Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for the financial year 2023-24 in the Parliament on Wednesday. The nation is celebrating her announcement of providing tax exemptions up to Rs 7 lakh for salaried professionals. Apart from Income Tax relief, the Finance Minister also made a host of announcements.
These include among others
A capital outlay of Rs 2.40 lakh crore for Indian Railways for the first time ever
Proposals for green growth and renewable energy
Development of domestic tourism on ‘mission mode’
Focus on agricultural reforms, animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries
Lowering Customs duty on certain mobile phone components and television parts
Setting up three centres of excellence for artificial intelligence in top educational institutions
100 laboratories for developing applications for 5G services in engineering institutions
Rs 79,000 crore allocated for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)
An outlay of Rs 35,000 cr for energy transition investment has been announced. Green hydrogen production is targeted to reach 5MMT by 2030.
Capital expenditure increased by 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore for infrastructure development for 2023-24
Reactions to Union Budget 2023-24 have started flowing in from various sectors. While some are happy with certain announcements, some feel, a little more could have been provided for certain sectors. Here are some of the reactions:
Union Budget 2023-24: Increased capital expenditure
Mr Arpit Mehrotra, MD, office Services, South India & Head of Flex India, Colliers: “The capital investment outlay for infrastructure and investment has been increased by 33% to 10 lakh crores, which represents 3.3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This increase in funding is a positive development as it will likely lead to an increase in infrastructure development and investment in the country. Improved infrastructure is crucial for the economic growth and development of a country as it helps create jobs, increase efficiency and competitiveness, and improve the quality of life for citizens. The increased capital investment outlay is expected to have a positive impact on the overall economy and contribute to sustainable growth in the long term.”
Ondrej Kubik, CEO, Home Credit India: “Union Budget has paved the way for unleashing the potential of Indian economic growth by strengthening a resilient and inclusive finance, keeping the right balance between pro-growth and fiscal prudence amidst global headwinds. The big boost is government’s growth-oriented push with continued rise in capital outlay, which will give an impetus at various structural fronts, primarily, employment generation, rising consumption, strengthening affordability, and thereby, moderating inflation. We welcome the steps taken to enhance digital infrastructure like single KYC for individuals & businesses and digi-locker, focus on financial inclusion, ease of business & living, skilling youth, and a full thrust to green & clean economy, ensuring policy direction stability and foresighted outlook to keep the economic growth engines on accelerated path. As a consumer NBFC, we are optimistic about the road ahead and will continue to work in alignment with government’s vision and policies.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Green energy, sustainability
Mr Sameer Jain, Managing Director, Primus Partners: “PM led Government has given key impetus to the approach of reimagining Indian cities. Integrating zero emission planning within these urban planning missions can provide needed impetus to fight against climate change. This year’s budget has further built upon this idea. It’s very encouraging to see integration of sustainability in urban planning of cities and towns. Scientific waste management can play an important role in mitigation of GHG emissions, encouraging to see focus on this in this year’s budget. This sector will also be able to leverage the work of the AI-COE, which has been stated to focus on building sustainable cities, among other areas.”
Mr Sumant Sinha, Chairman and CEO, ReNew Power: “We welcome the budget proposals presented by the Hon’ble Finance Minister. The focus of the budget on expanded support for infrastructure investment, growth of small industry and agriculture sectors, while committing to fiscal consolidation, strikes the right balance. In the context of overall geopolitical and economic outlook, the outlay of Rs. 35,000 crore for energy transition and energy security is a significant step forward. We believe the Finance Minister has presented a Green Budget that demonstrates Government of India’s unwavering commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2070.
For the clean energy sector, there are several welcome announcements. Support for Battery Energy Storage Systems (requested by ReNew Power during pre-budget consultations), the transmission infrastructure to evacuate power from Ladakh, the allocation for biogas to energy projects and the initiatives for scrapping of old vehicles of the central and state governments are all significant steps in the right direction. We look forward to seeing further details on the recently announced Rs. 19500 crores allocation for the National Green Hydrogen Mission. The budget will give a thrust to accelerating clean energy in India and ReNew Power is committed to support Government of India in this endeavour.”
Dr. Ritu Chhikara, Associate Professor, School of Management, BML Munjal University: “This is a landmark budget in focusing on green growth which will include initiatives on green fuel, green energy, green farming, green mobility, green buildings, green manufacturing, green technology and green jobs. These all in combination will contribute to India’s Net Zero targets,”
Mr Hiranmay Mallick, CEO & Co-Founder at Tummoc – a public transit app: “Glad to see the priority given to ‘Green Growth’ in this year’s budget. Sustainability and steps towards net zero carbon emissions are the need of the hour. With the global climate crisis, it’s time for us all as individuals, entrepreneurs, and changemakers to start playing our roles. The green credit programme planned as a part of this initiative is one that will encourage and incentivize sustainable choices in an otherwise majorly non-sustainable corporate world. Mass transition to public transport as a primary mode of commute will indeed play its role towards reducing carbon emissions.”
Mr Venkat Garimella, Vice President- Strategy & Sustainability, Schneider Electric India: “The Union Budget 2023-24 underlines the government’s commitment towards sustainability through its various initiatives. From supporting communities with sustainable micro-irrigation projects to encouraging states to build the smart cities of tomorrow, the budget is designed to combat the climate crisis in big and small ways. These steps will take India closer to its sustainability goals and help in building a green economy that benefits everyone across the value chain, all while keeping decarbonisation as the core principle. We are committed to supporting the government in its mission to make India a net zero country by 2070 and believe that the announcements today will pave the path for the new India that facilitates sustainable development at every step of the way.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Real estate
Mr Arvind Subramanian, MD & CEO, Mahindra Lifespaces: “This year’s budget highlights the importance of infrastructure development, urban planning, affordable housing, domestic manufacturing, ease of doing business, and energy transition with a focus on sustainability.The increased allocation of Rs 79,000 Crores towards Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), is expected to provide the supply-side stimulus that will not only aid real estate developers but will also boost end-user demand for affordable homes. Moreover, the revision in income tax slabs and rates will provide more disposable income, further accelerating the demand for homes. We believe the increased outlay of Rs 10,00,000 Crores towards infrastructure development, including the creation of urban infrastructure in Tier 2 and 3 cities will support industrial activity, create new employment opportunities and fuel demand for housing. There is a continued focus on supporting domestic manufacturing, which bodes well for the industrial parks.
As the pioneers of green buildings and sustainable construction in the country, we are particularly pleased to see the government’s commitment to transitioning to green energy and reducing emissions. By taking this important step towards sustainable development, India is further up on its path to meeting its commitment to Net Zero developments.”
Mr Kamal Singal, MD & CEO, Arvind SmartSpaces: “The Union Budget 2023 is a progressive budget with a strong thrust on infrastructure and connectivity, domestic manufacturing, ease of doing business, and green development. This budget focused on tax reliefs, including a revised income tax rebate from INR 5 lakhs to INR 7 lakhs which will provide customers with a larger share of disposable income. Additionally, the increase in outlay for the PMAY scheme to INR 79,000 Cr is also a positive indicator for the industry and opens the opportunity for newer homebuyers, especially in affordable segment. The government’s plan to create urban infrastructures is expected to accelerate development across tier-2 & tier-3 cities, further creating a demand for residential buildings.
Moreover, it was highly encouraging to see Green Development as one of the key themes of the Budget and we welcome this move which will create awareness regarding the importance of green buildings and environmentally ‘conscious’ construction activities, further enabling India’s ambitious sustainability goals. The structural demand for the residential real estate market remains strong. We expect the customer sentiment towards real estate, and growth indicators to remain strong over the coming year.”
Mr Sriram Iyer, CEO, TVS Emerald Realty: “The Union Budget FY’24 presented a positive overview and focused on inclusive sustainable development, transport infrastructure to enhance last mile connectivity, ease of doing business and overall welfare of the masses. The increased income tax rebate from 5 lakhs to 7 lakhs will boost disposable income and drive consumer demand for homes.
Affordable Housing has emerged as a key growth driver in India’s real estate industry over the past few years. The increase in budget allocation to Rs. 79,000 Crore for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana will not only boost housing supply but will also stimulate demand among first-time homebuyer and revive demand in the segment while creating more jobs.
We welcome the Union Budget’s focus on mitigating climate risks via focus on Green development. This will positively impact our country’s Sustainable Development Goals through energy-efficient buildings and construction methods. Overall, we believe these initiatives will stand testament to the country’s commitment to inclusive and long-term growth.”
Mr Amit Goyal, CEO, India Sotheby’s International Realty: “The Union Budget has laid out a long-term path of growth and capital investment and that is extremely positive for the Indian economy. The increased allocation to housing projects under PM Awas Yojana by 66% to Rs 79,000 crore will certainly help the affordable housing segment. Rationalization of tax slabs and enhancement of tax rebate is going to benefit the middle class which will boost domestic consumption and should aid in keeping demand for homes strong. Overall, the budget has addressed all concerns that are needed to keep India as the fastest-growing economy of the world.
However, the proposed cap on deduction from capital gains on investment in residential property under sections 54 and 54F to Rs 10 crore can be a big deterrent for the housing industry. We sincerely appeal to the government to reconsider this limit as the cost of residential property has moved up significantly in tier-1 cities over the last 2-3 years. Moreover, the entrepreneurs contributing to corporate India growth story are all based in tier-1 cities.”
Mr Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com, PropTiger.com & Makaan.com: “Overall, the FM presented an inclusive, growth oriented and fiscally prudent budget. Rationalisation of income tax, especially at the lower end of the income spectrum, would provide extra funds in the hands of middle-class families and alleviate the burden of increasing interest rates. It may also encourage those on the fence to purchase a home, which is the most trusted asset class for Indians. The demand for housing is already very robust, and the Budget 2023-24 would further galvanise growth for India’s real estate sector.
Also, the increase in overall capital expenditure, the increased outlay for PMAY, the setting up of the Urban Infra Development Fund and the record capital allocation for the railways, will help create better infrastructure and provide a further boost to the real estate sector”.
Mr Ramani Sastri – Chairman & MD, Sterling Developers: “The Union Budget has provided indirect boost to the real estate sector with enhanced capital expenditure and gift to the salaried class by providing increased disposable income at hand with the higher tax rebate. The PM Awas Yojana hike is great news in the affordable housing market and this increase in allocation will help the government achieve its goal of providing affordable housing to all and contribute to the overall growth and development of the country. Reduction in compliance and relaxation of regulatory provisions is a welcome move from ease of doing business perspective and will aid the growth of the real estate sector.
The enhanced focus on digitalisation will create more jobs and propel demand for residential real estate across the country. The unwavering focus on infrastructure is a welcome move for the industry. The buoyancy which we have witnessed in the realty sector in the recent past is set to continue in the near term. While the budget has addressed some key issues, there are currently several grey areas when it comes to schemes, taxation, funding and others where the government should provide a helping hand going forward. It is imperative for the government to pay special attention to the real estate sector and have provisions for its well-being in the near future. Overall, we believe that the union budget has ushered in a balanced combination of reforms and regulations, which will, in turn will contribute positively to India’s growth story.”
Mr Vimal Nadar, Head of Research, Colliers India: “The increase in outlay towards PMAY resonates with the Governments committed mission to meeting the housing shortage in the country. This will result in increased investment and heightened activity in the construction sector; opportunities galore for contractors. Dedicated investment of INR 10,000 cr through the urban infra development fund will result in the creation of quality urban infrastructure thereby improving quality of life. This will also translate into higher demand for housing and commercial real estate”
Mr Manas Mehrotra, Founder, 315Work Avenue: “The budget could have had some specific measures for the coworking sector. The Union Budget 2023 has made announcements on ease of doing business and has reduced the number of compliances that companies need to run establishments. This is bound to boost business and encourage more entrepreneurs to set up new businesses benefiting coworking sector. The extension of tax holiday for start-ups by one year is a welcome measure as more start-ups would be motivated to scale up their business and enhance investment. The significant push to infrastructure will boost the commercial real estate sector and in-turn aid in faster establishment of coworking spaces in tier 2 cities.
While these measures are welcome as they may create a positive ambience, the budget did not have any specific measures for the coworking sector to enable its higher growth trajectory – be it lower TDS, special tax incentive, boost to start ups etc to enable us to provide the real estate solutions at economical rates and help in better flow of working capital.
As companies increasingly incorporate hybrid work model within their operational strategies, demand for services offered by co-working firms will continue to surge. We believe that hybrid working will become even more mainstream as we go ahead. This will push the flex-spaces sector to elevate their services further to offer more new-age office spaces. Going forward, we hope that the government looks at addressing regulatory concerns and encourage more coworking firms to open up through a series of both financial and non-financial incentives and ensure faster economic growth.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Education, Digital Literacy, Skill Development, Women Empowerment
Dhuwarakha Sriram, Chief of Generation Unlimited (YuWaah) and Youth Development and Partnerships at UNICEF: “We are glad that the priorities in the Union Budget 2023 feature Youth Power. The introduction of the National Digital Library for children and adolescents, provisions for teacher training, on-the-job skill training, apprenticeships, and the creation of 30 Skill India International Centres will help promote access to knowledge. The Government’s recognition of the post-pandemic learning loss is a welcome move. Emphasis on skill development with AR/VR applications will help young people prepare for the future of work and enable them with relevant soft skills. The digital and physical infrastructure, particularly for the most marginalised young people in the hinterland, will help build higher student engagement and interest, and make learning an easy process.”
Mr Kushal Chakravorty, Founder of Lotus Petal Foundation: “The budget this year sees the highest ever allocation for the Ministry of Education with increases for both school and higher education departments and maintaining the budget for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme. It’s encouraging to see the continued thrust on using technology to create equal opportunities with set up of the National Digital Library for children & adolescents and facilitating the availability of quality books across geographies, languages, genres and levels and device-agnostic accessibility.
The cornerstone for any education process is the teacher. Investments in district level education institutes for imparting teacher trainings and recruitment of significant number of teachers for tribal schools will have significant multiplier impact on learning outcomes. Direct benefit transfers for youth linked to the national apprenticeship scheme will encourage higher enrolment and better success rates for skill development interventions.
The increased outlay for education sector, focus on teacher hiring and training , digital library and supplementary support to youth apprenticeship are fundamental steps to improving the quality of education leading to better employability.”
Ms Shweta Sastri, Managing Director, Canadian International School, Bangalore: “The Union Budget 2023 has focused on the importance of digital education which is the need of the hour. The emphasis on a national digital library for children will go a long way in developing digital skills among students. The focus on smart classrooms with the establishment of labs for development of apps is also a welcome step as it will re-energise technology development, which is the mainstay of industry and government policy now. Setting up more tribal residential schools and making available books in regional languages is inclusive and will bring marginalised sections and regions of society into the educational mainstream. Teacher training is also a good measure as we need to prepare them in new digital skills that have become essential in pedagogical innovation.
However, there could have been more attention to the expansion of scholarship and other financial aid programs for students from economically weaker sections of society and strengthening of vocational training programs to equip students with industry-relevant skills. Overall, the budget has managed some progressive measures for education and has kept the interest of the under-privileged students in mind.”
Niru Agarwal, Trustee, Greenwood High International School: “As an educationist, it is highly encouraging to see the budget’s focus on educational skills & digital development which makes the students compatible with the development of modern talent. The impetus on recruiting large number of teachers and creating a sustainable teachers’ training programme equipping them with multilateral skills will go a long way in improving the quality of education in Indian schools. The establishment of District Training Centres for educators will also revolutionise both public and private school education across the country. Setting up National Digital Library and Physical Libraries at ward levels is a great boost for the marginalized communities. The emphasis on regional learning has received a boost with National Book Trust being entrusted with developing a reading culture by publishing content in several regional languages. The establishment of Eklavya schools which will help tribal students in the field of education and skills that will eventually make them industry and employment-friendly. The foundation and vision set by the government, through NEP will be vital in achieving these objectives of an effective and inclusive education system.”
Deval Sanghavi, Partner and Co-founder, Dasra: “Budget 2023-24’s focus on vulnerable communities such as the development mission dedicated to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), scaling of Eklavya Model Residential schools and the proposed collaboration with NGOs in the literacy space is encouraging. We hope that there will be more opportunities for NGOs to collaborate in achieving the national vision for inclusive development in other areas, such as the integration of traditional artisans and craftspeople into the MSME value chain while upskilling these communities in digital and green technologies.”
Dr Payal Kanodia, Trustee, M3M Foundation: “The budget for this year is very encouraging, with a focus on inclusive development, green growth, and youth power. The announcements in various fields, such as tax relief, education improvements, and focus research and development, are encouraging. The increase in allocation for school education from Rs 63,449 crore (Budget Estimate) in 2022-23 to Rs 68,804 crore in 2023-24 is a welcome step for the education sector. The availability of the National Digital Library to children will greatly benefit the children. A strong focus on youth skill development will assist industries to attract young talent. Another significant development is the establishment of 30 Skill India International Centres across various states to prepare youth for international opportunities. We heartily welcome the ‘Mahila Samman Saving Certificate’ for women with a fixed interest rate of 7.5 per cent, for over a period of two years. This will definitely lead to shaping India into a stronger and growing economy in the future.”
Mr Akshay Munjal, Founder, and CEO, Hero Vired: “The government has undertaken a series of proactive steps for the education sector. While the education sector is supported by the National Education Policy (NEP), the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana 4.0 will further catalyse growth through upskilling of the workforce. Additionally, with the focus on skilling and reskilling, edtech players will get more opportunities to form industry alliances to bolster the sector and provide the right tools to learn.
The initiatives like ‘Unified Skill India Digital Platform’ and ‘Make AI in India’ will promote India’s startups and the entrepreneurial spirit, and encourage youth to boost their knowledge through various skilling and reskilling programmes. Bolstered by these initiatives, India has the potential to create a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy in the coming future.”
Monalisha Thakur, Co-founder & CMO, Tummoc – a public transit app: “The Mahila Samman Bachat Patra scheme is a great initiative for blue-collared women employees as it allows them to save more not only for themselves but for their families. The scheme can also be used to allow parents to save more for girl children thus taking a step towards securing their futures. A rate of interest of 7.5% allows them to beat inflation, thus giving them a better chance during rough economic conditions. There are also a number of other initiatives announced in the budget that are a step in the right direction. Especially the priority given to ‘Green Growth’ which will only lead to a cleaner, greener tomorrow for society as a whole.”
Ms.Shaina Ganapathy, Head of Community Outreach, Embassy Group: “We, at Embassy, are happy to see the fields of education and healthcare, the cornerstones of our outreach, significantly addressed in the Union Budget 2023.After nearly three years of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the education budget crossed Rs. 1 lakh crores last year. With the shift towards digital learning, an expansion of digital infrastructure that is inclusive in nature is much needed in the upcoming year. Therefore, it’s great to hear our Honorable Finance Minister share that a National Digital Library for children and adolescents will be set up, which makes available books across geographies, languages, learning-levels, and more. States will also be encouraged to set up physical libraries and provide technology to access the National Digital Library Resources. Additionally, to bridge pandemic-induced learning gaps, as well as build a culture of reading, the National Book Trust, the Children’s Book Trust, and other sources will be encouraged to provide non-curricular titles in regional languages and English to these physical libraries.
Considering the drastic shortage of teachers in government and rural tribal schools across the nation, we are pleased to note that in the next 3 years, the Centre will recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 Ekalavya schools serving 3.5 lakh tribal students. EMRS has had their budget increase by a significant Rs. 581.96 crore to Rs. 2,000 crores for the 2022–23 financial year. Supporting residential schools run for tribal students, this scheme will go a long way towards enabling a holistic tribal education system in the country. Teachers will be vital towards recognising tribal cultures, languages, curriculums and unleashing their inherent learning ability.Teacher training will also gain further prominence across the country and be reimagined through integrated curriculum transactions, continuous professional development, dipstick service, and ICT implementation.
Supplementing the policies to develop the state of education, upskilling has been identified by experts in the field as another crucial area for development. To skill the youth for international opportunities, 30 Skill India International Centres will be set up across different states. With over 4 million people joining the Indian workforce annually, these measures will strengthen the next generation of blue- and white-collar employees and contribute to the growth of the Indian economy through an upskilled workforce.Taking this a step further, a National Education Policy has been framed that focuses on skilling youth by adopting economic policies that assist in job creation. Embassy has partnered with the Karnataka Skill Development Centre (KSDC) to conceptualise and build a state-of-the-art skill enhancement campus in Bangalore. The centre aims to train over 60,000 people in 32 sectors and 300 job roles.
Many of the students across government schools in the country suffer from common illnesses and diseases that they lack awareness of and the resources to manage. It is heartening to hear that a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047 will be launched, which includes creating awareness and screening 7 crore people in the largely affected tribal areas.We look forward to seeing our country reach greater heights with the aid of these provisions that the 2023 Budget provides.”
Union Budget 2023-24: IT & Cybersecurity
Dr Kailash Katkar, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Quick Heal Technologies: “In the year 2022, India witnessed an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks and their level of sophistication. Cybercriminals are using new and advanced AI technology to attack Indian government agencies and businesses in India to cause significant damage to the country’s reputation. The 2023 Union Budget showcased our government’s focus on strengthening the digital infrastructure of the country, which finds a clear reflection in the National Data Governance policy which will create a secure channel to access anonymized data. This budget fully supports the vision of a self-reliant and cyber-safe India. Some of the key takeaways include the three centers of excellence for artificial intelligence to enable ‘Make AI for India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’, online training platforms for government employees, impetus on creating informative and accessible digital public infrastructure for agriculture and the setting up of a National Digital Library for children and adolescents amongst others. With this, I am confident that cybersecurity has become more relevant than ever, and will be the make or break for the economic progress.”
Mr Sujit Patel, Founder and CEO, SCS Tech: “Centre’s focus on AI: Three centres of excellence for artificial intelligence to enable ‘Make AI for India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’, says FMAs the nation advances to the next level of technology and with the introduction of 5G, the government has expansive plans to establish a Centre of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence. India will transition to a digital society and for that, it becomes important to focus on digital transformation and cyber security solutions. The budget report evaluate show AI will be used to boost India’s economy, along with proposals for numerous fields where AI can be deployed. Not only this will increase the effectiveness and productivity of the industry but also optimize the process to complete the tasks. Additionally, this will create new jobs and avenues for numerous start-ups and businesses to provide solutions in industries like utilities, education, health, agriculture, and smart cities.”
Mr Parag Khurana, Country Manager, Barracuda Networks India: “Cybersecurity has for long been a critical matter of concern, especially in light of rapid digitization. With the rollout of 5G and cloud migration, there has been a significant uptick in cyberattacks across the country. In 2022, we have seen the rise of ransomware against critical infrastructure, with education (15%), municipalities (12%), healthcare (12%), infrastructure (8%), and financial (6%) being the five key targeted industries according to research. The Union Budget announcement today paints a favourable picture for the sector with the introduction of the National Data Governance policy will help academia and start-ups gain access to anonymised data by the government.
Provisions like the establishment of three centers of excellence for Artificial Intelligence in top educational institutions noting that ‘Make AI in India’ and to ‘Make AI work for India’ will support the creation of a stronger technology infrastructure in the country. This will further boost the government’s vision of ‘Digital India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. That being said, Budget 2023 amply highlights the greater focus that the government has placed on string digital infrastructure and technology at large. And, we are hopeful that today’s announcement will have an inherently positive effect on the sector.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Income Tax
Mr Sunil Agarwal, Chairman, RSH Global: “This year’s budget is geared towards stimulating consumer spending, driving job creation, and fostering an environment of investment-driven growth. The income tax slab revised to 7 lakhs will give salaried consumers more purchasing power. Additionally, enhanced spending on infrastructure and connectivity will further boost rural consumption, and enable manufacturers to streamline their supply chains and reach customers in newer markets.
Moreover, MSMEs will benefit from a revamped tax benefits, and the boost to ease of doing business, will have a positive impact on current business environment and bodes well for a mass brand like us.
At Joy Personal Care, we are devoted to providing our customers with the highest quality of products for them to derive the maximum value for their money. As disposable incomes rise, we anticipate that even the more price-sensitive customers will be incentivised to increase their consumption, driving demand for our multiple product ranges.”
Mr Varun Sridhar, CEO, Paytm Money: “Union Budget 2023 reflects the government’s focus on inclusive growth and digitisation. The stability of reforms will contribute to the India growth story and will positively boost the morale of capital markets. From the simplification of KYC, cap on the maximum tax rate, to increasing the rebate on income tax and strengthening our infrastructural power — there are many welcome moves that will benefit Indians.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Agriculture
Mr Anuj Kumbhat, Founder and CEO, WRMS (An Agritech Company): “The Union Budget 2023 is quite optimistic for the agritech sector. Their contribution to economic growth has been well recognized. Budget 2023 envisages an open-source digital infrastructure for agriculture and an agriculture accelerator fund focused on youth entrepreneurship in the rural area is quite appreciated. It will provide impetus to the nascent agri-tech sector and could help boost the sector which employs nearly half of the country’s workforce.
Moreover, an open-source digital infrastructure will enable inclusive farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services of planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit and insurance help for crop estimation, market intelligence, and support for the growth of agritech startups. Also, digitalizing the field of agriculture with the latest technologies is a need of the hour and very well-focused in the budget 2023. It will boost sustainable agriculture productivity; help farmers deal with the majority of the problems that they face on an everyday basis and in return will enhance profitability.”
Mr Atul Chaturvedi, Executive Chairman, Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd: “The Budget is on expected lines and has given lot of cheer for the honest income tax payer. In case of Agriculture sector, we welcome the Agri Accelerator fund for horticulture as well as continued thrust on Millets. Green Energy transition fund of INR 35000 crore in line with our commitment of achieving carbon neutrality by 2070 is also encouraging .No announcement of road map for National Oilseed mission is a bit of a dampener for the Vegetable Oil sector as our edible oil security continues to be heavily compromised. For Sugar and Edible oil sector, this budget is a non-event as the Finance Minister has not tinkered with duties. Edible Oil refining industry was demanding restrictions on Refined Palmolien imports in line with Prime Ministers clarion call of Make in India. Nothing has been announced on that front. Cooperative Sugar sector would heave a sigh of relief as the long standing tax demand of close to 10000 crore has now been practically withdrawn.”
Mr Ankit Alok Bagaria, Co-Founder, Loopworm: “The 6000 Cr infusion to promote fisheries would help Shrimp farming the most. Decreasing import duties on feed ingredients are going to help the feed manufacturers and help formalize animal agriculture but would lead to reduced margins for domestic feed ingredient manufacturers. For young startups, the agri accelerator fund is a good initiative but there was less focus to promote Agri-Startups at the growth stage. Funds to support Bio-based products to promote natural farming should boost the plant Bio-stimulant & Bio-fertiliser industry. Significant agricultural credit support and significant fund infusion in allied agri sectors should promote existing farmers and people looking for secondary income streams to set up livestock/ poultry/ fish/ insect farms which would lead to a growth in non-arable land agriculture.”
Mr Vasanth Madhav Kamath, Founder & CEO of Hydrogreens Agri Solutions: “Green energy, green farming, distributed bio-fertile production centers, an increase of agri credit to 20lakh crores, and a further push for agri accelerators are great actions to catalyze productivity while also nudging environmentally sustainable practices.”
Sanjay Gupta, MD and CEO, NCML: “The announcement to establish an agriculture accelerator fund will help in the funding requirements of agritech start-ups by young entrepreneurs in rural areas is a positive move. It will help in providing innovative solutions to the problems faced by the farmers. The decision to computerise 63,000 primary agricultural credit societies with an investment of Rs 2,516 crore will enable inclusive farmer centric solutions and help improved access to farm inputs and farm credit.”
Mr Anand Ramanathan, Partner, Deloitte India: “The budget focuses a lot on the supply and input side of the agricultural value chain. The increased availability of credit, facilitation of better quality inputs through clean plant program, investments in digital infrastructure and skill development will all help in increasing farm level productivity by building awareness and facilitating better quality inputs. The shift towards decentralised storage is also an important step in reducing wastage and helping increase shelf life of agricultural produce. The increased focus on driving millet cultivation, consumption and exports, higher investment in fisheries and promotion of natural farming are all helpful from a crop diversification, sustainability and nutrition standpoint. The focus on better management of co-operatives and producer collectives will help farmers in realising better prices for their produce. Finally, the agriculture accelerator announcement for promoting start-ups in ag-tech enterprises will help increase yield and productivity on the supply side while also enhancing price realisation for the farmer on the demand side through more efficient market linkages.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Startups and entrepreneurs
Mr Nishant Behl, Founder, and CEO of Expand My Business: “The Union Budget announced by the FM today strongly defines the direction in which the country’s entrepreneurial transformation is headed to. This year’s budget is positive, pragmatic, and entirely committed to support innovation in the country to accelerate the economy.
For startups, the government has extended tax benefits on their incorporation by another year and the carry forward of losses to set off against future profits will now be allowed for 10 years instead of 7 years. Receiving the government’s support through such provisions is quite heartening for budding enterprises, especially since the entire world is experiencing an economic slowdown.
Also, policies like increased industry-academia collaboration through National Data Governance Policy, simplified KYC process and access to anonymised data will also positive push for the startups in India to flourish and expand. Entrepreneurship is vital for a country’s economic development and India, and it is heartening to see the government take positive steps in this direction.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Automobiles, EV & Green Mobility
Mr. Banwari Lal Sharma, CEO, Consumer Business, CarTrade Tech Ltd: “The Union Budget 2023-2024 announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is progressive, prudent and growth-led, with an eye to provide impetus on the savings of the public. It is a ‘green budget’ for the automotive and mobility sectors. The sustainability measures taken through announcements on green hydrogen and other energy sectors will help in furthering the government’s target of carbon neutrality by 2070. The increased Capex outlay on energy transition is likely to spur investments and skill development in a green economy.
The viability gap funding for battery energy storage systems is also likely to create critical infrastructure, while custom duty reduction on capital goods for Lithium batteries manufacturing will facilitate faster adoption of EVs.
Increase in spending on infrastructure, setting up of 50 new airports and heliports, creation of 100 transport infrastructure projects are welcome moves, in addition to the central support for replacing old vehicles. All of these should drive consumption and overall demand of vehicles.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Healthcare and Pharma
Ms Charu Sehgal, Partner, Deloitte India: “The announcement of providing investment and setting up centres of excellence to promote research and development in Pharma is much needed and will help India move up the value chain in the Life Sciences sector. The focus on providing skilled manpower availability for high end research and manufacturing in the medical technology sector will help India become more self-reliant and reduce the current high dependence on imports.”
Ms Shuchi Ray, Partner, Deloitte India: “The budget announcements for healthcare sector have considered the areas of research & development, skill development, awareness, infrastructure and preventive healthcare, which are very welcome. Focus on R&D via public private partnerships and benefits to industry are in line with the industry expectations and will help the country in its positioning as innovation hub. Specific recognition to research and manufacturing of medical devices will fulfill in meeting sector’s growth targets, increase manufacturing activity and meet the demand of medical devices at affordable prices in the long run. Overall, the announcements are inclusive and far-sighted, giving due importance to the sector.”
Mr Bharath Balasubramaniam, President Operations, Sankara Eye Foundation India: “Union Budget 2023 has certainly reaffirmed the government’s commitment to give utmost priority to the healthcare sector which is the need of the hour. The special impetus given on Research & Development was much needed to encourage more quality research and nurture innovation. This will also enhance the momentum of public private collaboration in healthcare. The focus on health infra in rural areas will certainly bring the entire network of digitisation under one umbrella. However, for not-for-profit hospitals we were hoping for a better outcome from the budget in the form of taxation benefits and operating incentives. The decision on adding 157 new nursing colleges will improve the nurse-patient ratio.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Govt boosting laboratory-grown diamonds (LGD)
Mr Amit Pratihari, Vice President, De Beers Forevermark: “The overall budget has a positive sentiment. In fact, under the new tax regime, the budget has made room for more disposable income and purchasing power of consumers will further increase. For natural diamonds, we’ve seen an encouraging trend over the past few months where consumers are purchasing items which hold meaning and value. Natural diamonds continue to be sought after due to their inherent preciousness. Pricing has also remained steady and we are optimistic it will become stronger. As customers continue to value what is natural and genuine, diamonds will always be in demand.”
Union Budget 2023-24: Overall
Mr. Ajay Kanwal, MD and CEO of Jana Small Finance Bank: “Budget has consistency, growth orientation and balance. We see positive spots which interests us – agriculture, affordable housing and MSMEs. The rebate on personal tax will boost saving and consumption and super for us – the employees.”
Ms Priya Agarwal Hebbar, Non-Executive Director, Vedanta Ltd & Chairperson, Hindustan Zinc Ltd: “A forward looking Budget focused on unlocking opportunities for each Indian. The efforts on empowerment of women through Producer Organisations, improvement in nutritional outcomes by mainstreaming millets, access to learning for children via a National Digital Library, are just a few examples. The focus on people combined with an eye on preserving the planet via boosting the green economy makes this a caring and futuristic Budget.”
Mr KV Hariharan, Sr. Vice President – FP&A, Data Analytics & Strategic Planning, Amway India: “The first union budget of the Amrit Kaal is ‘For the people’, which also truly reflects the government’s vision for India@100 i.e., of an economic superpower leading the world in multiple sectors. We laud the efforts of the Honourable Finance Minister for prioritizing the benefits of salaried employees as the key highlight. The Government’s emphasis on upskilling, job creation, infrastructure development, and strengthening digital capabilities with inclusive growth at the core of the announcements has laid the blueprint for India’s road to a $5 trillion economy.
As a health and wellness company, it was encouraging to witness the sustained focus on innovation and research in the health space. With consumers today focusing on preventive healthcare, the nutraceutical industry will play a significant role in creating a healthy nation. Towards this, our expectation was that Government will rationalize GST on healthcare supplements.
It is also heartening to see youth power and economic empowerment of women as the key drivers of the proposal with the former being one of the saptrishis of the Union Budget. Amway India has been working for decades, encouraging the youth with unparalleled entrepreneurial opportunities, and providing high-quality nutrition products to help meet their health goals.
The raising of the tax exemption limit will increase disposable income, empowering consumers to spend more, thereby spurring growth across industries including FMCG direct selling sector. Reduction in custom duties will further provide a strong impetus to the industry and echoes the government’s continued efforts to ensure ease of doing business and positioning India as a manufacturing hub for the world. Further, the increase in capital outlay to INR 10 lakh crore will have a cascading impact through job creation, streamlining supply chains, and boosting economic growth.
The budget also brings in a sharp focus on leveraging technology to usher India into the new era of AI and metaverse, making it a digital economy to be reckoned with.
Overall, it is a strong and forward-looking budget with a concentrated focus towards sustainable economic growth.”
Mr Anil G Verma, Executive Director and CEO, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd: “This is a balanced and inclusive budget which will provide further impetus to growth. The renewed thrust on investment in infrastructure will drive the productivity of our economy and generate employment. Our competitiveness in the global economy will also be improved through the thrust on research in fields like 5G services, AI and agriculture. Together with the initiatives to reduce the compliance burden and de-criminalise several regulatory provisions, it will improve the ease of doing business in India and attract fresh investments.
Measures to improve rural incomes and reduce personal income tax rates will deliver more disposable income in the hands of people, driving consumption. This will likely generate a virtuous cycle of fresh investments leading to higher employment, incomes and productivity, further spurring consumption. The Green growth focus will orient the entire economy towards adopting sustainable practices in all areas and put us in a good position to play our role in the efforts to improve the future of our planet. The key to realization of the planned outcomes is effective implementation.”
Mr Sudarshan Suchi, CEO, Bal Raksha Bharat (Save the Children, India): “The Hon’ble Finance Minister’s budget speech on the first Budget in Amrit Kaal that builds on the blueprint drawn for India@100 shows a beacon of hope for the youth and children of India. It is heartening to see the renewed emphasis on Education of Children by building a culture of reading through the announcement of the National Digital Library for Children and Adolescents is a welcome step and will aid in making up for the learning loss during the pandemic. The recognition of Youth as the Amrit Peedhi and the government initiatives to empower them through various skilling and livelihood initiatives and opportunities will pave the way for Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat. While the protection and nutrition needs of children deserved greater attention in the speech , we are hopeful that the announcement of the 500 Aspirational blocks program will ensure saturation and penetration of government schemes and programs to the last mile including children. The announcement of launch of the Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission and formation of a road map under Development Action Plan for the scheduled tribes in the next 3 years is an appreciative step in the direction of reaching the families and children in the most vulnerable community with basic facilities of clean drinking water, sanitation, health, education and nutrition to ensure their well-being and holistic development and will also enable in achieving the SDGs by reaching the last mile.”
B. Santhanam CEO Asia Pacific and India Region, Saint-Gobain and Chairman, Saint-Gobain India: “The Union Budget 2023-24 is a pro-growth budget having a strong focus on green growth that will act as a key motivator for businesses to accelerate their shift towards net-zero goals and boost sustainable growth. There is a significant push to capital expenditure which will further attract private investment. With governments core focus on urban development, infrastructure investment, employment creation and green growth, the intentions have been clear to steer India journey towards sustainable development.
The budget has also captured important aspects such as target to reach green hydrogen production of 5MMT by 2030, implementing many programs for green growth across various economic sectors as well as create green jobs, allocation of 10000cr/year investment on urban infrastructure development and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 that will further fuel economic growth and empower our youth. Overall, in my view the budget will serve as the blueprint to make India self-reliant and drive long-term economic growth with ecological sustainability.”
Mr Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, Action Aid Association: “The announcement to end the oppressing and inhumane practice of manual scavenging with 100% mechanical desludging of septic tanks and sewers in cities from manhole to machine-hole mode is a welcome one, as is the renewed impetus for development of particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). Allocation of Rs 15000 crore for developing basic facilities like safe housing, clean drinking water, improved access to education and health of PVTGs communities is a welcome step to address the needs and futures of PVTGs. The initiative of green growth and transition to net-zero carbon and several focused proposals under that are welcome steps.
Among others these include national green hydrogen mission, capital investments towards net-zero, PM-PRANAM incentives for mother earth, MISHTI – the Mangrove Initiative and Amrit Dharovar. The State of Climate in Asia 2021 by the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Moreover, a World Bank report suggests that by 2030, India may account for 34 million of the projected 80 million global job losses from heat stress associated with productivity decline. In such a situation, budgetary allocation for a national loss and damage financing facility would have been a game changer.
Similarly, the initiative to promote millets in the food security programme is a welcome first step which could have gained huge momentum through the additional valuation of such crops in the public procurement system.
While the budget has given a big relief to the middle classes, India’s majoritarian working classes need more focus. We may have come out of COVID but precarity of employment continues. PLFS and other data indicate high levels of employment, particularly among youth, continued precarity and constrained household consumptions. In view of this, informal workers of India expected that MGNREGA allocations would at least, if not more, see an allocation of the 2 lakh crores. Instead the allocation has been reduced even further to 60,00 crores, which will reduce employment days available, let alone solve the question of payment of pending wages.
India must close the global gap in terms of its social protection expenditure as a percentage of its GDP. India spent only 1.4 per cent of its GDP vis-a-vis the global figure of 13 per cent in 2020. Only 24.4% of India’s population is covered by at least one social security scheme (excluding healthcare) and 55% are covered under universal health coverage. The investment in agri-tech infrastructure and digitization of PACS are welcome steps and make this budget innovative and creative. However, agriculture is still the largest employer at 46.5% of the workforce and has increased marginally from 2019-20 to 2020-21.”
Mr Pradeep Aggarwal, Founder & Chairman, Signature Global (India), Ltd: “This year’s budget touched upon the most critical issue for the revival and growth of the affordable housing segment. PMAY’s budgetary allocation increased by 66%, which is good news for affordable housing. The new allocation of Rs 79000 crores in the budget 2022-23 will help countless Indians realise their home aspirations. Also, the increased allocation will lead to more housing projects being taken up, in both rural and urban areas. The scheme will provide a much-needed boost to the housing sector and continue to assist those from the EWS and LIG sections of society in owning a home.
Moreover, the Finance Minister announced that infrastructure and investment will be the government’s third priority, and capital expenditures will be increased by 33% to accelerate the country’s development. This increased spending is expected to help create more jobs, spur economic growth, and create a more prosperous nation. Also, in order to convert cities from manholes to machine holes, an urban infrastructure development fund of Rs 10000 crore will be set aside every year for urban development. This fund will help enhance India’s urban living environment besides modernising India’s cities and towns.”
Mr Kaushal Sampat, Founder of Rubix Data Sciences: “The Union Budget 2023-24 has given a big boost to KYC. By recommending a risk-based approach instead of the current one-size-fits-all process, the government has paved the way for better compliance in customer and counterparty onboarding, as it adjusts verification levels depending on the risk. It will also help in cutting costs, saving time, and improving customer experience by a huge margin. eKYC has also got a big push in this Union Budget. The introduction of DigiLocker for MSMEs, Trusts, and other entities will vastly ease the eKYC process, as verification of statutory documents will be simplified.
This budget has reiterated the government’s digitization intent. As a data sciences company, we are excited about the announcement of a national financial information registry. Considering that our platforms use and require a range of digital data from various government sources, having an umbrella source that has the latest available data would massively make KYC verifications, credit checks, business assessments, and therefore, risk scoring, easier and more credible. We hope the government will take this on a war footing as the Honorable Finance Minister seemed to convey and give this country a robust public infrastructure for enabling smooth credit flow.
We think the announcement of a digital public infrastructure for the agriculture sector is a very progressive step to encourage the adoption of technology in agricultural fields. Such an open-source digital public infrastructure will offer relevant information for crop planning and health, improve farmers’ access to inputs, credit, and insurance, and enable the development of tools for crop estimation and market intel. This will result in the creation and growth of the Agri-tech ecosystem and attract start-ups. There are many brilliant start-ups already working in this field and are waiting for that little fillip, which the government has provided in this budget. I think this step will go a long way in meeting the goal of expanding the farmer’s income by 2025.”
Mr Sumit Tayal, COO, Give: “Action packed budget with several implications for the social impact and CSR space. Focus on particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTG), agriculture led climate resilience, and concrete steps for getting India’s energy transition moving were the big positives. It will affect how CSR and NGO decision makers look at these spaces, and the attention and hence funding that they get in the coming year. Several changes on the regulatory and tax environment for nonprofits as well, that need to be understood better.”
Ahana Bhattacharya can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org