Budget Talk: Hinduja, Honda India, Zeta Bosses Have A Wishlist For FM Sitharaman

Buzz In the BoardroomAgencies
Buzz In the Boardroom
With just days to go before Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announces her (and NDA 2.0's) first Union Budget, corner offices across the country are buzzing with talk of policies and changes that the economy needs.

Not just headlines and boardrooms, Budget talk has spilled over to Twitter too; Mahindra Group Chairman and Twitter-ace Anand Mahindra recently tweeted that 'there is only one 'Big B' this week', warranting a witty response from the other Big B, Amitabh Bachchan.

To get an inside look at the reforms that India Inc bosses are rooting for, we asked top bosses across industries for their wishlists. Here's what they said.
Long Term GoalsAgencies
Long Term Goals
Rajesh Ramakrishnan, Managing Director, Perfetti Van Melle India

“Given the massive majority that the Modi government has managed to secure, we would expect some big reforms to fuel long-term economic growth. This would then lead to increasing employment, consumption and investments.

"It would be good to have some specific focus on the agriculture sector on one hand, and on the new-age sectors on the other.

"Additionally, any reduction in the corporate tax rate would help in further fuelling investments from corporates."
Tech-ing Care Of The Middle ClassAgencies
Tech-ing Care Of The Middle Class
Bhavin Turakhia, CEO, Zeta & Flock

"For the upcoming Budget, two key areas to focus on should be – technology and India’s salaried population.

"India’s online economy has made significant strides, shifting from a largely ‘cash on delivery’ model to now clocking a massive number of online digital transaction. In the Union Budget, an increased focus on giving better sops to build an infrastructure that can continue to empower individuals digitally will further boost our economy. Also, with technological disruption being key for startups’ growth today, we would urge the Government to encourage investments in technology hubs that will help strengthen technologies such as AI, ML etc.
"The Government must also work towards bringing some respite to GST, by reducing the tax slab for technology services and products, encouraging the early adopter market to flourish.

"For salaried employees, in the past few decades, we haven’t witnessed any increase in several allowances that are offered. For instance, the meal allowance is only Rs 50 per day, while children education allowance has a limit of just Rs 100 per month, and the driver salary limit is Rs 900 per month. It would be of great benefit for salaried people if the Union Budget 2019 considers increasing the limit of such employee tax benefits.”
Steering Mo-Town RightAgencies
Steering Mo-Town Right
Rajesh Goel, Senior Vice President & Director, Marketing & Sales, Honda Cars India Ltd

"The auto industry is currently facing a slump, but it is impossible to pinpoint what exactly is causing this kind of a minus growth in the sector for the past two months. June, too, hasn't been too kind for the industry.

"Since the customers are geographically widespread, any steps taken by the industry take a long time to show effect. Therefore, the need of the hour is initiatives that will help jump-start the demand.

"Whenever this kind of a phenomenon happens, with any product, the Government must take the required steps to kick-start growth, even as the industry keeps building a hype in the market either by new products or promotions that entice the customer and help get things back on track."
Saving Start-upsAgencies
Saving Start-ups
Ronnie Screwvala, Co-founder And Chairman, upGrad

“With 90% of start-ups in India meeting a premature demise, there is an urgent need for increased support from the Government to fuel the incubator eco-system in India.
"I expect the Government to announce tax benefits for startups to boost entrepreneurship and employment in the economy including simplified norms for levying a tax on employee stock option schemes (ESOPs) at the time of sale of shares.

"There are emerging challenges in the job market coming from rapid changes in technology and automation. India's higher education institutes need to gear themselves up towards addressing these new challenges. Changes in technology and business are creating demand for reskilling of the workforce.

"And last but not the least, the government needs to build ground-level opportunities and incentives- for the few farmers left in rural areas- and the ones we need to get back there to drive India's agricultural agenda.”
Mind Your LanguageAgencies
Mind Your Language
Sivaramakrishnan V, Managing Director, Oxford University Press (India)

"The Budget is coming up with the proposed New Education Policy (currently at draft stage) in the background and hence allocation towards education will be closely watched.

"This Budget should draw from the point made in the NEP on achieving ‘foundational literacy and numeracy’ by 2025. It will be worthy to tie-in early digital literacy with this effort, and therefore allocation towards ‘ICT in Education’ during primary schooling should be strongly considered.

"Another area of focus should be the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) of teachers with its delivery through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Budget allocation combined with minimum mandatory hours of CPD will help upskill the large educator community.

"Previous Budgets have focused on improving skills and vocational streams, and as an extension, the Government must have an outlay for English language teaching so that the employability quotient of our young workforce goes up. This has the potential to directly impact the country’s GDP.

"Education, being on the concurrent list, is a subject of interest to states as well, and hence any new initiative must fit in well with the agenda that the respective State Department of Education (DoE’s) have to carry forward.”
​Simplification & Clarity on GSTAgencies
​Simplification & Clarity on GST
Prem Dewan, Retail Head, OSL Luxury Collections Pvt. Ltd.-Corneliani

"Since the Indian Retail Market is set to cross $ 1 trillion mark by 2020 we expect, less duties to match prices globally. Removal or increasing the limit on pan card etc to Rs 5 lakhs & above of on customer purchases, otherwise luxury customers are often diverted to shop outside India to avoid checks & tabs. The government should allocate appropriate land, infrastructure, transport, technology boost to the retail sector."
Inclusion & StructureAgencies
Inclusion & Structure
Sameer Nayar, Founder & CEO BuildSupply

“It is a welcome change to see India’s finance ministry represented by a full-time woman finance minister. I believe women bring a different perspective to decision making as they do to management and leadership. Women bring with them an all-rounded perspective that enables them to understand the micro as well as macro scenarios and present a view from a different vantage point.""With Hon’ble Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the helm, I expect Budget 2019 to be more inclusive and structured from the ground-up to ensure that benefits pan across all constituents. Specific to the real-estate and construction industry from a policy perspective, I expect the new finance minister to look closely at how the institutional lending scenario can be improved specifically with regards to public sector banks and NBFCs. This will spur lending and kick-start growth. I would also expect the finance minister to focus more on affordable housing – by improving its scope and scale to benefit buyers and builders alike."
Putting FDI On TrackAgencies
Putting FDI On Track
G.P. Hinduja, Co-Chairman, Hinduja Group

“Given the headwinds blowing throughout the global economy and following the cracks emerging in trade alliances, the Finance Minister has to steer the Indian economy towards growth, and will have to pursue the path of reforms more aggressively than before.
"India remains the sweet spot that the global investor community is watching and waiting for with its high GDP growth and domestic consumption potential.

"The Budget should aim at policies that will unleash the entrepreneurial instincts of Indian businessmen. For encouraging FDI, there has to be genuine action to increase the 'Ease of Doing Business' index not just lip service.

"The Government has to enhance its spending on infrastructure creation so that we can take advantage of available demographic dividend by generating suitable employment opportunities.

"Monetary and fiscal initiatives like creation of vibrant secondary Bond market, easing up the glitches in GST input credit mechanism, incentivising the scrappage policy in Commercial Vehicle sector would help. Restoring confidence in NBFC sector is a must as it supports sections of business including infrastructure projects.

"I have always maintained that Government needs to establish a GST-like Council with both Centre and States on board, and together they need to smoothen the project implementation process for investors. Otherwise, numerous projects that are cleared by one face blocks from the other. The fiscal discipline that the Modi-govt, in its last term, followed so commendably, needs to continue.

"The longstanding demand of NRIs that their investment in Indian industry & services should be treated on par with that of domestic investors, from taxation and control point of view, should also be considered”.

Also Read: GP Hinduja hopes for a path-breaking Budget, says FM will motivate more women to become leaders
​More Strength To GSTAgencies
​More Strength To GST
Rahul Puri, Multi-property General Manager, The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa

"We hope that the upcoming Union Budget recognises the numerous opportunities that lie within the Hospitality sector and facilitates the empowerment of the sector.
"While the hospitality and tourism industry has settled down with the nuances of GST, we hope for a dynamic Budget that facilitates the reduction of corporate tax rate and streamlines GST implementation so that GST refunds are not delayed by more than 30 days.

"There is also a need for uniformity of GST. There are 2 major taxes on different categories of rooms viz 18% and 28%, which should be harmonized at par with corresponding lower GST rates in other countries. This will act as an impetus for the consumer especially the retail segment, as well as for the hoteliers and will increase the influx of guests. This will also further support and encourage new emerging hospitality trends."
Funding For PharmaAgencies
Funding For Pharma
Tushar Kumar, Founder and CEO, Medlife International Pvt. Ltd

"The Indian domestic pharmaceuticals industry is on ascendancy and e-pharmacy is also flourishing. There are a lot of healthcare startups emerging in the domain, leveraging technology to deliver quality services. The Government needs to further augment the funding and incubation schemes launched by it.

"Last year, the Ministry of Health had formulated a conducive policy draft for regulating e-pharmacies and we believe that its implementation will not only consolidate the industry but also be a great growth enabler. Hence, the need of the hour is for the Government to bring out a notification regarding the registration and licensing of e-pharmacies alongside bolstering the support system for the startups in the country."
Reducing Corporate Income TaxAgencies
Reducing Corporate Income Tax
Ramesh Kapoor, Chief Finance Officer, Numero Uno

"We expect the government would work towards easing of liquidity issue. Shortage of liquidity has curtailed expansion plans and growth. GST rationalisation and easing of compliance should be taken on high priority. For apparel industry we expect government to reduce GST rate or increase the threshold limit of Rs 1000 where GST is 5%. Apparel industry is one of highest employment generator in the economy." "Corporate income tax needs to be reduced as promised being the part of rationalisation of taxes. Faster resolution of NPA for ailing banks and no more loss of jobs due to failing companies. Steps in the direction of booting of consumption in the country which will lead to growth in the retail industry. Easing of labour laws. Increase in the individual exemption limits so that buying power within households increase and thereby boosting the consumption. Improvement in the condition of the farmers and lesser dependency on rain water, this will help in better conditions for farmers and increase their income. Better tax benefits and availability of funds for start-ups."
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