Union Budget 2019-20: Startups want angel tax to be abolished, corporate tax to be reduced, make capital more accessible

Startups hope the government will continue to drive the growth agenda for new businesses, taking further steps to ease the regulatory burden

FP Staff July 01, 2019 15:28:25 IST
Union Budget 2019-20: Startups want angel tax to be abolished, corporate tax to be reduced, make capital more accessible
  • In the Narendra Modi government 2.0's first Union Budget, startups have a slew of expectations

  • Startups hope the government will continue to drive the growth agenda for new businesses, taking further steps to ease the regulatory burden

  • The new government should accelerate the momentum on tech innovation, and focus on training and skilling initiatives for entrepreneurs

In the Narendra Modi government 2.0's first Union Budget, startups have a slew of expectations. They hope the government will continue to drive the growth agenda for new businesses, taking further steps to ease the regulatory burden and make capital more accessible to them. Startups said the new government should accelerate the momentum on tech innovation, and focus on training and skilling initiatives for entrepreneurs—all of which will cement India's position as a hotbed for startups.

Vinamra Pandiya Founder & CEO, Qtrove.com, a curated marketplace

With the Union Budget around the corner, I expect a few changes in the current policies. The government should announce policies that would help the startup ecosystem and give a boost to the startup community. In the coming future, because of the advancement in technology, we will see a lot of innovation from the startup community rather than big and established companies. Angel tax was done away to help the startup community. I hope that the government will focus on startups and continue to help them grown as they have in the last couple of years. Section 56 needs to be removed completely so that the startup ecosystem thrives in this country. The government had promised that angel tax would be exempted for companies who have just started, but our startup friends are still receiving notices on the tax to be paid on the funds that were raised.

I feel that the implementation of Press Note 2 will help the MSMEs and startups to thrive in this environment without violating the FDI norms. Waiver of such taxes will only help the startup culture and entrepreneurial culture in this country. With the coming of Press Note 2, even small vendors are given an equal opportunity to sell their products on e-commerce platforms even though they do not have access to proper infrastructure or can’t afford the advertising and marketing costs. It will be interesting to see how these new regulations play out in the long run as the most well-known e-commerce entities have some FDI. Initiatives like Startup India by the Modi government have been a breath of fresh air as it has eased a lot of processes for setting up one's own business. In the past few years, India has become a hotbed for startups and the government shouldn’t announce policies that would be a roadblock for the growth of MSMEs and startups.

Saroja Yeramilli, CEO and Founder, Melorra, online jewellery brand

The government had taken some good measures in the interim Budget earlier. It is really encouraging to see them emphasising on mutual progress and prosperity across all sections of society. We believe that there is a need to make ESOP taxation available in the hands of the employee at the time of sale, as opposed to during the time of exercising rights. To bolster startups and their financial planning, it is important to make a special accounting software / ERP available to those with a turnover of less than Rs 100 crore, free of cost. There must also be capitalisation of all marketing and brand-related expenses in the initial five years of business. We also hope the government will consider contributing towards the employer PF portion without any restrictions on turnover and headcount for the initial five years.

Sudeep Singh, CEO & Chief Evangelist, GoWork

The factor that tops my wish list with respect to the upcoming Union Budget is to see a reduction in the corporate tax rate to around 20-25 percent from the current 30 percent. This will catalyse profitability for organisations across sectors. I also hope this is an investor-friendly budget that enables businesses at critical stages of growth overcome obstacles relating to funding. Making investment policies more liberal will attract more domestic and international investors for companies across scales and industries. While countries like the UK offer tax relief to angel investors for investing in startups via schemes like EIS, India seems to be taxing this investment, which is dipping the growth chart of MSMEs at the preliminary stages, and in a sense also curbing their global ambitions.

Tanuj Choudhry, Chief Business Officer, HomeLane.com, interior designers and decorators

With MSMEs (funded and bootstrapped) increasingly becoming a formal part of the mainstream economy, the hopes and aspirations from the first Budget of Modi government 2.0 are high. Two big expectations are angel tax (which didn't find a mention in the February 2019 interim Budget), should be abolished. Free flow of capital to help start new ventures is important, and risk capital needs to be better valued; ESOP - early/growth stage ventures need to continue attracting top talent if we are to see the next 100-200 global leaders emerging from India. As a first step, it's critical that we move to taxing ESOPs when the actual sale happens.

Samarth Masson and Sanjeev Grover, co-founder, Dockabl, an employee experience platform

The government has taken significant steps to boost the ease of doing business in India, yet there are many issues that remain unaddressed. With this Budget, we expect the government to relook at taxes like angel tax, which are limiting investment prospects of startups. Providing rebates and incentives can encourage investors and private incubators to invest in startups. While the government set compliance regulations across several sectors, it did so without any provision to educate the entrepreneurs. To combat this, the government should put in place training hubs for entrepreneurs so that the startups can single-mindedly focus on innovation, thereby becoming more productive. Now that the government is re-elected, we expect it to work on these gaps and drive India on its way to becoming the fastest growing economy.

Mithun Srivatsa, Co-Founder and CEO, Blowhorn, an intra-city logistics provider

E-vehicles can be a real driver of Make in India jobs as they are enabling a whole new breed of entrepreneurs take over the mantle of mobility. We do not see this fully replacing the IC engine ecosystem, but augmenting the current mobility channels, taking advantage of growth. This is a sunrise industry and government sops under FAME will drive the adoption and manufacturing prowess. We also need home-grown support for battery startups to ensure that we have full control on verticals of the supply chain. Considering our dependency on oil, the US becoming completely inward with shale powering all of its consumption and supply tremors; going 'long' on e-vehicles is a good strategic-geopolitical bet and government should accelerate JVs of eVehicle makers and homegrown manufacturing. We need to be proactive rather than reactive and this can truly create a whole new swathe of manufacturing jobs.

Vinay Agrrawal, Founder & CEO, Hubbler

For a Make in India vs Register in India, we founders have a huge expectation from the upcoming Budget to make India the preferred hub, especially for the startup sector. Tax woes like angel tax continue to haunt Indian entrepreneurs and investors. Several Indian startups, although operating in India, have registered their companies in Singapore to benefit from the mature funding opportunities, ease of doing business, and lower capital gain tax from the selling of shares by investors. We expect the government to continue the policy of reducing corporate taxes, and stable economic policies (lowering the compliances required to be met by startups, reduced or zero rates of TDS, encouraging VCs by requiring less stringent paperwork). Indian startups are literally going places today and the overpowering regulations can dampen the spirits and the pride of Make in India and registered in India.

Aditi Balbir, Founder and CEO, V Resorts, a hospitality startup

Tourism plays a vital role in the growth of the economy of our nation contributing to a large proportion of GDP, leading to job creation. Considering the increased inbound travel, it has become one of the fastest growing service industries in the country with great potentials for its further expansion. Although last year’s Union Budget was a setback to India’s promising Hospitality and Tourism industry, this year we are expecting more attention on this sector, favorable policies, fund allotments for startups and better tax reforms. The most crucial concerns right now are water crisis, endless traffic jams, pollution control, waste management, etc. Therefore, we also look forward to amending some policies and initiative around the same for green and sustainable tourism. The government should be approachable and willing to listen, even to the smallest of start-ups and initiatives towards bridging our requirements with them. In addition, there is a need to have advanced infrastructure to further the growth of tourism in India".

Shashwat Diesh and Aqib Mohammed, Co-Founders, Azah, an organic wellness startup for women

Health, hygiene, and sanitation are some of the major concerns in India. The Government should recognise menstrual hygiene products as a necessity for the betterment of society and realise its significance in socio-economic growth. Although sanitary products are tax-free in India, the cost of running a business has gone up for businesses that primarily sell only tax-free products. We hope the government makes changes in the current GST policy for businesses selling tax-free products and help balance the input-output tax to ensure more competitive prices for Indian consumers.

Union Budget 201920 Startups want angel tax to be abolished corporate tax to be reduced make capital more accessible

Representation image, Start-up.

Vinay Singhal, Co-Founder and CEO,WittyFeed, New Age media platform in India

Angel tax has emerged as one of the key issues faced by the Indian startup ecosystem. A lot more regarding the same needs to be addressed by the government to boost angel investments in the country. In the upcoming Union Budget, we expect to witness a clear vision around how technology, especially AI, and startups will be dealt with in unison. The startup ecosystem is expecting the government to provide for simpler regulations surrounding the tax levied upon Employee Stock Options (ESOPs). The same goes for StartUp India, the government of India’s flagship initiative wherein policies abound but the realisation on the ground differs the expectation. It will help if the intent on paper is transformative enough to change the landscape of startups in India for real. Accelerating innovation-driven entrepreneurship and business creation through startup ecosystem is crucial for large-scale employment generation, so says the government.

Mayank Bidawatka and Aprameya Radhakrishna, Co-founder at Vokal, a vernacular question and answer knowledge sharing platform,

The amount collected from income tax is very low in India. A very small percentage of the population pays this tax and most non-salaried people find smart ways to avoid paying this tax. Of the salaried, majority of the people paying tax are in the lower rung. As a result, the have-nots get axed. Instead, if we could increase the lowest tax bracket from 2.5 lakhs to 6 lakhs, that could help increase disposable income for the majority. Taxes could shift more towards consumption rather than on earnings. Even abandoning income tax for people and increasing it on luxury consumption could have a huge effect in giving a fillip to the economy. Angel tax caused a lot of heartburn in the ecosystem. While the tax was abolished, we should be careful of any policy that hurts the startup ecosystem.

Rahul Garg, Founder, Moglix, e-commerce firm

The present government has clearly communicated their vision for the Indian manufacturing industry by driving initiatives like “Make in India” and “Digital India. In order to promote the start-up ecosystem, the government should continue to allocate budget to promote innovation in the country. The focus should continue on framing policies around innovation and incentivising technology, which is future-forward and addresses the aspect of driving sustainability.

Priya Krishnan, CEO and founder of Klay Schools,  preparatory schools and daycare centres

Education services are exempt from GST and the status quo should definitely be maintained. However, the input costs like rentals for real estate, for the education sector continue to be taxed at their respective slabs, making education unduly expensive. Hope the sector gets GST rebate or drawback to make its services affordable. On the other hand, the Maternity Amendment Bill was a step in the right direction, putting India in the top three positions for maternity benefits. It, however, may unintentionally become a deterrent for corporates to hire more women unless the incremental cost of 6-month maternity benefit is compensated with additional tax benefits or some form of subsidy.

Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India and SAARC

We believe that the re-election of NDA government will ensure the continuity of its Vision 2030 and continue the momentum on infrastructural development of highways, ports, transportation and rural connectivity. We expect more investment in geospatial and defence sectors, envisioning India to become the launch pad for satellites as part of Vision 2030. We look forward to seeing the government fortify investments in the defence and border security for protecting our soldiers. Furthermore, with its flagship initiatives of Smart City and Digital India, the focus on internet penetration in rural areas would help democratise AI for citizens. Priority should be laid on delivering these to augur the economy by providing a growth impetus that lays down a vision for the next 10 years.

Saurabh Saxena, Country Director, Micro Focus India

The government should ensure data privacy of citizens so that they are truly empowered to use IT infrastructure and e-governance services. We look forward to collaborating with the government to help our nation in their digital transformation journey. As such, we hope to have policies around Information Technology that would provide the industry with certainty and enable them to invest in a long-term strategy. Moreover, we hope to have tax-friendly policies that would contribute significantly to the country’s GDP, and owing to the huge workforce and India’s potential, we are confident that the government will come up with innovative reforms.

D A Prasanna, Founding Chancellor, NIE University Mysore

Private universities must have access to central research grants, as much as government universities. Internships in professional education have been made compulsory by the University Grants Commission (UGC). Companies have started charging colleges to take interns. Interns should get paid Rs 10-20K/month so that companies use the intern properly.To encourage women taking up teaching and research profession, the government should encourage Child Care (pre-school or playschool or crèche), where the mother can safely leave the child and get back to her teaching and research career.

Nishant Pitti, Co-Founder & CEO, EaseMyTrip

Travel and tourism industry in India accounts for more than 9 percent of the GDP of India and creates great opportunities for employment and foreign-exchange. So, I believe that the government will definitely focus on this sector in Union Budget of 2019. There should be fund allotment for the infrastructural developments, be it the airports and railway stations, tourist places or other facilities. In fact, major initiatives should also be taken to promote our heritage destinations on global level. There must be no delay in refund of GST since the postponement in the refund blocks the working capital and creates stress for the industry. From this Budget as well, I am expecting the continuation of tax immunity for start-ups and small enterprises. This will help them to grow more.

Deepak Gupta, CTO & Co-founder, LoginRadius, customer identity

From this year’s Budget, we anticipate a strong push to ‘Cyber Safe India’ initiative, especially when it comes to privacy and consent management. With the increasing digital transformation, its necessary to have a process that oversees how companies save citizen data. The focus of such a framework should be cyber security and cyber frauds so as to ensure that organisations prioritise data protection. The impetus will help position India as a global hub for providing cyber security solutions; putting more emphasis on data privacy and security of Indian identities. The Indian citizen data should ideally reside in India. The government has certainly put India on a digital innovation fast track, A collaborative framework for the public and the private sector will help create 100 percent digitally-enabled services ensuring secure and seamless citizen interactions across service managed by new technologies such as IoT, AI, and analytics.

Tabby Bhatia, Director Voganow.com, online store that specializes in leather jackets, footwear, accessories and bags

As finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is geared to present her maiden Budget on 5 July 2019, we founders have a huge expectation from Modi 2.0 government. We expect the government to make India a preferred hub especially for startups as the government promised to establish around 50,000 new startups by 2024 and also to bring better policies for us to strengthen our business. Tax woes like Angel Tax continue to haunt us (Indian entrepreneurs and investors) so our main wishlist for government to remove it from the Budget. However, the startup ecosystem is only expecting the government to provide for simpler regulations surrounding the tax charges (corporate taxes, and stable economic policies).

Rajesh Loomba, Managing Director, Eco Rent A Car, luxury car rental company

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. High taxation on tourism combined with road taxes for tourist entries which is additional by every state is a penny-wise pound-unreasonable approach. GST needs to be revised for various sectors especially the hospitality sector where it's currently very high especially for self-drive car rental services. I hope the government will give its due importance to the Tourism and Passenger transport business and relax the taxation in the coming financial year. There are no incentives on new investment whereas tourism and tourist transportation creates the most employment per rupee of investment.

Gautam Raj Anand, Founder and CEO, Hubhopper, podcasting and AOD platform

With the podcasting industry gearing up for a transformational year with the convergence of media, technology and telecom industries coupled with the government’s vision to further accelerate the Digital India program, most experts expect Budget 2019 to streamline this transition more positively. This industry is also expected to grow in conjunction with an increase in smartphone user base provided Finance Minister Nirmala Seetharaman continues with her pinpointed focus on digitisation. The Budget is also set to help the innovators in this industry as the government looks towards scaling up digitisation across all industries that touch a common person’s life and concerns their needs. We are also hopeful that this will prioritise the growth in the domestic purchasing parity of consumers and build their confidence towards discretionary purchases towards content. This will also boost ad revenues, and the introduction of premium subscription models, as exists in a lot of players for the VOD and AOD space.

Siddharth Jain, Founder, Brewhouse Ice Teas

We, as low-sugar beverage manufacturers, hope that the government will introduce some form of a sugar tax to curb consumption of high sugar beverages. This has been done in many countries across the world in recent years with positive outcomes. The past approaches formulated by the government have been productive, and we expect that the new strategies will guarantee further development in tea cultivation, tea export and tea consumption in the nation. This will, thus, help tea startups like us to contribute emphatically to the country's economy.

Mayank Bhangadia, CEO & Co-Founder, ROPOSO, a social entertainment platform

There's limited penetration of investors in regions and cities where startups thrive in India. There is a very small pool of local investors in the country. We mostly have foreign investors, and the most active among them are Chinese. We need to create a better investor ecosystem in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure as the chief minister did wonders for Gujarat because of his ability to attract investors in the state. He should do something similar for the startup space in India as a whole, while encouraging and boosting investments from different geographies like Europe, U.S.A, and Russia, among others. The goal should be to build an 'Indian Google' or 'Indian Facebook' in the next 10 years. The budget should possibly reflect the same.

Mayur Toshniwal, MD, Future Supply Chain, third-party supply chain and logistics service provider

The logistics and warehousing sector in India is at an inflection point, with demand outstripping supply. To keep the growth momentum on, we expect the government to make crucial announcements relating to integrated transportation hubs, multi-modal logistics parks, opening the national logistics portal and simplifying labour laws across the country that will help the sector immensely. Simplification of GST with regards to logistics industry is the need of the hour which will provide the necessary thrust on ease of doing business. The Budget should also focus on including regulations that will drive the organisations to digitise key logistics and supply chain processes. We expect increased outlay and speed of action on already announced infrastructure projects such as Sagarmala, Bharatmala and dedicated freight corridors, which will have boost efficiencies for the sector.

Vipul Jain, CEO, Advance Cells, a startup that manufactures stem cells

We are eagerly waiting for the first Budget of the Modi 2.0 government. Over the last couple of years of the last administration, the government had shown some serious commitment towards healthcare with Ayushman Bharat and such schemes. We are hoping the new government will take these agenda’s forward and there will be a push on new innovations in the healthcare sector under Make in India and Startup India programs.

Dhruvan Barar, Co-founder, Boingg!,
crafted furniture range for kids

This Budget will be a marker of the government's assessment and vision for the economy. Union Budget 2019-2020's allocation will determine whether e-commerce and tech startup will work in sync with the government's policy and Digital India initiative. We believe that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget will incorporate and allocate resources for various initiatives announced in the Interim Budget presented earlier this year. The abolishment of angel tax is one step towards it. We expect the Budget to go easy on credit loan processes and further provide a rebate in loan interest.

Arun Nagpal, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Mrida Group, focus on rural development

We expect sustained focus on entrepreneurship through Startup India and other sources, facilitation of easy availability of credit facilities through the banking system, availability of growth capital through angel/PE/VC investment, and specifically from a social entrepreneurship perspective an ongoing thrust on skill development, women’s empowerment, and a holistic approach to addressing the issues of farm distress and enhancement of farmer income.

Anmol Kukreja, Co-Founder & CEO, Skillbox, an art social network for artists, art-related businesses and art enthusiasts

After the resounding mandate given to the Modi government in the 2019 election, we expect the government to unleash a series of economic reforms to turn India into an economic powerhouse. Startups will play a vital in this transformation by fostering innovation and generating employment. Therefore, we expect the government to maintain the momentum of the Startup India program by streamlining taxes and making GST and TDS filing on a quarterly basis for startups, who are currently reeling under the pressure of working capital crunch due to the monthly filing. It should also ease FDI and RBI rules and make the regulatory environment easier for startups who are raising funding overseas. Filings and compliances are quite cumbersome and we expect the government to make the process frictionless through an entirely online process. We believe going ‘cashless’ is the way to go to improve transparency in the country’s economy and reforms around that would be welcome. The government should draft a new law to penalise parties who do not honor payments within 60 days of invoice raising. This will go a long way in improving trust between parties and make the country business-friendly.

Kishan Jain, Director, Goldmedal Electricals

We are hopeful that the government would continue the good work it began carrying out in its first term with regards to GST, Make in India, and the host of initiatives it has undertaken in the power / FMEG sector. In the upcoming Budget, we also expect that the Government continues its keen focus on improving India’s infrastructure as this coupled with ease of doing business would ensure India becomes a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025 as envisioned by the Prime Minister. Additionally, I am confident that the Government will continue to promote manufacturing in India through its ‘Make in India’ initiative as this would not only provide a boost to Indian companies but also aid in creating more employment opportunities.

Jitendra Chaturvedi, Director & Co-Founder, Batooni Mobile Advertising

The economy has seen the tightening of regulations in the past few years. Now the time has come to unleash the animal spirits of entrepreneurs and let a million businesses flourish. We need a jungle of new businesses and ideas that generate employment for a large number of semi-skilled people, and not curated gardens that favor a few. I hope this Bbudget reduces the compliance burden so that businesses may focus more on growth.

Rashi Gupta, Chief Data Scientist & Co-founder, Rezo.AI, an AI-driven platform

Startups contribute substantiate growth to the economy. Hence, we urge the government to make early stage and growth capital more easily accessible for startups. Also, relaxation in the regulatory compliance procedures and development of incubation centres to aid employment generation and spur growth will open dynamics for startups to propel. Since one of the major challenge faced by startups is on regulatory and compliance front, therefore, regulations should be made more friendly for startup companies and compliance regulation should ease.

Neel Juriasingani, CEO & Co-founder, Datacultr, IoT startup

We believe that the funds allocated for the startups in the Budget should be easily accessible to the startups incubated by the central or the state government.Besides, we expect that with the new Budget, the government will introduce easy early stage funding and grants for tech start-ups working in the space of digital and financial inclusion. The government should also make sure that startups have a level playing field with other companies, more particularly listed companies where they can participate and win tenders for central and state government projects. Another key area that the GoI needs to address is GST compliance. We also expect the government to reduce tax rates creating a more welcoming ecosystem for the industry players. Policy regulations like these will allow entrepreneurs to devote their time, energy and resources to gain success and build upon more innovative ideas.

Prasad Shejale, Co-founder & CEO, Logicserve Digital, a digital marketing agency

Last year’s Budget and the interim Budget has focused on strengthening the digital ecosystem across India and that’s surely a positive step towards the growth of the nation. Double allocation for the ‘Digital India’ programme and the support for the extension of rural wifi hotspots will play a significant role in bridging the urban-rural divide. I really expect the government to continue the support for these initiatives that can help the digital ecosystem to flourish and eventually make our country a stronger economy in the long run. With regards to the education sector, the government should look at increasing the allocation for programs like ‘Swayam’. Virtual Labs and Virtual Reality classrooms should be prioritized as well, since they can enable greater interaction between students and teachers across the country. I also look forward to seeing an enhanced allocation of funds for internet access via public wifi networks as that can further assist the popularity and growth of the digital ecosystem and provide easier ways of spreading information to the masses. When it comes to the healthcare industry, there should be focus on allocating funds for digitally connecting the far-flung areas with urban medical facilities. It can enable remote diagnosis and intervention and can transform the healthcare system.

Kartik Agarwal, CEO, Staunch, an omni-channel distribution player.
"In last 5 years government has launched more than 150 schemes and policies for the startup community interest. Further pushing the Indian youth to look at start-ups as a viable career option, we hope that resources, funds and capitals provided by the government will be easy to access. We have a huge expectations ranging from Clarity on angel tax to tax exemptions on ESOPS, easing active compliance norms and state level funding & infrastructure support."

Malini Agarwal, Founder and Creative Director, MissMalini Entertainment

I am hopeful that this year’s Budget will recognise the importance of empowering women as an engine of growth for the Indian economy and society at large. Women are still woefully underrepresented in India’s corporate boardrooms and our startup scene. Progressive policies that support better skilling and leadership training for women, encourage more diversity in the workplace, provide easier access to capital and facilitate increased women’s participation in our formal economy are much needed. From targeted tax benefits to a reinvigorated National Creche Scheme and a greater focus on enforcing safety in workplaces and housing for women, the 2019 Budget can send a strong signal that our government is serious about correcting the current imbalance.

Yogesh Bhatia, CEO, PreLoved Device, an e-commerce platform for refurbished devices
India has provided a nurturing ground to numerous startups in the past few years. The country has produced a great number of startups that are leading at a global stage. Having just started up, we urge the government for an easy regulatory system, policies, and norms for the startups so that we can run our business without any administrative obstacles".

Devendra Parulekar, Co-Founder, SaffronStays, a homestay network

We hope to see Budget 2019 focusing on rationalizing the GST rates for the domestic travel industry, as the top end customer segments are choosing to holiday abroad, with the current GST bracket ultimately impacting the domestic travel economy. This, in turn, creates a ripple effect on the employment rates. The hospitality industry is a big contributor when it comes to providing employment and it needs to be actively encouraged. One of the ways of doing so is ensuring that domestic travel becomes an affordable option for the Indian traveler. Also, the focus needs to be on National Skill Development Corporation to train our youth in hospitality operations, housekeeping, front office, cooking and other skills related to the industry, as it creates a ready pool of employable resources for the industry. Another important aspect that takes away from the domestic travel industry's growth is the lack of adequate infrastructure. The focus should be on developing amenities like building good quality roads, constructing public restrooms on highways and petrol stations that makes road trip safe and women-friendly. Just taking a few mindful steps can go a long way in nudging the domestic travel industry upward on the growth trajectory.

Lastly, I want Budget to encourage more eco-friendly and sustainable solutions to reduce energy consumption as it can contribute positively towards boosting the economy. Even simple steps such as investing in solar panels and building further awareness on using alternative energy sources of power generation can go a long way in making our country more sustainability-focused while still pushing for economic growth. We can't have a singular lens towards growth anymore; the onus lies with the government as much as it does with the population of the country to imbibe an empathetic lens and work towards building economies that are flourishing that don't cost us the environment we want to flourish within.

Rajan Sharma, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Excess2Sell.com, excess inventory marketplace

Although e-commerce in India is still in its growth stage and the market will evolve in its own unique way, the same holds true for the regulatory requirements as well. As one of India’s leading e-commerce companies in the B2B domain, we hope that the Union Budget will address issues specific to e-tailing. Presently heavy online discounting, predatory pricing, preferential treatment to select sellers or monopolizing of the market is rampant and unchecked. This is creating an imbalance across the whole partner and fulfillment ecosystem affecting both online and offline B2B businesses. Since we serve both sides of the B2B space, we understand there is an urgent need to address the aforementioned concerns. As a platform that is neutral to both sellers and buyers, we feel confident and hope that the Government will make changes in the policy framework to help e-commerce grow organically based on positive, genuine parameters and not on a discount-driven model which eventually will hurt the overall ecosystem.

Gauri Singhal, Founder and CEO, Visionaari, parent company of FLOH tampons

This year’s Budget is expected to boost the number of smartphone users and e-commerce firms. With more women in tier 3 and tier 4 towns opting for shopping online and high amount of rural spending, lies a huge scope for FMCG and menstrual hygiene brands in small towns. Additionally, a few legislations on this phenomenon can help with providing access to products which are a necessity for women. Small towns like Patna, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Ambala are likely to witness the transformation of kirana shops into online stores.

Akhil Gupta, Founder & MD, Fresca Juices

We are quite optimistic that the re-elected government will include necessary reformations in the upcoming Union Budget to enable the Indian food processing sector to prosper. As such, we are seeking regulatory support in the form of subsidies and relief from GST. Currently, 12 percent of GST is charged on Fresca’s products. We hope that the government will take this into account and do not let juices fall under luxury items and, accordingly, bring the tax down to 5 percent at least. Further, the alleviation of regulatory friction on the production front will also be welcomed. A smoother indigenous production landscape will automatically translate to the non-requirement of packaged fruit juices to be imported into the country. Well-planned governmental initiatives will not only help the industry but also prove beneficial to farmers who suffer losses on account of wasted or unused crops.

The food processing industry has a lot to offer to the country on both the culinary, social, and economic level. Thus, suitable efforts must be taken by the Government to nurture this sector. This will definitely result in profitable yields while promoting innovations at the same time. Through the forthcoming Union Budget, we hope that we will be able to make that happen.

Sadiq Sait, Founder and CEO, uLektz Learning Solutions

The government had rolled out Startup India in 2016 and the focus since then has been to build a robust startup ecosystem in the country. We appeal the government to relax the angel tax norms and allow the startups to scale their businesses in India. Banks need to be sensitised about the potential of startups which the government can help in laying a path and pave way for funds from the financial institutions. The best practices need to be made available for the entrepreneurs in the country which can be extended to skilling the people in the industry and encourage the growth of start-ups in different sectors in the country. Existing startup regulations need to be looked at and provide a growth potential coupled with robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and drive the emerging businesses in the country.

Saania Singh, Co–Founder, Zero Gravity Aesthetics

Though there is always a demand for immediate finance within the business ecosystem, a lot of banks are ill-equipped in terms of supply. In the upcoming budget, we expect the government to make working capital available at a lower rate of interest, especially for start-ups. To level the start-up ecosystem, the government needs to widen its attention beyond the IT industry start-ups and take a more holistic approach. It should also work on start-up funding policies for women entrepreneurs and ensure efficient implementation of these policies.

Satya Vyas, CEO and Co-Founder, Tornado, B2B general contractor

GST Returns: The government should consider allowing centralized GST return for suppliers providing contract services in various states and thereby reducing the compliance burden.

Tax Benefits to home buyers and investors: While the budget in February did try to woo back investors and buyers by offering some sops, there need to be more direct benefits by way of reduction in income tax slabs, higher relief on housing loan rates, and an increase in the deduction limit under Section 80C from the current INR 1.5 lakh a year. The fact that the deduction limit under Section 80C was last increased in 2014 after a hiatus of a decade strongly indicates that the government could consider revising it now. Though it will eventually be an added burden on the exchequer, it will help bring back buyers and revive the sector.

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Congress accuses Nirmala Sitharaman of 'befooling' people, says people need relief instead of 'jugglery of figures'

The opposition party demanded that the finance minister show courage and roll back excise on petrol and diesel to the level it was under the UPA in May 2014

Fuel price cut to gas cylinder subsidy: Five key announcements made by Nirmala Sitharaman

Fuel price cut to gas cylinder subsidy: Five key announcements made by Nirmala Sitharaman

The government also announced a fertiliser subsidy of Rs 1.10 crore and a customs duty cut on raw materials for plastic products