There is something for everyone in this budget. From the richest seeing a reduction in the taxes to addressing the health concerns of some of the most vulnerable tribals in the country. There is significant boost to infrastructure spending while also sending out a message that future growth has to be green, tech-led and inclusive. Each year many in the pharmaceutical industry anxiously await concessions in investments into research and development and while that this not happened as some had hoped for but then for the first time in many years, the Union budget talks of focus on boosting research and innovation in pharma.
These and several more elements in the budget made many in the industry happy that a pre-election budget attempted all of this and yet spoke of its aim to contain fiscal deficit to under 5 per cent of the GDP. Partnering with industry Meher Pudumjee, the chairperson of Thermax, an engineering company providing sustainable solutions in energy and environment, finds the
budget as one that comes across as a very well thought through document that aimed to build on the previous budgets.
That it brings industry into the growth narrative with an outlook to partner with the industry and also stay conscious to its needs, are also elements she welcomes. She particularly likes the emphasis on infrastructure, education, teacher training and skill development.
The focus on infrastructure and linked with it the component of tourism promotion underlines the well-structured and thought through approach taken in the budget. From focusing on tribals and vulnerable sections to seeing a future aligned to green growth are among the various elements from the budget that stand out, she feels.
Tribal India & disease burden
To Dr Swati Piramal, vice chairperson, Piramal group, that has interests in financial services, pharma and realty, the focus on tribals and the attempts to help this vulnerable section was a welcome move. A medical doctor herself, she says, “after all, 10 per of our population lives in tribal areas and they have diseases that are far more (in terms of prevalence) than in the other
regions of the country.” She also finds the focus on research and innovation in pharma as very encouraging.
Unshackling & data-driven
Among the many messages that Gopal Srinivasan, founder, chairman and managing director of TVS Capital Funds, finds emanating from the just announced Union budget, the one that he finds standing out is on “ease of doing business.” Though several measures – from e-courts project to MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) getting more credit, he finds this as a clear message that needs to be welcomed.
That 30 per cent of India’s GDP comes from MSMEs only underlines the need to ensure greater amount of credit is made available to them, he feels. Welcoming the measures taken on the taxation front and even reduction for those with high income and those that are both wealth and job creators. Though, he feels more could have been done in the start up arena. He also hails the measures taken to ehance the activities in GIFT IFSC and on delegating powers under the SEZ Act to IFSCA to avoid dual regulation. He talks of these and other elements in the budget and what to make of them.
Green & global
“Everybody would have expected a pre-election budget that talks only of jobs but the budget has given an impetus to job creation without saying it,” says Sangita Reddy, joint managing director, Apollo Hospitals and the past president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Sharing her reading of the budget with the Financial Express Online, Reddy felt the high emphasis on infrastructure spending at Rs 10 lakh crore – an allocation that is 3.3 per cent of the GDP is a strong platform for growth.
Also, in the year of the G-20 leadership by India, she saw the budget displaying a “global outlook” with focus on “green, equity, youth and digital.” On the spending on healthcare, she saw reason for comfort in an increasing trend in spending to over 2 per cent of the GDP and almost 15 per cent higher than last year. She also hails the measures to boost tourism and feels it will eventually reflect also in boosting “medical value travel.”
The 3 Is
K V Subramaniam, President, Reliance Life Sciences has welcomed the several provisions in the budget though he feels it is the emphasis on inclusive development, investment and innovation or the 3 Is, as he calls it are the ones that really stand out about the budget.
Beyond medical devices
To Pankaj R Patel, chairman, Zydus Lifesciences, it is a “growth-oriented budget.” The Government expenditure on capital has gone up significantly however fiscal deficit targets are in line with expectations, he says. Also, “the lifesciences and medical sector will stand to benefit greatly with the impetus on innovation and R&D. The move to open select ICMR labs for research programmes by public and private companies will help in strengthening the R&D ecosystem in the country.”
Setting up of Centres of Excellence for innovation and the Government’s initiatives to encourage investments in R&D will go a long way in bringing Indian Innovation to the forefront, he says. The medical devices sector will also stand to gain from the new multidisciplinary courses which will be introduced as they will bring in skilled talent and enable high-technology and promote research and manufacturing of these technologies in India.
He makes a particular mention of the government’s announcement on eliminating Sickle Cell Anaemia by 2047 and feels it a much needed step. “This disease is prevalent in several parts of India and almost 70 per cent of the children under the age of 5 years get afflicted by the disease.” At Zydus Hospitals Dahod, he adds, “we have set up a dedicated centre to help
patients suffering from Sickle Cell Anaemia. We need to address this health concern on a war footing.”