Union Budget 2019: Simplifying labour laws will not only aid in protecting the interests of workers, but also encourage accountability and improve operational efficiency for Indian companies.
By Aditya Ghosh
Budget 2019 has been unconventional in most ways. From being a shattering moment for the proverbial glass ceiling with a woman finance minister helming the Budget nearly 50 years after Indira Gandhi’s 1970 debut, to encouraging parliamentarians and public alike to think outside the brown briefcase, this has been an interesting outing for the ‘bahi-khaata’. Add to that a record number of women parliamentarians in the house and we have ourselves a precedent.
As we move towards an increasingly market-driven economy, the Budget must also be seen as a mechanism to balance the varied and competing interests of this large and diverse country. The FM has to walk the tightrope between the immediate needs of the teeming millions and setting the foundation for a $5-trillion economy by 2025. While markets are an important indicator of sentiment, they are not the best barometer for determining national priorities in the medium to long term.
For a young nation, it’s important to have a vision for the decade. In this context, changes in tenancy laws and rental Acts will help unlock value and lower the burden on courts. Simplifying labour laws will not only aid in protecting the interests of workers, but also encourage accountability and improve operational efficiency for Indian companies. The proposed social sector exchange is both unique and timely. Announcements around potable water, electricity, internet for panchayats and rural households are welcome to bridging the socio-economic urban-rural divide.
The infrastructure boost across road, rail, air and waterways will incentivise both job creation and consumption. This creates opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sector, which employs over 41.6 million people and by 2028 is expected to employ 52.3 million people, already accounting for 9.4% of GDP. While the government aims to develop 17 iconic sites, it is equally important to allocate resources towards improving safety and security at tourist spots, installing hygienic public facilities, upgrading tourist information centres, encouraging homestays, supporting organised budget travel and accommodation facilities, and celebrating those organisations who are making efforts in building a sustainable ecosystem.
Access to capital and talent usually holds back most start-ups. Easing FDI rules in certain segments, reduced scrutiny on funds and valuations, resolving the angel tax issue while encouraging knowledge sharing will boost Start-Up India. The opening of FDI in sectors like media and aviation must be backed by a supporting competitive policy framework for home-grown enterprises. Optimism, therefore, needs to be balanced with execution.
This Budget is a document of vision and hope, and concerted efforts by all stakeholders can make the $5-trillion journey possible.
(The author is CEO of OYO Hotels & Homes, South Asia)