Budget 2018: Captains of the industry in the financial capital aren’t particularly enthused by the Budget proposals and also raised concerns over the fiscal math. While they welcomed the move to push the small businesses, they are concerned over the fiscal math and resource mobilisation for populist measures and also for the exclusion of certain specific demands from them. Veteran Mahindra group hand Arun Nanda welcomed the push on the rural front, saying it will open up opportunities for the group, but made his reservations public on the lack of clarity on how government plans to push the tourism sector and also the affordable housing. On the plans to build 5 million dwellings anually, Nanda said, “I don’t think the numbers are anywhere near 5 million. They are not even 10 per cent if you really go into it in details.” “The PM’s thrust continues to be on affordable housing; and it is very clear that he has little love for the rest of the housing segment,” Anuj Puri of realty consultant Anarock said speaking at a budget viewing session organised by industry lobby CII.
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It can be noted that corporate biggies, though are all based in the city, are away in the Capital for the Budget. Puri also said the 5 per cent circle rate move is not enough. Echoing Puri, Ramesh Nair of realty consultant JLL said there were specific demands on minimum alternate tax, infra status to the industry, higher external commercial borrowings and tax sops to home buyers, which have not been covered in the Budget. Gitanjali Exports chief executive Sanjeev Agarwal rued that there is not enough for the manufacturing sector in the Budget, while PAL Fashions’ Charan Ahuja said the textile sector which has huge employment potential needed more.
“The allocation of Rs 7,148 crore for textiles is very low, if you are looking at a 15 per cent growth in exports in this sector,” he said, adding there is already a shortfall of Rs 6,000 crore from an earlier announcement which is yet to come in. Blue Star’s B Thiagarajan said the proposal to double allocation for the food processing sector to Rs 1,400 crore is not sufficient and noted that the sector needs at least Rs 10,000 crore.
Suketu Shah of steelmaker Mukand and Ashank Desai of mid-size IT firm Mastek questioned the fiscal math and how the government will be finding the resources for proposals like the health cover for 50 crore people. However, Chmetrols Industries’ K Nandakumar, said it is a very positive budget for MSMEs like his and specifically mentioned the move on decreasing the corporate tax as one which will boost employment apart from helping small businesses’ liquidity positions.
Manufacturing company Caprihans India’s Robin Banerjee gave 8/10 for the Budget for distinguishing between the salaried individuals and individual entrepreneurs and also pushing the corporate bond market. Rishi Bagla, who runs the auto component maker OMR Bagla, welcomed the reference to ease of living, saying government is moving from gross domestic product to gross national nappiness like Bhutan does, through the focus on infra, health, education and employment. “In the long-term, this is the best thing that can happen to us. If 1 per cent of the people are having 73 per cent (of wealth), this is a fantastic distribution on wealth,” he said.