Budget 2018: India Inc terms Arun Jaitley's proposals as 'populist, election-oriented'

India Inc said the 'Bharat' oriented Budget with a thrust on improving the rural economy will create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship and sets the tone for future growth. Terming the Budget proposals as "populist and election-oriented", India Inc has said the finance minister's initiatives will give a further fillip to growth, especially in the hinterland.

Here's how India Inc reacted to Budget 2018

Anand Mahindra,chairman, Mahindra Group tweeted: In a populous, agrarian country, a populist, pre-election Budget can be pro-growth!

Anil Mathur, COO – Interio Division, Flagship division of Godrej & Boyce
One of the important aspects of this Budget is affordable housing. This should boost new housing across the country and improve residential space absorption. Coupled with, the rationalisation of GST for under-construction real estate to 8 percent from previous 12 percent and furniture at 18 percent from 28 percent, we see a healthy growth in the coming years for housing industry and furniture industry which trend synonymously. Also with the revision of custom rates, the government has reinforced its mission of ‘Make in India’. This is a reassuring sign to furniture manufacturers who are mostly in MSME domain.

Varun Berry, Managing Director, Britannia Industries

The Budget is focused on infrastructure and rural development and large scale employment generation. This provides a springboard to spur consumption and lead to faster growths across sectors. While overall expenditure is projected to grow at 10 percent during the year, development related spending is expected to grow faster at 13-14 percent with spends on affordable housing growing at 30 percent and on railways at 22 percent. These spends could generate large scale employment which could thereby lead to a healthy and sustained consumer economy. The reduction of corporate tax rate from 30 percent to 25 percent will have a positive impact on the growth trajectory of industry, though companies contributing 90 percent of tax collection are still waiting for their share of relief.

Sunil K Goyal, Managing Director & Fund Manager, YourNest Venture Capital

The long-term capital gains on listed securities and the dividend tax on equity mutual funds is a right step to generate resources required for driving demand in rural India. With this move, the Budget has also neutralised the unfair tax regime of zero tax on the long-term capital gain on listed equities vs any other asset class like venture capital, real estate, start-ups, debt funds, etc.

Sunil Sharma, Managing Director-Sales, Sophos India & SAARC

With the rise in bitcoin’s popularity and a strong warning to act with ‘extreme caution’ and understand the significant risks of choosing to invest in cryptocurrencies, it’s no wonder 2018-19’s Budget has a special emphasis on taking measures to stop cryptocurrency circulation and explore the usage of Blockchain technology. We welcome the reduction in corporate tax as it will be a growth enabler to the entire micro and SMEs.

Tarun Bhatia, MD, Kroll
The Budget was both low profile and low risk, delivered without the intensity and drama attached with the event. While not exactly a populist Budget which some had feared, the measures announced will touch a large proportion of Indians and were tilted towards addressing the needs of the common man, especially in rural areas. With minimum selling price for kharif crop set at 1.5 times production cost, there is a clear emphasis on improving farmers income. But with fiscal deficit projected at 3.3 percent of GDP, one should expect an ongoing battle with inflation and interest rates are likely to go up. One disappointment was not providing infrastructure status to real estate.

Hari Menon, Co-Founder and CEO, Big Basket

The Budget seems promising for the welfare of farmers, a segment that Big Basket is closely associated with. The announcement of Operation Green to boost produce will be a major enabler for players like us as we focus on organic produce in a major way. Developing and upgrading rural haats into gramin agriculture markets is another positive step.

V Srinivasan, Chairman, eMudhra

While cryptocurrencies are not recognised by the government and rightly so because of inherent risks, Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that powers instant settlements and lower costs for payments and a variety of other use cases such as land records, KYC, anti-money laundering, etc. where tamper proofing and quick dissemination of information is required. Blockchain, therefore, has huge potential in digital transformation.

Aakrit Vaish, co-founder, Haptik

Allocation of significant fund and announcing efforts to enhance research in disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotics implies that the importance of adoption of such technologies has finally been taken into consideration by the government. With NITI Aayog to establish a national programme for artificial intelligence, this will not only significantly aid job creation but will also assist the government to move towards its Digital India vision.

File image of Arun Jaitley. AFP pic

File image of Arun Jaitley. AFP pic

Manoj Sharma, Director, Asia, MicroSave

The government’s move to increase Ujjwala outreach targets from 5 crores to 8 crores is a welcome step. The increase in the Budget layout has been from 2,252 crores (2017-18 RE) to 3,200 crores (2018-19). This scheme has created a lot of positivity for the government among women in rural areas and will translate into an endorsement by way of votes.

Prithviraj Kothari, MD, RiddiSiddhi Bullions

The Budget, overall, is good. The income tax and custom duty may not be too favorable for businesses, but it will certainly bring some ease for the middle class. The amendments proposed for the gold exchange and gold monetisation schemes are great. The government is planning to set up comprehensive gold policy and revamp gold monetisation scheme.

V.P Nandakumar, MD & CEO, Manappuram Finance

The Increase in minimum support price for the kharif crop is a timely boost to the rural economy earlier adversely affected by demonetisation (and GST). We can expect rural demand to see significant pick up and this will benefit companies invested in the rural economy, including gold loan NBFCs. Likewise, the increase in spending on infrastructure—outlay increased from Rs 4.94 lakh crore to almost Rs 6 lakh crore – offers compelling short term and long term benefits. Over the short term, it will be a welcome stimulus to the economy boosting demand and generating jobs, while over the long term, the addition to our infrastructure stock will ease the way for Make in India. On the other hand, the government's decision to impose long-term capital gains tax on equity investments will certainly be a dampener on FII investments into the stock market. That can have consequences not just the stock markets but potentially also for our balance of payments and forex reserves going forward.

P Venkatesh, Maveric Systems, a chennai-based technology assurance provider

The government is continuing with its thrust on building the foundations for both individual and enterprise sectors. On the individual end, the rural development, employment generation through SMEs and rural employment, education, low cost housing and health are coordinated actions and are continuing to receive attention. On the enterprise side, the investment in infrastructure, modernising agriculture and food processing, digital, financial market reforms and rationalising the corporate tax rates for mid corporates are again coordinated and continuing actions.

Varun Gera, Founder, HealthAssure, and member of the CII Health Insurance Standard

For the first time has the Budget been defined by its focus on healthcare. National Health Protection scheme, termed as the largest health programme in the world and leading to Universal Health coverage, is a welcome move given the need to focus on so far poor health statistics for majority of population. The coverage of Rs 5 lac per family is a huge jump from Rs 30,000 rupees coverage under RSBY. It is not yet clear on many fronts -- there needs to be more information on the outlay projected for this and if it would involve insurance participation, typically implementation of any health policy at such a large scale takes time and in this case we need to understand the milestones for the same, setting up of 1.5 lakh health and wellness centers by the government is a very big responsibility and undertaking, additionally an outlay of Rs 1,200 crores for this initiate seems very low.

Arvind Mediratta, MD & CEO, Metro Wholesale

Overall, the Budget is a socially inclusive one that has laid major emphasis on agriculture, social infrastructure, healthcare, social protection and digital transformation. The government has taken some measures towards strengthening the SME and MSME sectors. The Corporate tax rate reduced to 25 percent for companies with turnover up to Rs 250 crore in the financial year 2016-17, will also majorly boost the micro and small and medium business eco-system. This will augment the ease of starting own businesses while helping existing business also. In the backdrop of agrarian stress, the budget announced by the government has shown its resolve in continuing to provide resources to rural India. With 2000 crore corpus for agri-market development, support to organic farming, allocation of 10,000 crore to fisheries and animal husbandries related infrastructure; these measures will help in augmenting farmer’s income, improve the quality of farm produce, and employment for the farming community.

Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, Nearby Technologies

We applaud the Government’s vision and commitment towards digital India and the digital economy. The Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed a slew of measures to promote financial inclusion and make India a digital economy. Increased expenditure in infrastructure, including setting up of five lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas, will provide broadband access to five crore rural citizens extending benefits of internet and technology-enabled services to the masses. Furthermore, the proposition to double the allocation towards Digital India programme to Rs 3,073 crore in 2018-19 will give further push to the Digital India initiative.

Gagan Rai, Managing Director & CEO, NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure

This is a Budget for the masses due to several reasons. Firstly, 10 crore families will receive health insurance cover. Secondly, thrust on education by teachers’ training on a mass scale. Thirdly, agriculture has been encouraged and focus would be given to double farmer income by 2022. We also welcome the measures that the Government of India plans to undertake to hasten India's movement to a digital economy. There will be significant use of Aadhaar numbers even for the businesses, as all business entities will be allotted an Aadhaar like unique ID number.

K. Paul Thomas, MD & CEO, ESAF Small Finance Bank

Overall the Budget looks positive. Great to see that in order to allay the problems caused by demonetisation and GST, the government has put forth tax sops for micro small and medium enterprises. This will benefit more than 6.5 lakh companies. Also the FM has announced credit support to the MSMEs worth 3794 crore. The government has also announced Rs 3 trillion package under the Mudra scheme with special focus on women participation in small and medium enterprises. The Mudra and MSME schemes will speed up job creation, as an SFB we are working closely with Mudra bank.

G. Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director, The New India Assurance
The National Health Protection Scheme announced is a great move to bring health insurance to almost 40 percent of the population and is move towards Universal health insurance . The scheme is significant as it provides Rs 5 lakhs cover to the family for secondary and tertiary treatments. Extending PMJJY and PMSBY to cover larger population will bring insurance to more people. The announcement to provide micro insurance and pension schemes to Jan Dhan Yojana accounts is very positive. The merger of three public sector general insurance companies and listing them is welcome. Full details are awaited.

Sachin Bhandari, CEO, VTP Realty

With real estate being a major focus owing to the infrastructure development and housing for all initiatives by the Government, the Union Budget 2018 did have some interesting inclusions. In fact, prior to the Budget, the government had declared reduction of GST to 8 percent for all houses qualifying under credit link subsidy scheme under PMAY.
This itself shows the government’s keenness and commitment to make Housing for All a reality by 2022. Funds have also been allocated by the government for building 37 lakh houses in urban areas.

Kaustubh Nande, Head Marketing, ANSYS Inc

The Budget for the engineering technology and infrastructure point of view is really forward looking. The investments, particularly for research, and related economic impact of the skilling initiatives have been kept in mind very well. The national program on Artificial Intelligence is quite commendable. From an industry point of view, I think this Budget is certainly the right step in the right direction and very much in line with the trends that we observed in the sector.

Albinder Dhindsa, Co-Founder and CEO, Grofers

This year’s Union Budget laid a strong focus on inclusive development and sustained economic growth. The measures introduced to bolster fields such as agriculture, infrastructure, MSMEs, youth and rural economy, are commendable. The growth focus around ease of living is laudable, and we are hopeful that this will anchor the future growth of the Indian economy and its citizens.

Rohit Kulkarni, Country Manager, Payoneer India

It was heartening to see the finance minister recognising India’s MSME enterprises as a major element for growth and the fastest growing sector post demonetisation and GST. The FM in the 2018 Budget has reduced the tax for MSME’s by 5 percent. The deduction of tax has come down to 25 percent from 30 percent. This gives MSME’s and other traders an opportunity to expand their services globally and venture their businesses into various global marketplaces. Another major highlight of the Budget is the government encouraging fintech companies on the usage of blockchain technology in India which has the potential to positively impact the payment sector, leading towards a more digital India.

Rizwan Thakur, CEO, Founder, Chevon Agrotech

Budget 2018 is an extremely positive step and the action behind the words of this government of promoting the food processing industry. Besides the doubling of allocation for food processing infrastructure from 715 crores to 1400 crores which is a positive step, the single most important step is expanding the Kisan Credit Card to the animal husbandry activities. Livestock farming is amongst the most stable and substantial revenue source for all farmers and this step firstly acknowledges it as an agricultural activity and will make credit available to the small and marginal farmers as well. Even the investment of additional infrastructure in the food park shows displays the focus of this government on the organised food sector which will add to increasing the farmer income.

Arjun Ranga, MD, Cycle Pure Agarbathies

This Budget is for farmers and poor, ensuring social security; a prudent populism focusing on agriculture, health, rural employment, not forgetting senior citizens. It gives a big push on infra development and more concerted effort on aqua fund focusing on fisheries. Managing the fiscal deficit within prudent level, it blends fiscal discipline in tune with economic requirements. The Budget has also notably emphasised on healthcare. Also, it is keeping divestment target on a conservative note.

Krishnan Dharmarajan, Executive Director, Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion

Tax relief to farmer producer organizations will remove a disincentive for farmers to form themselves into FPOs and boost incomes of participating farmers. Hitherto, while a profit-making transaction would attract zero tax for an individual farmer, it would be liable to tax when done as part of the FPO. We have instances of FPOs that are paying the mandatory minimum alternate tax. Financially strengthening FPOS will drive up demand for inputs and farm technology thereby hiking demand for credit. However, considering that most farmers are small and marginal, greater funds could have been allocated for their aggregation into FPOs and cooperatives by way of extending subsidy in the procurement/use of agricultural and digital technology. This will reduce costs, help digitise operations and boost productivity.

Image courtesy: Reuters

Image courtesy: Reuters

Rajesh Gupta, Founder, Cash Suvidha

Certainly this Budget will reassure and bring back the lost confidence amongst NBFCs. We appreciate the government’s move for reducing the tax burden on MSMEs. The measures for addressing the Non Performing Assets will ignite a ray of hope across the industry. We are glad about the government's decision to double the Allocation to Digital India scheme to Rs 3073 crore which will accelerate the transformation of India into a digital economy and will help our Fintech platform by extending our services to SMEs & MSMEs in the nooks and corners of the country.

Abhishek Ray, head- Legal, ePayLater

The acknowledgement of the presence and the potential input by the fintech sector and startups to the Indian economy is very promising. We eagerly await the next steps of this government towards creating the right environment for fintechs and the support measures to be provided to VCs and Angel investors to invest in startups along with the introduction of hybrid instruments and other measures to support funding in startups. We are very impressed by the forward vision of the government to utilise technology to reduce the gap between rural and urban India by the implementation of schemes such as setting up 5 lakh wi-fi hotspots, enabling the connection of more eNational Agriculture Markets with the APMCs, support to Project Udan, steps for implementation of 5G adoption and implementation of AI by NITI Aayog for government services.

Kiran Kalakuntala, Founder and CEO, eKincare

It was great to see government acknowledge that Venture Capital Funds and the angel investors need an innovative and a regulatory regime for their growth. The finance minister said that they will be building a robust alternative investment regime in the country and rolling out tax regimes designed for investors. This is a positive step in the right direction. Hope the measures they take will attract investors and help start-ups grow.

Sridhar Krishna, Chairman & MD of Sankhya InfoTech

Union Budget 2018 addressed many of the concerns of rural India and that of the MSME sector. The outlay for healthcare and education is a much-needed boost to create a more healthy and skilled and educated India. On the civil aviation front, the finance minister unveiled plans to increase the number of airports in the country by five times in this year from a current total of 124. It further mentioned 56 new airports and 31 new helipads will be connected under the UDAN scheme. The massive expansion, as envisaged, will have a multiplier effect on employment opportunities in the aviation sector.

Tushar Kumar, Founder and CEO, Medlife

The healthcare sector in India is plagued by a plethora of challenges which include lack of proper infrastructure and low government spending on the sector. The Budget as a whole is a balanced and well-rounded one, which aims to foster the growth of our economy again. With agriculture, health and education receiving a bulk of the budgetary allocation this year, this seems to be a good start for us. The government's new flagship National Health Protection Scheme, which aims to insure as much as 500 million people for up to 500,000 rupees a year of care, could change the way healthcare is perceived in the country. Apart from this, the government is also looking to set up health and wellness centres, which will bring healthcare systems closer to each citizen.

Bhavik Mehta, Director, FinREQ

It is a matter of great appreciation that finance minister has made a special mention regarding fintech lending. This shows the vision and intention of the government in promoting fintech lending to large extent. The finance minister announced setting up of the working group for its growth which has potential to reach untapped cities and villages where access to lending is limited, hence leading disruption in fintech market. This makes the strong case for the participation of all stakeholders in supporting MSME growth through fintech lending.

Ujjwal Batria, Managing Director & Country CEO, Nuvoco Vistas Corp

The focus of the Union Budget 2018-2019 has been to boost investments in rural development, education, healthcare and social sectors. With sizeable allocations to the rail and road sectors; it clearly recognises the infrastructure sector as a growth driver. Revisions in MSP, emphasis on rural MSME credit, and similar initiatives should lead to a significant improvement in rural incomes. A push in rural development, road and rail sectors, affordable housing and smart cities will all help the cement industry; as an increase in rural spending power should translate into more housing.

Harsh Shah, Co-Founder, Fynd

It is a very ordinary Budget. From a start-up perspective, it is slightly disappointing, as there was no clarity provided on Angel tax, no clarity on discounts on marketing spending as CAPEX or OpEx, no clarity on FDI in multi-brand e-commerce or single-brand e-commerce prerogatives. The corporate tax rate cut of 25 percent to companies which have reported turnover of up to Rs 250 crore, is great for MSME’s. Overall for start-ups it was more of with condition apply budget, start-ups facing issue with Angel tax is not at all highlighted. Even for retail, it was not that impactful, as GST multiple slabs still exist, governments say one market, one economy but nothing is one. We still have SGST+CGST and IGST on another side, so how can we claim it as one market.

M Murali, Managing Director, Shriram Properties

Budget 2018 is more of a welfare budget - an ad mixture of populism and pragmatism. Moves like National Health Protection scheme benefitting 50 crore people is highly laudable and much-needed one in a country like India, since long. The Budget seems to focus on rural economy and agriculture this time with emphasis on generation of higher income for farmers. This is feasible as India is traditionally an agrarian economy. With the Economic Survey suggesting that the economy should grow between 7 percent and 7.5 percent in fiscal 2019, we were watchful on the government's stance on containing fiscal deficit –speculating whether country will stay on the course of fiscal consolidation path. It is welcoming that the fiscal deficit target for next fiscal would be 3.3 percent and target for 2017-18 will be 3.5 percent.

Khushru Jijina, MD, Piramal Finance & Piramal Housing Finance

The Union Budget 2018 was a pragmatic one and focused on fortifying the economy as a whole. The government’s endeavour to provide housing to every poor citizen by 2020 through the establishment of a dedicated affordable housing fund in the national housing bank, along with priority sector status being granted, is a commendable one. The government assuming ownership of NHB from RBI is also positive as it would translate into the focus of NHB shifting from regulation to development. The reduction of the GST rate from 12 percent to 8 percent on affordable and low-cost housing units last week was a welcome reform. Building 31 lakh homes in 2018-19 in urban areas and a further 51 lakh in rural areas will go a long way in addressing primary housing demand.

Amit Ruparel, Managing Director, Ruparel Realty

Driven with the target to provide housing for all by 2022, we appreciate the government’s move to build 1 crore houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna in the rural areas. This move will create housing demand and generate employment. This Budget saw the government offering several benefits to the infrastructure sector, at the same time missed out on a few important aspects of the realty sector. Infrastructure status to the entire real sector is still not implemented this could have reduced the developers cost of borrowing for projects. Also the real estate sector looked forward to single window clearance mechanism which could have helped the developers in making the process more seamless and quicker.

Farshid Cooper, Managing Director, Spenta Corporation

Reducing corporate tax rate to 25 percent for companies with turnover below Rs 250 crores will be very positive for the real estate industry. The trickle-down effect of the tax saving will mean disposable income in the hands of the common man, thereby increasing consumption and investment in real estate. It is disappointing that stamp duty was not incorporated in GST to ease pressure on homebuyers.

Sebi Joseph, President, Otis India

The Union Budget 2018-19 is certainly a positive move that aims to increase convenience for the common man. Given the rising urban population, safe and effective traffic solutions are imperative in managing crowds.

Aniruddha Chatterjee, Head, Buy-side business, Thomson Reuters, South Asia

Union Budget 2018 reinforces the government’s intention to improve rural economy by boosting credit and investment in the farming sector. Since the measures taken are mostly structural in nature, right implementation will eventually grow the rural economy and benefit both real economy as well as the Street. The return of Long Term Capital Gain Tax, was not entirely unexpected, but may not be seen as a welcome move particularly by the high-value investors. There is a fear that this might vitiate the investment environment in the short-term.

Budget Growth

Budget Growth

B Anand, CEO, Essar Oil (a Rosneft & Trafigura-UCP company)

This is a commendable Budget from the government as it has a strong focus on boosting the nation’s infrastructure, in the form of road connectivity and coverage of airports. This is expected to help in improving accessibility and development of a number of towns in the country, spelling good opportunities for companies in the oil retailing, bitumen and ATF space to contribute towards proposed nation building initiatives. The thrust on agricultural production, optimizing farm income and the plans for Operation Green to benefit the agriculture sector will provide further avenues for diesel manufacturers to participate in activities related to these programs. Moreover, the upsurge in gas connections under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Scheme is another positive step by the government which will create the need for more LPG in the country.

Shireesh Sahai, CEO, Wolters Kluwer India

The announcement of the Ayushman Bharat Programme is a bold and ambitious move in the right direction. Once rolled out, it will hasten India’s progress towards achieving universal health coverage for all. Fresh investment in healthcare delivery infrastructure and medical education are also welcome developments, given that healthcare education and delivery need to be efficient for insurance outlays to be used optimally. The increase in medical colleges will hopefully change our presently skewed doctor-patient ratio.

Abhishek Shah, Co-Founder, Wellthy Therapeutics

The provision of Rs 1200 crore towards health and wellness centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases. This step will significantly help in combating one of the biggest challenges in healthcare in India today, which is the rising burden of Non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease contribute to 61 percent of all mortalities every year in our country, and the WHO estimates that these will cost India almost $5 trillion dollars by 2030. This budgetary allocation for the prevention and treatment non-communicable diseases will be a critical step to stem the tide now. Furthermore, the launch of the National Health Protection Scheme is another vital move for achieving universal healthcare in India.

Ritu Srivastava, Founder, Obino

While the states and explicit focus on healthcare as a primary agenda for the government is a very heartening and positive sign for the fitness and healthcare start-up domain, it is disappointing that the Budget does not address the Angel tax issues that have devastated the start-up community. The lack of focus on the Long Term Capital Gains Tax also is not a positive sign and is a downward pressure that start-ups will have to struggle with. Overall while the intention seems benevolent, the implementation on ground remains a challenge

Nikhil Arora, Vice-President & Managing Director, GoDaddy India

The budget this year focused towards Ease of Living & Ease of doing Business to strengthen agriculture, health, education, employment, MSME and infrastructure sectors. It is good to know that our economy is on course to achieve over 8 percent growth. The government is recognising the multi-faceted role played by the MSME sector towards encouraging the generation of self-employment with these tax relief and subsidies on custom duty. This year’s Budget also saw a huge allocation of funds to the MSME sector to help them get started and continue to grow, this allocation comes as a big relief for the sector badly in need for such encouragement. More support for MSME for NPAs and troubled enterprises and funding will indeed benefit the MSME sector at large and contribute to the Indian economy in the long run. Overall, the Budget focusses on making positive structural reforms to drive India’s growth story further.

Varun Gupta, CEO, Goomo

It is a good Budget that touches upon various sectors and provides impetus to rural, health care, employment and infrastructure such as highways, railways with focus on safety, smart cities and Digital India. In the travel and tourism space, it addresses to increase five times the current air handling traffic with a continued focus to connect current unserved 56 airports and 31 helipads under UDAN. Create 10 iconic tourist destinations and improve tourist amenities at 100 Adarsh monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India to enhance the visitor experience. Further, corporates with the turnover of up to Rs. 250 crores will benefit with the reduced tax rate of 25 percent.

Byju Raveendran, Founder & CEO, BYJU’S, the learning app
It is very encouraging to see the increased focus to further digitise education in India. Technology has just about started making an impact in education. A full-fledged intervention of technology in education will create a level playing field for students across geographies solving core issues like access to good quality content and teachers. The decision to move from blackboards to digital boards will change the way teachers teach and students learn and make learning an immersive and interactive experience. The right use of investment in the Indian education sector will provide an impetus to create an environment where learning is seamless for students irrespective of their learning proficiencies or geographical locations.

Raghav Gupta, India Country Director, Coursera

India has a huge appetite for education – which in fact is seen as a driver to uplift one’s social and financial status. Considering it is not only critical to personal development, but more so to the effective growth and development of the nation, it is heartening to see that this year’s budget addressed the issue of lack of quality education and infrastructure in the country. With the number of schools and colleges falling well short of the requisite, the launch of ‘RISE’ - Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education with an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore in next 4 years, raises some hopes of witnessing drastic improvement in the current education infrastructure and technology across the country.

Utpal Ghosh, CEO & President, UPES, Dehradun

The Budget has a strong focus on emerging technologies and the education sector. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, quantum communication, etc., are going to drive future jobs and hence a national programme catering to these disciplines is a welcome initiative. District Wise Strategy to improve the quality of education and achieving standard learning outcomes based on the results of the National Achievement Survey, for me, is a path-breaking announcement, made for the first time.

C Raj Kumar, founding Vice Chancellor, O P Jindal University

To rejuvenate the infrastructure of educational institutions, the finance minister has announced many initiatives. One of the major initiative called The Revitalizing of Infrastructure and Systems in Education”(RISE) by 2022 with a total investment of 1 lakh crore in the next four years is to be lauded as it definitely portrays the importance and prioritization of education in this country. Similarly, with emphasis being laid on digitization sector, the benefits will reach the needy students. It is heartening to see the concerted efforts being taken to introduce new autonomous schools of planning and architecture. We also appreciate the government’s concern towards Institute of Eminence.

R. Sridhar, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, IndoStar Capital Finance

The Economic Survey published a few days ago reiterated the need to address issues in the agriculture, education, health and infrastructure sectors and that is exactly what the Finance Minister focused on in the Budget. Substantial focus has been given to link villages and rural roads to agriculture markets, secondary schools and hospitals under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY). In addition, to this the finance minister also announced a provision of Rs 500 crore for Operation Green to promote agriculture logistics & the upgradation of 22,000 rural haats or markets, a move that will indirectly boost the demand for commercial vehicles. The announcement of constructing 51 lakh affordable housing units in rural India and another 50 lakhs in urban areas with a proposed dedicated affordable housing fund heralds positive news for India’s housing sector.

Vinay Sethi, Head-Market Development, Tax & Accounting, Thomson Reuters, South Asia

Being the last full fledged Budget by the current Government before the next General Elections, Union Budget 2018 did not deliver Big Bang reforms that many were anticipating. The government, however, did roll out some promising programs which will support long term welfare and development. One of the key highlights of this Budget is the launch of the flagship National Health Protection Scheme to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families and provide them up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year in secondary and tertiary care institutions. While this is a welcome development, the government will have to plan the implementation well as it may cripple the existing limited medical infrastructure in the country.

Rajesh Rege, Managing Director, Red Hat, India and SAARC

It was a well-rounded Budget. Emphasis on education, entrepreneurship & healthcare was much needed and is welcome. The finance minister’s comments on AI & Blockchain are a step in the right direction and we look to an early implementation of these initiatives

Dilip Datwani, President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI)

The hospitality industry feels dejected and is extremely disappointed with today’s Union Budget. Tourism contributes 7.5 percent to India’s overall GDP and hospitality is the backbone of tourism. Hospitality is the single biggest contributor to India's tourism GDP and its growth or decline or stagnancy directly reflects on the health of tourism in the country. The foreign exchange earnings (FEE) from tourism amounts to roughly $23 billion and once again the largest chunk of this earning is generated by the hospitality industry.

Rahul Garg, Senior Partner, Tax & Regulatory, PwC India

Budget 2018 seems to be an overall balancing act with something for all sections of the society, particularly the farmers and poor households. Measures such as introduction of National Healthcare Scheme, increasing agricultural exports to $100 billion, providing pan India access of electricity and LPG connections should auger well and improve ‘ease of livin’ across sections. To garner additional resources for these welfare measures, the finance minister has had to resort to re-introducing the Long Term Capital Gains Tax on equities and increase cess by 1 percent. At the same time, the finance minister has done well to strengthen the manufacturing sector by rationalising the deduction for new employment generation and reducing the overall corporate tax rate to 25 percent for companies with turnover less than Rs 250 crores.

V Ramakrishnan, CFO, TCS

This is a forward looking, growth-oriented Budget with a focus on the rural economy, healthcare for the poor, investments in infrastructure, Digital skilling, education and jobs creation. Several programs announced in the budget represent big strides in building a Digital India: the outlay for the smart cities program; the plans to explore blockchain technology; the national program for adoption of artificial intelligence and for research, training and skilling in  cyber-physical systems; the innovative use of technology to digitally reimagine agricultural markets to empower small and marginal farmers; and the extending of broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens to bridge the digital divide. Lastly, having partnered the State Bank of India in their highly successful and seamless merger with six associate banks, we are excited about the planned merger of the three public sector insurance companies. I would rate this budget a score of 8 out of 10.

Shanti Ekambaram, President – Consumer Banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

The Finance Minister focused the FY18/19 budget on spends in agriculture, rural upliftment, the poor, health, education, Infrastructure and Digital India. The fiscal deficit projected, thus, saw a marginal slippage to 3.3 percent in FY19, with the current year’s deficit estimated at 3.5 percent. Given the criticality of areas that spends have been allocated to, the money would be well spent and good for India and the Indian economy in the long run. The National Health Protection Scheme to cover 10 crore families at Rs 5 lakh per family is commendable, as are measures to provide for basics to the poor, increase spends in rural India, and steps to ensure farmers get fair compensation and direct linkages to consumers and markets. The introduction of dividend distribution tax on equity mutual funds was a surprise.

Ninad Karpe, Chairman, CII Western Region

The Budget has significantly addressed core sectors like infrastructure, health, education, rural and agriculture which in turn will act as a growth catalyst for all other sectors. Bank Recapitalisation will enable banks to lend more money, which will lead to a series of initiatives that will aid in job creation.

Mahendra Singhi, Group CEO, Dalmia Cement Bharat

It is a forward looking Budget and an affirmation on housing for all by 2022. Infrastructure being the key pillars of the budget is something to look forward to in the long run.  With extension of 3.17 lakh kilometers of rural roads, 51 lakh new rural houses and 2 crore toilets to be built by 2019, will raise the demand of cement, this will be augmenting the infrastructure segment, leading to employment generation and development of our economy.

 Tarun Bhatia, MD, Kroll

The government’s focus on technology and digitization was visible across themes - introduction of e-assessment of tax returns, increasing digital intensity in education and wi-fi hotspots for rural citizens stood out. This is in continuation of the digitization agenda initiated through demonetization in November 2016. We expect the government to remain committed to this initiative and see further investments trickling into the sector. At the same time, government has come out strongly against use of virtual currencies and articulated that it is not recognized as legal tender.

The finance minister alluded to crypto currencies supporting illegitimate financial activities and went a step further by stating that the country will take all measures to eliminate use of crypto currencies. This categorical exclusion is not surprising and similar to the stance taken by China. However, it does come as a big blow to the segment which has been trying to establish itself as an alternate, secure and transparent payment mechanism. The announcement had an immediate impact on the valuation of crypto currencies which anyways have been volatile in the recent past. The acknowledgement of use of block chain technology in payment systems is a positive step which will enhance the security and lower cyber risks in transactions. This needs to be now supported by introduction of stronger regulations and laws around cyber security. 

Nita Soans, CEO, Kaiterra India 

I am disappointed to see very little in the Budget that addresses the air pollution crisis most of North India faces. Subsidised machinery for in-situ crop residue management is good to see, especially for the farmers who face so much slack for the pollution spikes caused by crop burning around September to November every year. But what about all the other sources of pollution? The air quality all of January has been in the category of very poor, even touching hazardous on a few days and this had nothing to do with crop burning. We need lower taxes on air quality management products like air purifiers, lower import taxes on electric vehicles, better emissions and fuel standards - use of these should be incentivized so as to encourage adoption.

Sushant Reddy, Founder & CEO, AskArvi

As a startup we appreciate the initiative taken by the government to introduce a national programme on Artificial Intelligence. Additionally, from the insurance point of view, the tax exemption will help senior citizens to enhance their insurance coverage at no additional cost by raising it from 30,000 to 50,000.

Abhishek Kumar, Co Founder, Xoxoday

While the implementation of some of financial tools like GST have been successful, the complete impact on GDP and controls can only be measured over a period of 1-2 years. The government has to provide alternate channels so that common people and entrepreneurs don’t suffer. The revenue tools need to be better defined and not mixed with funding for MSMEs/SMEs/startups.

Diwakar Nigam, Chairman and Managing Director, Newgen

Reduction of corporate tax rate to 25 percent for companies with reported revenues of up to Rs 250 crores is a step in the right direction. However, we do hope that reduction in corporate tax rate across the board would be adopted soon. The 10 percent Tax on LTCG on listed equity shares and equity-oriented mutual funds can have negative impact on the market.

Rohit Lohia, Co-founder and COO, CoinTribe Technologies

Allocation of 373 crore in the digital India initiative is a welcome step in the direction of reducing cost of operations for all businesses systemically while greatly aiding the ecosystem for fintech enterprises. Further, MSME corporate tax for 2018-19 has been cut to 25 percent up to revenue of Rs 250 crore. This is likely to encourage larger tax compliance from MSME sector.

Sanjay Sharma, MD& CEO, Aye Finance

It is good to see that the policymakers have increased their focus on the MSME sector in the budget. MSME sector provides the highest employment from the non-agri sector in the country and this sector needs to be made robust. While the extension of 25 percent tax rate to companies up to Rs 250 crore revenue will mainly help the medium and small organizations, the benefits will ultimately trickle down to the micro enterprises that lie at the bottom of the pyramid of businesses.

Ashok Vashist, Founder and CEO, Aaveg

The Budget did seem to include digital in many sectors. The toll system on 'pay as you use' basis is a good idea. Further, as the government plans to implement special scheme to address air pollution in the city; startups can collaborate to fuel the procedure. Transportation and unplanned travel has not only increased wheels on roads but also are reason behind rising pollution in the cities. With cutting edge technology, a lot of companies that have been working in this space can help address the grave challenge.

Aditya Kumar, CE0 &Founder, Qbera.com

The finance minister’s acknowledgment towards the fintech sector is a promising move for the Digital India drive, allocating a handsome sum of 3073 crore towards the development of the segment. The fintech sector in India comes with finest technology to fulfill credit gap that traditional system could not serve. With more funds, the nascent segment is sure to grow rapidly and further deliver to consumers and small business.

Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO, Portea Medical

The Budget has been broad-based and provides benefits to a number of stakeholders. The proposed creation of the World largest healthcare funded programme wherein Health Protection Insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per annum per household, a benefit that would extend to about 50 crore people, is a major move and paves the way for universal health coverage. The Budget has placed a lot of emphasis on healthcare in general and that of senior citizens, which is very exciting for a company like Portea that focuses on providing ongoing care to this segment. The population of the elderly is set to double in the years to come and thus, there is a need to ensure better access to health services for them – something that the budget has taken steps to address.

Rishi Gupta, MD & CEO, Fino Payments Bank

A pragmatic Budget as far as rural sector is concerned. The focus on addressing farmer income issues, increase in MUDRA scheme allocation and incentivizing MSMEs is a positive sign. Further, the thrust on job creation through rural as well as other infrastructure projects is expected to improve income levels leading to increase in economic activity and growth. For new-age banks like payments banks, these developments augur well as improvement in income levels is expected to drive more people towards using banking services and investing in relevant financial products.

Surajit, CFO, MedGenome

The Finance Minister has presented a Budget that meets with our expectations.  He has addressed key areas that will help the economy grow in the coming year. The main concerns of the healthcare sector have been taken into consideration and initiatives  under ‘Ayushmann Bharat’ to insure and protect the poor will move the country towards universal health coverage. Establishing of health and wellness centres in rural and smaller towns will make healthcare more accessible and affordable for the larger population. These are good measures and we are confident that they will usher in a new era of social health equity in the country and take us a step closer towards inclusive social security.

Piruz Khambatta, Dy Chairman, CII Western Region

The government thrust on rural Sector, health and education will go a long way towards inclusive and sustainable growth. The focus on food processing is welcome, it would lead to building linkages between industry and agriculture sectors and boost job creation in India.

Surendra Singh, Country Director, Forcepoint

The government has come out with a truly ‘Bharat’ Budget and has introduced several inclusive digital programmes for rural India to reap benefits of information technology. From doubling the outlay for promoting digital economy for the next year and plans to speed-up digitisation with initiatives such as implementing five lakh Wi-fi hotspots to provide the internet to rural citizens, connecting one lakh gram panchayats via internet cables, announcing a national program to direct efforts in Artificial Intelligence and increased digital intensity in the education sector are welcome steps. However, as more technology use grows amongst people so would be the need to become aware of cyber threats. Cyber security will now be more important than ever for securing digital assets as more and more people connect and conduct business using technology.

Uttam Bose, Group CEO, CK Birla Hospitals

The initiatives announced in the Union Budget 2018 to boost the healthcare sector is indeed a welcome move and would help us to serve the patients for which we are committed. The government policies that are designed so as to provide facilities to economically weaker section of the society will address the pressing need of healthcare for all.  Establishment of 1.5 lakhs health care centres across the country with a corpus of Rs 1200 crores and provision of free essential drugs and diagnosis will mitigate the challenge to improve primary, secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. The positive sentiment that has generated from allocation of huge spends has provided an impetus to basic infrastructure and affordability in healthcare segment. With equal focus and vigour on technological advancement, the healthcare spectrum in our country will receive a new fillip, helping to have bigger achievements and milestones.”

Vivek Belgavi, Partner & Leader - Fintech, PwC India

There are huge market and regulatory risks associated with cryptocurrency trading and till measures such as having research information available and investor protection norms are established, the budget has provided a welcome direction.

Nihal Kothari, Partner, Khaitan & Co

This is the first Budget after introduction of GST which has subsumed most of the Indirect Taxes except basic customs duty. Any changes in GST is determined by the GST Council. In the case of custom duty the Finance Minister has proposed to increase Customs duty on several  products from 10 percent to 20  percent to encourage indigenous manufacture of such goods. On several agricultural and food products also the customs duty rates have been increased up to 30 to 35 percent. In addition, 10 percent surcharge on duty amount is proposed to mobilise resources. The buoyancy in direct tax revenue after demonetization has helped Finance Minister to have lesser dependence on increasing indirect tax rates for revenue.

Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director – India, Zone Startups.

The Budget 2018 can be called a visionary budget, which has an element of consistency and continuity of the last three budgets presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. It is clear that in terms of vision of making India a digital economy, there is a sharp focus on encouraging new age technologies like Blockchain, AI, ML and 3D printing. In the coming months, as a research team takes shape under the guidance of Niti Aayog, to develop applications, startups working in this segment will get a fillip. There may be an option of collaborating with the research team and explore joint avenues to use AI for serving citizens of this country. The Government plans to use the might of AI in many governement’s online initiatives related taxation and other citizen-centric services to fulfill the vision of ‘ease of living’, this is likely to have a huge positive impact on the overall business sentiment.

Entrepreneurship has too got a leg-up in this Budget from announcements like digital/online training programmes, fresh re-look at education programs to develop the human capital in the country at par with global economies.

Pratik Jain, Partner & Leader, Indirect Tax - PwC India

From an indirect tax standpoint, as expected, focus has been on customs duty.  There is a clear policy shift in increasing customs duty to incentivize domestic manufacturing on many items including cell phones, smart watches, perfumes, juices and so on.  Message is loud & clear 'manufacture in India if you want to access Indian market'.  Also there are some tangible steps proposed to reduce litigation by having pre consultation before issuance of notice and timelines for closure of cases.  GST law related proposals are expected in second half of the budget session.

Ritu Shaktawat, Associate Partner, Khaitan & Co

Long-term capital gain tax exemption for on-market share transfers to go, will be at par with off market transactions where gains exceed Rs 1 lakh, to be taxed at 10 percent without indexation, gains until 31 January, 2018 grandfathered and would continue to remain exempt. No tinkering with short-term capital gains tax rate of 15 percent for on-market transactions. Unlike last year when the finance minister said we are largely a tax non-compliant society, the year gone by has seen better tax compliance. The government’s measures to reduce cash in the economy and commitment towards having a non-adversarial tax regime, showing results.

Satyam Darmora, Co-founder, i2e1.

Budget 2018 demonstrated the government’s clear intent to boost several sectors in India. It’s encouraging to see that the Budget recognized the power of ‘internet access’ and is aiming to bridge the connectivity gap in India with the installation of 5 lakh WiFi hotspots in rural areas. The move bolsters the efforts of companies like ours, which have today created Wi-Fi solutions that are not only affordable but scalable too.

Sachin Menon, Partner & Head Indirect Tax, KPMG in India

Budget 2018 is on expected lines with major thrust on rural economy, agriculture, infrastructure, health, and education. With GST collection showing an upward trend in the last month and moderate increase in customs duty, I hope the government will be in a position to mop up the revenue to support such significant spend while controlling inflation. Budget 2018, being the last full-fledged budget of Modi government, resembles an election budget with host of measures aimed at improving the livelihood of large population.

Bipin Preet Singh, Co-founder, MobiKwik

A reformist budget for startups and digital India. The government’s impetus on digitizing the rural hinterlands, focus on smart cities and commitment to blockchain technology, will encourage the promotion of digital payments across the country, thereby making India truly digital. Further, disallowing cash payments beyond Rs 10,000 by trusts and institutions will boost digital payments. I commend the government’s decision to reduce corporate tax to 25 percent and improve the ease of doing business by providing a unique ID for every company on lines of Aadhaar. These initiatives will benefit startups and MSMEs immensely and lay a string foundation for a progressive India. However, the government should consider regulating crypto currencies than curbing their use entirely.

Lakshmi Iyer, CIO (Debt) & Head – Products, Kotak Mutual Fund

The Budget was largely well-rounded given the expectations that were built up around it. The fiscal deficit has not been allowed to run away materially, and the lower estimate for FY19 suggests that government intends to by and large stay on the path of consolidation. The government’s proposal to bring down the regulatory investment grade category band from AA rating level to A rating, will boost the bond market and provide depth and higher participation. From the mutual fund’s industry point of view, the introduction of Long Term Capital Gains tax and dividend distribution tax on dividend on equities funds could cause some volatility in the short term, though temporary. While the tax proposals have eroded off some gains on the edges, equities as an asset class remains one of the best performing investment categories.  We believe that the market would soon begin to factor in the larger developing macro-economic story and growth variables will come into play to determine future momentum.

Shardul S. Shroff, Executive Chairman and National Practice Head - Insolvency & Bankruptcy, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

The Finance Bill, 2018 provides relief on MAT and carry forward of loss for distressed companies under the IBC process. However, in order to facilitate the successful resolution of such companies under the IBC, a few more tax exemptions should have been provided including exemption on capital gains on sale of assets by ailing company, exemption to acquirer acquiring the shares of distressed companies at substantial discounted price, waiver of requirement to obtain NoC from tax department.

Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility

Clearly, this is a pro-people and a pro-poor Budget. For the first time, Universal Health Care has got the impetus it needs. I am quite happy with the government's plan to introduce 24 new medical colleges. That is the only way to address the glaring lack of talent in the industry. The 1.5 lakh centres which will provide free essential drugs and diagnosis is a welcome move and a step towards boosting the Government’s National Health Policy. By focusing on maternal & child health, the Govt aims to focus on resource prioritisation - which is the key to effectively utilizing the available budgets for primary health care. Focusing on critical elements of reproductive health care could  reduce large expenses incurred later in life.

Adhil Shetty, CEO and Co-founder BankBazaar

The mediclaim of Rs 5 lakh is a great amount and 50 crore individuals is a great target. This will create tremendous awareness for medical insurance in the same way as Jan Dhan which ensured every Indian to have a bank account. This will push for every Indian to have medical insurance. On life insurance the PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yogana including Rs 2 lakh Life cover is being pushed across a larger base which is a great sign. The Rs 2 lakh critical cover is also being extended to a larger base.

 

Hemal Uchat, Partner - M& A Tax, PwC India

​​This Budget put up a show demonstrating its commitment for growth and development of MSMEs. The action plan is to give credit support, capital and interest subsidies and give a sweetener to the segment by addressing NPAs and stressed accounts. The growth will be propelled by creating a right environment to raise finances through NBFCs, Venture Capital Funds and Angel Investors. Lastly, the softening of corporate tax rate to 25 percent (for Companies with turnover of 250 crore during FY 2016-17) will leave them with higher investible surplus to create more employment opportunities.

Dr Ramakanta Panda,Vice Chairman, Asian Heart Institute

Budget 2018 has laid much-needed emphasis to the healthcare sector with emphasis on the elderly and underprivileged. The biggest declaration by the finance ninister was the health protection scheme where 10 Cr poor families - for secondary and tertiary treatment - will get Rs 5 lakhs per family. This announcement will steer the move towards towards Universal Healthcare in India.  It is encouraging to note that the Government has allowed Senior Citizens to claims benefits of Rs 50,000 as part of medical insurance - earlier this was Rs 30,000.

Ranen Banerjee, Partner and Leader - Public Finance and Economics, PwC India

It is great to see the biggest focus on the farm sector. 1.5 times input costs as MSP would give a lot of assurance to farmers. Setting up Rural Agri Markets and keeping them out of APMC is a great move. The cluster model for horticulture produce is innovative. Crop loans for lessee cultivators would also enhance the cultivated area, boosting farm production. Refocusing PMGSY to connect habitations to agri markets will allow farmers to better realise prices.

Shailendra Kumar, CIO, Narnolia Securities Limited

Budget 2018 is a relief in the sense that it was the last regular budget ahead of next year general election and the fear was that it would be a populist budget loaded with lots of sops and other unproductive expenses. Though the narrative and the tone of the budget is populist and government is trying to win over constituencies that has suffered lately, but on an overall basis, the Budget has not gone overboard in terms of unproductive expenses. And there are some really good initiatives like health insurance and farm productivity measures.

Samant Sikka, Founder, Sqrrl

To me the most important move in the Budget as far as Personal Finance is concerned has been the move to bring in the dividend distribution tax of 10 percent  and long term capital gain of 10 percent in equities. India is one of the few markets in the world where the LTCG on equity investment was zero. This was obviously done to get Indian savers, one of the largest in the world to embrace investing in domestic equity markets.

Ravi B Goyal, Chairman & Managing Director, AGS Transact Technologies

With the government recognizing the immense potential of MSMEs and trying to nurture a financial ecosystem for them to grow, fintech companies will play a critical role in financing space for MSMEs. Online loan approvals for MSMEs will enable higher MSME financing and reduce the cash crunch faced by them. As anticipated, digitisation is the foremost agenda this year as well. With the allocation to Digital India scheme being doubled up to Rs 3073 crore, financial inclusion will receive the much needed impetus.

Vipin Sondhi, MD & CEO, JCB India

The Union Budget is a balanced one with a focus on the agri sector, rural development, healthcare and a continued thrust on infrastructure creation. All of these will provide significant impetus to the revival of growth and creation of employment. The Budget also addresses the opportunities to modernise and create new infrastructure in affordable housing, Railways, airports which continues the effort of the last few years.

Neha Bagaria, CEO & Founder, JobsForHer

With Budget 2018, startups are hopeful with the budget allocation to 'Digital India' being doubled to Rs 373 cr. This spurs the job market and I’m glad to see that the creation of job opportunities has been at the core of policy-making as nearly 70 lakh formal jobs have been created last year. I am glad to see the government encourage women entrepreneurship by increasing loans to self-help groups to 75,000 cr. I hoped to see government intervention in bridging the Gender Gap as India’s ranking in the November 2017 report of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index fell to a low of 108, which was down by 21 places as compared to the previous report. There is little doubt that the under-use of educated women in the workforce is increasing as per the WEF report. Almost 66 percent of our women fall under this “unpaid work” criteria. We need to see non-manual jobs for women increased by focusing on reskilling for women.

Manu Jolly, CEO & Founder, Digiperform.com 

Nearly 70 lakh formal jobs have been created this year. Through Digital India Initiative, the Govt has empowered the people of our country digitally and through Skill India, they have worked on their skill development.

Dibyanshu, Partner, Khaitan & Co

The Finance Minister has announced in the Budget that the Government of India will take necessary measures and encourage state governments to put in place a mechanism that the surplus solar power generated by farmers is purchased by the distribution companies or licencees at reasonably remunerative rates. The move is a welcome step in trying to encourage self-reliance and productivity of rural households and at the same time providing impetus to solar rooftop targets and achieve the renewable energy targets. It will be important to see how this scheme is operationalised by the government.

Shashank N.D., Founder and CEO, Practo

We welcome the government’s move to provide healthcare cover to 10 crore families as part of the National Health Protection Scheme. This is a big step forward and will help millions of people afford healthcare for themselves and their loved ones. Implementation of the scheme would be central to its success. I believe successful implementation will depend on optimal use of private healthcare providers and technology to make it seamless, convenient & transparent for the consumers. This is a great opportunity for the government to push for Digital Healthcare in a Digital India.

Dharmesh Arora, CEO, Schaeffler India

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has presented a balanced Budget. He has stayed on the growth momentum and allowed small widening of fiscal deficit in the short term to focus on continued growth agenda. There is a huge focus on infrastructure development towards road construction railways and air travel that bodes well for spurring economic activity in many sectors such as construction equipments, commercial vehicles in addition to the core sectors. The minimum support prices for the agriculture segment and higher budgetary allocation for the rural, agriculture and allied sectors should generate discretionary spending that is likely to spur consumption led demand and push rural economic growth.  Relaxation of corporate tax on smaller industries show positive intent in line with previous announcements of reduction of corporate taxes. This also means surplus cash available for capital expenditures and growth in those sectors.

Govind Shrikhande, Customer Care Associate & Managing Director, Shoppers Stop Ltd.

The 2018 Union Budget is anchored in the virtuous tenets of Agricultural and rural growth, healthcare and education. Focused initiatives for agricultural & rural growth such as MSP pegged at 1.5X, infrastructure investments through Rs 2,000 crore fund for upgrading rural agri markets, Operation Green, financial assistance to farmers etc. will boost agricultural growth and bolster the farm-to-market chain. The government’s ambitious National Health Protection Scheme of extending healthcare of Rs 5 lakh/year per family and covering 50 crore beneficiaries, is a huge step in unlocking our country’s demographic dividend.

Shreyas Chandrahasan, Co-Founder, Option3, a start-up which is in the Automation space

I feel the Budget is a mixed bag, it is good to see that the government focuses on AI and Machine learning, which are areas new age companies are in to these days. There are interesting update on MSME, Mudra and working capital improvement but we were expecting more on the ease of availing credit guarantee scheme. On the other hand, there was no mention of increasing tax holidays and tax rebates, especially for tech companies. There were no updates on angel tax as well. Trade receivables and GST integration was a grey area. We will have to wait and see how this will impact the cash flow.

Vibha Tripathi, Managing Director, Swajal Water

The Budget is primarily focused on health and benefits to villages which is a very necessary and positive move. There are some conundrums here which surprise me. Allocation of 10,000 cr for digital India Initiative while most of India lacks access to very primary things such as clean drinking water. It is also interesting to note that simultaneously Jio has announced its formal movement into IoT space. MSMEs in comparison has got only 3,794 crores for credit support while it is well recognized that MSME participates actively in Job and Income creation for the country. The budget overall is inclusive in nature and some thought has gone into consideration for all segments.

Brijesh Lohia, Managing Director of Global Ocean Group

With the government outlining infrastructure as one of the focus areas of budget 2018-19, augurs good for the logistics industry, as a well-connected country will give a boost to this industry and help take us to the next level of development. Infrastructure is the lifeline for logistics industry and the focus on rural infrastructure, roads, railways, development of highways, agriculture will help in the growth of logistics sector and attract more business. Connectivity is still a big issue in rural areas and it feels good to see that this has been addressed in this year’s Budget. The allocation of Rs 500 crore for the development of agri-infrastructure called Operation Green, will boost the logistics sector and facilitate development of cold chains and other hard infrastructure.

Nikunj Turakhia, President of Steel Users Federation of India (SUFI)

The 2018 was pro-farmer, pro-agriculture, pro-poor and pro-MSME. India being an agricultural based economy, this budget and the measures taken for the agriculture sector will really as confident booster for the farming sector.  On the other populist side, the National Health Protection Scheme is a major step in providing affordable health services for the poor & marginalised section.

The finance minister's promise to address the problems of NPA and stressed accounts in MSME sector is much appreciated. Moreover, expenditure worth 14.34 lakh cr in rural infrastructure will really boost the confidence in steel sector and kick-start the consumption cycle.  Besides, 25 percent income tax for companies with a turnover of up to 250 crore is a welcome move. The FM has kept the fiscal deficit at 3.3 percent which is commendable. However, much more needed to be done in the manufacturing segment which is the largest employment generator. Moreover, corporate income tax should have been looked into as promised in the previous budget. Other than that the expected custom duty on essential raw materials for the steel sector has not come down which is a major set-back for the steel mills.

Mitesh Prajapati, Director, Sameer Steel

The new Budget is an encouragement for the steel industry. The government has stressed on infrastructure development which will result in the growth of steel sector. Furthermore, keeping companies with a turnover below Rs. 250 crore in low corporate tax slab will boost steel business. The government has also emphasized on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ which will provide relief to traders. Besides, the empowerment of the Indian farmer will lead to increased sales of tractors and other agricultural equipment, which will, in turn, benefit the steel business. Education and health sector still require government’s attention in terms of adequate funding. This time it was expected that the govt. will cover standard education up to 12th standard under RTE act, but this has not been fulfilled. There is a need to not only focus on schooling for all but also focus on learning for all.

Anant Goel, CEO and Co-founder, Milkbasket

The government’s decision to reduce corporate tax to 25 percent from a flat 35 percent earlier is a boon for the startup ecosystem and will help many MSMEs in doing business more efficiently. The Budget’s focus on farmers’ welfare is appreciated and the end delivery segment will also benefit from this.

Amit Nigam, CEO, Bankit

The Budget gives a big push to Indian Fintech market which is poised to touch $2.4 billion by 2020 from the current $1.2 billion. The doubled allocation for Digital India programme of Rs.3073 crore in 2018-19 would also help fintech companies to reach out the untouched 40 percent population specially in rural India.

Charlie Lee, CEO, True Balance

The Budget overall is positive giving a further push to the Digital India initiative. The creation of 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in rural India will have a  direct impact on penetration and opens a potential to adopt new age digital means in day to day life. The additional support from the government to the fintech industry will help MSME’s access cheaper funds to lend to consumers and will make consumer onboarding easier. The government has adopted a forward thinking approach by focussing on blockchain to further develop the digital economy; something that will bring in more efficiency, transparency, accountability and accessibility in data flows.

Jose Thattil, Founder, Phi Commerce

In a mobile first country like India, data connectivity plays a critical role. To that extent the government’s decision to create 500,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in rural India is welcome.  People from rural India will be able to conduct cashless transactions using BHIM UPI, Aadhaar Pay and BharatQR. The Budget has identified 99 smart cities and provisioned an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore. Digital payments will play a key role in enabling a true smart city. It mentions exploring use of block chain technology for digital economy. Use of block chain in payments will help in making digital payments more secure, fast and inexpensive. It is encouraging in replacing of cash collections for toll payments with electronic payment systems.

Bhavik Vasa, Chief Growth Officer, EbixCash

Our key takeaways are renewed emphasis on ‘Access to Connectivity’ and Access to Capital’. Prime Minister Modi is laying a firm groundwork to improve key infrastructure that powers connectivity, medium enterprises, rural India and large scale adoption of digitization. MSME companies are the bed rock of all large economies and remain India’s biggest employment generator. Providing access to liquid capital will have an accelerated economic impact in consumption, higher spending and an economic uptick at the grass-roots levels.

Amitabh Chaturvedi, Managing Director, Essel Finance

As anticipated this is certainly a well balanced Budget keeping in mind the politics, election and solid long term economic growth. We did see a good emphasis on rural economy and could term this as an inclusive budget for the lower strata of society. At the same time, the development of the country as a whole continued to be the focus of the Financial Minister, with favourable announcements for the infrastructure and tourism industry. Reduction in corporate taxes is definitely a good initiative, given the impact GST has had on some sectors. I also support introduction of long term capital gain tax as this is one way to track and control tax evasion by many. Overall this is definitely a positive budget for the nation and the economy.

Rajiv Shastri, Executive Director & CEO, Essel Mutual Funds

The Budget addresses rural and farm distress in a targeted manner by pinpointing root causes and providing solutions to the problems faced. And it does so without breaking the bank by pragmatic use of its tax tools. The reintroduction of Long Term Capital Gains tax is a step towards restoring the Bharat - India balance. At the same time, grandfathering of gains till 31 January 2018 for the purposes of LTCG shows an unexpected level of sensitivity. The continuing focus on infrastructure is welcome, as is the increased allocation to asset creation.

Viral Berawala, Chief Investment Officer, Essel Mutual Fund

Overall, a popular but not populist Budget. The Budget has targeted a large section of population through government-funded healthcare, increase in agri incomes and tax relief and funding (MUDRA) for SME and MSME.

Brijesh Parnami, Executive Director & CEO, Essel Wealth Zone

A well-balanced and so called populist Budget keeping in mind the medium-to-long-term economic growth of the country. Agricultural and rural section of country as logically envisaged got the maximum focus as it is a priority area for the government. Covering 50 crore lives under national health program is an iconic step and it’s the biggest in the world, done by any government. Lower tax rate for MSMEs would strengthen the sector further and would boost job creation opportunities. Continued focus on infrastructure, digital initiatives and education sectors shows the long-term approach of the government. While the implementation of some of financial tools like GST have been successful, the complete impact on GDP and controls can only be measured over a period of 1-2 years. The government has to provide alternate channels so that common people and entrepreneurs don't suffer. The revenue tools need to be better defined and not mixed with funding for MSMEs/SMEs/Start-ups.


Updated Date: Feb 13, 2018 09:56 AM

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