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Reactions to The Union Budget 2018

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The Budget speech of Finance Minister recently, saw extensive support for the upliftment of rural areas and its people. He ensured that with limited resources every possible economic activity that would lead to some job growth. This he managed to do by focusing all his resources towards infrastructure development, rural, agriculture, social and healthcare sectors.

Ravi Sreedharan, Founder, Indian School of Development Management said, “The Union Budget 2018 has made a very considered effort in allocations towards addressing the rural distress, particularly in the livelihood and agriculture sector. Operation Green supported by an effort to link farmers to markets for better price realisation is a welcome measure by the government. The concern, however, would be the experience of eNAM and APMC markets linkages in the past years. Translating the intended outcome of such budget allocations (eNAM and APMC markets, agricultural market fund corpus, Operation Green) into ground level shifts is the biggest challenge for the government, especially given the nature of investments such infrastructure development demands.

Allocation to MGNREGS has seen a 7000 crores increase when looked at with reference to revised estimates of 2017 which stood at Rs 48000 crores. It is important to note however that the present allocation of Rs.55,000 crore is very close to the expenditure records of the scheme in 2016 which stood at INR 53,594 crores. Also, one of the key challenges concerning MGNREGS has been the delay in payments amounting to a share of 53% in January 2016-17. The governance challenge in the delivery of social security schemes like MGNREGS remains a question yet to be addressed for the current government in 2018-19.”

Faizal E Kottikollon, Founder and Chairman of the UAE-based diversified conglomerate, KEF Holdings, which has operations of USD150 million currently underway in India, said, “It is heartening to see the Indian Government adopt sturdier measures to benefit all sections of the population – especially small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, and much of the country’s population in need of better health, housing, education and general infrastructure provisions. The National Health Protection Scheme that is set to cover over 50 crore people is also a good initiative. I am especially pleased to see the reduction in corporate tax to 25%. This is a significant move, and one that enables robust growth through private sector investment, which has been sluggish.”

Sameer Nagpal, CEO- Refractories, Dalmia Bharat Group said, “We welcome increase in custom duty of refractory products as this will reduce dumping from China and boost local manufacturing. Increase in domestic capacity utilisation will spur new investments in this sector which is critical to support the government’s vision of enhancing steel capacity in India to 300mil mt. The fillip to infrastructure development through expansion in railways, roads and ports also augurs well for refractory industry as it will increase steel and cement consumption.”

Prema Sagar, Founder Trustee, Genesis Foundation said, “The finance minister in his budget speech has rightly pointed that a only “Swasth Bharat can be a Samriddha Bharat”. The announced 1.5 lakh health centres have the potential to impact the health and wellness index of this country. In addition the government’s initiatives of providing health care cover of Rs 5 lakh every year to 10 crore poor families is a step in the right direction.  In India, every year, approximately 1.8–2 Lakh children are born with Congenital Heart Disorders, approximately a third to a quarter would need early intervention to survive the first year of life. If access to screening, early diagnosis and treatment is available, the baby has a 95% chance of survival with good long-term outcome.”

Dr. Srikanth Sundararajan, Partner, Ventureast, said, “The budget addressed a few aspects at a very high level, the creation special hybrid vehicles which would optimize taxation for foreign investors is very welcome news. All other aspects were addressed at a very high level, including the mention of a new regulatory body under SEBI. Unless there is more clarity provided very soon, the situation will not be optimal for both start-ups and investors. For example, GST norms have to be relaxed, in terms of reduced rates for start-ups, as well as the ability to file on an annual basis; there was no mention of this. Most countries allow this as it keeps a perpetual line of early stage funding open to start-ups.

It also appears as if more regulatory bodies are being set up like the body under SEBI, hopefully this does introduce more processes which may not bode well for start-ups, and funds. It is good to note that there is a focus on technology, especially AI/ML, details unfortunately were also missing. Will there be a special government fund focusing on AI/ML, which VC funds could leverage, will there be a focus around skills development for the next generation to take advantage off. Once again, clarity would be most welcome, and that too in a timely manner.’’

“Budget 2018 has hit the right notes by committing 1.38 lakh crore to social infrastructure (education, health, and social protection) against 1.22 lakh crore last year, a 13% increase in outlay. Working on social inclusion through the implementation of Right to Education, the initiative is welcomed by establishing Eklavya schools for blocks with more than 50% ST population by 2022. Highly motivated and trained teachers are pivotal to achieving a fundamental transformation of teaching-learning processes within the classroom. In this regard, integrated B.Ed programmes is a good initiative to enhance quality at the teaching training level. The RISE initiative to revitalise infrastructure and systems in education along with significant commitments being made to bridging the digital divide in classrooms hold promise to leapfrog our current levels of educational attainment,” said Tarun Cherukuri, CEO, Indus Action.

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Regards,
The CSR Journal Team

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