Dr. Alok Roy, Chairman, Medica Group of Hospitals
India has one of the lowest spending on healthcare compared with global data. We know that India is aiming to increase healthcare spending to 2.5% of the GDP by 2025. At present, it stands at one percent only. There is an overall slowdown in the expansion plans of private healthcare players. The Budget must pay attention to the financial viability of private healthcare by relooking at the pricing controls, reviewing the existing rates of the government healthcare schemes, releasing the money that is stuck with CGHS, ECHS etc. With the spiralling healthcare costs, the limit for tax benefit must be raised accordingly.
Sivasis Sarkar, Chief Financial Officer
Peerless Hospitex Hospital and Research Center
In the hospital sector, we do not charge GST to the patients. But for every service purchased at the hospitals, we are charged GST. That increases our input costs. So, if the government really wants to boost the sector, hospital authorities should be exempted from paying GST for hospital services.
Sushil Mohta, Chairman, Merlin Group and President, Credai, West Bengal
There is a need to spur spending to support economy, which can be achieved by leaving more disposable income in hand of tax payers, particularly middle class, by reduction in Personal income tax. Homebuyers presently get benefit of interest paid on home loans only up to Rs. 200,000 despite actual payment of the interest, which may be higher than Rs. 200,000. We at Credai have suggested that, in case of individuals, the interest in respect of first self-occupied property should be allowed without any limit. Alternatively, the limit for deduction of interest should be increased to Rs. 5,00,000 in respect of the self-occupied property. Increase in interest deduction will encourage the home-buyers to invest in real estate and increase demand. In developing countries like India, it is important to encourage rental stock of properties. The rental income earned by individuals as well as institutions is taxable. We (Credai) have recommended that 100% of the rental income up to Rs. 20 lakh per annum should be exempt from the payment of income tax. Additionally, tax holiday on units in SEZ is to end on April 1, 2021. To increase investments in the SEZs, an extension is suggested up to April 1, 2025.
Murali Malayappan, Chairman and Managing Director Shriram Properties
Having prioritised affordable housing, the Budget should make liberal allocation of funds, specifically for building infrastructure and improving connectivity in the peripheral areas of the cities to augment housing supply at affordable prices. Approximately 20% -25% of the unit price goes to the government by way of taxes and fees. The stamp duty levied varies from state to state. Stamp duty taxes/fees need to be rationalised. This will go a long way in the reduction of the overall price paid by the home buyer. In the matter of approval process, the industry expects a single window clearance in the true sense.
Arijit Raha, Secretary General, Indian Tea Association
The government should provide exemption to the tea sector from the provision of Section 194N of the Income Tax Act, 1961, which imposes a levy of TDS at 2% on cash payment in excess of rupees 1 crore in aggregate made during a year. The Association has urged for concessional import tariff on specific imported tea machinery items such as tea bagging machine, tea packaging machine, colour sorting machine etc. We request to include ‘tea’ under the Interest Equalisation Scheme on Pre and Post-Shipment export Credit which provides 5% interest subsidy on bank finance. Also, the creation of irrigation infrastructure in the tea estates is a necessity.
Rahul Walawalkar, President, India Energy Storage Alliance
We request the government to consider allowing stationary energy storage systems used in the hybrid projects to avail the 5% GST allowed for renewable energy devices and related systems. To boost ‘Make in India’ and aid energy storage revolution, appropriate funds must be allocated by the government for its execution. To encourage scientific research and innovation in energy storage technologies, the central government should allocate appropriate funds for research in India through various government programmes. Income tax deduction up to `2.5 lakh on the interest of the loan to purchase EV was provided to the buyers in 2019. The government might take initiatives to provide similar tax benefits for the consumers for rooftop solar plus storage.
Shubham Maheshwari, CEO and MD, Being Chef
February 01, 2020, is an important date for the start-up industry in India. The last quarter has been really bad for start-ups because of the slump in the economy. We expect the Finance Minister to bring specific schemes to boost the spending capacity of Indian consumers. As the government has decided to do away with the angel tax for DPIIT recognised start-ups like us, we also expect them to bring some policies for the fast deployment of the ‘Startup India’ fund to the recognised start-ups.
Rohit Bhatla, MD, Kagome Foods India
Since many players of the food processing industry fall under MSME, it is essential to provide access to credit facilities for capital expenditure at low rates of interest of 3% to 5%. The Budget should also focus on increasing exports of food products along with GST relief and tax exemptions for the sector.
Though India’s ranking in the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index has improved at the national level, many states need to catch up by addressing ground level constraints and simplifying the approval process. India needs judicial reforms which can help in greater contract enforcement in the country. We should focus on the cost of doing business instead of ease of doing business. The viability of the MSME sector has been hit on multiple ends. There should be a dedicated index of the MSME sector’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’.
Government interventions are required for competitive interest rates for exporters. In June 2019, RBI was asked by the government to extend 1,73,150 crore credit for exports and ensure that exporters get funds at interest rates not exceeding 2% above LIBOR.
To overcome the huge housing shortage in the country, the restriction imposed on investment of sale proceed on acquiring two residential houses should be removed. The scope should be broadened to exempt capital gain tax if the sale proceed is invested in creating three or more housing stocks.
Exemption of leasing services for farm equipment and machinery from GST and provision of income tax is needed. To boost the healthcare sector, the government should look to expand its reach. Specific relief should be granted for life-saving vaccines. The education sector needs focused attention. Partially exempted GST on outsourced services in higher education from 18% to 5% to create low-cost educational institutions that offer services at all levels - primary, secondary and higher education - is also needed. Additionally, there is need to make education loans more affordable by reduction of the interest rate from 12% to 5% and increase the repayment tenure from 5 to 10 years.
Petroleum products are currently out of the ambit of GST due to which the local or inter-state taxes paid on their purchase constitute a part of the operational cost of the business as input tax credit of such taxes is not eligible.
Hence, petrol and petroleum products should be brought under the ambit of the GST.
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