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Union Budget 2021: Light At The End Of Tunnel

With Union Budget 2021 right around the corner, the industry is expecting long-term initiatives that will help infuse positivity and bring back growth to the economy.

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The year 2020 was full of challenges for the common man, businesses, and the overall economy. The travel and mobility industry was one of the first to be significantly impacted by the pandemic. However, with ease in travel restrictions, people gradually started stepping out for work, weekend getaways and started using public transportation facilities. All these factors contributed to the recovery of the travel and tourism industry particularly in the latter half of the year. 

Now, with Union Budget 2021 right around the corner, the industry is expecting long-term initiatives that will help infuse positivity and bring back growth to the economy. 

Privately owned buses are the single largest mode of travel. As things stand today, private buses are the single largest and most preferred mode of inter-city travel. Though railways and government-owned state road transport corporation buses ferry almost 60% of the passengers – this number has more or less remained the same in the last 10 years. 

This in short is the need for private players who are expected to expand their network and cater to the proliferating growth of passenger traffic. Private buses are expected to fulfill the unmet demand and provide the missing link in the last mile connectivity. 

Inter-city travel, smart mobility, and last-mile connectivity are the pillars of strength for the public transport industry. This role played by private intercity buses is going to expand exponentially in the next 5 years. 

Recently even Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated the use of public transport to save on fuel and position India as one of the leading travel economies of the world. This has to be backed up by supporting the use of buses and trains for intercity travel. It is of utmost importance to create a conducive atmosphere where the customers are willing and can afford to spend, this will lead to the overall economic growth of the nation. 

We hope that the government will initiate necessary measures to promote the use of economical, and eco-friendly – Electric, CNG, and H-CNG-based fuels. We also hope that the government takes measures to promote composite CNG cylinders which can induce long-distance travel on a single refill and reduce the wait time for a tank full – thus easing the operations. Measures that would augur well for the mobility industry in the upcoming budget would be to create a roadmap for One India One Permit for intercity buses. Besides this, there should be a clear definition of clean and environment-friendly fuel types and a definitive policy on alternatives fuels. 

Further, the budget must have a special allocation to encourage MSMEs and startups, simplification of Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOP) should be proposed. Currently, ESOP is subjected to various direct taxes. Start-ups are considered as a backbone in the development of the Indian economy and it is for the government to ensure that the right thrust is given to the startup sector with easier public procurement norms to pave the way towards strong economic growth.

We are also expecting that the government will streamline tax exemption or leniency wherever possible to compensate for the tough business environment for 4-6 months due to COVID -19 and the resultant lockdown. Additionally, creating an equitable regulatory framework for the orderly growth of services in the public mobility segment is critical at this point. The same can be achieved through amendments in the Motor Vehicle Act, which will largely be responsible for easing the process of National Permit, Contract Carriage Permit, and licenses for intercity travel. 

While the year does show signs of positivity, with normalcy returning this year, we are also positive and hopeful that the support of the Indian government and the upcoming decisions in the Union Budget 2021, will be a great push for boosting the country’s mobility and travel startup segment.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Manish Rathi

The Author is the CEO & co-founder of IntrCity RailYatri

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