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Budget 2018: Industry Reactions

Bipin Preet Singh, Radhika Rao, Sujan Hajra, Shilan Shah, Anil Talreja, Arindam Guha, Monish Panda, Pranay Bhatia, Prateek Bhargava, Milind Kothari, Pranav Jain, Vivek Srivastava, Lina Ashar, Ramesh Mamgain, Siddharth Sood, Dr Jaijit Bhattacharya, Professor C Raj Kumar

Finance Minister Aurn Jaitley unveiled its budget for the fiscal year starting April 1 on Thursday, in what is being seen as a test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to maintain fiscal discipline without stifling economic growth ahead of general elections next year.

Here are the industry expert views on the Union Budget 2018:

Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO, ICICI Bank on Union Budget 2018-19
The Union Budget 2018-19 has done a commendable job in holistically addressing the various priorities of the Indian economy. It has addressed social sector priorities and charted out a clear plan to boost infrastructure, while maintaining fiscal discipline. Read the full quote here.

Anupam Pahuja, Managing Director and Country Manager, PayPal India
The Union Budget re-enforces the Government’s strong commitment to a less cash economy, and highlights the role and potential of fintech companies in India’s growth. We welcome increased investments in Digital India. Digitizing toll payments will further pave the way for digital adoption. Initiatives supporting the development and adoption of new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be game changing for the digital payments sector. A commitment towards assigning a unique ID for businesses will help build a trusted eco-system for digital payments. The focus on MSME sector is a big positive, considering the role played by it towards job creation and accelerating Indian exports.

Sanjay Jalona, CEO & MD, LTI (L&T Infotech)
The Budget gave major emphasis on healthcare, agriculture, education and research, which was great.  Use of technology in delivering education and focused research in technologies like Blockchain, AI, Big Data, IoT & Robotic are great initiatives and will create opportunities for IT sector to contribute in making of tomorrow’s India. While reduction of Corporate Tax to 25% for a vast majority of companies is a welcome move, increase in cess from 3% to 4% will increase tax rate for larger corporates by 0.34%. The return of long term capital gains was well anticipated and the budget has brought it in a very calibrated manner which should not affect the investment sentiments. Overall a good budget, the execution remains key and to be watched for.

Khushru Jijina, Managing Director, Piramal Finance & Piramal Housing Finance
Overall, the strong economic impetus provided in the budget will ultimately boost housing and real estate. The introduction of long term capital gains tax at 10 per cent on equities will also have an indirect impact on making investment in real estate (over listed stocks) more attractive than before. Tax breaks being granted to senior citizens and salaried employees will increase their disposable income available for making capital purchases. A push on infrastructure comprising public investment in the rural areas, agricultural marketing, urban connectivity, particularly Metros etc will also multiply investment prospects for real estate sector.

Bhargav Dasgupta, MD & CEO - ICICI Lombard
The Government has focused on inclusive measures in the budget , targeting critical areas of agriculture , education , health , power among others. On health insurance, the introduction of Rs. 5 lakh cover for families and increase in medical insurance tax exemption for senior citizens indicate the focus of policy makers to ensure adequate protection against health hazards for India's populace.


Pushan Mahapatra, MD & CEO, SBI General Insurance

As the Union Finance Minister makes a pitch for the ‘technologies of the future’ in his Budget speech today, we can certainly expect to see more excitement for investing in areas of Aritificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Big data & Quantum communication, etc.

Since Insurance industry today is at the forefront of technology adoption if not technology innovation, there are good number of takeaways especially on the tech innovation side for those who wish to make the most of the opportunity thrown open by the government of the day.

As Niti Aayog sets up a national program to conduct R&D on Artificial Intelligence & machine Learning, more advanced forms of algorithms will come into existence and it will make the adoption of these technologies easier and more reliable. As an immediate effect, Insurance industry which has seen umpteen number & varieties of ChatBOTs, which are direct application these technologies, becoming more user friendly and sounding more & more like a human. Advanced forms of Machine learning will take a way a lot of manual work involved in Insurance operations like document scanning, extracting data from forms, matching customer profile with Government ID’s, etc. It’s not hard to imagine a more automated, customer centric and cost effective insurance operations in days to come.

A very high speed of Data transfer in an eavesdropping protected secure environment is an insurance companies dream. The introduction of 5G & quantum communications technologies, will revolutionize the world of network communications in their own ways and the insurance industry will be able to rely more on open networks for sharing sensitive data at a very high speed.

While virtual currencies like Bitcoin remain illegal for all purposes in India, the Government’s declaration that it will explore the potential use of blockchain technology is a very good news for the Insurance industry. We have seen very limited application of Blockchain technology in insurance mostly limited to Travel Insurance. Blockchain operates like a distributed ledger used on mutual trust and breaks the centralized processing into independent distributed nodes carrying their own copy of a common verifiable ledger. Its waiting to disrupt the insurance industry globally by giving it a more distributed mode of operations which eliminated the need of intermediaries and manual processes and ultimately leads to higher efficiency, lower cost of operations and better quality of service.

While the BharatNet project will bring high-speed fibre internet to rural areas across India, Government will set up WiFi hotspots in urban areas. It will not just bring more customers to the online market but also lead to creation of an always-connected environment where IoT devices can thrive. Insurance industry which has already adopted IoT so well in form of wearable devices will then look at other applications in Motor, Weather & Crop insurance segments where continuous flow of real time data on the ground will revolutionize the way we price the products today and will make it more affordable for masses. 

Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, OYO
This year's Union Budget stood for entrepreneurship, employment and quality of life. The announcements made today will benefit MSMEs, including small hotels. At OYO, we have a network of over 3500 exclusively controlled hotels in the MSME sector and we believe that the budget presented today will facilitate the growth of our partners. The Mudra Loan allocation of Rs 3 lakh crore will help in enabling SMEs to generate more jobs while creating thousands of new entrepreneurs too. One major change which we were expecting was GST being levied on the actual price rather than the declared tariff for hotel accommodation.

The government's decision of developing 10 model destinations across India and investing in strengthening the country's airport network and infrastructure will boost the tourism sector.

The reduction of corporate tax is a welcome move but we are hoping the limit to be pegged higher than INR 250 crore so as to benefit more corporate entities. We appreciate the measures taken by the government to keep the alarming pollution levels in control. This is a major step towards ensuring the quality of life for citizens.


Dr. Raghupati Singhania, Chairman & MD, JK Tyre & Industries Ltd., and Vice President, JK Organisation

The Budget 2018-19, as anticipated, has put major thrust on the Agro Rural economy. The allocation of nearly Rs. 15.7 lac crores to this sector, which is almost 10% of the GDP, is many times higher than that in the previous year. The various measures to put in place a mechanism to boost farmers’ income, higher credit for agri sector, creating clusters for horticulture crops and supporting food processing, will give a tremendous boost to agro rural economy. This in turn will indeed improve their buying power and will encourage consumption. Health protection programme envisaging medical care and hospitalization for 10 crore poor families is indeed a bold step forward in ensuring health care for all.

The credit support and lowering of tax rates for MSME sector will indeed boost the sector which plays an important role in the economic activity of the country. The renewed emphasis on infrastructure development, in particular large outlays in the railways, will keep the economy ticking

The Corporate sector was hoping that the Finance Minister will live up to his promise of reducing corporate tax from 30%. On the other hand, surcharges have been increased, thereby making effective rate even higher than hitherto.

 Increase in import duties on Truck Radial tyres is a welcome move, which will help domestic Industry

Husien Dohadwalla - Academic Director of International Programs - Middle, Secondary & High School
With an overall increase of 20.31% in the 2018 budget for Education, the sentiment towards the increase of quality of education by training the teachers and moving from the blackboard to the digital board, i.e towards a digitised environment in education is a good call by the government. Treating education holistically up to Grade 12 is a brilliant decision and will ensure that the future generations receive additional guaranteed schooling, that will do justice to their Right to Education.

With this pace of investment and concentration towards the education sector, I foresee India moving closer every day, towards a higher standard of literacy rate throughout the nation.


Faisal Ahmad, Founder & CEO, BIS Research
To be able to fully realise the potential of Agriculture exports, the government needs to invest heavily in technology introduction across production and distribution. A mechanised and connected farm will go a long way to ensure high productivity and timely delivery to the market. Many countries including Israel has successfully demonstrated the technological know how in optimising the farm output.

With high arable land but small holdings, the Govt should look beyond merely utilising the existing farm, and should actively promote the modern agricultural methods  such as vertical farming and hydroponics.

Zishaan Hayath, CEO & Co-founder, Toppr.com
Capitalising on digital influence for quality education is a welcome move. We sincerely believe that technology has a very important role in education and we are glad that the government aligns with it. Education is critical to the future of India and any relaxations in taxes on education and technology would have been an added benefit. Recognising the importance of teacher training is another significant step to boost quality education in the country. We eagerly await the details and plan of action from the government following the announcements.

Sunil Thakur, Director and Chief Operating Officer at Quadria Capital
While we wait for the details of the implementation, we think that government’s big initiative as  a payer to cover 40% of the population is truly commendable. Beyond that, it has provided incremental benefit through tax incentives on self paid insurance coverage and medical treatment. On the manpower supply side, which has been a big constraint for the sector, the opening of 24 colleges is a welcome move to bring in more medical professionals for service delivery.

Shantanu Rooj, Founder & CEO, Schoolguru
The budget announcements made by Shri Arun Jaitley has little to offer for higher education in the country. Whereas the finance minister offered several initiatives for the school education which involves transforming classrooms to digital classrooms, setting up of the Eklavya Schools for the tribal population and enhancing the scope of teacher’s training to bring in quality into the school education, he had nothing special to offer to the higher education sector.

Setting up of the long pending Railway University and the new Schools of Planning and Architecture seems like a lopsided approach to a select sector within higher education. The finance minister has made no provisions for creation of infrastructure in the higher education space that could have led to higher GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio). The Finance Minister spoke about technology being the biggest driver for enhancing the quality of education in the country. However, we could not find any incentive to the Ed-Tech companies working in this space to help institutions implement and use technology for bringing in Total Quality Education. We are also grossly disappointed by Higher Education Services not being exempted out of the provisions of GST that could have provided a fillip to the sector.

Shrenik Gandhi, Co-founder, White Rivers Media
Double the Budget Allocation to Digital India scheme (3073 Cr) vis a vis last year is a welcome move. This coupled with half a million Wifi Hotspots to get 50 million more people under the Digital Universe is a positive sign. Increasing focus on Digital Education sector & artificial intelligence and a national program for cyberspace are pretty thoughtful gestures. All of these clearly indicates governments' keen interest in making the Digital India Story stronger.  Derecognizing the CryptoCurrency market shall have a negative global impact, yet is a strong statement coming from World's Largest Democracy. A 5% relief in corporate tax for companies below 250 crore revenue shall give a lot of impetus to the SME segments.

Overall, the budget is pretty balanced & covers a lot of important aspects and is not an appeasement filled budget. Most importantly, the success of these lies in Digital Adaptation, the same can make it or break it, in the last Pre-Election Year!" said Mr. Shrenik Gandhi, Co-founder White Rivers Media.

Aniketh Jain, CEO & Co-Founder of Solutions Infini
This year's budget's crucial step has been the deduction in corporate tax by 25% with turnover upto Rs 250 Cr. This will create a balance in the economy by disseminating the disparities between startups and large scale enterprises. Startups can invest the same in other useful interventions. Government's outlook towards strengthening agriculture, health, education and employment are positive notes that envision national development. The world's largest healthcare programme called the Ayushman Bharat Program is an unexpected yet a fruitful initiative that's announced in budget 2018. Fiscal scenario and farm deficit are given utmost significance and rightly addressed so, for the overall health of the Indian economy. The Fiscal deposit is expected to drop down to 3.3% in the coming year from the current 3.5% in 2017-2018. Tax incentives to senior citizens make sense.

Manek Daruvala, Founder and Director, T.I.M.E.
This budget continues with the recent trend of tinkering at the edges of the problems that confront Indian education.
 
On the one hand, the proposal to start Eklavya schools and new architecture schools and government medical colleges will have a certain positive impact in the areas that they are targetting. The proposal to help train untrained teachers is a very welcome move.
 
At the same time, it is disappointing that the government has done nothing to provide better tax relief to parents for the school fees they pay for their children's education. Similarly, one had hoped that the budget would so something to help students with education loans who are unable to get a job immediately after they complete their course. A limited moratorium period towards repayment of the loan would be a huge relief.
 
But the real problems of Indian education lie in a domain beyond the budget. The government needs to liberalise the archaic rules governing education in India. This is essential to attract private investment into education and enable the setting up of a very large number of schools and colleges - particularly in under-served parts of the country. Successive governments have failed to even scratch the surface of the real problem. I fear that if nothing is done to address this issue, the demographic dividend could turn into a demographic disaster - with a huge number of poorly educated youth unfit to get employment.

Bipin Preet Singh, Co-founder, MobiKwik
A reformist budget for startups and digital India. 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.

Ajay Kakra, Leader - Food and Agriculture, PwC India

The continued focus on agricultural sector reform is appreciated, especially the government's effort to integrate rural haats to the eNam and increasing the purview of MSP for comprehensive coverage of agri commodities .The farmers can look forward to better price realisation now.

Dr Jaijit Bhattacharya, Partner & Head, Economics and Regulatory, KPMG
The Budget demonstrates a very significant push on infrastructure, including rural infrastructure, as well as for immediate job creation as well as supporting longterm employability through education and skill development is very encouraging. In addution, significant support to agri and rural industries will go a long way in reducing rural stress.

Ajay Kakra, Leader - Food and Agriculture, PwC India
The continued focus on agricultural sector reform is appreciated, especially the government's effort to integrate rural haats to the eNam and increasing the purview of MSP for comprehensive coverage of agri commodities .The farmers can look forward to better price realisation now.

Professor C Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal University
To rejuvenate the infrastructure of educational institutions, the FM 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.

Sanjit Prasad, MD & CEO, Indian Commodity Exchange (ICEX)
The announcement of considering a mandate to large corporates for accessing bond market to meet about one-fourth of their financing needs reflects the Government's impetus on reviving the bond market on Exchange platform. ANOTHER announcement of increasing focus on Agri derivatives will strengthen our financial infrastructure and connect India to Bharat. We welcome such progressive reforms to strengthen the exchange market ecosystem.



Ratnesh Jha, Managing Director, Cambridge University Press, South Asia
This is a balanced budget as far as education is concerned. While on the one hand the government has rightly focused on improving educational infrastructure in the country, there is also a clear intent to strengthen capacity building through improvement in teacher training. The decision to treat education holistically without any segmentation is a welcome move and will lend greater synergy in planning and execution of important schemes and programmes. This is also expected to help smoothen the process of mapping learning outcomes with curriculum across all levels. It is also heartening to see a greater emphasis on the all-important area of teacher training which will help in achieving the target of training all teachers by 2019. With focus on increasing digital intensity in education, the budget is quite futuristic as it looks to address the needs of today’s India emerging as a powerful knowledge economy.

Anshul Prakash, Partner, Khaitan & Co
Proposal for the government to go out of pocket in respect of the 12 per cent contribution mandated under the EPF Act for all ‘new employees’ across sectors for a period of first three years, is a populist move aimed at appeasing the younger workforce in the wake of the upcoming assembly elections this year and the next year’s general elections. While the source of funding by the Government for the employee part of the EPF contribution is unclear for now, it would result in the greater takeaway for the employees who are currently required to contribute 12 per cent to the employee provident fund out of their salaries. The industry may have to struggle with structuring the staff salaries accordingly from a cost to the company perspective.

Radhika Rao, Group Economist, DBS, Singapore
Overall measures have very strong social sector emphasis, which covers agricultural and rural sectors all the way to health and education sectors. Simultaneously, there is focus on infrastructure as well.

As early as Aug-Sept last year, as the fiscal numbers were coming in, we were expecting a slippage in this target. But it has panned out. The bond market had expected fiscal slippage, I think it has not been as wide as feared.

Divestment is expected to be much better than targeted for the first time in many years.

Sujan Hajra, Chief Economist, Anand Rathi Securities, Mumbai
We were expecting (fiscal deficit of) 3.4 percent for the current year and 3.2 percent for the next year, and these announcements are slightly higher than expected. This is slightly negative for bond markets.

The long term capital gain is a singular negative thing for the stock markets.

With the agrarian crisis and unemployment situation, these kind of policies are expected with or without elections.

Shilan Shah, India Economist, Capital Economics, Singapore
It was no surprise to us that they relaxed the deficit targets. It looks like the BJP is aiming to shore up support among rural voters, there have been plenty of measures announced to boost the rural economy. These are quite trademark things ahead of an election.

In cumulative terms, the deficit has already overshot the previous target, it had to be revised up, but it does need to demonstrate some kind of fiscal prudence. The deficit this year will be same as last year, I don't think that comes as a surprise.




Anil Talreja, Partner, Deloitte India
With 150% increase in MSP for crops, support to organic farming, doubling the expenditure allocation to INR 1,400 crores for food processing sector, state of the art facilities to 42 food parks, liberalisation of agricultural exports, allocation of INR 10, 000 crore to fisheries, animal husbandries and related infrastructure, this budget is in true sense a Roti-Kapada and Kisaan budget.  

Perhaps for the first time there is a special attention to the ancillary sector including infrastructure which will help the overall consumer and farm sector. The focus of these measures to ensure that the farm produce reach the ultimate consumers from the farms with maximum returns for farmers, introduction of facilities and technology leading to reduction in wastage in the sector, a boost to the fishery, aquaculture and animal husbandry sectors.

Ramesh Mamgain, Area Vice President, India and SAARC Region, Commvault
Doubling allocations towards Digital India and enhancing the National Mission on Cyberspace Security sets the tone to protect the data of India Inc. and its citizens. Unique IDs for companies will definitely go a long way in contributing towards interest of the nation and increasing transparency by corporates. Commvault, with its global industry leading solutions, is also committed to partnering with the GoI and India Inc. in building a robust data protection framework.

Siddharth Sood, Co-Founder of Wildcraft
This budget brought benefit to the manufacturing companies like incentives for job creation.  This will help us not only improve our offering but will also create more jobs, in addition to the 4000 associates that we currently employ.

Arindam Guha, Partner, Deloitte India
Right focus on “moving from blackboards to digital boards” > This could be the only solution to (a) increase outreach particularly to rural areas overcoming constraints on teacher availability etc. and (b) standardize teaching content and ensure consistent quality. However, the success would depend on effective implementation and leveraging the technologies and skill sets already existing in the public sector

It is encouraging to note the focus on new generation technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, analytics etc. as far as skill building initiatives go. It remains to be seen how partners from the private sector eco-system with knowledge & expertise in these areas get involved in this initiative.

Investments in rural wi-fi infrastructure will be a good complement to the Bharat Net initiative which provides connectivity till the Gram Panchayat level – this should facilitate online public services delivery in rural areas.

As expected, the Budget has announced upcoming regulation for governing cryptocurrencies and usage of Block chain based technologies for land registration and other public services.

Monish Panda, Founder, Monish Panda & Associates (law firm)
The Finance Minster in his budget speech has again confirmed that the Government does not recognise crypto currency and will take all steps to stop usage and circulation of such crypto currency. This clearly indicates that the Government will now either come out with a legislative mechanism or make suitable amendment in existing legislation to ensure that dealing and trading in crypto currency is made illegal and to penalise entities and individuals who are involved in trading and circulation of crypto currency. We will have to wait and watch as to what will be final framework of such legislation, if such legislation is introduced.

Vivek Srivastava, CEO and Co-Founder of HealthCare atHOME
The National Health Protection Scheme announced by the government will be the world's largest health insurance support covering ~50 crore people i.e. 40% of the Indian population. By providing Rs 5 lakh per year to poor families for secondary and tertiary care related hospitalization needs, the government has indeed taken concrete steps in reducing India's health burden.

Swadeep Srivastava, Founder and Managing Partner of India Virtual Hospital
We need over 6 lakh+ hospital beds to cater to our population and this shortage is more in tier II and III cities. Hence, the move to have one medical college per three constituencies and 1.5 lakh health and wellness is a welcome one. Coupled with National Medical Commission Bill 0f 2017, this can be instrumental in bridging the need gap for healthcare infrastructure and resources for the rural Indian population.

Lina Ashar, Founder, Kangaroo Kids Education
Reforms in the education sector that encourage more and more private institutions to expand or modernize to give our students a more global perspective as part of their learning process. Given that the Education Sector has seen 16% growth in the recent years, it is bound to be one of the major sectors in focus for the Budget'18

Pranav Jain, Partner, MDP & Partners (law firm)
Reduction of  corporate tax 25% - Rs 5 crore turnover – now, it is extended to turn  over of Rs 250 cr. This is a mega boost to all startups – who have high  valuation and sales.

Pranay Bhatia,  Partner,  Tax and Regulatory Services, BDO India
Current focus on developing ground infrastructure and emphasizing education, agriculture, fisheries and allied areas seems to be in the right direction.

Prateek Bhargava,  (Taxmann), CEO - Mindler
FM’s focus on teacher  training and digital education is welcomed and was much needed! While  the emphasis will be put on increasing digital intensity in education,  appropriate allocation of funds to technology upgradation will be  critical. So far the budget is silent on that aspect while over INR 1  Lakh crores are allocated to education research. Also while untrained  teachers are explicitly mentioned in the FM’s speech, training on  leveraging technology in education across the board will be critical to  see the impact of digitisation of education.

Milind Kothari, Managing Partner,  Head-Tax and Regulatory services, BDO India
The announcement in the area of Health care is clearly path-breaking for the sheer size, coverage and the amount committed per family. This ushers India firmly in the next generation of social security as India moves aggressively towards a progressive developing economy.

Ajay Pandey, MD & Group CEO, GIFT City 
The announcement of setting up of Unified Regulator for IFSC in India would help India achieve its full potential in the Global Financial markets. Globally, most of the financial center's host Unified Regulator in the same Centre which helps it to promote the financial centre. The government of India’s initiative duly supported by all existing regulators would go a long way in establishing GIFT IFSC as a Global Financial Hub. “

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.

K. Suresh, National President - ANMI (Association of National Exchange of Members of India)
The government's move to impose Long-Term Capital Gains tax (LTCG) of 10% on over Rs. 1Lakh gains made from capital market investments and the decision to retain the Securities Transaction Tax (STT) will dampen the investor sentiments. While the tax will adversely affect serious investors, who are funding the India Growth Story, it won't have any impact on short-term traders. Instead of introducing LTCG in its current form, the government could have done better by changing the tenure of this tax or given the corresponding benefit by re-introducing 88E to take the deduction of STT.

Rakesh Dubey, President, Microfinance Institutions network
By introducing incentives for MSMEs in the form of capital support and corporate tax reduction to 25% for companies with turn over under Rs 250 crore, government will encourage small entrepreneurs in both urban and rural areas. Clubbed with increased target for MUDRA Yojana for this year, it will encourage small and medium entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. Government’s decision to review refinancing policy of MUDRA for better financing of NBFCs is a good news for NBFC-MFIs. MUDRA has been an important source of financing for microfinance companies and after this announcement they can expect easier access of finance at lower rates in the future through MUDRA. Lastly, government’s focus on improving digital infrastructure in rural areas will help increase the reach of financial inclusion and with the strengthened internet and telecom infrastructure microfinance companies will be able to accelerate cashless adoption in rural areas.

Mahesh Tejwani, President, Vivekanand Education Society
The government’s decision to spend Rs one lakh crore spread over the next four years to spruce up education infrastructure in the country will go a long way in giving a face-lift to the sector. It will also strengthen country’s knowledge-base further. It will also bring down the cost of education substantially thus making education affordable for everybody.  I will consider this decision as a step that recognizes education as the new wealth of nation. Further, the move to treat education in a holistic manner without segmentation will ensure a level playing field for every segment in learning. Moving from blackboard to digital board will make education more hassle free and will change the style of imparting knowledge and style of teaching. The Eklavya schools for tribal children will bring the marginalized community into the mainstream polity.

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 January 31st 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. Providing a reasonable level of health insurance to close to 40% of the population is a massive step forward in poverty alleviation. At the same time, the government needs to be vigilant that this does not cause a huge spike in healthcare costs as has been experienced in other countries which have tried to combine insurance funded healthcare with private healthcare providers. Along with a slew of  market focused measures, we believe that this is a very well balanced budget.

Viral Berawala, Chief Investment Officer, Essel Mutual Fund

Overall - Popular but not populist budget. Budget has targeted a large section of population through govt funded healthcare, increase in agri incomes and tax relief & funding (MUDRA) for SME and MSME. Fixed income view - Incoming bond supply, inflation, govt revenues and liquidity will drive bond markets in times to come. For now we see no reason to change our current view of staying invested in accrual driven products. On introduction of LTCG we don’t see significant change in investor behaviour.

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 & Rural section of country as logically envisaged got the maximum focus as it is a priority area for the government. Covering 50 crs. 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 & Education sectors shows the long term approach of the Government. Overall a good & stable budget.

Sanjay Sethi, CEO & Co-founder, ShopClues

With a deep focus on the social sector, this year's budget has ensured that India will be clocking a healthy growth rate. We are happy that, Finance Minister has given a boost to infrastructure spends and to the MSME sector. The MSME sector is the backbone of our economy and this boost by the government will ensure higher production and consumption.
 
With a focus on technology, the Finance Minister has provided great support to the digital industry. The government's decision to create 500,000 wifi hotspots in rural India will enable broadband access to those with no or little access to the realm of the internet. This will help grow the digital commerce industry and encourage more people to adopt cashless economy.

Antony Jacob, CEO, Apollo Munich Health Insurance 
The world's largest government's funded healthcare program - National Healthcare Protection Scheme (NHPS) announced by our FM, with approximately 500 million beneficiaries, an insurance scheme of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization is a welcome move not just to maintain a healthy India but this I believe will also create several lakh/s new jobs in the country as new healthcare facilities will come up in smaller districts and villages. This move will go a long way in empowering India's poor and underprivileged.

Alok Mittal,  CEO, Indifi – a technology and data platform 
The recognition of online lending as a key driver to MSME credit is welcome, and we at DLAI will look forward to working with the government to enable this.

Simon Fiquet, General Manager, Southeast Asia and India, Expedia
Additionally, the emphasis on the developing 10 tourism sites into iconic sites and enhancing tourist amenities at 110 Adarsh monument sites will not only contribute to more international footfalls but also hugely augment the domestic tourism revenue of the country, in the years to come. The expansion of Swatch Bharat Mission and launch of Operation Green will also build a clean and green India for attracting more tourists and delivering an international experience.

Ravi Sreedharan, Co-founder, ISDM
The Union Budget 2018 has made some important and much-needed allocations for Higher education. The PM Research fellow scheme is definitely a good step towards addressing the talent gap in the country. Setting up of the planning and architecture schools across IITs and NIITs and medical colleges are defined steps towards the creation of trained and qualified cadre of professionals. Social sciences, however, clearly seem to be not a priority area for considerations under the Union Budget 2018.

Shankar Tripathi, MD and CEO – Aadhar Housing Finance Ltd
Provision of dedicated affordable housing fund under NHB in the budget is a big initiative to push affordable housing. In addition to that, various measures have already been taken by the Government in the last few months to give a revolutionary push to  affordable housing. Stamp duty also have been brought under GST to bring uniformity in the stamp rates across the country. I look forward to a significant progress in the affordable housing sector in the coming months.

Somasundaram PR, Managing Director, India, World Gold Council 

The government’s announcement that it will formulate a comprehensive gold policy to establish gold as an asset class is ground-breaking. The establishment of regulated gold exchanges is exceptionally positive towards making gold a mainstream national value-added asset. A stable policy environment and a fair and effective trading market will bring much needed transparency and stability.

Radhika Gupta, CEO – Edelweiss Asset Management

As widely expected, Long Term Capital Gain Tax in equities has been introduced, however, it will not be desruptive given the way it has been implemented with grandfathering clause. Equity still remains the lowest taxed investment vehicle and it LTCG Tax will not impact the growing equity and SIP culture amongst retail investors. Overall it is a neutral budget and a win-win for all.

Col Gopal Karunakaran, CEO, Shiv Nadar School
The 2018 Union budget addresses the key issue of improving the quality of school education in India.

There has been a drastic increase in public school enrollment in the last few years, but the critical concern has always been the quality of education. It is heartening to note that the 2018 Union Budget has therefore laid stress on learning outcome.

Any educational system should rest on three pillars – Access, Equity and Quality. While India has been able to successfully address the first two with much success over the past several decades, the third pillar of Quality demands attention.  

In regards to improving learning outcomes, the budget has touched upon two key areas - improvement in quality of teachers and using technology as a key driver in improving the quality of education. It will be further enhanced if a risk-reward system is also introduced providing the teachers’ incentive to improve student performance.

I also hope the initiative of an integrated B.Ed programme, training of teachers during their service, will yield corresponding benefits in the coming years.

In the last few budgets, we noticed that funds were allocated on skill development in the higher education sector; it will be valuable if focus is also given on skill development at the school level. One of the major reasons for the staggering dropout rate at the Secondary level, especially of students belonging to low-income families is the inability to cultivate worth-while skills at school. This could change with the introduction of vocational studies at the higher secondary level like Japan, Germany and other developed countries.

Mahesh Lingareddy, Founder & Chairman, Smartron
Union Budget 2018 has given clear indications of a continued focus on the growth of new businesses in India. The announcement of increase in basic customs duty on mobile phones to 20% is a concrete step towards fostering local manufacturing in India which would further fuel indigenous innovation. This will allow us to build an innovation engine pipeline of several global brands in the country. As India's first global OEM and IOT brand with a vision of putting India on the global innovation map, the Union Budget would prove to be the necessary catalyst for our continued growth towards becoming a multi-billion dollar company globally.

India needs an investment (VC) ecosystem that can pump in US$15-US$20 billion every year to support and sustain a 5000+ startup ecosystem. Union Budget 2018 has taken the needs of the ecosystem into consideration by taking policy decisions to build a robust alternative investment regime in the country along-with a taxation model designed for the special nature of VC funds and angel investors. These policies and new taxation model would definitely help the start-ups to ensure survival and profitability over the years. As India’s first global OEM and IoT brand, Smartron believes in collective innovation and this year’s Union Budget would help us in our long term vision of bringing in the start-ups together on a single platform to innovate at the global level.

Rakesh Dubey, President, Microfinance Institutions network
By introducing incentives for MSMEs in the form of capital support and corporate tax reduction to 25% for companies with turn over under INR250 crore, government will encourage small entrepreneurs in both urban and rural areas. Clubbed with increased target for MUDRA Yojana for this year, it will encourage small and medium entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. Government’s decision to review refinancing policy of MUDRA for better financing of NBFCs is a good news for NBFC-MFIs. MUDRA has been an important source of financing for microfinance companies and after this announcement they can expect easier access of finance at lower rates in the future through MUDRA. Lastly, government’s focus on improving digital infrastructure in rural areas will help increase the reach of financial inclusion and with the strengthened internet and telecom infrastructure microfinance companies will be able to accelerate cashless adoption in rural areas.

Ajay S. Shriram, Chairman & Senior Managing Director, DCM Shriram
Budget 2018 presents an encouraging outlook for a wide cross section of stakeholders. The FM has taken a long term view by focusing on agriculture, health care, education and infrastructure. It addresses specific pain points of the farmer by undertaking three major initiatives:
A). By assuring revenue of 1.5 times the cost incurred, it has safeguarded the farmer’s income.
B). By funding agricultural market development and increasing the reach of e-NAM, access to market has been strengthened.
C). By extending Kisan Credit Card and creating a Rs 10,000 corore fund for animal husbandry it captures the changing composition of the Agriculture sector.

Geetika Dayal, Executive Director TiE Delhi-NCR
Taking the lead from last year, this year’s budget did not have much for the Indian startup sector, it still holds a lot of promise. However, the government has reinstated its support to the MSME sector with INR 3 lakh crores being allotted to the MUDRA Yojna revamping easy loan facilities for the beneficiaries. The highlight was the promotion towards infrastructure, healthcare and agriculture investment where government has allotted INR 2,000 crores in agricultural market fund, the massive health insurance plan which is likely to cost govt around Rs 50,000 crore annually and INR 50 lakh crores to improve infrastructure, promoting SME’s interest in sectors that directly contribute to the growth of our country.

Kiran Deshpande, Co-founder & President, Mojo Networks
The government’s budget for 2018-19 has a special emphasis on increasing digital intensity in education. Wireless communication technology has a big role to play in enhancing interactivity in at all levels and in creating smart campuses. Additionally, providing WiFi in trains, increasing broadband access through WiFi hotspots to 5 crore rural citizens and connecting 1.5 lakh more villages under BharatNet initiative is a step forward towards digitizing India.” He further added, “Also reduction in corporate tax to 25% is a huge boost and will benefit the entire micro and small and medium enterprises which amount for 99% of the companies filing their tax returns.”

Rita Singh, CMD, Mesco Steel (MISL)
With increased spending in infrastructure at Rs 5.97 lakh crore, the sector is being pegged as a key growth driver. Various initiatives to encourage domestic manufacturing will boost overall investment in infrastructure and in turn drive demand for domestic steel.

The budget has also taken a very progressive step in assigning a unique id to individual enterprises on lines of Aadhaar for individuals. However, as steel industry we were hoping for reduction in duty structure to reduce raw material cost, which would in turn benefit the industry as well as economy as a whole.

Raman Mittal, Executive Director, Sonalika ITL
The Union Budget 2018-19's strong pro-farmer focus can provide a much-need stimulus to the agriculture sector. Increasing MSP on Kharif crops, larger food processing sector allocation, and other farm programmes can accelerate the sector's growth. We also appreciate the budget’s focus on increasing farmer income and profitability, through better farm price realization and adoption of low cost farming practices. The resulting growth can incentivize farmers to invest in mechanisation to expand the volume of produce from their land parcels.

Debanjan Mandal, Partner, Fox & Mandal, Kolkata (law firm) 
The 2018 Budget seeks to boost farm income, and shore up profitability of small enterprises. However, increase in minimum support price could have inflationary impact. The increase in import duty on mobile phones is a nudge to cell phone makers to manufacture locally. Modicare, or all the health schemes for the poor, can be seen as a pathbreaking initiative but details are sketchy.

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. For this initiative to thrive, it is imperative for the Government to rapidly augment high quality medical facilities in the country.

Two positive developments that will bolster the health of direct taxes in the long term are reducing corporate tax rate to 25% for companies with turnover upto Rs 250 cr and rolling out of E-assessments across country. This would build on the FM’s promise to make taxes simpler and easier to comply with, and tax processes to be automated and technology driven.

The Budget however, is a dampener for the much expected relief to the salaried class as the standard deduction of 40, 000 has been given by taking away the existing benefits on medical and transport. The benefit to senior citizen by exempting interest income up to Rs 50,000 is a well thought of initiative.

The introduction of Long term capital gain of 10% on stock market transactions will also create significant impact in the long term.”

Chander Agarwal, Managing Director, TCIEXPRESS
As rightly mentioned by the Hon’ble Finance Minister in his budget speech today, Infrastructure is the key growth driver of the economy and the government has made its intent clear to develop infrastructure in India by introducing several important measures. Logistics getting an infrastructure status last year, such focus to develop infrastructure in itself is a huge boost to the logistics sector. We welcome government’s decision to allocate of Rs. 5.35 Lakh crore to develop 35,000 km under phase 1 as part of Bharatmala project.

Rajeev Mahajan, Co-Founder, Director & CEO of Antworks Money
Excellent budget for Lending and Insurance sectors. These sectors will get immediate boost from initiatives like  public sector Bank recapitalisation, national health protection schemes and rax relief for individual tax payers. Its heartening to see Government taking steps in field of developing Artificial Intelligence. This will definitely help in  growth of Fintech sector in India.

Kumar Abhishek, CEO & Co-founder, ToneTag
Major focus to boost financial technology is a welcome move especially initiatives to increase cashless payments on Toll booths to make roads seamless. Big Push for Rural Internet connectivity with 5 lakh WiFi hotspots. This will play a major role in providing digital literacy and empowering every citizen to be connected to the world.

The biggest take away from this budget is National Health Control Protection Scheme, which will be covering 50 Cr people. Health benefits are very basic needs and every citizen irrespective of their income should get access to these benefits. This move will take India a step further towards a developed & healthy economy.

Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, BLS International Services
We welcome Budget 2018, especially with regards to e-Governance and Government’s effort in bringing efficiency, transparency, accountability and accessibility. Over the past few years, as connectivity in the country grew, e-governance has become a crucial part of governance. What began as computerization of government departments has now evolved to account for details like citizen centricity, service orientation, timely service and transparency. With the government aiming to build 100 Smart Cities with state-of-the-art amenities, the role of e-governance and digital technologies is only increasing.

Thiru Vengadam Regional Vice President India, Epicor Software Corporation
The budget proposes bringing down the corporate tax for firms that reported turnover up to Rs 250 crore , thereby reducing tax burden on MSMEs. Further the government has allocated funds for 2018-19 for credit support to MSMEs.

For MSMEs technology is an enabler for business growth and technology adoption is seen as  a top priority. However, MSMEs are often unable to utilize the opportunities available through technology due to lack of working capital finance. The budget proposals of access to credit  and tax breaks to MSMEs will help reduce capital constraints  and encourage investment in IT solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) to help them work smarter, operate more efficiently and be innovative.The Budget announcements will further encourage technology vendors such as Epicor to continue adding value to medium sized businesses through technology offerings that help them grow now and positions them for success in the future.

Prashant Solomon, Managing Director, Chintels India
“The budget has several incentives for the rural sector, women etc but I would have liked the benefits of tax reduction to be wide spread with more income tax rebates for middle and salaried classes in order to increase disposable income and boost spending power that will help the economy and our sector grow in the long run.  Though there are no major incentives for the growth of real estate industry the re-introduction of LTCG will help in growth of other investment avenues. Concessions in the budget towards the affordable housing sector and the setting up of an Affordable Housing Fund under the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojna, will help the realty sector ancillaries grow. Though most of the recommendations that we had made on behalf of the real estate industry have not been addressed,  the move towards no adjustment to be made in a case where the circle rate value does not exceed 5% of the consideration is a welcome move”.

Nagaraju Routhu, CEO of Hero Realty
We must appreciate the fact that the government is very serious on the mission of housing for all and in the same light we have seen some extremely positive announcements in the budget today. The setting up of a separate fund for affordable housing is a welcome move as it will enable an efficient supply of housing projects in the country. The government move of the 5% deviation from circle rates to remove hardship is not enough as in many cases; the actual deviation of circle rates to prevailing market is as high as 30%”.
 
Sarjan Shah, MD, Group Satellite
“Disappointing budget from the perspective of private sector involvement in creating mass housing stock that will make homeownership a reality for all Indians. Budget has unfortunately ignored the stressed and vilified real estate sector that is in desperate need of Government support through specific targeted tax breaks that help make building affordable homes in India viable.”

Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director of Pacific India Group 
The budget this year is a boost to ‘Make in India’ initiatives and aimed at a progressive development of the rural economy and growth of the entire country. The focus on infrastructure, social inclusion and progress, education, agriculture and healthcare are steps in the right direction. Though there is not much in terms of addressing the problems faced by the realty sector but the move towards no adjustment in case of the circle rate not exceeding 5 % of sale consideration is a welcome move. Standard deduction for transport, medical reimbursement for salaried taxpayers and incentives for Senior citizens will help increase disposable income at hand.

Vikas Agarwal, General Manager at OnePlus India
Since the announcement of Make in India program 3 years back, over 85% of smartphones sold in country are now produced locally. So, this is opportune time to introduce next set of regulations to attract investment in the manufacturing sector and establish India as a global hub for electronics. At OnePlus, we are fully committed to the Indian market and welcome the proposed regulations. Currently, all OnePlus smartphones are produced locally and we are already exploring ways to further increase the share of local manufacturing to ensure there is minimal cost impact of any new regulations to the end customer.

Sameer Narang, Chief Economist, Bank of Baroda
Union Budget will go a long way in stimulating the rural and farm economy in FY19. At the same time, indirect tax collections have been pegged to increase by 19.2% led by higher compliance and improved GST collections. Fiscal deficit of 3.3% in FY19 is slightly higher than our estimate of 3.2% of GDP and which will result in net borrowings of Rs4.62tn (slightly higher than this year’s Rs4.59tn). Overall, we continue to believe that GDP growth will inch up to 7.5% in FY19 on the back of higher exports and government spending on rural and infra sectors.

Keshab Panda, CEO & MD, L&T Technology Services
We welcome the government’s thrust on encouraging R&D pursuits in the areas of AI, machine learning, robotics and edge analytics. This move will further leapfrog the innovations in this space that is significantly driven by Indian companies and will place the country at the centre of global digital transformation focus.”

Ashishkumar Chauhan,  MD & CEO, BSE 
The Finance Minister has rolled out an excellent budget with a thrust to core areas such as agriculture, healthcare, education infrastructure and rural development. The overall focus is to support farmers and rural areas, fine print focuses on boosting growth, jobs and private investment. Overall, this is a positive budget, with continued focus on fiscal prudence, boosting the manufacturing sector, augmenting MSME's, improving healthcare and skill development. Impetus to GIFT City IFSC, Gold Exchanges, Disinvestment, ETF's for debt financing and measures to reviving corporate bond markets augers well for the capital markets.

Rajeev Kapur, MD, Steelbird HI Tech 
Its a good step that government has reduced corporate tax by 5% and the best thing is that the government has taken care of 70% of the population and if the 70% of the population's income will grow their standard of living will also grow automatically which will increase the spending power.

Ravindra Agrawal, M.D and Promoter, KisanKraft
We welcome the overall budget 2018-19 and appreciate the efforts of the government for refactoring MSP, idea of gramin rural market agencies, extenstion of Kisan credit to fisheries and for animal husbandry etc. Its definetly a pro-agriculture Budget this time. The move of encouraging organizations engaged in farm produce business is very positive, and will in turn aide farmers.

With continued focus on agricultre, government will surely achieve its goal of doubling farmer’s income in near future. We highly appreciate government's emphasis on generating higher incomes for farmers, by helping them produce more with lesser costs involved.

Dr P. Venkat Rangan, Vice Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore

The staggering outlay of Rs 100,000 crores to give a fillip to research excellence in premier educational institutes through the new RISE initiative is a very welcome step. India is currently spending less than 1% of its GDP on research. RISE will go a long way in boosting innovation for flagship programs of the Govt. like Make in India and Digital India. The Government’s stated focus on enhancing the quality of education through technology and improving the quality of teachers is also welcome. The ‘Prime Minister’s Research Fellows’ scheme to provide scholarships to 1,000 B.Tech students will help meritorious candidates excel in higher education. We hope all these initiatives will be extended fully to private deemed-to-be universities with a proven track record and contribution in terms of research excellence, innovation and societal engagement, to set up centers of excellence in cutting-edge inter-disciplinary areas.

Vijay Thadani, VC and MD, NIIT
Among the positive steps for the education sector, Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022 with a total investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore in next four years stood out. The fact that the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative is a much appreciated provision.

Increase in digital intensity in education and envisaging move from ‘‘black board’’ to ‘‘digital board’’; using technology to upgrade the skills of teachers through a digital portal "Diksha"; national program on artificial intelligence under the aegis of Niti Aayog; mission on Cyber Physical Systems and a test bed for 5G technology at IIT Chennai were among the other encouraging initiatives", added Mr Thadani.

Amit Gujral ,


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