Indian Inc’s take on the Budget
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The industry captains pronounced Arun Jaitley's maiden full term Budget as growth-oriented and one that takes a realistic look at the economy amid challenges. The stock market which had swung in the red at the end of the Budget speech, rose back up later in the day as analysts pored deeper into the measures announced.

Here's a quick check on who said what on the Budget:

Rahul Bajaj, chairman, Bajaj Auto Ltd: “This has been one of the best Budgets in the recent past. Keeping in mind fiscal and other constraints, it has done whatever a Budget can do to promote savings, investment and hence growth. FM has proposed many new things including bankruptcy code in 2015–16, a universal social-security system, a plan to set up a national investment infrastructure fund, tax free infrastructure bonds, five ultra-mega power projects for 4000 MW each and many other projects.”

Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank: “There is a clear and sharp focus on the four key areas of growth—inclusion, fiscal prudence and tax rationalisation. The Budget promotes growth through its focus on infrastructure and ease of doing business. The theme of inclusion is reflected in the measures taken to empower all stakeholders – there is greater devolution of resources to states and there are a number of measures for the poor, youth and senior citizens. The fiscal target of 3 per cent by fiscal 2018 articulated by the Finance Minister is prudent while at the same time balances the current growth needs of the economy. The clarity given on the tax regime will go a long way in making India an attractive destination for investments and encouraging domestic savings. The Budget reflects the vision of the government and takes India forward on a path of growth and inclusive prosperity.”

Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej Group: “The Budget was overall in the right direction. I think the GDP growth rate in the next fiscal year will be on the higher side of the range at 8.5 per cent. The high investment into infrastructure, a clear date for implementation of the GST, strong encouragement to agriculture and the social infrastructure sector will be very favourable for GDP growth in the future.”

Kishore Biyani, Group CEO, Future Group: “Fiscal prudence, bringing down inflation, financial empowerment of states, incentivising insurance and social security and improving ease of doing business were the big agenda items of this Budget. However, what the Budget lacked was the big push for entrepreneurship that can turn the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ initiative into a reality. We were expecting a strong impetus towards domestic demand creation that can lead to growth of Indian manufacturing sector. Increase in service tax and excise duty will disincentivise consumption. Along with this, leaving the income tax slabs and rates unchanged is going to leave lesser money in the hands of the common man to spend on domestically produced goods and services.”

Tulsi Tanti, chairman and MD, Suzlon Group: “The government’s thrust on renewable energy is clearly visible in the target of achieving 175 GW by 2022. In the last 25 years, India has done 34 GW and in the next seven years we now have a target of 175 GW, comprising of 60GW wind energy which is an ambitious target for the industry and we welcome the move since it is in the right direction.”

Somesh Chandra, COO, Max Bupa: “This is a breakthrough Budget and sets pace for fast growth economic trajectory through robust financial framework. We are delighted that the Budget has fulfilled the wish list of the health insurance sector and delivered on our long standing demand of increasing the tax deduction limit under section 80D.”

Shyam Srinivasan, MD & CEO, Federal Bank: “Budget focused on building Infrastructure, healthcare and cash-less economy. The Finance Minister has presented the Budget with a multi-year view. He has laid the roadmap of what can be expected over the next four years and done a fine balancing act between the present fiscal challenges while dealing with high expectations of the government.”

Ramesh Bawa, MD & CEO, IL&FS Financial Services: “This year’s Budget had built up a lot of expectations over the last few months with all the sectors of the industry awaiting the announcement of impressive reforms. Although, this Budget provides a good direction towards simplifying the procedures for achieving broad goals there seems to be a substantial scope available to explore much more measures for the remarkable reforms. With respect to the infrastructure sector, the Budget has laid a clear road map for development of various infrastructure initiatives. The infrastructure development agenda also seems to be complemented by several innovative financial initiatives including a National Investment & Infra Fund, Tax free Infra Bonds, Bank Bureau Boards, cess to fund renewable energies and ideas to channel savings.”

Peter Kerkar, director, Cox & Kings Ltd: “The extension of Electronic Travel authorisation (e-Visas) to 150 more countries is a positive step for tourism as this sector contributes seven per cent of India’s GDP and helped create more than 40 million jobs last year. Secondly the plan to make World Heritage Sites more tourist friendly was long overdue as these sites attract a large number of tourists.”

Umesh Revankar MD, Shriram Transport Finance Company: “Small businesses have been major contributors to the country’s growth but hardly have they been recognised as credit worthy for all these years. The government’s initiative to have Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank, with a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, credit guarantee corpus of Rs 3,000 crore, making MUDRA a refinance to all micro-finance institutions and last but not the least with lending priority given to SC/ST enterprises is a huge step in addressing the needs of these largely neglected entrepreneurs who are the real face of ‘Make In India’.”

Gagan Banga, vice chairman & MD, Indiabulls Housing Finance: “The FM has cleared the cluttered, and at times convoluted, tax regime and has ushered in a more cogent and predictable tax environment. The thrust on infrastructure in the Budget is a welcome step in this direction and signals the government’s intent and understanding of the importance of this key sector. The finance minister underlined inflation management as another area of priority for the government. Not only will this aid robust economic growth, a low to moderate inflation environment will also ease populist pressures on the government. The tax overhaul to permit the listing of REIT will provide a much needed source of capital to a sector that is hungry for efficient funding.”

Shantanu Prakash, CMD, Educomp Solutions Ltd: “We are happy that the government has addressed the need to upgrade over 80,000 secondary schools and add or upgrade 75,000 junior/middle, to the senior secondary level. Such steps would effectively enable more children to attend schools and be part of the country’s growth story. The emphasis on the national skills mission, the launch of welfare scheme 'Nayi Manzil' and easier loans for higher education are all steps in the right direction and hold promise for the immediate and long term. However, we are disappointed that the persistent and legitimate demand from the education sector to exempt schools from service tax on outsourced services has not been met. This will certainly increase the burden on parents across the spectrum.”

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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