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Budget Reaction 2018: Very Responsible Budget, Says Shobana Kamineni, President, CII

"It is not a populist but a popular budget and I think it addresses most of India’s concerns. So I think it was really very responsible of this govt to come out with this budget," says Shobana Kamineni

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Ms. Shobana Kamineni, President, CII, shares his views on the Budget introduced on February 1st. Edited excerpts:

There will be a BW Report Card – On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate the budget?

I hate to give numbers. ‘Modicare’ will be remembered far more than failed ‘Obamacare’ because the latter didn’t go through. More than that, the scale and ambit of his policy is for 100 million people which is amazing. It was never been done before. For Obamacare it was 100 million but Modicare it is 100 million.

Do you think it is a populist budget?

It is not a populist but a popular budget and I think it addresses most of India’s concerns. So I think it was really very responsible of this govt to come out with this budget. This budget talks about the implantation of infrastructure projects on what they have spoken earlier. Whether it is Swachch Bharat, Ganga Project, Direct Subsidies, Electricity provided for Free Houses etc. All this properly addressed to create more infrastructure, road, Udaan, and how they can spend it.

Will the job creation be adequately addressed in this budget?

Yes, all these will create jobs and kickstart construction industry. Corporate Tax, I would have loved had it gone all across, but they have addressed 90%. That is 75% of CII members. Definitely, for us it is a popular move. Employment will come from many different ways. There is no magic mantra that one can switch on and create 12 million jobs. It does require sector by sector and step by step. They have understood it.

Is the rural distress / agriculture crisis adequately addressed in the Budget?

I think agrarian stress is hugely addressed from all aspects. It talks on how everyone can participate for agrarian stress. It talks about farm income and non-farm income. I think that it’s significant. The Budget provides impetus to the sectors of agriculture and rural economy with many significant measures which will add to overall consumption and demand and boost growth. The support to MSME sector through lowering of corporate tax rate to 25%, increase in access to finance, and addressing non-performing assets would help alleviate the stress in the sector.

What are the downsides of this budget?

They have to make sure all these benefits gets transferred. If they had done this (announcement) last year, there would have been more headroom and we would have seen the results by now. We all need to put our heads down and really work this year. Because there is some real good things that happened now. Long Term Capital Gains and extra 1% education you know one time we have to stop. The rich will find other alternatives and countries which are more competitive. Money is very fungible and that is the only small downside. But at the end of the day, our heart beats for India. We are so glad that they have addressed women, senior citizens, youth and entrepreneurs.

If you can summarize the budget in brief.

As in previous Budgets, the Finance Minister has introduced some innovative steps which will add comfort to citizens and strengthen key growth drivers. I hope all such announced projects are implemented in full swing. 

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