analytics, IoT, Mobility leveraging on social media. 100+ Smart city initiatives are expected to transform Indian cities with plenty of business opportunity across spectrum.

With oil price cooling along with inflation moderation, Government and RBI need to cut interest rate and ensure credit at affordable rates for business to build on the growth momentum. Fiscal deficit challenges should not come in the way in Government spends in the area of infrastructure, health and education for economically challenged population and ensuring enough job creation. With India having the largest youth population in the world for the next decade, it is very critical to engage them for building on the growth momentum of the country which is transforming every day. With elections around the corner, we expect government to be responsible in its spending, which are more essential than populistic.

The Government can look at tax slabs for corporate like in the case of individuals so that large entities pay more and SMBs pay less tax to ensure that they support them in creating new jobs. Recent 10% reservation for economically weaker section cites 8 lakh as the threshold earning for this new policy. Taking cue from this, income tax slabs need to get revised from the current 2.5 lakh slab to 6 lakh+ slab if not 8 lakh+ slab for individuals.

Larger wish of individual and business is for continuance of reforms by any government coming to power so that India continues its journey of realizing its potential in its economic growth journey focusing on inclusive growth of all.”

 

Rajaram Vidyavar, Director-Commercial Netrack Enclosures Pvt Ltd

“Budget 2018 elevated country as a hub for ease of doing business. Also, the recent announcement of new SOPS for MSME sector that involves less and easy steps to access credit will surely boost the Indian MSME sector. The government is all set for Union Budget 2019 and there are lots of expectations from this session. We would like this budget to provide directions to key decisions expected to take place in IT and Manufacturing sectors. The industry is also anticipating revised schemes which will boost the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ initiatives. Tax deductions on locally manufactured products and special packages for Indian manufacturing hubs will surely achieve zero imports by 2020, hence boosting Indian economy.”

Prashanth G J, CEO at TechnoBind

“I have many expectations from this budget and at the top of it is the Easy Availability of credit, especially to the MSMEs. The last 18 months have been tough with the banks tightening their lines and now in the last 6 months the NBFC scene has compounded the issue. MSMEs want easy availability of credit to sustain and grow their operations. The other expectation would be that the government would use the budget as a financial tool to boost the Digital India efforts and drive the adoption of Digitization right up to the SME. This will have a huge effect on the economy by not only increasing productivity but giving businesses a step forward to competing in today’s modern business environment.”

Rajarshi Bhattacharyya, Country Manager, SUSE

Calls government to create policy frameworks that incentivize fresh investment and new business opportunities to transform India into a global manufacturing hub.

The Government’s vision of Digital India has come alive and is slowly bridging the digital divide. With initiates like ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’, the government has certainly put India on a Digital Innovation fast track. By 2019 Budget, we would require government to create policy frameworks that incentivize investments from big players in manufacturing locally in India. Creating transparency in Governance and reducing regulatory compliances should be taken into the consideration.

What do we expect in Manufacturing?

Multiple reports have backed the fact that Manufacturing has emerged as one of the high growth sectors in India. ‘Make in India’ has led a spur in manufacturing. India can be transformed into a global manufacturing hub, if we club India’s geographic advantage and huge pool of labour with government’s measures. The Indian manufacturing industry is poised for rapid growth. We are at the 77th spot in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report 2019’.

Attracting investment in high technology, defense and aerospace: While Indian organizations have already proven their mettle in the auto and engineering sector; it is yet to see major investment in high technology, defense and the aerospace. Attracting investments in these sectors and clarity on set-up tax related issues for global companies should be addressed to make India a true manufacturing hub.

Boosting MSMEs: Last year the government reduced corporate tax from 30% to 20% for companies with turnover up to 250 crores. Even, they have launched many other policies to help MSMEs. But the key areas like skill development, technological up gradation and regulatory barrier problems continue to persist, which should be addressed in the upcoming budget.To support and build a strong backbone, it is important to give enough incentive, skill formation, and learning mechanisms. Also, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that this segment creates a multiplier effect when it comes to job creation, which is still India’s priority.

 

Sangram Singh, CEO, Freecharge

“2018 was a great year for the fintech industry in terms of new technologies and innovation. The continued focus from the Government for expanding digital penetration also saw a promising growth in the adoption of digital platforms across metro cities and tier-II markets.” “In the near future, digital channels of engagement such as digital payments, money transfers, consumer lending will continue to grow. To strengthen this growth, we hope the budget can encourage the upgradation of digital infrastructure and digital literacy – especially in small towns and rural India, which will help drive financial inclusion through digitisation. Some of the recent initiatives such as UPI 2.0 and tokenisation provide a good opportunity for banks, e-wallets, and other players in the fintech sphere to promote digital adoption. The fintech players should continue to focus on innovation, adding smart offerings to provide relevant and personalized customer experiences and strengthening the digital payments ecosystem in the country”, he further added.

 

Satya Prabhakar, CEO and Founder of Sulekha.com

“The move of the Govt. of India to increase the GST exemption limit to Rs. 40 L is a path-breaking pre-budget move. Given the small nature of MSMEs, the Govt’s move to also increase the annual turnover of the GST composition limit to Rs. 1.5 crores will also aid tremendous number of SMEs. Sulekha serves 67,000+ paid SMEs throughout India and a significant portion of them do turnover of a few Rs. crores p.a. – this move of the Government will aid thousands of them to file annual returns and pay a simple quarterly tax.” Further Satya added that, “Sulekha expects the Govt. to unveil several such steps in the upcoming Feb 1st budget including a possible provision of value-added services like marketing fees, advertising and other such promotions to be considered under a progressively lower GST tax structure. The Govt. can also consider increasing online accounting and online tax calculation procedures for thousands of MSMEs who will benefit from a easy compliance regime.” Given the success rate of digital payments that constitute more than 70% of Sulekha’s business, Satya hoped that “the budget would provide further impetus for digital payments like UPI, credit card and debit card payments by incentivizing them vis-à-vis cash or cheque payments.”

 

Rakesh Dugar from Mitashi Edutainment

“As the country heads towards the general elections, we expect the government to favor expansionary economic policies that would give space to growth-boosting measures with the interim budget, some of them have already been announced like raising the GST limit and seat reservations in education and we can expect more announcements like personal and commercial tax concessions, interest free loans to farmers, job reservations and other policies favoring local businesses. All these announcements will likely weigh down on the government’s finances, but with inflation low the government can afford to be less conservative and push ahead with a few crowd-pleasing measures without very adverse effects in the long run.

The appliance and consumer electronics (ACE) industry offer immense growth opportunities, not only for companies in terms of consumption but also in manufacturing and job creation. This is why the industry has seen many investments in machinery and manufacturing plans by several Indian and multinational companies. However, an unsteady environment with multiple changes in tariffs, free trade agreements, and anti-protection laws have not allowed domestic players like us and other domestic manufacturers to flourish to our full potential. Mitashi believes in that exponential growth is possible in the ACE industry given the low levels of penetration of electronics and appliances when compared to global averages. An environment with stable policies and incentives will help drive growth and can make India self-reliant and globally competitive.”

 

Anand Subra, Chief Knowledge Officer, PurpleTeal, Inc.

“Entrepreneurship can be nurtured by spending on incubating new businesses – things like providing access to business, technology and commercialization experts, as well as shared facilities, infrastructure and staffing services on a rental basis. The budget can certainly devote some funds to build these kinds of things to enable entrepreneurs to focus on building their businesses rather than getting bogged down in the day-to-day operations.” “The urban population is aware of health issues due to dietary habits, but not to the point of taking positive or remedial action – they continue to order out, gorge themselves, put on weight and develop health problems. Only when faced with an imminent threat do people stop and change. Accepting that the adult population is otherwise difficult to change… we have a better chance of improving eating patterns if we start with school children. The expectation is that initiatives that target school children will receive funding in this budget.“Change the children… and they will even change their parents!

 

Piyush Khaitan, Founder & MD, NeoGrowth Credit Pvt. Ltd

“The union budget 2019-20 certainly has in place several favourable representations by the finance ministry and we are quite optimistic about this aiding our Industry and business portfolio, considering a marginal increase in cash-flow to the Indian market. The FPI investment in India will grow with the abolishment of withholding tax on interest payments to non-residents with respect to their investments in bonds or ECB of Indian Companies, which was generally refrained by foreign investors. Also, other recommendations like channelling the bank fixed deposits to bond market, no TDS on interest on fixed deposits with banks and NBFCs by senior citizens, removal of restrictions on RBI norms which impose single/group limits and concentration limits on investments by FPIs in corporate bonds, will contribute largely to the growth of Indian GDP, further increasing the growth potential for the finance industry and subsequently other allied sectors.

The budget is also expected to further ease out compliance burden and facilitate ease of business for the MSME sector, which is identified as a backbone to the Indian Economy by our own Finance Minister. We expect the turnover threshold for GST for MSMEs to rise further upwards to Rs. 75 lakhs making tax compliance simpler for smaller businesses. Moreover, easy access to credit for MSMEs is still a challenge and we expect some further measures and digital initiatives to boost lending in this segment. NeoGrowth is a pioneer in digital lending to MSMEs and will be a keen observer on any budgetary reforms benefitting this sector.”

 

Bhavin Patel, Co-Founder & CEO, LenDenClub

“Peer to Peer (P2P) lending is growing at rapid pace. Some tax sops to this upcoming industry will definitely help companies to flourish their business faster.The second expectation from the budget is SOLUTION OF ANGEL TAX. It will help start-ups and upcoming founders to attract angel investment without tax implications. The union government may also think of looking at P2P lending companies five year down the line. P2P companies can disburse multibillion dollar worth Loans. To achieve that there could be a small amount of tax free investment limit allowed under section 80c. If the government can make the investments done through P2P lending tax-free, more investors will join and this will be a great help especially for individual borrowers & MSMEs. To boost P2P lending sector, recently UK government have allowed P2P lenders to invest up to £20,000 a year across P2P platforms tax free. Similar structure can be developed in India, based on our tax structure.”

 

Ajit Kumar, Founder & CEO, RupeeCircle

“With increased government focus, availability of aadhaar stack & improved digital infrastructure, India is poised to drive financial inclusion to the masses. Fintech & specifically Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending has immense potential to reach out to the under-served segments with innovative offerings at reduced costs. In this regard, we look forward to the budget initiatives assisting in spreading the awareness & easing the customer on-boarding as well as KYC verification processes”

 

Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder & CEO PayNearby and Chair BCFI Communications Committee.

“Financial Inclusion Infrastructure is in the built. Government must recognise it in equality to bridges, roads, ports and factories. It will be encouraging to grant status of essential commodity/service and a fundamental right of citizen for all Financial Inclusion services and grant this industry Income Tax and GST concessions like one gives to other infrastructure industries. I am sure that with Government support, the Industry can achieve the inclusion agenda and build a connected environment for betterment of nation at a faster pace.”

 

Abhishek Ray, Head – Legal and Compliance, ePayLater

“We expect the 2019 Budget to further improve the digital infrastructure of the country with the allocation of more resources towards wi-fi hotspots in rural and semi-urban areas. The UDAN scheme can be given a boost, which will enable companies and start-ups to set up operations in smaller towns which will also indirectly lead to bridging the urban-rural divide. Concessions should be provided for the adoption of digital payments to reduce the dependency on cash transactions, which will lead to more transparency and higher tax collections. A sustained push towards a digital-first economy and digital literacy would be the best vehicle to increase and build awareness for digital transactions.

More steps need to be taken by the Government in relation to loans to MSMEs and retail borrowers. Fintech companies can be allowed to participate in the recent initiative by SIDBI to provide loans under an hour, and in the various measures under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna. The Government can also consider involving fintech lenders to regularise loans to farmers as part of the expected waiver package. In relation to the GST regime, steps can be taken to implement a shift towards a single slab taxation process, which will be very beneficial.”

 

Shubh Bansal, Co-founder, Truebil

“The automotive industry is one of the key drivers of the Indian economy and the sector is keen to know the announcements in the upcoming interim Budget 2019. One of the most important elements for the automotive industry is the “One Nation One Road Tax” which means standardizing the road tax across states that would unlock inter-state used car transaction thus easing out the supply and demand. Along with this, digitization of RTOs and title transfer process across states will provide much-needed relief to consumers and will bring in more transparency in the used-car ecosystem. The budget should also look at various tax benefits or similar schemes to EV manufacturers and consumers to boost EV car sales which is the future. The new policies should focus on reducing GST rates which will help to increase the car sales.

Besides the above, we expect that the Government brings down the income tax for small organizations which will help to increase sustainability for SMEs and better tax breaks to improve operational flexibility. The startup community can benefit a lot if the Government can infuse digitization in rural areas.”

 

Abhishek Chakraborty, Executive Director, DTDC Express Limited

“It is over a year now that the logistics sector has received an infrastructure status, this has definitely enhanced the viability of the sector. However, we have still not seen strong push from the government in terms of policies such as better credit to the sector or other schemes to support growth. GST implementation has boosted volumes but we expect more initiatives to improve goods movement including smoothening of e-waybill norms. Another critical expectation from the budget is better control on labor market inflation and policies to boost the e-commerce sector in the domestic and cross-border space to fuel more growth in logistics.”

 

Divya Jain, CEO, and Founder, Safeducate

“In the previous Budget 2018 Government took key steps in skilling and also increased the funds. In this Budget 2019, we expect that the Government should take key steps in raising the quality of skills to levels demanded by a potential employer or even required for a person to start one’s own business. The focus should be on integrating strategies to increase skilling outcomes and sustain economic growth. Current skill development initiatives should be integrated with nation-building mission programmes. As an Organization which provides skilling and get funded from the Government to execute the Skilling programme, we seek some tax benefits. Constructing the Skilling centre requires a lot of physical material which is being charged along with GST. We are not being able to reclaim the GST we had paid in the Inward supplies. Also, we have various certification and degree programmes in Logistics and Supply chain management where we are not being exempted from GST. Support in terms of medical allowance for students that are being trained in skilling programmes. As technology is changing, the Government needs to allocate more funds to improve the quality and develop excellence in Skilling centres. The government has promised and initiated schemes in Skilling such as PMKVY 2.0, DDU-GKY, NAPS, Bharatmala and Sagarmala, PMKK etc. These schemes have helped us to reach the rural parts of India “The real India”. The government has been successful in implementing these schemes through strict monitoring and have been able to skill the rural youths of India”.

 

Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO, and Founder, NextEducation India Pvt. Ltd.

“The budgetary allocation for education in 2018 stood at 3.5% of the entire budget, with a special focus on digitized classrooms, ICT-enabled learning, and quality teacher training programmes. However, the overall improvement of the education sector requires more prioritized attention and funding. With the General Budget around the corner, we have high hopes from the government and expect that a substantial amount would be set aside to the education sector so that we can lay a stronger foundation for new-age learning strategies. The prerequisite for quality education becoming available to all is the free and easy access to quality e-learning resources. This can be initiated by the government through technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and cloud computing. It is also important to ensure that internet access provided to rural areas is functional so that students from those parts can use it for effective self-learning. Training teachers on the latest pedagogies and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the need of the hour as they are expected to employ innovative teaching methods and make use of digital tools in the classrooms. However, there is a dearth of 11 lakh adequately qualified teachers in the K–12 segments. Even though the government is trying to tackle the situation with initiatives such as Teacher Professional Development courses on the digital platform Diksha, this issue also needs prioritizing in the upcoming budget. We also hope that the government provides the right kind of infrastructural support for a system of education that is on a par with global standards, and help Indian students face the challenges of tomorrow”.

 

Amol Arora, Vice Chairman & Managing Director – Shemford Group of Futuristic Schools

” For any country, the most significant returns are those garnered from investments made in its children. The next generation is going to enter a globalized world and will be competing for jobs not just against other students but also innovative technologies that are quickly replacing human jobs. In order to keep our children in the competition, we need to ramp up our Ed-Tech sector in the years to come. To that end, Budget 2019 should give certain tax breaks to Ed-Tech startups to enable them to reach sustainable levels. The government should also grant financial incentives for organizations setting up educational institutes in rural and underserved areas. Currently, the private sector in education is viewed with distrust which is why concrete steps should be taken to show that public-private partnerships can be a win-win for all – delivering quality without fleecing the parents. The government has made significant strides in the direction of technology-enabled learning with the launch of SWAYAM, which offers free online courses by teachers from reputable institutions. Another notable achievement was giving more autonomy to institutions of higher education. The Prime Minister Research Fellows (PMRF) program has helped meritorious students tremendously. However, the promise to boost education expenditure to 6% of GDP is still a distant dream and quality of education in schools and colleges is still a worry. Most importantly, the implementation of policies & programs still remains a key challenge. We hope to see more from the government this year for this most vital sector of the economy.”

 

Sunil Gupta, MD and CEO, Avis India

India is rapidly growing to be a large market for travel and tourism industry and is expecting international tourist arrivals to reach 30.5 million by 2028, therefore the government should focus more on improving the infrastructure of the country in terms of developing more roads and maintenance of tourist places for increasing the economy from tourism.

The government needs to allocate much more towards infrastructure this year as last year government increased infra spend towards roads, air, rail and inland waterways by almost 22% to 5.97 lac crores, wherein we are expecting it to get an increase to 30% this year.”

 

Surajit Das, Founder and CEO, Routematic

Surajit Das (Founder and CEO, Routematic) said, “The startup trend in India is on a spectacular growth path, however despite Government bringing various regulations to promote the emerging business, entrepreneurs continue to face various challenges. This time start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs are expecting this budget to abolish angel tax for Government recognized start-ups. This will unleash its own potential and will help Start-ups to grow by leaps and bounds. The early stage start-ups will also be nurtured with more investments”

 

Ratna Chadha, Co-Founder and CEO, Tirun

Quote on budget expectations on behalf of Mrs. Ratna Chaddha, “Cruise tourism, has eventually become popular amongst the traveler which is encouraging more and more cruises to come closer to India. The government has already played its role in recognizing cruising as an economic multiplier and is catching up with the world in terms of policies and infrastructure. In the upcoming budget, cruise liners are expecting the government to develop the infrastructure in a better way so as the number of ports can be increased which will definitely push the top cruise brands to enter the Indian ports”.

 

Rahul Bahukhandi CEO & Co-founder Layuva

“The government has clearly demonstrated in the past that it wants the country to move towards becoming a digital economy. In the upcoming budget, the government should include provisions which incentivize digital payments. This could be in the form of tax rebates which should be given to both consumers and e-commerce companies if they prefer the use electronic modes of transaction over any other form of payment.”

 

Nikhil Mantha, Co-founder and COO, Piggy

“Any budget before general elections comes with huge expectations. My macro level focus points are around job creation, industrial infrastructure and Agricultural credit. Also I’m curious to see how the FM plans to balance tax cuts, subsidies if any, with fiscal deficit targets given that we’re missing our Q4 target by 0.2%. For investments space, I expect an increase in 80C limits to 2.5 lakhs from the current 1.5 lakh. Also, Investors are expecting the government to bring parity between the schemes and make these tax savings avenues more attractive for individuals. In the present scenario, any switch within the same scheme from debt to equity in ULIPs and NPS or any fund reallocation between them is not liable to taxation. But shifts between the schemes like in the case of a shift from a dividend option to a growth option or vice -versa, is liable to capital gains tax. Also I expect FM to promote implementations of blockchain technology to boost our public infrastructure and pave way for positive regulations for the same to be incorporated in our financial services infrastructure.”

 

Simon George, President, Cargill India

“With the upcoming Interim Budget few days away, a lot of expectations are building up in the agriculture and the rural economy. Since the Indian agriculture sector accounts for 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and close to 50% of the working force is engaged in the sector, the budget is expected to include measures which will help to reduce the farm distress and provide impetus to the rural economy.

Provision of Direct Benefit Transfers to farmers – We need to see a sense of urgency in implementation of DBT as it gives farmers the freedom to operate as per market demands. This will also help in crop diversification, plug leakage of subsidies and sustainable agricultural production.

Strengthening futures market are important aspects that need to be focused on as it will help hedge the price risk keeping risk levels low, leading to stronger market, higher investment and higher productivity.

Market reforms like Model APMC Act should be implemented at the earliest and increased involvement of private sector in the procurement, processing and agri-logistics in the entire value-chain should be a high priority. Restructuring the Essential Commodities Act to provide exemptions to big traders, exporters, food processors etc. from stock limits will also help.

Connecting farmers to markets including fast tracking e-NAM & establishing strong linkages with food processing industry are important. The budget should also incentivize farmers to move towards value addition, either singly or through small groups of farmers.

To realize the goal of Doubling Farmers’ Income by 2022-23 and to sustain satisfactory levels of agricultural production in a changing-climate scenario, enhanced investment in agricultural research, rural infrastructure, refreshing agricultural extensions system and introducing technology is desirable and should be encouraged by the government.”

 

Rishi Mohan Bhatnagar, President, Aeris India & Chairman of the IoT panel at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

“With the initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ empowering the IT sector, I believe that the government must take some concrete steps towards lowering the GST slab in the device manufacturing. This solely comes from the fact that this will give a boost to the R&D centres across the country to develop new innovative sensors and devices. It is crucial to focus in supporting innovation within the country to ensure India’s pace in development in the IT sector.

Another area that could use some attention is the need to rationalise the spectrum license fees for IoT as the sector is gaining developmental momentum and the time has come that India brings in the change to ensure smooth functioning. To boost India’s innovation journey it is also a must to increase the focus on skills development on IoT and AI to prepare Indian talent for future job skills.”

 

Joy Sharma and Mr. Sudeep Gupta, Founding Partners of Impactify

“The upcoming budget may introduce measures for stricter enforcement of the CSR laws to ensure that corporates carry out their responsibilities as prescribed in the Companies Act, 2013. While this is important, the government also needs to understand that corporates face genuine problems in complying with the CSR mandate. One of these problems is the inability to find credible NGOs to partner with. Impactify is helping solve this problem through its matching platform. The platform provides a public database for corporates and NGOs to identify partners and projects that best fit their requirements.

Second, any pooling of CSR funds should be discouraged. Governments have previously tried to support corporates by pooling funds into a kitty to be administered centrally. This is counter to the essence of the CSR Mandate, which encourages corporate and social sectors to interact directly and learn from each other. In our opinion, corporates should continue to be responsible for spending their own CSR funds.

Third, there should be a strong focus on data-driven need assessment. Companies usually undertake projects in thematic areas they are passionate about. Common themes such as education, sanitation, and Skill Development, may, therefore, get more attention than others such as reducing inequality, and environmental sustainability. The government can play a major role by providing grassroot data more frequently, enabling NGOs and corporates to design outcome-driven projects that address real need gaps.

Finally, a strong focus is also required for monitoring implementation, over and above the current practice of tracking fund utilization. Impactify platform integrates easily to use monitoring tools, simplifying monitoring and reporting of outcomes, and bringing the corporates and NGOs closer together.”

 

Sudep Singh, Chief Evangelista and CEO, GoWork

“One major challenge that still remains is the angel tax. Many start-ups face the heat of clearing this outstanding amount from the funds, which keeps them from trying their hands at innovation at a consistent pace. Also, in order to enrich the Indian market, the rate of corporate tax, which is currently at 33 percent, should be reduced significantly. Lower rates of corporate taxes are one of the major factors that attract businesses to overseas markets. (For example, in Singapore, it is charged at 17percent, making it a profitable ecosystem for businesses to sustain).

Another consideration should be easing the FDI norms for raising funds from private equity players who can strengthen the inflow for our commercial real estate verticals like office spaces, malls, hospitals and hotels. This is quintessential for the consistent growth of India’s realty and construction sector.”

 

Sundararajan.S, Executive Director, i-exceed

The government launched the Startup India scheme in January 2016 and the scheme has played a pivotal role in establishing the startup culture in the country. It has also helped in improving the Ease of Doing Business ranking of India by 30 places in the latest World Bank’s report. In addition to these initiatives, we hope that the 2019 budget would bring in more tax sops for companies that create software intellectual property (IP) in technology platforms, software products or software solutions amongst others. Such companies require very high initial investment and often go through a long gestation period before they can expect results and positive outcomes. The Government of India can give benefits and tax breaks for IP creation, and encourage selling such technology platforms, products and solutions in overseas markets. It should also give priority for using them in the applicable government entities. This truly reflects the theme of Make In India and helps in generating additional employment opportunities as more IP gets created and usage increases.

Our neighbouring countries in the Asia Pacific region have been providing various incentives to improve IP infrastructure and strengthen their innovation capabilities. Countries such as Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong allow companies to claim tax deduction of 150% to 250% of R&D spend. Singapore gives further incentives by taxing any revenue generated from IP at much lower tax rate and giving subsidy of up to 30% of expenses incurred on manpower, training and material costs.

 

Rajesh Loomba, Managing Director, Eco Rent A Car

“Previous budgets and governments have always neglected tourism, I hope in this budget some focus is put into tourism as a generator of employment and not be treated as an elitist activity.

The government did not deliver as per promise in 2018 Budget. Taxation on tourism remains regressive. There are no incentives on new investment whereas tourism and tourist transportation creates the most employment per rupee of investment”

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