The Bengal Chamber
We feel that the Interim Budget of 2019-20 is a forward-looking budget in an election year. There’s emphasis on raising farmers’ income. It also laid stress on the pension programme for the organised sector, increasing gratuity and ESI limit, providing tax benefit to women entrepreneurs and the biggest ever outlay to the defence sector. The real estate sector is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the reliefs provided in this budget. However, it does not specify the avenues for resource building.
Bharat Chamber of Commerce
Sitaram Sharma, President, Bharat Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata, stated that the Interim Budget has treaded the expected path of a populist election year budget promising pro-poor, pro-farmer and pro-middle class policies without any direct proposal to expand industrial, manufacturing and economic activities. The large emphasis on infrastructure development, both social and physical, may boost the growth of some core industries.
There is no change in income tax slabs for individuals and the benefit of exemption would be available by way of rebate only if the taxable income does not exceed Rs. 5 lakhs. The absence of any rebate in corporate tax does not provide any kind of hope for industries as no relevant measure has been proposed in favour of industrial development. Section 54 exemptions on capital gains for investment in two houses once in a lifetime is a special takeaway from this budget. Interest subvention of 2% on loans up to ` 1 crore will provide modest relief to the MSMEs as the budget remained silent on stating any means for enhancing capital formation.
Merchant Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Vishal Jhajharia, President, Merchant Chamber of Commerce and Industries, informed that the budget provides big relief to the farmers and the middle class. It aims for an exclusive self-sustained India by the year 2030.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
Sandip Somany, President, FICCI, said that it is a progressive budget that addresses both the current challenges being faced by the economy as well as presents an outline of the vision the government has for the future of India. The FICCI looks forward to the deployment of technology in the next two years in the income tax department to make assessment more friendly, physical-interface-free and jurisdiction-free. It would also like to highlight that there has only been a mild variation in the fiscal deficit target. The extra allocation of resources is for causes that are of national importance. It would work alongside the government to realise this national mission and support it in all its endeavours such as Ayushman Bharat, Make in India, Digital India, Clean India and Green India.
Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry
R. Ganapathi, President, SICCI (Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry) stated that the interim budget presented is transformational and growth oriented. Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the announcement of 2% interest subvention on loan of one crore for GST registered MSME, units. Another welcome measure is the introduction of the pension scheme for the unorganised sector. The budget has also outlined ten most important directions including ease of living, digital India, pollution, rural industrialisation, clean rivers, healthy India and Team India with a vision ‘Minimum Government Maximum Governance.’ SICCI is confident that the announcement and the vision will trigger the economic growth.
Hemant Kanoria, Chairman and Managing Director,
Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited
While laying out a grand Vision 2030 for building a modern, empowered and self-sufficient India and highlighting the government’s achievements during the last five years, stand-in Finance Minister Piyush Goyal has done a commendable job in presenting an Interim Budget which will bring a smile to the agricultural sector, the unorganised sector and the middle class. Apart from increased outlays for building rural roads and rural housing, this budget sets out a roadmap for bolstering the rural infrastructure that will encourage entrepreneurship in areas of allied activities like animal husbandry and fisheries, activities which have been entitled to interest subvention of 2-5%. In addition, the structured income support programme conceptualised in the form of Pradhan Mantri Kisaan Samman Nidhi aimed at farmers owning up to two hectares of land will benefit 12 crore farmer families. Farmers have also been provided relief in terms of interest subvention for loans in case of crop failures due to natural calamities.
The vision of creating one lakh digital villages over the next five years is something that I found really interesting. This idea of bridging the rural-urban digital divide is something that resonates well with our very own Sahaj initiative which has created some 75,000 digitally-empowered rural entrepreneurs in the remotest villages of some 23 states in India. So, I look forward to the details of this Digital Village initiative. The extension of the National Pension Scheme to the unorganised sector is a big step forward and will address the needs of some 42 crore workers after their retirement. Most noteworthy is the exemption of income tax on annual income of up to Rs. 5 lakh. This, coupled with the increase of standard deduction from Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000 per annum, the increase in exemption limit on house rent for TDS calculation and increased exemption on interest earnings will provide some relief to the salaried class which is welcomed.
I was expecting some measures to be announced towards easing the access of funds for the infrastructure sector, especially on how to channelize long-term funds from the insurance and pension funds into the infrastructure sector. The Interim Budget could not address that part. I hope that aspect would get adequately covered in the actual Union Budget 2019-20 that would be placed after the General Elections.
Mohit Goel — CEO, Omaxe Ltd.
The budget has addressed the needs of the common man by extending fiscal benefits for housing. As the demand for affordable housing is increasingly becoming one of the fastest growing campaigns in the country, this budget has proved to be a step in that direction. Further, the announcement of tax reduction for the salaried class leading to more disposable income and also capital gains tax benefits to the middle class will give a boost to the real estate industry as it works towards achieving the vision of housing for all. This will also help the overall economic growth.
Madhusudhan G. — Chairman and MD, Sumadhura Group
On many fronts, this is a favourable and bold budget for the real estate industry. Though many of the expectations, whether it is bringing in a structured single-window clearance or granting infrastructure status to the industry didn’t materialise, the government’s stance towards reducing the GST burden on homebuyers is seen as a welcome move.
Prashant Tripathy — Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer,
Max Life Insurance
At the onset, the interim budget has delivered something to almost all constituencies of the Indian population. There is a clear focus to ensure that the financial health of the farmers and the middle class is taken into consideration. The proposal to increase the limit of income tax free personal annual income to Rs. 5 lakh and the marginal increase in standard deduction will provide more money in the hands of Indian households. We see scope for the life insurance sector to channelize this to savings and protection instruments and contribute to building a secure nation. At a macro-economic level, we see the proposed fiscal deficit of 3.4% as practical and growth oriented. Another important take-away from the budget is the continued focus on the Digital India programme that will give insurers an opportunity to drive the digital wave and enhance digital engagement with the end consumer and reach out to new set of customers.
S. S. Gopalarathnam — Managing Director,
Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Ltd.
The interim budget is a fine balance between fiscal prudence and upliftment of targeted sections of society. It benefits both the industry and the common man. For the non-life insurance sector, higher allocation for Ayushman Bharat (Rs. 6400 Crore), higher disposable incomes with the middle class or in rural India augur well for future growth. Higher growth in retail health or rural insurance is expected for Cholamandalam MS due to the measures in this budget. Ayushman Bharat scheme is a path breaking innovation. Once it runs a full year, it needs to break away from trust model to insurance model to ensure a greater coverage for the money spent.
Anil Kumar Chaudhary — Chairman, SAIL
The budget announcement for the industry as a whole looks positive. The development of infrastructure in the country has been given further emphasis in this interim budget as well. Sectors like railways, roadways and waterways remain the focus areas of growth. Budget allocation for expanding the railway infrastructure, improving connectivity through Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and scaling up the Sagar Mala project are all indications for more steel consumption in the country.
PLASTIC WATER STORAGE
Sanjay Budhia — Managing Director, Patton Group
The interim budget is exactly on expected lines. It has given comprehensive compilation of the work done in last four years in different sectors and outlines the intention of going forward.
Abheek Barua — Chief Economist, HDFC Bank
The interim finance minister’s budget doesn't seem to be interim. Instead, the string of changes seemed like the government’s fiscal roadmap for 2019-20 as a whole and with somewhat predictably a clear focus on the impending general elections. While technically a new government that takes office after the elections has the option of completely reworking the budget, it would find it difficult to claw back some of the announced measures.
Sohinder Gill — Director General, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and Finance Minister Piyush Goyal’s mission of bringing an Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution to India by 2030 is truly path-breaking and will surely provide much needed impetus to the industry. The government’s focus on the use of clean energy in the transportation sector would certainly help our country tackle the issue of climate change. Our industry welcomes our FM’s commitment towards making the country pollution free. We hope the government would soon announce a concrete plan of action with its time-bound implementation in order to fulfill its stated vision. SMEV strongly feels that an initial high dose of incentives and actions must be taken in the next one or two years to relaunch the electric mobility mission that has sort of lost steam in the recent years due to flip flop of policies.
Suneeta Reddy — Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group
Ayushman Bharat for the financially weaker section took centre stage in healthcare last year. However, the middle class is still at risk. A first step to universal health coverage would be to increase deduction for medical insurance premium u/s 80D for self, family and dependent parents. We look forward to zero-rating of GST for the sector, or for normalisation of the GST rates for services consumed by the health care service providers at 5%. Reinstatement of weighted deduction under section 35AD of Income Tax Act, 1961, which would promote setting up greenfield healthcare projects.
Alok Roy — Chairman, Medica Hospitals Pvt. Ltd
Now that the Interim Budget is announced, people of the country will look forward to how best the policies are implemented. In terms of healthcare, the citizens of India will look forward to even better facilities and more infrastructural developments in deeper pockets and hinterlands. Upgrading the national health mechanism should always be a primary agenda for any government. We can see significant measures to help poor and marginal population of our country in this interim budget.
Anagha Deodhar — Economist, ICICI Securities
The MPC revised inflation trajectory downward from the December, 2018 policy. It now expects inflation at 2.8% in Q4FY, 2019, 3.2-3.4% in H1FY, 2020 and 3.9% Q3FY, 2020. Since inflation is expected to remain below the mid-point of MPC’s target range till Q3FY, 2020, a rate cut as well as change in stance to ‘neutral’ is warranted. Although inflationary impact of the recently announced fiscal stimulus, oil prices and rising costs of health and education pose concerns to the future inflation trajectory, the MPC is likely to act only when the impact of these factors starts showing in data. The MPC also assessed that output gap has opened up modestly. Given the expected weakening of growth in H2FY, 2019, soft inflation and high real interest rates, further rate cuts cannot be ruled out.
Neha Bagaria — CEO & Founder, JobsForHer
The Government mandates 26 weeks maternity leave with a ` 400 crore proposal from last year to reimburse employers for seven of the 26 weeks of extended maternity leave. Amendments to the Maternity Act, 1961 is significant, but what about balancing paternity leave directives? Men should be incentivised to take longer periods of paternity leave as well. Paid paternity leave can have positive effects for gender equality at home and at work, disrupting prevailing stereotypes.
— Compiled by Kuntala Sarkar