Business community hails indian Budget
February 02, 2018

Welcoming Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Union Budget 2018-19, businesses said the budget would promote job creation and the announcements were in line with expectations with emphasis on sectors like infrastructure, agriculture and health. The Gulf Today shares the views of business heavyweights in the UAE on Indian budget

Dr. Ram Buxani, Chairman, ITL Cosmos Group: A very unique budget indeed. Holding the deficit, all have been made happy. Farmers, train commuters, housing seekers, college education dreamers, have all reason to be happy. Issuing bonds to justify recapitalisation of banks to address the deficit created by NPA gives good investment opportunity. But all this will create burden for the Government. If they remain, they will strive to fulfil their commitment. Otherwise they would have left enough load for new incumbent to become inefficient. Average Indian has reason to be happy anyway. Taking into consideration that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting UAE in a few days, it was expected NRI community who number over 2.5 million will have some favourable words in the budget. Regrettably they remained neglected.

Navin Kapoor, MD, Xpertize United, Dubai:  The Finance Minister has given a populist “Bharat” budget in his last full budget prior to 2019 election. The MSP increase to 15 per cent for all Kharif crops is a good news for Farmers. The agriculture infrastructure development will benefit food processing industry and farmers. The issuance of Kissan credit card is another sop given to farmers. Electricity for everyone by 2019 and housing by 2022 are pro poor initiatives. This is a pro poor budget and addresses vote bank for upcoming State elections and Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

KV Shamsudheen, Director, Barjeel Geojit Securities LLC:  When India got independence, its economy was $200 million, presently it reached to $2.5 and world’s 7th economy in the world. The budget indicates India’s position will be 5th economy in the world very soon. Finance Minister had given strong emphasis to agro production, processing, organic farming transportation of agro products. Various support given to women empowerment is loudable, for women empowerment FM offered 75 per cent of Mudra loan to women. He had given importance to senior citizens by giving additional tax benefits to them. First time we could see a massive investment of Rs50 lakh crore for infrastructure development of road, airport, rail, port and inland water transport, it will change the face of India. Overall, the budget is growth oriented.

Sripriyaa Kumaria, Director General ITEC ME:  The Union Budget is a mixed bag with balances and checks and a few benefits for the middle class who are the actual tax payers. Arun Jaitley had announced that UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) scheme will connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads. To help promote Indian businesses and economy and increasing Airport capacity to be hiked to handle 1 billion trips every year is a welcome move. Government’s decision to launch health scheme to cover 10 crore poor families is a good start. The standard deduction in lieu of travel and medical expense reimbursement, which currently amounts to Rs30,000. So the actual tax benefit would be only Rs10,000 for each taxpayer, keeping in mind that the salaries class have been paying way more tax than individual business owner, much more could have been done for the common salaried man.

James Mathew, Group CEO, Crowe Horwath (UAE & OMAN): “The ambitious universal health insurance scheme covering almost half of the population could be a game changer for the New India. It’s encouraging that the government is focused on the bottom of the pyramid with all the rural, agriculture, infra and women-centric reforms. But implementation remains the key, the rubber has to hit the road; while NRI concerns were given a miss same as defense, disaster mgt. and salaried class.”
Bharat Bhatia, CEO, Conares:  I think the Indian Union Budget 2018-19 made today had some ‘feel good’ factors regarding an increased public spending on infrastructure developments, especially the announcement of selecting 99 cities under the ambitious Smart city mission at an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore. Other good announcements made were the moves towards the establishment of affordable housing fund, 14.34 lakh crore rupees to be spent for rural infrastructure, and the RISE — Revitalising Infrastructure in School Education — scheme with an allocation of 1 lakh crore rupees over four years.

Paras Shahdadpuri, Chairman of Nikai Group of Companies: This budget has been dedicated exclusively to the poor, to the farmer and to SC/ST. This budget would benefit large population in rural sector. Allocating 170 billion dollars to rural and agricultural activities is a huge support. Government aims to build 5.1 million rural houses under affordable housing plan. This construction activity would support 150 ancillary industries. Restructuring by way of GST and income tax would bring ease of doing business and remove multitax anomalies. One-Tax-one-Nation is the way forward. The MSME sector which was an informal economy is being brought into formal economy. Rural spending will spur manufacturing, agricultural production, agri-exports amounting to $100 billion.

Promoth Manghat, CEO, UAE Exchange Group:  “Truly a budget for a New India, the Union Budget 2018 promises an impetus for India’s future growth. Apart from the positive initiatives for agriculture, infrastructure and healthcare, the pragmatic focus on technology is a great sign for India’s digital transformation. The government’s decision to ramp up investments in research and skill development in robotics, AI, digital manufacturing and doubling the allocation for the Digital India programme, clearly signals a commitment towards creating a digitised economy.

Y. Sudhir Kumar Shetty, President, UAE Exchange:  “Overall the India Budget 2018 looks futuristic and strongly growth oriented. Indian economy is poised to grow @ 7.5%, which is expected to grow @ 8% going forward. This means the economy is well on course to emerge into the 5th largest economy. All sectors including agriculture, food processing, employment, education, health, infrastructure, textile, tourism housing etc., are addressed well. Modernisation of railways and security of passengers are in focus. Initiatives like development of airports, tackling air pollution, free cooking gas and electricity to rural areas, Swachch Bharat Abhyan etc., are also getting the right impetus.

Dr Azad Moopen, MD, Founder Chairman & Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare: I am very happy that budget has given special attention to health of the poor and marginalized population of India who were finding it difficult to access quality healthcare. The National Health Protection scheme announced in the budget aims to cover 10 crore such families by providing them up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. This long-awaited move will cover 50 crore individuals and may be the single largest health insurance program by any government across the world. This extraordinary program will give the BPL population the opportunity to get the best healthcare at secondary and tertiary hospitals. Ensuring one government medical college for every 3 parliamentary constituencies will help improve the doctor-patient ratio which is at a dismal 1:1170 as against WHO recommended ratio of 1:400. There is a deficiency of 600,000 doctors in India now, with yearly output of only 50,000 from existing Medical Colleges.