Home CATEGORIES Business Ethics & Philanthropy What are the Union Budget 2022 expectations of corporate leaders?

What are the Union Budget 2022 expectations of corporate leaders?

In light of the continuing pandemic, health has become the biggest priority for people and nations alike. In India, the pandemic exposed several gaps in the existing healthcare infrastructure; however, the government has been quick to come up with reforms and policy level changes to address the issues. Yet there is still in need of better support for sustained growth and nation building. Here are some of the expectations of corporate leaders from Union Budget 2022.
Ravichandran Purushothaman, President of Danfoss India, ““As India stands at the precipice of rapid growth post the pandemic with its green restart strategies, all eyes are set on the manufacturing sector to spearhead this growth and the move towards sustainability. The outlay from the 2022 budget, I believe, should set the pace of growth for this decade, and pave the way for India to reach its ambitious goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025. The PLI scheme introduced in 2020 served as a game-changer for many industries that were hitherto hesitant to invest in new technologies due to the high cost of capital. Going from strength to strength should now be our focus, by way of addition of more sectors within the scheme to boost capital spending. This will invariably help build a resilient ecosystem for these sectors that will bolster our overall growth. A concerted effort on ensuring that these schemes subsidise the right benefactors, is also crucial in helping facilitate the ease of doing business in the country. An increase in budgetary outlay towards healthcare, particularly in developing infrastructure surrounding the healthcare sector is a necessity evident from our pandemic learnings. Better indoor air quality, green comfort and energy efficiency in hospitals, smart precision cooling for pharma & lab facilities, fresh & safe food & drink etc. will be important as our growing population faces new challenges in coming years.”
He adds, “With the country’s fight against Climate Change including the recent ratification of Kigali agreement and our strong position on adopting sustainable solutions in the HVAC sector, it is crucial that the 2022 Union Budget provides the industry with increased budget allocation to develop sustainable cooling solutions and well-connected cold chain infrastructure across the country. The additional funds will also help create training programs for various industry stakeholders to promote the research, production and use of natural & low GWP refrigerants that can contribute to India’s self-sufficient green economic growth. 2022 budget must also look at incentivising recyclability of manufactured goods which helps promote circular thinking. Renewable energy and decarbonization incentives along with recyclability incentives can collectively help India get closer to its net zero goals. Overall, India’s development proposals in all sectors should be planned with sustainability at its core, to ensure a better tomorrow for our future generations.”
Says Dr. Shanta Thoutam, Chief Innovation Officer, Telangana State Innovation Cell, Government of Telangana, “I hope to see this year’s budget to shift a bit of focus towards supporting locally developed innovations, which can forge both self and economic resilience. There could be a mandate to allocate budget for innovators and entrepreneurs, especially women who are even more badly hit by these pandemic times, and also implementation of emerging technologies that can pave way for not just robust but also inclusive economic development through innovation.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially affected millions of Indians, especially many underprivileged communities. We must urgently rebuild India with collaborative action. The government should consider increasing private philanthropy through estate and inheritance tax incentives. In fact, philanthropy has steadily grown to INR 64,000 crore in fiscal year 2020, up nearly 23% from the previous year so there is even greater potential to channel more funds. In fact, to meet the sustainable development goals, we need to enhance our collective support to NGOs and accelerate civil society engagement- they are and continue to be the front line tackling COVID- philanthropy and the government must back them with flexible budgets and more resources,” says Neera Nundy, Co-Founder and Partner, Dasra.

Increased spending on healthcare

Says KR Raghunath, Senior Chairman, Jindal Naturecure Institute, “The need of the hour to spend more on creating awareness about why preventive healthcare is important, more so with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Food as a medicine should be promoted as much as possible. The benefits of making positive changes in the diet should be advertised. This can not be achieved without a nationwide programme of educating the masses. During the pandemic, PM Modi has given the much-needed push to the AYUSH sector as he encouraged the world-class R&D enablement and manufacturing capabilities of India. We are looking forward to more promising announcements from Budget 2022. Even though COVID is a communicable disease, its worst effects are visible in those with non-communicable diseases– cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and chronic respiratory diseases. Therefore, an allocation only for strengthening communicable disease surveillance is a sub-optimal solution. The budget for up-skilling of the youth to become Preventive Health Coaches is also required since this will address the problem of unemployment and build on PM Modi’s Atmanirbhar mission. We need to look at coming out of this pandemic as a healthier and fitter country. Apart from yoga, the government should promote naturopathy and make it a part of school and college curriculums, and set up a committee to introduce naturopathy practices in universities. Standardizing naturopathy practice is critical as it will enable us to lay down strict standards that have to be adhered to by all Naturopaths. Legitimizing naturopathy and conducting mass awareness campaigns to educate the masses is the right way forward.”
Says Deepshikha Sharma, CEO, Sharp Sight Eye hospitals, “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought health as the centre focal point of our lives. The pandemic strained the healthcare infrastructure in India. The healthcare expenditure by the central government needs to be increased significantly. We need not wait for 2025 to reach the target of 2.5% of GDP to be spent in healthcare and the target should be completed in a year or two to improve healthcare infrastructure. While the lower economic sections have been covered under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana’s (PMJAY) health insurance scheme, it is time to extend insurance coverage to the middle class too for moving towards universal health coverage. The increase in tax deduction limit in Section 80D of the Income Tax Act can further help in the penetration of health insurance. Under Section 80D, an individual can claim up to Rs 25,000 deduction for self and family. This limit should be increased to Rs 1,50,000. To encourage Atmahirbhar Bharat, the inverted duty structure should be corrected. Furthermore, the export of healthcare products should be incentivized to promote healthcare innovations. While concerns for eye health have always been there, the Covid-19 situation has aggravated the issues significantly. Owing to the pandemic, there have been many drastic changes in our lifestyle which have added to the stress (both personal and work-related), led to a sedentary lifestyle, reduced outdoor time, and impacted health including eyes. The budget for eye health in India should be increased. Eye health consultation (annual checkup) should also be covered under health insurance. The global vision care market is expected to reach approximately USD 64 Billion by 2023 from USD 52 Billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2018 to 2023. Growth in the global vision care market is mainly driven by factors such as the rising geriatric population & related eye diseases and technological advancement in eye care devices.”
Says Dr. Avinash Supe, Head- Clinical Governance, PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, “The healthcare sector has gained centre-stage, due to the newly emerging variants and surge in Covid cases across the country. With the increasing burden of hospitalization and diagnosis rate, there needs to be a renewed focus and emphasis on the healthcare infrastructure. While the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission is a great move, significant investments and phase-wise implementation of mission is a critical area to consider to ensure access of healthcare to all. While the Central government had allocated Rs. 73,992 crore to Health Ministry last year, the allocation needs to substantially increase considering the current situation and keeping the future healthcare demands into consideration. The pandemic has highlighted the current inadequacies of the healthcare delivery system- in urban and rural parts of the country. This Budget should focus on strengthening the primary healthcare services in urban areas. The National Urban Health Mission, Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission and Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission needs significant investments and aligned with the future disease outbreaks. There is a strong need to re-introduce Covid-19 Emergency or similar Response packages, as the situation may get grimmer and the scenario isn’t looking brighter for 2022, at least for the first half of this year. The healthcare sector is also facing shortage of skilled healthcare professionals, medical and para-medical staff. Doctors, nursing and medical staff of hospitals are being grappled by third wave of Covid-19. Countries like Australia are too facing acute shortage of medical professionals and Covid positive medical staff is being called to report on duty, to attend the ailing patients. This scenario is too grim to imagine in a country like India, where we are struggling for primary health services.”
Says Dr. Aashish Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka, “The sudden emergence of Covid-19 prompted the Indian government to nearly double its healthcare budget year over year. As a result, the most prominent area of focus in Budget 2022 is expected to be healthcare. We anticipate that the government of India will increase its healthcare spending in this budget. The last Budget announced a 137% increase in healthcare spending to address some of the gaps. Healthcare accounted for about 1.8 percent of GDP in 2021. We should aim to raise it to at least 2.5% of GDP this year. Despite the focus on the Covid-19 pandemic at the moment, it is critical to increase the proportion of spending on preventive healthcare and wellness. Ayushman Bharat is undeniably a positive step toward achieving the goal of universal healthcare; however, more funding is required to ensure its long-term success.”
Sugandh Ahluwalia Chief of Strategy, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, “As we enter the third year of the pandemic, our expectations for Budget 2022 are for increased spending on healthcare. India’s total healthcare expenditure is significantly lower than that of other countries. The pandemic has highlighted the critical need for high-quality public hospitals. More public-private partnerships, as well as additional investments, are required to strengthen indigenous manufacturing of medical devices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and raw materials for drugs. Hence, the government must allocate more budget for the healthcare industry. Furthermore, higher tax breaks for the private sector to modernize medical facilities will go a long way toward ensuring better healthcare, more investments, and thus more jobs.”
Says Dr. Gauri Agarwal, Founder & Director, Genestrings Diagnostic and Seeds of Innocence, “During the pandemic, medical diagnostics emerged as the first line of disease containment and the most important public health measure. The World Health Organization’s T3: Test. Treat. Track. initiative to combat COVID-19 has brought diagnostics to the forefront, emphasizing the growing need for better testing capabilities and the importance of quality. People have begun to understand the importance and needs of molecular/genetic testing, and it has invariably resulted in increased investments by large private labs and establishment of more RT PCR labs across the country. In this sense, the government’s collaboration with the private sector, while refocusing on life science, healthcare, and diagnostics, will play a critical role in deciding the future of diagnostics in the country.”
Dr. Surendra k Chikara, Founder & CEO, Bione, “Thanks to the innovation and quick response by the biotech industry during the pandemic, India’s biotech sector got some attention in the 2021 union budget. The finance minister spoke about the need for preventive and curative health and there was a 137% hike in the government outlay on health and well-being. In the 2022 budget, we feel that the government should move positively to recognize the important role genetic testing including DTC Genetic testing can play in preventive healthcare. We would highly welcome any measures to boost private-sector R&D in the biotechnology segment in the manner it rightly deserves. This will go a long way towards making quality preventive healthcare affordable.”
Says Dr. Evita Fernandez, Chairperson of the Fernandez Hospital, Hyderabad, “Despite increasing, institutional delivery rates, India’s maternal mortality, infant mortality, and stillbirth rates remain unacceptably high. The availability of skilled care at the time of labour and childbirth is a critical factor in lowering these rates. Professional midwives trained to global standards provide this required, skilled high-quality, respectful, evidence-based care. Midwives work in close collaboration with obstetricians and other specialists when needed. The Government of India is committed to establish midwifery-led care clinics/units across its public health facilities, I hope the Union Budget will invest in scaling up of this unique workforce.”
Arushi Jain, Executive Director, Stayhappi Pharmacy, “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught the entire world the importance of having a strong healthcare sector. Being present in the wake of the pandemic, our expectations from Budget 2022, centre around the allocation of higher spending towards healthcare. Ayushman Bharat is no doubt a highly positive step towards attaining the objective of universal healthcare, however, more budgets need to be apportioned for its continued success. On the GST front, the government can consider making healthcare more affordable by taking an immediate step of making a ‘zero rating’ of GST for healthcare services. This will offer two-pronged benefits — keeping the credit chain intact and ensuring that tax is not added to the cost of healthcare services. The pharmaceutical sector is expecting more reduction in duties to bring down the prices of medicines. Currently, GST on drugs is taxed under four categories – nil, 5%, 12% and 18%. While a few life-saving drugs are taxed at nil rates, some are taxed at 5% and the majority fall under the 12% GST slab. We need more collaborative effort between private sector players and members of academia, scientific experts, and governments to strengthen R&D in drug discovery. The necessary incentives should be brought in to develop such partnerships and make them meaningful for the stakeholders. The budget is expected to build on the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes and encourage continued investments in capacity expansion of sensitive APIs, complex excipients, drug intermediates, biopharmaceuticals and medical devices. The higher tax incentives to the private sector towards modernising medical facilities will go a long way in ensuring better healthcare, more investments, and thereby generate more employment.”
Says Shivam Singhee, CEO & Co-Founder, Awshad, “As a startup in the wellness and medical cannabis space, we have benefited from the earlier government initiatives like the startup initiative and the Make in India initiative that helped us create a space for ourselves. However, in 2022 we hope to see the Government expand on these schemes and help home-grown brands grow and thrive in the Indian market. We also hope there will be incentives in place to help Indian brands expand their markets internationally and help bring FDI to the exponentially growing wellness sector. We also hope the government will offer more tax relaxation to startups in the wellness space to help them compete with giant multinationals eyeing to control this sector.”

Allocation for access to digital education

Says Surabhi Goel, CEO, Aditya Birla Education Academy, Aditya Birla World Academy,
“The pandemic has resulted in a tremendous learning loss for students across the country. As children return back to school in phases, it is essential that the Government sets up programmes to bridge this learning gap. One step in this process would be a robust program to train teachers on how they can work with students to bring them at par with the expected learning levels of their grade. In order to facilitate this, the Government must allow partnerships between private players to be a part of educational governing bodies to ensure a greater reach for upskilling programs in the government sector for teachers. Partnerships will ensure that all teachers across the country are trained before the next academic year begins and each school can plan a few weeks of a bridging course at the beginning of the year. Along with this, reduction in the GST slab for teacher training will help make these trainings accessible to all teachers. We hope that the educational reforms in Budget 2022 will result in more effective reach and aid in achieving the goals of an inclusive and Atmanirbhar education system.”
Manoj Chawla, CBO, Tribyte Technologies, “While the pandemic has opened the minds about acceptance of Digital education, two immediate challenges need to be addressed: Teacher Training and Access to devices. Teachers have been caught unaware, but have somehow managed. But the pedagogy of teaching online is very different than Classroom based training. Investment as well as Directives in this regard are necessary. In most families (including urban households), children need to share device with siblings or parents. In the lower economic strata, having mete access itself is a challenge. A budget allocation is necessary to provide equitable access, as a first step.”
Says Santosh Kumar, Cofounder & CEO, 21K School, “Online education will be a game changer to achieve the 50% gross enrolment ratio target by 2035 as outlined in the NEP 2020. In the years to come, education will undergo significant evolution and will be available on demand in the form of cutting edge technology. We would see a huge AR/VR and mixed reality at play that will provide an immersive and personalised learning experience to students. Virtual education can reach every home, empower students with more choice, enhance digital literacy and make a significant impact on the jobs of the future. The government should work towards strengthening the digital infrastructure so education can reach every home in our country. There is a shortage of thousands of teachers in our country which can be addressed through online education.”
Says Dr Manoj Singh, CEO, RUBIKA India, “The National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP) demonstrated commitment to educational reforms and reaffirmed the recommendation of increasing public investment on education to 6% of GDP as recommended earlier in National policy of education in 1968.This will be a welcomed move but budgetary allocation merits detailing and attention. The budget should also have more initiatives like the National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) so that skill-oriented courses like animation and design can be introduced at all school levels in view of the growing demand in the creative industries such as AVGC, Media, Advertising, PR, Communication etc. additionally, the government must also look at capacity building by encouraging institutions/ universities offering such creative courses. The AVGC industry in India happens to be worth about 40 billion dollars today and would be growing to about 60-70 billion dollars by 2027/28. With the prospects of extremely high employability, this could be a great step towards the target of achieving the GER of 50% in higher education by 2035. This will enable a lot of education players to come together with the government and help multiply the investments, accelerate learning outcomes, creating more employment opportunities and survive the possible foreseen human resources crisis. This will in turn help India leverage global opportunities due to her demographic dividends and strong computing ecosystem. The budget must also extend some sort of financial support to private sector institutions, such as low-cost loans. Such initiative has already been taken in many countries and has encouraged private institutes to adopt new ways of teaching and offer innovative courses to the students. The budget should also consider ‘National Education Bank’ as a concept, just like the ‘National Housing Bank,’ so that education loans can be provided at the lowest possible interest rate.”
Says Sindu Aven, COO & Co-Founder, OrangeSlates, “2020 & 2021 was all about a paradigm shift to online education as COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for this change from a physical classroom set-up. These 2 years have also seen the phenomenal growth of EdTech platforms designed for better upskilling opportunities for educators, in specific. The shift to online education seems to be more permanent than transitory. Therefore, our expectation from Union Budget 2022-23 for the EdTech domain and educators would be government set-ups of exclusive teacher universities. Currently, teacher education is still archaic and slowly turning non-relevant with the changing times and that needs to change. We also appeal for de-regulation of teacher education and look forward to more of PPP model integration in the teacher education space.”
Says Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management, Shahani Group, and CEO, Ask.Careers, “IMD’s World Competitiveness ranking places India’s education sector at a dismal 59th place out of 64 countries, with only 45% of all graduates being considered employable. Obviously, we cannot expect India’s government to bridge this education-employability gap by itself. It needs greater support from the private sector along with wider deployment of technology to ensure its goal of quality education for all is met. The union budget can facilitate this by reducing the GST rate for providing educational technology and ancillary services from 18% to at least 5%. In addition, it should allow private investors to set up schools and colleges with the ability to generate profits and equity returns. It should also allow foreign educational institutions to easily set up campuses in India, to promote healthy competition with local players. Collateral requirements for school/ college educational loans should be reduced, along with interest rates, by public sector banks, to allow more families to afford the fees of quality institutions. Special sops need to be given for teacher training colleges, to enable them to expand and provide higher quality talent to institutions. None of these suggestions requires additional funds from the government, just need a practical and holistic approach to opening up education regulations.”
Says Dr. Neelam Gupta, President & CEO of AROH Foundation, “Although budgetary allocation for Women and Child Development had seen a 16.31% increase amounting to Rs 24,435 crore in 2020-21 financial year, but crucial schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, One Stop Centre or schemes for adolescent girls and Ujjawala did not receive any allocations in it. Allocation to Mission for Protection and Empowerment of Women was reduced from Rs. 726 crore to just 48 crores, while the figures of domestic violence surged up to an all-time high. We hope government takes timely cognizance and refuel these schemes with sufficient budgets. Poshan 2.0 with maximum allocation last year stands at its right position, but we hope that government invests more towards welfare of adolescent girls, who had to suffer various setbacks in the pandemic, from disrupted education to getting back to domestic chores in the COVID lockdown. We need conducive and financially robust development schemes for women and children of all age groups to ensure healthy national growth.”
Dominic Prabhu, Founder, Pappaya Lite, “As per NASSCOM, the EdTech market in India is estimated to cross USD 3.5 billion by the end of 2022. In order to achieve the same, the EdTech industry will need access to more robust digital infrastructure, which will make quality education accessible to everyone. Government needs to support the ed-tech sector by implementing a 100% FDI policy which will enable the sector to acquire more capital. It will allow them to invest in Research & Development and adapt more cutting edge technologies, which in turn will be helpful for the customers who rely on the education platforms and facilities which are enabled by emerging technologies.”

Fast track digital skilling and AI

Says Ratan Deep Singh, India CEO, SkillUp Online, “We would really hope and expect the Indian Govt. to step up investments & focus on Digital infrastructure especially in the rural & semi-urban areas of India. A larger focus and stepped-up investments will help fast track the digital skilling of rural and semi-urban populations in India, thereby solving multiple issues of unemployment, massive upcoming gap in demand & supply of future jobs, making India a global hub for digital investments. Additionally, to promote and encourage digital skilling in India, we would hope that the GST rates could be reduced to 5% given that pricing is definitely a concern specially for students, unemployed & under privileged communities. Moreover, we would welcome and appreciate any GOI initiatives and subsidies to promote digital learning for learners and edtech companies working in this space.”
Says Amit Das, Co-founder and CEO of Think360.ai, a data science and analytics company, “We hope this year’s budget is focused on rapid growth across these sectors, while also laying down some more foundational rails for continued growth and resilience. Setting up focused financial institutions and sandboxes that drive innovation, and drive public-private partnerships. The benefits of these lead to a chain reaction of opportunities. For example, bringing private innovation indirectly benefits transfer through blockchain and digital currency-led innovations. More sustained economic boost to priority sectors while bringing in accountability and speed – productivity linked grants, prioritization of initiatives that show greater measurable results, and thus making more funds available to them. Leveraging the ‘Make in India’ platform for driving low-cost remote productivity centers – special remote economic zones with great wifi, office infrastructure, low-cost manufacturing driven by design excellence and local raw materials/ sensibilities. We need to create many Bengalurus and Hyderabads in India, in the wake of this new remote-workforce-led reality.”

Exemptions for loans on electric vehicles

Akshit Bansal, Co-Founder of Statiq says, “As an industry and an EV charging service provider, we would first welcome some clarity regarding the GST issue on electric vehicle charging as a service. Products in the EV eco-system are being taxed at the 5% GST slab, while EV charging is generally classified as a service and taxed as one at the 18% GST slab. We would like to be allowed to accrue the same benefits as the larger industry and be classified under the lower slab in order to boost overall EV usage and be able to pass on the cost advantage to consumers. If the central government can consider providing a direct tax subsidy for purchase of EVs and for players in the process of establishing the EV charging infrastructure, that would be another boost to the segment. Also, since only a direction has been provided to the central and state nodal agencies, but not the respective budgets, a budget for the same would be a welcome move. Currently, a large share of the components for both EVs and EV-related services are imported and the same are taxed at premium rates. If the government were to provide a limited window period of relaxation on these taxes, it will result in the direct boost of local assembly, manufacturing and consumption. By the Make-in-India route, we can look at manufacturing these components locally, in the long run.”
Says Vivekanada Hallekere, CEO and Co-founder, Bounce, “2022 can prove to be a pivotal year for the electric vehicle (EV) industry. We have high expectations from the upcoming union budget and are confident that the government will continue to take the required steps to place India on the global EV map. In order to facilitate faster adaption of Electric vehicles (EV), the Government had introduced section 80EEB, granting an exemption of Rs. 1,50,000 towards interest on EV loans. However we urge the government to extend the benefit to retrofit bikes (Internal Combustion engine- ICE bikes converted to EV). The capital outlay under this option is modest comparatively and a complete exemption on the conversion cost will provide the much-needed impetus to EV adaption.”
He adds, “Additionally, if mass transition to EV is to be become a reality, then subsidy benefits under FAME should be extended to retrofit bikes as well. Addressing the range anxiety among users is one of the prerequisites to accelerate the adoption of EVs in the country. In line with the tax credit systems available in other countries like US, business owners willing to provide their properties for installing charging infrastructure, should be incentivised with tax credits. The benefits in some of these countries can go up to 30% of the cost of purchase and installation of the EV equipment. Additionally, this benefit can be extended to residential and commercial building owners for installation of chargers in garages and private parking. For corporates, investing in charging infrastructure can be treated as CSR activity. In order to increase the share of EVs in the overall vehicle market, an improved duty structure would certainly help. The current setup of GST on EVs (5% vs 28% on ICE vehicles) is a welcome move, however the GST rates on charging infrastructure services, batteries and all related inputs needs to be aligned, as it currently stands at 18%.”
Says Sameer Aggarwal, founder and CEO, RevFin, “EV financing will become the biggest enabler for EV adoption in the next few years. Attractive economics and push by governments has already increased the demand for EVs substantially, however Commercial EV segment, which is expected to be a key growth vertical is faced with a lack of financing options, hence remains the biggest challenge. The industry has the potential to grow to USD 150 billion by 2030, hence the Finance Minister’s attention to ease accessibility to financing, particularly for the unbanked will do good to the segment.” says Founder & CEO Sameer Aggarwal, of RevFin Services – a financial technology (FinTech) digital lending platform focussed at increasing EVs’ adoption.”
Says Dr. Akshay Singhal, Founder, Log 9 materials, “In the upcoming Union Budget, from the EV ecosystem perspective, we hope to see that the FAME Subsidy corpus should be extended to EV retro fitment kits. Additionally, more R&D incentives should be given for energy storage and EV technology-related developments in India, as well as R&D investments made into local technology developments, which should be made 100% adjustable against corporate taxes.”
Says Deepak MV, CEO & Co-Founder, Etrio, “At a time when EV adoption is gaining unprecedented momentum despite many challenges, in the upcoming Union Budget 2022, we at Etrio would like to see the Finance Minister address the critically-important area of making wide and varied range of financing options available for EV commercial vehicles’ buyers – as this is extremely critical for further increased uptake of EVs in India, going forward. To this end, the Government should make the EV sector a priority lending sector for the financial institutions. Additionally, reducing the GST taxation on Lithium-ion batteries and EV spare parts and components can also be a great step forward from the EV manufacturing and OEM point of view. Given that increased adoption of EVs in the logistics and last-mile delivery segment is the need of the hour to reduce Carbon emissions, the Government must also come up with additional sops or incentives for the nation’s fleet aggregators to switch entirely from IC engines to EVs in order to pave a sustainable and zero-emissions future. Last but not the least, we also hope that this Budget answers the need for revitalizing the B2B retrofitment (ICE to EV conversion) space pan-India by bringing retrofitment under the ambit of FAME-II.”
Says Manish Rathi, Founder & CEO, IntrCity, “The intercity mobility segment has seen a consistent month-on-month growth after the 2nd wave. The third wave’s influence has been felt, and some trip plans have been postponed, particularly in states with higher levels of dispersion. The silver lining for next year is that, because of the government of India’s rapid vaccination effort, travellers are confident in travelling to locations, and the industry is looking forward to normalcy as COVID daily cases reduce again. We are hopeful that in the forthcoming budget, stronger infrastructure initiatives will be incorporated into the National Infrastructure Pipeline. The mobility needs of smart cities will lead to the next wave of inter-city mobility growth and enable smooth connectivity with the nearest metro city, besides connectivity between those cities. Better multiple boarding infrastructure in the city connected to SmartBus and digital booking will drive this growth and power the economic growth of these cities. 2021 was a pivotal event in the transition to electric mobility within the intracity segment. The government should implement a few more favorable regulations to boost green mobility. Additional policy impetus should be provided for all forms of green fuel and their enablement for inter-city mobility: batteries with longer distance capability to power EVs, charging infrastructure, and highway CNG stations. Besides, they should also monitor the implementation of the All-India Tourist Permit for Commercial Vehicles, ensuring that it is accepted by all state RTOs.”
Says Ruchit Agarwal, Co-Founder & CFO, CARS24, “Personal mobility has witnessed a significant rise in the post-pandemic world and is now a necessity. The demand for automobiles is directly dependent on the growth of the economy, therefore the upcoming Union Budget will play a critical role in defining the way forward with initiatives such as tax benefits and relaxations for the common man. The scrappage policy was a positive move last year, and we welcome the Government’s recent initiative to introduce BH number plates. This will increase the ease of doing business and not only will it simplify the transfer of cars between users but also from one state to another. Additionally, to boost the start-up ecosystem, we look forward to liberal tax benefits and lower interest on capital.”

Expectations for textiles, real estate, FMCG

Abhishek Pathak, Founder & CEO, Greenwear, “I expect the budget to lay down a 5-year plan to increase participation/usage of renewable energy resources by decentralized small industries and craft sector. The government should ensure growth in procurement from start-ups working with renewable energy resources. The textile industry alone has the potential to reduce carbon footprint by a huge margin along with creating jobs at the local level. The textile and Fashion industry needs urgent reforms in order to reduce polluting earth. We are taking one step at a time and currently are very small against the problem. However, we believe that the solar-vastra value chain if added with natural fibers and organic processes will create an immense impact in reducing carbon footprint from the textile industry. If only 5% of Indian villages become solar charkha clusters (around 30,000), it can produce 180 Cr kgs cotton yarn which is almost 50% of India’s current cotton yarn capacity, and generate livelihood for 1.2 Cr people without migrating from their villages.”
Siraj Saiyad, Director, ARETE Group, “At a time when the country is anticipating another threat due to the outbreak of the Omicron virus that may reach its peak in February as per experts, viz. Also around the time of the Union Budget, the industry looks forward to the much-needed incentives in the upcoming budget, especially as the real estate sector is the primary contributor to the uptick in the economy. The existing tax exemption on housing loans should be raised. Personal income tax could be made easier in terms of heads and filing in the budget. We also expect the budget will further focus on investments in infrastructure and capacity building.”
“The tech and design sector is eager to know what the upcoming budget holds. I hope the government can ease access to resources, funds, and capital to startups and SMEs entrepreneurs in this space. For example, although COVID has boosted work in the tech space, businesses have curtailed their expenses in design services potentially compromising on quality. With a boost in the digital economy, UX/UI Design is more relevant than ever before. Experienced UX/UI talent in India is opting for remote jobs with American companies with higher-paying capacity or heavily funded startups. The incentives will bridge the gap between expectations and investment in branding and UX/UI services for small and medium-sized businesses. Eventually boosting studios to hire and retain the right talent and improve effectiveness without creating burnout,” says Niraali Parekh, Founder and Creative Director, Bokaap Design.
Anshu Budhraja, CEO, Amway India, “The FMCG landscape is constantly changing due to a massive shift in consumer behaviour, as health and wellness continue to be a priority for consumers owing to the pandemic. The sector recovered significantly in 2021 as businesses re-aligned and adapted themselves to suit the market conditions. Indian Government has also been working towards restoring normalcy and paving the road to recovery for the economy, and we are optimistic about the year 2022 not only for FMCG but all sectors. With the third wave setting in, self-care and holistic wellness continue to take centre stage, with awareness around nutrition and immunity among consumers growing manifold. In the light of this, the role of the Indian Government in providing impetus to the overall nutraceutical industry is crucial. We hope that in the upcoming budget 2022, the healthcare policies will aid the country’s shift to preventive healthcare, making healthcare more accessible as more and more people move towards a healthy life. If the Government can consider lesser taxes, then they will be helping the large population to move towards wellness by making it affordable. We hope the Government will rationalize GST on healthcare supplements from 18% to 5% in the upcoming Union Budget 2022. The industry is all set to embrace this as a welcome move considering a holistic healthcare system combined with nutraceuticals and health supplements provide significant economic value and will have a momentous contribution in reviving the Indian economy. The union budget’s key focus should also be on the reduction in income tax as it will positively impact disposable income, support salaried class, and strengthen the spending power of consumers. This will provide much-needed relief to the middle class which has been the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Akshita Gupta, CEO, ABL Workspace, “The coworking segment has grown exponentially over the years and has had a major impact on the performance and utilisation of commercial real estate. I feel now is the time when we should keep into consideration this very aspect and ensure progressive policy reforms to boost the market’s growth. I would want to put forth a humble request to the Finance Ministry to recognizing the coworking space under schemes such as REIT, provide tax benefits and consider reducing the TDS deduction rates to upscale the segment. It would be great if govt can consider bringing coworking spaces into the 2% TDS bracket from the present 10% slab. This will not only boost the market’s growth but will further allow the coworking spaces seamlessly manage the cash flows since it is a service-based segment. I strongly feel that these reforms if introduced will play a major role in driving the growth of the real estate sector in the times to come. Talking from start-ups POV, it is usually entrepreneurs from the early and mid-start-ups that prefer coworking spaces. However, costings like registration charges and stamp duty at registrar offices are borne by the coworking offices and if government can reduce these charges, then it would directly benefit the end-users as they will have to spend less for the services. I am also of the view that if the requisite financial assistance can be provided to the start-ups, then it will indirectly help in driving the growth of the coworking spaces as well.”
Says Chirag Taneja, CEO and Co-Founder at GoKwik, “Google, Facebook and Instagram marketing campaigns are one of the biggest expenses D2C brands incur. These services are procured from overseas providers and they charge 18% GST under the reverse-charge mechanism. However, brands are unable to claim input tax credits as they often have little or no revenues. I am hoping government caters to their demand of exemption on GST and grants them some relief this time around. I am also hoping to see some policies around liberalization in logistics which is the second biggest cost item for D2C brands. Furthermore, Our nation can derive tangible value from tier 3 tier 4 economic hinterlands by joining forces of e-commerce and logistics and solving the problem of last-mile delivery. A good way to do it can be by creating common collection centers in tier 3 and 4 cities and rural geographies. Another method could be to tap existing supply chains (like that of FMCGs) and deploy such collection centers across strategic locations. This will help resolve the prevailing challenge without causing a financial burden. Hoping to see some initiative around this too.”
Abhishek Gagneja, Founder, Yoga Brands, “Not undermining the death and devastation Covid-19 has caused, it has been a key driver for Digital and D2C Start-ups which have thrived despite the lock downs and attracted massive funding in 2021. These disruptive business models have great potential to lead India towards economic growth, innovation, ease of living, livelihoods, and a digital economy. At the same time it could lead to a bubble if not supported by reforms tax and administrative reforms as sooner or later Investors will expect these companies to become profitable.While the societal thinking shift is happening from job seekers (be it private or Government) to job creators, the Indian Entrepreneurs need to be celebrated rather than demonised by tax sleuths and media. A significant number of issues need to be addressed and rationalised GST compliances, costs of compliances, speed of IP & trademark approval these issues hinder growth of start-ups and MSME. LLP and Partnership firms are preferred by entrepreneurs because lower initial cost and compliance however higher direct tax and exclusion of them in several scheme’s need to be relooked. For funded ventures, capital gains (short term and long term) need simplification and revision, a lot of businesses are forced to set up controlling entities overseas to avoid these. India has come a long way in ease of doing business and needs to work continuously to stay competitive globally.”
Says Rahul Tikoo, Managing Director, Huntsman India, “Against the backdrop of the pandemic and an economy facing some headwinds, we look forward to a well-rounded and growth oriented holistic budget from the Hon’ble Finance Minister. This budget should embrace all sectors through various growth measures that will boost economic activity. Last year, the specialty chemicals industry was amongst few sectors that successfully navigated through the Covid-19 induced slowdown. We expect that the industry will continue to grow this year led by sustained growth through fast urbanization, evolving consumption patterns, along with increasing per capita income. Recognizing the potential of this sector, the government has already outlined a strategy in line with its call for an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, and we hope that efforts to improve the competitiveness of the industry shall continue to be on the economic agenda. All policy initiatives should be aimed at establishing India as a differentiated global manufacturing hub.”
Says Shalu Jha, Co-founder & Director, PRandit Solution, “At a time when the Covid-19 threat is still looming large on the Indian economy, the upcoming Union Budget should focus on enabling collective economic growth and supportive aid for various industry sectors, including the services sector and the media sector. At the same time, I would also like to see a focused push and incentivization for digital media platforms and startups in the media and communications industry in order to allow them to prosper. Especially given that the accelerated adoption of digital and social media networks has now given more power in the hands of the nation’s consumers, some stimulus packages and futuristic policy moves focusing on digital infrastructure building and media-tech will be furthermore welcome and encouraged.”