INDUSTRY VIEWS-India budget focuses on tax cuts, farm spending to revive growth

BENGALURU/MUMBAI, Feb 1 () – Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday unveiled the budget for fiscal 2020/21, vowing to boost income of Indians and their purchasing power, in a bid to revive domestic economic growth. India estimates economic growth this fiscal year, which ends on March 31, will slip to 5% – its weakest pace since the global financial crisis of 2008-09. Here are some reactions from Indian businesses, economists and analysts: KIRAN MAZUMDAR SHAW, CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, BIOCON “The proposed amendments to the Companies Act for removing criminal action in case of tax disputes is a step towards infusing trust among India Inc. The expansion of health infrastructure in tier II and III cities through a PPP (public private partnership) model and upskilling for job creation will strengthen the Ayushman Bharat program (national health protection scheme). The measures announced in this Budget can give returns in the medium to long-term. However, we need to make sure they are implemented fast to have immediate impact.” JAIDEEP HANSRAJ, MANAGING DIRECTOR & CEO, KOTAK SECURITIES “The Union Budget has tried to balance higher expenditure and still maintain a prudent fiscal deficit target of 3.5% for fiscal year 2021. Removal of Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) will lead to higher cash flows in the hands of cash-starved India Inc. If individual tax payers opt for the new tax regime then it will result in higher cash in the hands of the individuals. This in turn would lead to increased spending or higher investments, both being good for the country. Market expectations were high on capital market reforms which have not materialised and to that extent there could be some near term disappointment.” PARTHAPRATIM PAL, PROFESSOR, ECONOMICS, INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT, KOLKATA “There seem to be very few measures to boost demand and revive the economy. The change in DDT (dividend distribution tax) will hurt shareholders who are in the top tax bracket. However, the tax and growth rate projections seem over-optimistic and the government may miss the target.” ZARIN DARUWALA, CEO, INDIA, STANDARD CHARTERED BANK “The personal income tax cuts for the middle class would help address the urgency to revive consumer demand. The focus on physical infrastructure along with social sector (health, education, rural, water) would boost the medium-term growth potential. In my view, the budget rightly attempts to boost spending by enhancing non-tax revenues via higher disinvestments including stake sale in LIC and IDBI Bank.” SAURABH MUKHERJEA, FOUNDER, MARCELLUS INVESTMENT “While the income tax cuts and dividend distribution tax abolishment are to be lauded alongside targeted fiscal consolidation in FY21, it’s distressing to hear the finance minister request Reserve Bank of India to extend the restructuring window even as India struggles to find a solution to the NBFC (non-banking finance companies) crisis.” MAHENDRA SINGHI, PRESIDENT, CEMENT MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION “The emphasis on highways and roads development is well placed. We would hope that rural demand gets revived and it assists in job creation. More policy interventions to revive real estate and housing would be welcome. Infrastructure development, new 100 airports and emphasis on road would go a long way to revive cement demand.” MVS MURTHY, HEAD, MARKETING AND DIGITAL, TATA ASSET MANAGEMENT “This Budget gives a strong tailwind to all things digital. Support to smart phone manufacturing while harnessing the engineering and design skills is another progressive step in the Make in India story. Smart meters, use of solar panels alongside railway tracks benefit the households and also makes us seen as a conscious consumer of green-tech.” AJAY SINGH, CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR, SPICEJET “The announcement for 100 new airports under UDAN (scheme) is a very positive move. Concessions to sovereign and pension funds to get long term funds for infrastructure is positive too.” ALOK SARAF, ASSOCIATE PARTNER, GRANT THORNTON INDIA “There were no proposals to address the concerns of the real estate sector, where the stress is significantly concentrated in tier 1 and 2 cities. The proposal to extend the affordable housing benefits is a welcome move, but a credit guarantee scheme akin to what was announced for the NBFC sector was the demand of the sector as well. SATYA EASWARAN, PARTNER, TECHNOLOGY, MEDIA AND TELECOM, KPMG “In budget 2020, technology has been clearly recognised as both a disruptor and enabler of new models of business and lifestyles. Start-ups are receiving due attention with measures announced to not just provide early life funding from the government to support ideation and development, but also ensure that innovation and associated IP (intellectual property) can be protected. On balance though, a few more announcements of measures to alleviate the financial stress of the telecom sector – the underlying platform for most digital innovation – would have been timely.” SHISHIR BAIJAL, CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, KNIGHT FRANK INDIA “With the economy in midst of a sharp slowdown, the Union Budget for FY21 was being awaited with high expectations to act as a growth booster. However, the budget fell short of industry expectations, with no major announcement for accelerating growth.” (Reporting by Bengaluru and Mumbai bureaus, editing by Aditi Shah, Alasdair Pal and Swati Bhat)Our Standards:The Thomson Trust Principles.