Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: What India wants from Nirmala Sitharaman



Nirmala Sitharaman et al. looking at the camera


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Union Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: The Union Budget 2021 is scheduled to be presented in Parliament on February 1, 2021. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has promised a never before like Union Budget as the Modi government looks to give a further boost to Indian economy. Ahead of the Union Budget 2021 presentation, here are all the LIVE updates on the expectations from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union Budget 2021:-

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Dr R. B. Smarta, Managing Director, Interlink

Strategic and implementable ideas have to be brought on board to make them real in India.

1. Strategically, as it is planned in National Health Policy-2017 of India has an intent of allocating 2.5% of GDP by 2025, from existing 1.3% of GDP inclusive of Public health is very minuscule compared to OECD countries average of 7.6 % of GDP.

2. Lot needs to be done in an evolving way to implement keeping long term strategic intent of Healthy India.

3. Central Government can play a crucial role in terms of enabling health policies, programmes and resources to health. Understanding it is a state issue, policy, procedures and SOPs need to be formed by central to evaluate the participation of states.

4. Current pandemic brought higher allocations to schemes such as Jan Aushadhi Scheme (Rs. 50 crore currently) and Ayushman Bharat.

5. Besides to make pharma industry to lead, in this budget we should aim at addressing following issues:

· India must get its coveted position in API in the world and PIL like schemes and allocation will reduce imports and increase exports. India will become Atmanirbhar in APIs.

· Pharma entrenchment in Artificial intelligence and machine learning needs to be promote and special allocation for pharma start-ups with time bound progress should be established.

· As we are taking lead in innovation for vaccines, R&D efforts should incentivised by showing the results on specific parameters.

· Major three SDGs taken by India needs lot of push of resources and policy framework as we are far behind the world.

· Pandemic has shown the fragility of our primary secondary health care systems, a policy framework is needed in IT enabled world.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Shankar Prasad, Founder, Pureplay – Plum, Phy and BodyLovin’  

This budget is a tightrope walk between managing deficit considerations and rekindling broad-based growth. We should not get too complacent with the festive quarter numbers, and the talk of a Covid cess is also a bit worrying. We need to believe that the economy with its undisputable consumption and asset creation potential has enough potential to make things work for all concerned: government, businesses and the general public, and just let things ease themselves out, instead of trying to over-manage through additional taxes or rules. The promise of “minimum government” is something we truly have the opportunity to deliver on, starting now, and I hope we can see that actualize. Systemically, we need to ensure our banking system is in good health, and any steps to assuage that will be welcomed.  

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Sanjay Tiwari, Co-Founder, 21CC Education

  

“We don’t just need to get people back to work, we need to get people ready for the new work. Industry 4.0 or whatever you choose to call the future is getting thrust upon us as a result of all the upheaval of the past year. I would hope that the Finance Minister would incentivise online learning programs for corporate employees so that employers can pay for their employees to be up-skilled and prepared for the demands of new jobs, some of which don’t even yet exist.”

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Ravi Vishvanathan, CFO, PayMate

2021 budget should be a macro-economic big-ticket budget with less emphasis on incrementalism and more attention to economy boosters and growth drivers. The fiscal deficit should be looked at from a 3-5 year perspective and FM should be comfortable working with a higher Fiscal deficit. The momentum in Q3FY2021 needs to be built on and stimulus should be given to the economy. Inflation can be targeted through supply-side measures and the poor can be supported via direct transfer benefits. The global upheaval due to the pandemic is both a challenge and an opportunity and the FM has a glorious opportunity on hand to shift gears permanently.

Massive incentives should be given to the small business sector as they are the backbone for employment generation. Consumption is the key to sustained growth and a strong growth backed by robust employment will ensure that we set the base for a sustainable period of double-digit growth.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Vishal Beri, CEO of Hinduja Hospital Khar

On healthcare infrastructure:

This Union Budget 2021 is expected to be unique is lot of ways, especially for healthcare. The suddenness with which the pandemic hit us was a challenge and it proved how the healthcare system is an important pillar to tackle such events. In this Budget 2021, there needs to be strong focus and special attention towards strengthening healthcare infrastructure of the country. This will ensure that infectitious diseases are handled smoothly. This should be coupled with an increased allocation as a share of GDP. The private healthcare sector would greatly benefit from granting of infrastructure status which would in turn make addition of capacity easier.

 

On Skill-sets:

On digital healthcare front, while lot of initiatives are being undertaken, we need to heavily invest in medical education and technical education to generate the required skillforce to handle the advanced technologies in healthcare.

 

On Digital Healthcare:

With the sudden growth of Tele-medicine and online consultations, we also need to focus on strengthening the required infrastructure and technological support to ensure access to healthcare for all. Also, while there have been initiatives on Telemedicine Guidelines prepared in partnership with NITI Aayog, there is also need for increased allotment for National Digital Health Mission to strengthen tele-medicine services. On the personal taxation front, an increase in the exemption limits for health insurance policies would be much appreciated considering how the need for larger covers has been felt on account of the pandemic.

 

Focus on Chronic disease management:

The Covid pandemic has proven that people with chronic ailments or poor lifestyle have adverse outcomes. Although India stands second globally in terms of highest Covid cases and lot of efforts were undertaken to contain the virus, we should not neglect the chronic diseases. India is the Diabetes Capital of the world and also the Cardiac capital of the world. This Budget needs to address the Non-Communicable Diseases through strategic allocation and sufficient funds.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby —

“PayNearby’s retail network has worked tirelessly to ensure seamless access to financial services, especially during the peak lockdown months last year. 93% of our business correspondent network has been committed to working in tier 2 and tier 3 towns, serving as the sole point of cash disbursal in locations with limited financial infrastructure. However, the commission rates for BC services are very low to make it a profitable business. Additionally, BCs, by default, come under the 27% GST and 5% TDS on cash withdrawal even after the tax act having enabling provisions. This makes it difficult for them to stay afloat.”

 

“We hope that this Budget takes into consideration the tough working condition of the BC network and make a few regulatory changes to ensure the viability of a community that has been vital to the cause of financial inclusion in the country. To continue sustaining the competitive advantage in Digital proliferation in India, restoring normal MDR on transactions will incentivise the digital ecosystem and facilitate a smoother growth trajectory towards innovation,” Bajaj added.

 

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Mandar Agashe, Founder, MD and Vice Chairman, Sarvatra Technologies —

“With the world’s largest immunisation drive already underway, economic recovery will be the major focus of the government. Despite the wreck created, the pandemic has offered a huge impetus to digital penetration all throughout the country, which has accelerated in the unlock phase. It is therefore critical the budget draws out bold policy interventions to strengthen digital infrastructure which will eventually help in digitising the overall economy.

 

The PoS terminal is financially, infrastructurally, and operationally far more affordable and far less demanding than an ATM. However with just 4 million POS machines active in the country, the budget should consider making devices such as the PoS terminal / mini ATMs’ the most viable acquiring infrastructure for banks and fintech companies by offering incentive such as a tax subsidy. Additionally, tax breaks in GST for merchants providing digital payments and tax benefits for companies helping build digital infrastructure for friction-free digital on boarding, too will catalyse the financial inclusion movement envisioned by the government.

 

The government should also consider a dedicated fund to strengthen digital infrastructure of co-operative banks across the county which will offer a big boost to a more inclusive financial system. Budgetary concessions such as a GST waiver for digital transactions along with incentivization, especially in semi-urban and rural India will further augment cashless payments.

 

UPI has been a breakthrough, home-grown technology and it is important we replicate its success through newer and more innovative technologies. Fintechs and technology startups should be encouraged to invest more in R&D to introduce newer products and diversify into newer geographies. The upcoming budget should therefore consider offering tax benefits such as private investments being exempted.

 

Besides, considering the amount of data being created and stored across industries growing at unprecedented rates, enhancing the security infrastructure to protect and manage data seamlessly should be another focus area. In the post-COVID world, digital infrastructure will be a game changer for companies and countries and therefore it is important we take timely measures to ride this wave.”

 Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Sudarshan Lodha, Co-founder, Strata —

“Considering the real estate sector is the second-largest employer in the country and directly or indirectly, accounts for approx.10 percent of the GDP, it deserves serious attention in the upcoming budget. Within realty the commercial real-estate has been a watch-out sector for investors both overseas and back home owing to its strong fundamentals and resilience. The government should therefore consider measures to further encourage more NRI investments in the country. For instance considering a reduction in the income earned from long-term capital gains would be helpful.

 

Owing to fractional platforms, affordable commercial realty is now a reality in India and therefore for retail investors intending to invest in commercial assets, the government should consider a higher exemption limit. Alternatively since both the interest income as well as dividend earned by investors are taxable as per their slab rates, the government should consider a waiver of tax on dividend. These measures will help boost retail sale which in turn can offer a huge impetus to trade and economic activities. Considering personal loan is expensive, the government should also bring in a policy whereby retail investors can avail a loan seamlessly from banks at a reasonable interest rate for investment in commercial assets through fractional route.

 

Besides it is important to address investor sentiments while also addressing the challenges being faced by developers. For instance considering a stress fund can help generate cash flow for developers thereby helping build the supply side of the industry.  Alternatively encouraging banks and NBFCs’ to lend to commercial real-estate projects or take over and restructure stalled projects will also go a long way in kick-starting the economy. Similarly properties that are not sold but developed for leasing, GST at 18 percent should be reconsidered as it is a huge liability for the developers as it pushes the cost of construction and poses further challenges in the wake of a liquidity crunch.

Additionally, the Government should also consider incentivising alternative asset classes such as warehousing, SEZs’, data canters and co-working spaces to build momentum on both the demand and supply side.”

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Sumit Gupta, CEO and Co-founder, CoinDCX

“Cryptocurrency has been emerging as one of the fastest-growing digital assets globally and India has seen tremendous traction building up following the supreme court lifting the banking ban. With growing awareness, there is growing consensus that cryptocurrencies will certainly play a crucial role in the way we deal with money and therefore it can positively contribute to the nation’s GDP. . At the moment, one cannot ignore the industry’s growth and the interest it has generated from the investors. In the past few years, the industry has generated thousands of direct employment in the country.

As more and more companies related to cryptocurrency set up base in India, the industry expects recognition. A recognition can accelerate its contribution to the GDP and employment by multifold.  It will bring a trust factor not only for the retail investors but also for the institutional players. While there may be a delay in bringing in bringing in smart and sensible regulations for the sector recognising crypto as a tradable commodity will be a significant relief. Further, to tackle AML & other funding concerns, the government should consider a formal direction to exchanges to follow the virtual assets guidelines of FATF.

Additionally, considering the ambiguity among investors pertaining to the tax applicability for the income earned from crypto trading, we expect the upcoming budget to bring in amendments in the income tax and GST laws thereby offering more clarity to investors, traders, and crypto organizations.”

 Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Sanjay Bhatia, Co-Founder, Freightwalla

In the year 2020, the pandemic brought global industries to their knees. The USD 160 billion Indian logistics industry was also not spared as it came to a standstill during the pandemic lockdown.  The industry faced many challenges in terms of clearance, processing, and movement of shipments. Few technology-driven businesses managed to overcome some of the EXIM industry’s challenges during the pandemic. The stumbling-blocks faced by the exporters and importers could have been avoided if the entire ecosystem was working digitally. There is a pressing need for a complete digital transformation of the industry to handle international shipments efficiently. Consider the case of customs that have taken part in their processes online. There are still many things that need to be re-moulded with advanced technologies. We hope the union budget to announce suitable investments towards the digitization of the shipping and logistics sector. A leap towards the initiative will bring in transparency, reduction in cost, and better cost management. Digitization should also include implementing smart single-window clearance for smooth processing of shipments or approvals. Such initiatives will prepare us to tackle any untoward incidences in the future, like the current pandemic. Investments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and BlockChain technologies can facilitate complete transformation. It can boost productivity in every sector, and style pretty effective and successful workflow

Further, the Union Cabinet recently approved a multimodal logistics hub proposal and set up industrial corridor nodes at Krishnapatnam and Tumakuru. We hope to see implementations of these at the earliest. It will facilitate the transportation of goods, thereby cutting travel time and making the system more efficient. 

There is also an expectation that the proposed National Logistics Policy may get announced during the announcement of union budget 2021. We are optimistic that that will improve productivity and reduce logistics costs.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE:  Anupam Jalote, CEO, iCreate

“Budget 2021 is definitely going to be a keenly anticipated one because our

own resolve as a nation and global requirements for supply chain

diversification make this a moment in time when India can move forward

decisively and claim its place amongst leading economies of the world.

Therefore the need of the hour is to reignite our manufacturing and

industrial prowess. Although Digitalisation (India’s area of strength) will

catalyze the growth trajectory, bricks and mortar industry will provide a

very strong thrust to the growth engine.

 

In this budget, a signal of inclusivity to global companies and innovators

will be very helpful in driving this change – a signal that foreign

innovators / innovative companies are welcome to come to India and earn

handsomely provided they come with the very latest in innovative

technologies and establish knowledge bases in India. The US established this

principle in the 1950’s and it enabled them to become the world’s leader in

innovation and economic growth, Israel underscored the significance of this

approach in the 1990’s and transformed themselves into the Start-up Nation –

it is India’s moment in time now.

 

Tech innovation and start-ups are two sides of the same coin, and have the

power to transform India. The Government has done sterling work in

supporting start-ups – now it needs to accelerate innovation – this budget

can help by modulating the treatment to monies spent in developing and

proving innovations and taking them to commercialisation. This will go a

long way in supporting the risk taken during the innovation to

commercialisation phase. Once industry sees the Budget supporting

innovation, like it has supported start-ups, the transformative wave that we

need will start to take shape. It is sad that Indian talent goes abroad to

become innovative and productive – we need them to stay back and help drive

India forward even as they become wealthy in the process. De-risking the

innovation to commercialisation cycle will be a critical driver to this.

Being flexible on FDI as well as taxation of gains from commercialisation of

new innovation will be a big help.

 

Startups and incubators together play a crucial role in retaining capital

and keeping the economy healthy. The need to protect the sector from

unexpected catastrophes like COVID19 has become even more crucial as India

gear up to become Atmanirbhar in all means. We are looking forward to some

creative measures to be initiated by the government to retain and nourish

the immense talent pool that India currently houses when it comes to

innovation and entrepreneurship”.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Bhartiyam International School- Bharat Goyal, Founder & Director, BHARTIYAM INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

In our country, the core services provided by schools, colleges and universities remain outside the umbrella of GST. Having said this, there are out-of-school education like hobby classes, sports training that are taxed 18 per cent and when they are passed on to the parents, they feel the pinch. One expects reconsideration of GST slab on supplementary education in the upcoming budget.

There needs to be an increase in facilities that aim to build capacity of the teachers, and the support extended to the anganwadi workers should be bolstered. The expense for the same is huge which is why budgetary allocation for the education sector has to be stepped up from the existing levels. It needs to be mentioned here that as things stand right now, the current level of around is only around three percent of GDP.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Simple Energy- Suhas Rajkumar, Founder, Simple Energy

The year 2020 was a never-seen-before scenario. We did see the GDP contract as the whole world was at a pause. Amidst the pandemic, a lot is expected from the Government in terms of the support they can give to the auto industry. EV manufacturers would certainly hope for few policy changes, ease of finance, and reduction of GST slabs from the upcoming Union Budget. These costs eventually increase the cost of manufacturing and of owning the EV, which again slows down its adaption. Undoubtedly, the government has shown its support with various initiatives to boost the usage and adaption of EV like the National Electric Mobility Mission plan 2020, capital subsidies under FAME, etc to name a few, and we’re expecting them to take more supportive steps on the policy framework which will help the EV sector in long term.    

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Terabyte Ekarts-  Bunisha Khajamohideen, Co-Founder,Terabite Ekarts

The pandemic has made the startups see a lot of ups and downs in the previous year. It indeed pushed us to become self-sustainable. The government has taken a lot of measures to empower street vendors. But we also expect some more norms and relaxation like the single window clearance for the street vendors to get the compliances done and boost the street-commerce vertical as the nation is filled with lakhs of street vendors across the various field like food and beverage topping the list. This initiative will certainly see the growth in the street food-commerce and ease their lives too.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: EolStocks.com-  Sharad Bhatt, CFO, EolStocks.com

This budget will surely have a shift of focus toward boosting the digital economy of tier 2, 3, 4 cities & rural areas in the country. During the pandemic, tier 2, 3, 4 cities & the rural parts of the country showed increased spending on e-commerce and increased penetration of mobile phones. Since most businesses are compelled to take themselves online, this years’ budget should have allocations for making internet services better and bridging the gap between digital haves and digital have-nots.

Being a tech-start-up, we are eagerly waiting for this budget like anyone else in the start-up ecosystem. We expect more reforms on the ease-of-doing-business front, better tax infrastructure, and more push to the Make-In-India initiative.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: Get My Parking- Chirag Jain, CEO, Get My Parking

The mobility industry is going through rapid transformation but that change needs to be reflected by the government infrastructure. Government parking lots are an underutilised real estate which need funds for upgrading into smart mobility hubs. These hubs can then be the platform for movement of people, goods, and services. From ecommerce delivery and logistic warehousing to EV charging and other automotive services – they all can be built on top of the govt. parking infra by private players – provided that these spaces have more amenities like water, sewage, electricity, security. A special fund needs to be dedicated for transforming 100 parking lots into smart mobility hubs for each Tier 1 city.

 

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE:  Dukaan App-  Vaibhav Tolia, COO, Dukaan App

2020 has been a tough year for everyone but the worst affected segment has been SMBs across the country. They were forced into lockdowns multiple times and while their businesses were primarily offline. 

Our expectations from 2021 budget is to empower these businesses with financial support as well as weather-proof them from black swan events. 

Digital first SMBs can weather such events and thrive in the consumer economy which is quickly moving online. Regulatory framework & compliances needs to be thought from a SMB perspective, making it easier for them to do their business digitally and not be dependent on large e-commerce providers.

Government should also focus on incentivising businesses that are willing to transition to the digital era. India has millions of entrepreneurs fueling one of the fastest growing GDP globally, digital first should become the precursor to Digital India.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE:  Branch Personal Finance App- Matthew Flannery, CEO and Co-founder, Branch Personal Finance App

2020 was a tough year for borrowers and lenders. Lenders saw a sharp increase in demand and subsequent delinquency rates. This in turn had tightened lending rules for most part of the year. With early signs of economic recovery, we are hoping the Government stimulates spending and increases liquidity in the market. It would be an excellent move from the government if there are economic stimulus packages that can aid both individuals and industries.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: TaxMantra Global- Alok Patnia, Managing Partner,TaxMantra Global

All inflows and outflows of funds into and outside India must go through stringent RBIScrutiny, reporting, and limits. They become a blocker for foreign investments into India as investors worry about the extant compliance not only during inflows but also when the funds are to be repatriated back, either the original investment amount, interest, or dividend. The institutional investors and investees still have the resources at their disposal to carry out the compliances, however, many times it becomes a deal ‘breaker’ for smaller investors impacting the smaller MSMEs / startups seeking such funds.

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE:  Groversons Group Pvt. Ltd-Siddharth Grover, Director, Groversons Group Pvt. Ltd

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically ruined economies across the globe. Indian retail industry got affected the most by this pandemic. Although the industry witnessed some recovery during the festive season by shifting to e-commerce channels, sustenance of this demand remains critical for the overall revenue prospects of the industry. Being an old and trusted brand in the Indian Innerwear industry we expect the government to allocate good amount of funds in the retail segment as most of the retailers are currently crippled with short availability of finances. Adding to this the government should also focus on reducing the corporate tax rate, which is currently 30%, this will result in improving the financial health of retailers. At last, we also expect the FM to throw some light on the service tax which has always been a major concern for retail marketers. We all suffered huge losses due to the pandemic, let’s hope this budget 2021 will bring some positive news for all the sectors.

 

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE:  Prasanna Manogaran, Founder of Aqgromalin

With the government’s target year of doubling farm income approaching we believe there will be significant allocation in categories helping to increase farmers revenue streams, especially in farm diversification into the sectors of aquaculture and animal husbandry. A stimulus for the export of aquaculture products will help the entire ecosystem and will also ensure that we are able to effectively compete with China and other South East Asian countries in this sector. The government also need to empower the existing Krishi Vigyan Kendras to increase penetration to the rural hinterlands and help farmers utilise the technologies developed by premier national research institutions like ICAR. The number of startups has also dramatically increased in the Agri Tech space, a focussed approach from the government to device policies to support them will go a long way.     

Budget 2021 Expectations LIVE: LEAD School Cofounder & CEO, Sumeet Mehta 

The pandemic has severely impacted education in our country with over 200 million children losing out a year full of schooling. This situation is even more dire in smaller towns and cities in India where affordable private schools have struggled to provide requisite online learning since last year owing to lack of technology infrastructure, school fees and teachers who were equipped to teach online.

In addition to students and parents, teachers too have been severely impacted as many faced job cuts or mental pressures to train themselves quickly to adopt to online teaching.

In view of these disruptions in the learning process, it is important that some corrective methods through fiscal measures be undertaken in the upcoming general budget.

Teacher relief fund for APS – According to recent report more than 50 per cent private schools have uncollected fee that accounts for anywhere between 13 to 80 per cent of annual revenue. If this scenario continues teachers’ salaries and technology infrastructure upgradation for hybrid learning will be severely impacted in 2021 as well. Therefore, the government should consider budgetary allocation to set up a relief fund to provide easy credit or teacher salary fund for affordable private schools that struggled through Covid 19.

Pilot fund for PPP for Government Schools – Given that government schools are already lacking infrastructure and good quality teachers, the current shutdown of schools can have long lasting impact on children studying in these schools. A Public-Private Partnership to improve learning outcomes in government schools is desired so that the gaps in learning that students are currently facing can be closed at the earliest. A pilot fund can be set up that facilitates different state governments to work with private partners in helping government schools provide excellent learning accessible and affordable for all.

Budgetary allocation to overhaul School Based Assessment – As envisioned in the National Education Policy the progress of students for school based assessment needs to be redesigned as per the guidance of the National Assessment Centre, NCERT and SCERT to provide a more holistic picture of each learner. This can be a game changer in helping students develop the right skillsets as per their aptitude. Budgetary support to get this going in full steam needs to be accommodated among the education initiatives in the upcoming budget.

Learning Gaps Fund – Learning Gaps developed among students after a year of school shutdown owing to Covid19 is the next big challenge in education. Most schools are already contemplating on ways to fulfil these gaps since students may not be thorough with conceptual understanding and this can have long lasting impact. A fund that particularly helps affordable private schools to address these gaps in learning by making provisions for refresher courses or bridge programmes between two classes will be definitely benefit students in covering up the lost year. 

Monetary support for Data connection in schools – Hybrid learning which is a mix of offline and online schooling is here to stay and will help schools become future ready. The government must provide at least one data connection in every affordable private school and government school so that they are connected to the digital knowledge ecosystem and no further loss of learning happens on account of lack of digital infrastructure in schools.