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BW Businessworld

A Budget Of Action, Not Assurance

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India experienced a difficult economic phase in the year gone by, with the depreciating rupee, fall in exports and decrease in investments underlying concerns of a slow-down. Small business, in particular, felt the pinch. However, in his recent addresses the Finance Minister has presented a confident stand that the government will now work towards putting India back on the growth-track. 
 
We, therefore, expect the Union Budget for 2013-14 to make provisions for more firm, concrete steps towards the development of the economy. India does not need a budget of assurance, but of action. While the budget will be presented when the world economy is at its slowdown, we are still hopeful that the new proposed initiatives in the budget will boost the manufacturing and services sector, especially in the MSME sector.
 
The MSME sector in India is large and has been a significant contributor to exports with a 40% share and provides employment to 60 million persons through 26 million units as per the latest report of Prime Minister's Task Force on MSMEs. The sector’s contribution to GDP is expected to touch double digits from the previous 8 per cent. We are, therefore, hopeful that as the Finance Minister focuses on reviving investments in the manufacturing sector, the government will also undertake initiatives to ease funding and cash flows for MSMEs as well as focus on cluster development and skill development programmes.
 
The allocation of Rs 5,000 crore to SIDBI to set-up the India Opportunities Fund for investments in MSMEs was a step in the right direction; and we hope to see a continued commitment from the government in growing this sector that contributes significantly to the GDP of the country. 
 
Another promising initiative that was announced in the last Budget was a proposal to roll-out GST. While the committee set up by the Finance Minister on GST is now evaluating an alternate model to GST, we would like to see a concrete proposal presented in the upcoming budget. GST can go a long way in improving India’s industrial competitiveness and providing solutions to slowing industrial growth. 
 
Another key area that we’re looking forward to is the development of the internet infrastructure in the country. We believe that one way in which India could boost exports is by encouraging small and medium businesses in the country to go online and adopt e-commerce. E-commerce can provide the much needed impetus to exports by helping to remove barriers to global trade. 
 
However, according to a recent survey by Gallup, in India, only 3 percent of the country’s population had access to home internet in 2011. The government must take initiative to ensure the reach of internet in Tier II and Tier III cities and towns. With 4G expected to roll out in the mid of 2013, we expect a revolution to take place in terms of increase in the internet users in the upcoming year. 
 
We expect that the initiatives presented in the Budget 2013-14 will ensure that the economy is on a growth trajectory and will provide more opportunities for growth for small business are seen across sectors. 
 
Khalid Isar is country general manager, Alibaba.com India
businessworldonline (at) gmail (dot) com