By Arun Chawla
Amidst fears of global slowdown, inflationary pressures, uncertainty regarding tightening of monetary policies, continuing geopolitical strife, Union Budget of world’s fifth largest economy exhibits healthy fiscal trajectory. With welfarism at heart, the finance minister has been able to tick many boxes with her Budget announcements. India definitely seems to be on track to become the third largest economy by the end of this decade.
Government’s vision for Amrit Kaal includes technology driven and knowledge-based economy with strong public finances, and robust financial sector. True to the vision, Union Budget has committed an unprecedented outlay on infra-capex, laying thrust on embracing technology, digitisation and modernisation of regulations in the financial sector among other initiatives.
Initiatives such as setting up of National Financial Information Registry will optimise lending processes, imparting greater assurance to it. Backed by use of PAN as the common identifier for all digital systems, the ease with which public credit can be availed would greatly improve.
In the spirit of effective governance and strong consultative mechanism with industry and citizens, the Budget also identifies priorities such as improving bank governance, enhancing investors’ protection, truncating response time, facilitating optimum regulations in financial sector. The proposed system of Unified Filing Process with different government agencies will improve the ease of doing business many notches, and has been welcomed by domestic businesses and international investors alike. Industry is grateful for the unwavering focus on enhancing the ease of doing business over the past few years through rationalisation of compliances and decriminalisation of provisions. It is heartening to see that the Budget proposes to accelerate trust-based governance. Measures such as Entity Digi-Locker for secure storing and sharing of documents with the business ecosystem would greatly improve the way India Inc does business. Reinforcing e-courts project with further budgetary support will also address the challenges of judicial processes in the country. Application of digital services in public infrastructure in the past such as Aadhaar, PMJDY, UPI, BHIM etc has not only helped in expansion of financial services but also accelerated growth of fintech sector in the country. Similar thrust on AI and R &D, as proposed, may help us replicate this success and place India at the forefront of AI revolution.
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While ensuring that the country’s full economic potential is harnessed, the Budget also puts the spotlight on sustainable growth. The Green Credit Program will incentivize environmentally sustainable and responsive actions by stakeholders and schemes such as PM PRANAM, Waste to Wealth, MISHTI will promote circular economy, natural farming – all crucial for development of sustainable eco-system. Commitments towards energy transition and energy storage would further aid India’s progress towards meeting COP26 obligations. In fact, the Green Hydrogen Mission is well positioned to establish India as a global leader and making it a Green Hydrogen hub. Adequate thrust has also been laid on development of sustainable infrastructure. Establishment of urban infrastructure in tier-2 and tier-3 cities and logistics linkages through transport infrastructure projects would not only create investments opportunities in these cities but also push forward employment and entrepreneurship. Additional support offered to states to spur investment in infrastructure further sweetens the basket.
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As the Economic Survey emphasised, the recovery from various global headwinds is complete, and it is now time to renew and re-energise the growth drivers of the economy. Today’s Budget unmistakably does just that.
(The writer is director general, Ficci. Views expressed are personal)