Budget 2016 Expectations: With regard to the mood on the overall business environment and reducing blockages…
While the government is putting a lot of effort in removing blockages with a host of announcements, so that companies can move with speed, execution continues to remain a challenge. The bureaucracy must also get their act together and speed up the process of execution. The government must devolve more powers to the bureaucrats and encourage them to take quicker decisions so that the ease of doing business in India becomes a reality. A case in point in the general insurance sector is the insurance schemes supported by the government. These schemes are extremely laudable. However, to make the scheme more attractive, the government must ensure much faster transmission of the premiums to the insurers.
With regard to the liberalization in the FDI policy in insurance sector…
Quite clearly there is interest in the general insurance sector as well as the reinsurance sector. India must develop into an attractive market for reinsurers and the liberalisation in the FDI policy will go a long way in this process.
With regard to the penetration of insurance sector in India still being very low….
One of the reasons for low penetration of the insurance sector is the lack of awareness of the benefits of taking insurance. Natural calamities cannot be the advertisement for buying insurance. The price individuals and families are paying during these calamities are extremely severe. For a small premium individuals / families can protect their livelihood, homes, health etc. For this the government, the industry and the regulator must commence campaigns encouraging people to be protected (insured). We have seen how sustained campaigns have helped in eradicating polio. Once people are aware and have insured themselves everyone benefits – insurance companies, families and the government. Insurance companies can invest these premiums in the infrastructure / housing sectors which need capital for longer durations, which cannot ideally be serviced by the banking industry.
The innovative things that India needs to do to spur its economic growth on the back of the global economic slack…
I am a firm believer that if we address some very basic issues in the Indian business environment it will undoubtedly spur growth
· Ease of doing business – This is the government is very focussed on. However all stakeholders – centre, states and the bureaucracy must participate in it
· Remove uncertainty – Investors must feel assured that there is certainty in tax and business laws so that they know in advance what they are getting into
· Invest in infrastructure – The government must start investing in top class infrastructure to attract investments. Most of Indian cities are crumbling owing to infrastructure that cannot sustain the growth that they are burdened with
Other general industry expectations for the budget 2016-17…
· The government must put a road map for introduction of the GST so that there is clarity on the date on which GST would come in place
· The government must put a roadmap for converging the tax laws with the proposed Ind AS (Accounting standards)
· The government must fast track the Universal Health Schemes and spread to as many states in India as possible
By Miranjit Mukherjee, Chief Financial Officer, Tata AIG General Insurance Co Ltd