Industry bigwigs decode the Budget 2019

Hari L Mundra, Independent Director, Board of ICICI Bank & Visiting Professor at IIM - Ahmedabad: The malaise in the Indian economy has been deep rooted, destroying our pride and image. No political leadership in the past had the courage to attack it. In fact, some in fact contributed to it. So, it is very pleasing to see the present leadership continuing to take transformational steps to remove this malaise. Some of the bold game-changers have been IBC, RERA, GST, Jan Dhan Accounts and Aadhaar. This Budget has continued this process by replacing subsidies by direct money transfers to the poor and to the marginal farmers.The bane of India has been the extremely poor productivity of govt expenditure due to leakages and corruption. The direct transfer scheme is a game-changing process to reduce these leakages and improve the lot of the poor, both rural and urban.

Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya, President & CEO, Ekgaon Group & Chairman - Compliance, Committee of the Business Correspondent Federation of India (BCFI): Earlier in the year, the government announcement MSP for over 22 crops as per the recommendation of Swaminathan committee but failed to deliver on the same, citing state non-compliance in the matter, only Paddy got MSP as per the new formula and that too with many problems.

The government also announced in the last Budget a mega irrigation scheme, of which 50 per cent Budget remains unspent, it never told why

The government has been silent on farmer suicide numbers and do not even acknowledge farm distress until the recent Budget.

The government in the current Budget announced income support to farmers for the first time, acknowledging farm distress that requires cash benefit. However, the proposed amount of Rs 6,000 per year in line with the similar schemes by Telengana, Odisha and West Bengal governments is too little and does not compensate for the losses farmers have accumulated due to droughts, demonetisation and poor market price realisation.

Biren Parekh, Vice President & Programme Director, Intellect Design Arena: Election Budget assures income support for small and marginal farmers, tax benefits to the middle class, mega pension scheme for the unorganised sector, among others. The tax exemption up to Rs 5 Lakh income is welcome relief for individual taxpayers, which will provide more disposable income in the hand of working class. It is also good to see that government has shown a 10-point vision for better social infrastructure, digital India, energy security control, social programme, etc., for creating a $10 trillion economy after 8 years. And yes, not to forget special Budget allocation for women-led development mentioned in this election Budget. It was fine balancing act between fiscal prudence & development for such interim Budget.

Some incentives for startups were desirable and I am sure would be taken up either in final Budget or during the year.

Ganesh Iyer, Vice President, Just Dial: In my opinion, it’s a very positive Budget and it is laying a foundation for rapid economy growth. The Budget has surely benefited the lower middle class people by increasing the income in their hands. This will lead to greater spending in the economy and, in turn, boost all businesses. The move to provide some income to the farmers and slowly increase that over a period of time is a brilliant idea compared to waiving of farmers loans. Also the tax collection during Modi’s tenure has increased and, thus, making such good moves possible. So overall, I would like to say that it is very positive and effective Budget for development of India.

Abhishek Agrawal, Chief Regional Officer – South Asia, Accion: Overall the Budget a very balanced Budget. With general elections scheduled in a few months, the government has tried balancing many wheels while going for a populist Budget, and also ensuring that they do not lose the grip and go short on fiscal deficit.

No tax on personal income up to Rs 5 lakh is a great move, as it will leave more money in the hands of people and will also increases the taxable economy base over a period of time. Increased allocation for health sector, including allocation for AB-PMJY scheme will enable the better health services for underserved population.

Kris Lakshmikanth, Founder Chairman & Managing Director, The Head Hunters India Pvt Ltd: This is clearly an election Budget. Hence, short term focus. The next government has to bear the consequences. I don't see any worthwhile job generation related initiatives. Income tax ceiling increase up to 5 lakh looks good on paper.

GK Gupta, Vice President - Internal Assurance, Max Life Insurance Company Ltd: In my view, the government has presented a very inclusive Budget addressing expectation of a large spectrum of segment in the society. What is left to be seen is the acid test of keeping the fiscal deficit in the targeted levels of 3.4 per cent. Else, the benefits distributed in the last Budget will tantamount to compromising economy for political gains.

S Sundararajan, COO, Real Soft (Intl) Pvt. Ltd: Though the attempt to make the Budget voter-friendly cannot be ruled out, yet it is a welcome Budget. The effect is going to be favourable towards building a more optimistic future for the country. Evidently, the measures of the past Budgets and risky initiatives should have given a comfortable wallet and the message is clear that more and more compliance by all - on their own or by order - will only lead to more comfort for all. Though the quantum of Rs 500 per month can be debated, it signifies an acknowledgement that the farmer is important. The taxpayer should find it gratifying: they did their job of filing their returns more sincerely and the grateful government appreciated it readily. And, the pension for the unorganised sector employees is truly a recognition of the plight of those people. Overall, I think this Budget individually acknowledges each group of country builders and assures a joint walk with them.

CA Shivaram Bhat, Vice Chairman, Bangalore Branch of SIRC, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI): Overall, it is a welcome Budget for individuals. Full rebate up to annual income of Rs 5 lakh may reduce number of taxpayer base, but the overall financial impact on government kitty will not be heavy. However, it will reduce burden on IT Infrastructure, assessment and related administration aspects of handling 3 crore of returns handling.

Reinvestment of capital gain tax in to 2 residential houses will help some way real estate market to recover and cost of house rent will come under control. Housing Loan business of Banks will also improve.

Quarterly GST return by small businesses is a real big help, saving them from the trouble.

Pension for unorganised sector is yet another very important and most wanted step.

Overall, government is coming at the rescue of lower and middle class.

For a salary class, in the modern days, car is no more a luxury, but a necessity. What was expected is to increase exemption for conveyance allowance , car running and maintenance and also allow chauffer allowance at market rate. If it is done, it would provide more employment opportunity for drivers/low economy class.

Anyway, overall, it is a good Budget.

Ashish Seth, Vice President – Materials, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd: In my opinion, it’s a brilliant Budget…..perhaps the best in the last 20 odd years…..the last such Budget was in 1991/92 presented by Dr Manmohan Singh…….it should be a trigger for favourable responses from our middle class and farming community.

Joseph Devasia, Managing Director, Antal International India: Again, a lacklustre Budget aimed to make it election-friendly, talking about what has been done in the past will not help the youth of this country secure a future, they need jobs that pay for a subsistence. A dole of Rs 3,000 does not help anyone achieve the greatness our country is clearly poised to achieve.

The reduction in tax slab will leave another Rs 1,000 in the pocket every month for a section of the taxpayers, while this may not impact some for the vast majority it helps offset the increase in fuel prices, or extra GST burden on household goods they pay.

Overall, this Budget has clearly failed to impress how a million new jobs will be created every month. 

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