In a panel discussion organised by CNBC TV 18, Adi Godrej, president designate of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and chairman of Godrej Group; Sunil Munjal, chairman of CIIs Economic Policy Council, Rajiv Memani, chairman of the CII Task Force on GST (General Sales Tax) implementation; and Naresh Trehan,chairman of CII’s National Committee on Healthcare outlined the expectations of corporate India.
Adi Godrej thought the Budget would focus primarily on two important issues: provide incentives for economic growth and maintain fiscal balance. He also urged the early passage of GST to help improve the government’s fiscal position.
Now that the equity markets have recovered, the government must also consider disinvestment in PSUs (public-sector enterprises) and reducing taxes and surcharges to ensure economic growth, he added.
Godrej, however, has a bizarre request from the FM. He wants Pranab-da to publish a balance sheet of the government! In other words, he wants him to make public the valuation of all government assets so that the liquidation programme can be worked out easily. “I think disinvestment can be a major source of revenues over the next two-three years to balance the budget and improve the fiscal balance, ” he said.
However, Rajiv Memani, chairman of the CII Task Force, added that even if the UPA might not have sufficient room to reduce tax rates, Pranab Mukherjee should at least not increase taxes. Still, a tax hike for items like diesel cars and cigarettes is possible, he said.
Sunil Munjal, on the other hand, expected the Union Budget to be surprising one. He predicts that while Mukherjee may make non-big-bang announcements, he may also pick up chunks of pending issues in the Budget. “I think we will see more than one announcement in this Budget, ” he said.
He said the government needed to achieve three basic things — push for growth, prune expenditure and increase revenues by widening the tax base. He noted that the government could not achieve one at the cost of the other. On subsidies, he made a strong case of targeting them better with the roll out of Aadhar (a national identity card programme).
Naresh Trehan, chairman of CII’s National Committee on Healthcare, wanted the finance ministry to not only expand the healthcare delivery system but to also make it affordable at all levels. He thought the healthcare budget should be doubled to Rs 52,000 crore from the Rs 26,000 crore allocated last year. ” Today, we are producing anywhere around 25,000 doctors, and we need to double that to 50,000. So we actually need to modify the rules of creation for medical schools, other paramedical facilities and funding provided,” he said.
In order to deliver healthcare in rural and semi-rural areas, Trehan said the insurance sector should be developed so that it was on par with programmes or products that enhanced the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) Scheme, which already operates for people living below the poverty line.”We need to enhance that scheme and we need to come up with PPP (private-public partnership) models,” he said.
Watch video:Pranab Mukherjee, here is India Inc’s 2012 Budget wish list