By Kumar Mangalam Birla
India is on a developmental path where its energy demand will grow faster than any other nation over the coming decades. Yet, India has joined, with full force, the global fight against climate change—embracing it as both a challenge and an opportunity. India’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2070 is backed by several policies and initiatives in the areas of energy transition and mobility since the past few years. This Budget reinforces that path by making green growth as one of the seven priorities that will guide our journey during the Amrit Kaal.
The Budget makes sizeable provisions for green hydrogen, energy transition, and energy storage. India’s targets are ambitious and transformative in these areas. Through the government’s leadership and private sector initiatives, we can look forward to a future of low carbon intensity, better energy security, and reduced dependence on fossil fuel imports. In the process, many jobs will be created too.
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Many Indian companies have been cognizant of the imperative for sustainability and are taking various initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint. This journey will be incentivised through an interesting concept of a Green Credit programme, mentioned in the Budget and to be notified under the Environment Protection Act. It will help channelise more funding for sustainability initiatives accelerating the process.
There are also new initiatives to encourage natural farming, the balanced use of fertilisers and the conversion of waste to bio-energy. These will promote green farming. Coastal shipping will be promoted with viability gap funding, which will provide an energy-efficient and low-cost transport mode. Substantial funds have been allocated for replacing old government vehicles. Each of these steps will contribute to creating a greener foundation for India’s future growth leap.
A key highlight of the Budget is the sharp step-up in capital expenditure to Rs 10 trillion. This is the third successive year of a sizeable jump in capex, showing the government’s firm commitment to leading the charge for India’s investment recovery. It supports the economy, which has just recently bounced back from the scars of the pandemic, and at a time when global growth impulses are weakening. These sizeable investments into various infrastructure areas also build India’s future-readiness.
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Aligned to the recently aligned National Logistics policy, this infrastructure build-up will go a long way in enhancing the competitiveness of Indian industry.
Such a significant rise in capex also signifies the improving quality of government spending. Despite the sharp rise in capex, the Budget has remained on the path of fiscal consolidation, which is commendable.
The buoyancy in tax collections has been a helping factor, which one believes is here to stay, given the formalisation of the economy and improved tax collection systems.
The Budget also nurtures short-term growth impulses by leaving more money in the hands of middle-class taxpayers. Like in the recent years, it remains inclusive, with several continuing and new initiatives for women, artisans, tribals, and MSMEs. It also reflects a sharp focus on futuristic themes like artificial intelligence, 5G, digitisation and other aspects of the Industry 4.0 transformation. Indeed, this Budget is a blueprint for India@100.
The writer is Chairman, Aditya Birla Group