Union Budget 2019: There’s a keen interest in skilling the workforce on new-age technologies such as AI, IoT, robotics, virtual reality and Big Data
Budget 2019 India: The Union Budget 2019 has focused on fundamentals— improving India’s socio-economic scenario, empowering rural India through electrification, water, connectivity, improving ease of living and doing business, women empowerment, education and skilling. These are basic pillars essential to the development of a nation and it is evident that the government has a dedicated focus on addressing these basic issues.
There are multiple benefits for consumers to avail through the announcements made in the Budget. The government has tried to address issues for both the urban and the rural Indian, through announcements such as providing constant electricity at affordable rates or the move to provide affordable housing through an additional deduction on the interest paid. With initiatives such as ‘Har Ghar Jal’ which aims at providing safe drinking water to every household by 2024 or the keen interest shown by the government in skilling the workforce on new age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, Virtual Reality and Big Data, the Union Budget 2019 is truly a budget for a better India.
Initiatives such as payment portals for SMEs and MSMEs, dedicated TV programme for startups, Study In India to further India’s standing as a global excellence centre for education are poised to catapult the country’s economy. From an industry point of view, there were multiple positive developments and we laud the government of India’s vision to build a truly inclusive economy.
Building a sustainable India
The government has given special impetus to sustainability, with the FM announcing that the government has already moved the GST Council to reduce the tax slab for electric vehicles (EV) from 12% to 5%. The allocation of Rs 10,000 crore for the FAME II policy is also a welcome move that will provide the needed thrust for the adoption of EVs in India. Not only will the move attract investments for local manufacturing but also ensure green and sustainable solutions for the country. The additional tax benefit of Rs 1.5 lakh on the interest paid, to people who are looking to purchase an electric vehicle will certainly improve customer confidence and increase the demand for EVs in India. Overall, the Budget has given enough emphasis to bolster the entire EV ecosystem in the country.
Increased consumer spending
The Union Budget 2019 also aimed at providing the necessary support to non- banking finance companies (NBFC) in India, where the NBFC entities that are fundamentally sound will continue to get funding from banks and mutual funds without being risk averse. This is a welcome move as it will allow the end-consumers to get easy finances and thus improve their purchasing power. In the future, we expect the government to consider reduction of GST rates for television sets above 32 inches to 18% and efficient products such as air conditioners and refrigerators with a rating of 4-star and above, bringing them under the 12% slab. This will help in increased consumer spending and consumption of these products.
Boost local manufacturing
The government has been promoting local manufacturing through various programmes and initiatives, and Budget 2019 further re-instated the government’s vision of creating an economy powered by manufacturing. The government’s move to increase basic customs duty (BCD) on indoor and outdoor unit of split system air conditioners from 10% to 20% and CCTV cameras and IP cameras from 15% to 20% is a positive step forward for manufacturing in the country.
While the government has taken significant steps in improving manufacturing, we still look forward to exemption of BCD on open cells for televisions to help us in reducing costs for the consumer and create a sustainable phased manufacturing programme. Further, we also expect the government to consider other appliances such as air conditioners under the phased manufacturing programme. As the FM said – we are well on our way to become a $3-trillion economy by FY2020 and a $5-trillion economy in the next few years, making us not only a global economy, but also a force to reckon with.
(The author is CEO, Panasonic India and South Asia)