Expectations from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are high at a time when the ban on high value currency notes have led to chaos and cash crunch across the country. 2016 saw two major economic decisions by the government, one was the Goods and Services Tax and the other, demonetisation, announced on November 8. While people are still uncertain about the impact of both decisions, it is the budget of 2017 that is most awaited and will determine the government’s way of dealing with the situation.
Apart from expectations from the government to address the problems caused by demonetisation, the two other issues the Union Budget 2017 will witness are the merger of the Railway budget with the Union budget, and the change of date of the budget from end February to February 1.
Here is what India Inc expects from budget 2017:
Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Head Public Policy, Uber India: “We hope that the government announces measures that can ease the friction experienced by users while executing digital transactions. While the efforts of the government on this front are laudable, we would like to see an enabling framework that allows innovative and seamless solutions to be operationalised for digital transactions. This would include permission to allow merchants and/or card networks to authenticate digital transactions in the background while providing users the ease of a one-click payment. Further, as a fledgling industry which has already created hundreds of thousands of economic opportunities across the country, we would hope for concessions in the form of tax rebates under the proposed GST regime. This would be imperative for sharing economy players such as us to realise the market potential in India and contribute to India’s growth story.”
Shuttl – Bus aggregator in NCR
Amit Singh, Co-Founder, Shuttl: “The present Union government has taken some seminal initiatives towards creating a digital economy and promoting the start-up culture in the country through the Digital India and Start-Up India programmes. We look forward to improvements in regulatory framework particularly addressing of issues like ambiguity and multiplicity of regulations. This will help in realising the benefits of digital economy in urban mobility and turn our cities in truly world-class Smart Cities.”
Qtrove.com: Online market place
Vinamra Pandiya, CEO and Founder, Qtrove.com: We are very keen about the 2017 budget and are excited about Mr. Jaitley’s announcement of the same on 1st Feb. As an e commerce startup, we look forward to receiving some more clarity for FDI in B2C e-commerce through an automatic route. We also hope for a provision of enabling marketplaces to give a discount from their side. Besides this, we are also expecting relaxation of the rule of ‘not more than 25% of the business coming from one vendor for marketplaces.’ And lastly, I feel quite a lot of entrepreneurs are awaiting the implementation of GST at the earliest to enable cross state logistics with minimum constraints and friction.
The Man Company: Premium Men’s Grooming brand
Rohit Chawla, CEO and Co – Founder, The Man Company: The last couple of months have definitely created an impact for most ecommerce and FMCG brands selling online. In this budget, we are expecting the government to take steps that will boost consumption and sales. How the government goes about digitisation of the economy will be interesting to know. We hope that there are provisions that encourage digital payments over cash transactions. We are also expecting a smooth execution of GST.
SpiderG: india’s first e invoicing technology provider for SMEs
Ashwani Rathore, CEO and Co – Founder, SpiderG: “As a startup we face various tax and regulatory issues and I am hoping that this union budget will address some of these issues. Last financial year was tough for Indian startup ecosystem and to make the situation better Employee Stock ownership (ESOP) plans for the startups should be taxed at the time of sale which would help in paying their taxes as they would have greater liquidity and the instruments could also get a fair valuation. Government should announce a series of initiatives to support the startups, including widening of the tax-free regime to five years from three years and faster procedural clearances. Such announcements will boost our honorable PM’s Startup India movement. I am also expecting some announcements at the backdrop of demonetization to promote the digital economy where online payment transaction charges would be reduced.”
Intex Technologies Ltd
Rajeev Jain, CFO, Intex Technologies Ltd: “The mobile handset industry is the fast growing Industry and has become an imperative part of our everyday life. India is moving towards a digital economy and mobile banking. Smartphones will play a crucial role in supporting this vision. The recent demonetisation reform by the Government has further laid the ground for setting a cashless economy. The entire country is looking forward towards mobile banking which shall create a new user base and fuel the growth in mobile Industry. As an industry, we expect a long-term and stable policy on mobile manufacturing in India. The industry has huge potential and can supplement government initiatives of ‘Make in India’ with highly technical product if focused. Incentives to create sufficient technical manpower will lay the foundation of a strong and robust manufacturing base in India. Further, a clearly laid out research and development policy is necessary to succeed in a highly technical industry like ours and will help bring component manufacturing base in India to save precious foreign exchange. In the end, to create a truly inclusive digital economy, affordable mobile handset or consumer durable items up to certain value should be given a concessional duty treatment.”
Alok Dubey, CFO, ACER: “The Union Budget for the year 2017-18 is likely to be unique as many prime factors like demonetisation, GST, cashless economy measures, will play a key role this year. We are expecting favourable change in the Income Tax slabs and rates, as customer spending is still anticipated to decline for short term due to demonetisation. We also expect the budget to focus on shaping the IT infrastructure and urge the government to provide tax deductions on purchase of PC for consumers as well providing easy short-term loans for retailers for working capital requirement. This is required to accompaniment India’s emergent IT sector and further help the industry make improved technology more accessible to Indian market to fulfil government’s push for a digital economy.”
Vikas Agarwal, GM, OnePlus India: “After Make in India and demonetisation, the next big disruption is GST. The government has to carefully took measures to remonetize the economy to return to high GDP growth while maintaining cost competitiveness. From policy perspective, the tax structure should be rationalised and land acquisition policies should be simplified to enable local manufacturing at a larger scale.”
Directi: A group of tech businesses
Bhavin Turakhia, Co-Founder and CEO, Directi: “2016 saw a slew of announcements made by the government. With the goal of putting our country on the path towards a cashless economy, the Union Budget 2017-18 should include definitive SOPs and tax rebates to encourage and boost e-payments. Moreover, to achieve the goal of financial inclusion, the government should also rationalize indirect taxes and charges levied with respect to digital payment transactions, and further incentivize companies operating within this space. To adapt to the need of time, government should also rationalize income tax provisions including provisions related to employee tax benefits such that payments/ documents in the digital medium are treated at par with physical instruments. As a natural corollary to the demonetization process, the time is ripe to increase the tax exemption limit and also the corporate tax limits. Steps should also be taken to help startups tide over its immediate effects. Furthermore, with the increase in cash flow within banks, advanced technological infrastructure will help facilitate seamless transactions and improve the overall banking system as we enter into the new financial year. A startup hub, India is currently home to the third largest number of technology driven startups in the world. The previous year witnessed multiple markdowns in the country’s startup ecosystem and, therefore, to propel this forward, the PM’s flagship ‘Startup India’ project should receive an impetus in the upcoming budget.”
Vertoz Media Pvt Ltd
Ashish Shah, CEO and Founder, Vertoz Media Pvt Ltd: “There is hope that there will be some incentive announcements to further popularize the digital initiatives of the government. Being a pure AdTech firm we are very optimistic on the government’s vision of ‘Digital India’. We expect to see a growth oriented budget on February 1, 2017. The government has been encouraging entrepreneurship among the younger generation with its flagship initiative – ‘Startup India’ and keep up the momentum this time as well. More entrepreneurs in the ecosystem will drive sustainable economic growth and generate more job opportunities.”
NetApp India & SAARC
Anil Valluri, President – NetApp India & SAARC: “The previous two budgets have systematically gone about creating frameworks and processes to give wings to the dreams of multiple sections of the society like Startup India, Standup India and shrink wrapped with a larger vision of Digital India. With the recent move of demonetization trying to shift our cash driven economy of 1.2 billion people and getting them to leap frog to the digital world is unprecedented in history. This is a significant leap towards becoming a digital economy and the budget now needs to focus on how digital can become entrenched and become a way of life, while continuing to focus on growth and providing adequate support to the various pillars of each program so that the economy is on a sustained growth path,” said Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India & SAARC.
GreyOrange: Designs, develops and deploys advanced robotics systems
Yaduvendra Singh , Vice President & Global Head – Sales, Marketing & Solutions – GreyOrange Pte Ltd: “We expect the Union Budget 2017 to have significant growth-centric announcements that help put India’s economic performance back on track. Given India’s medium to long-term prospect as a manufacturing destination, we foresee the manufacturing sector to be a key contributor to India’s GDP in the coming years. Hence, the Union Budget should encourage manufacturing in the country. Players offering niche solutions – such as smart manufacturing and industrial automation – that help India achieve global standards of manufacturing and be recognized as a strong manufacturing hub, should be provided regulatory encouragement. Most companies in this space are very young and therefore there should be public spending to develop the right infrastructure for such companies to grow. Tax Holiday could be an effective incentive by the Government to encourage young companies with high potential. There should also be relaxations with respect to the qualifying criteria of working on State/Central Government projects. High threshold of parameters such as bank guarantee, number of years of experience, and number of employees often prevents young but deserving companies from working on large government projects, thereby depriving them of some much-needed experience. Efforts and investments are also required on similar lines as developing Information Technology parks across the country couple of decades back. Large manufacturing parks where all ecosystem players such as component suppliers, logistics support, consultants, and talent are available within the designated locality, will promote access and provide the necessary boost to the industry. Another important aspect that the budget should address is skill development in technology. Currently, we face a problem of having a large army of ‘unemployable’ engineers. On the other hand, the manufacturing sector is seriously short of skilled workforce. We expect the government to set aside an appropriate proportion of the budget to bridge this skill gap. This can be done through starting more institutions such as the IITs and NITs. Overall, making manufacturing easier in the country not only help upcoming and innovative firms to prosper but will also accelerate the country’s economic growth.”
Indus Net Technologies
Abhishek Rungta, CEO, Indus Net Technologies: “Withdrawal of withholding tax for overseas service purchase. In a globalised world, such taxes impact competitiveness of IT businesses from India. Labor law reform is awaited for years. We cannot treat blue collar labors and white collar executives in the same way. There should be tax breaks on R&D investments out of the profits, so that companies focus on IP creation. This can be linked with measurable results. Angel investing is not tax efficient. It needs to be structured such that successful entrepreneurs and executives find it easy to invest and startups are not penalized when raising money from these sources. IP related disputes need a very different expertise and hence a separate bench or court shall be put in place to quickly and appropriately handle IP related disputes. Incubation and acceleration centers by corporates should be encouraged and the investments made in the same should be exempted from tax. IT and digital adoption is extremely poor in SMEs in India. Government shall subsidize that for micro industries to get them to adopt technology at an early stage and become more competitive. It will also encourage and increase internal adoption of IT and hence growth of the industry.”
Aakash Educational Services Pvt. Ltd.
Aakash Chaudhry, Director, Aakash Educational Services Pvt. Ltd.: Access to basic quality education is still a bigger challenge in India, especially in rural areas. With digitization and innovation seeping in to bridge this gap, there is still room for financial and statutory incentives from the government to motivate private organizations to invest their efforts and time into it, apart from money. Further standardization of curriculum across states and boards will enable cheaper access to education, with large number of facilitators in the market. Leveraging of technology is vital to gain access to progress of delivered education; hence developments and additional benefits around education technology will be a welcome step.
The Anita Borg Institute India
Geetha Kannan, Managing Director of ABI India: “Last year the Sixth Economic Census released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation had revealed that women constituted only 13.76% of the total 58.5 million entrepreneurs. Despite these low figures, ABI is hopeful that slowly but surely these numbers will improve in the coming years. Unless the Government continues to step in and is highly committed to creating an ecosystem that nurtures and supports women entrepreneurs, all efforts such as ‘Startup India’, ‘Make in India’ and ‘Stand-Up India’ will not achieve the desired goalsthat implied empowerment and financial stability for women. Our Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley in the previous budget had allocatedRs. 500 crore under the ‘Stand-Up India’ scheme, which among other categories included women entrepreneurs. This was a welcome move. We are keen that in the coming budget the Government has plans to expand such schemes and finds more ways to ensure it is reaching the targeted beneficiaries. Women entrepreneurs in technology are on the rise and strong initiatives from the Government could really help in building successful businesses. The Indian economy is anticipated to grow at a slower rate this year due to world politics, global financial fluctuations, demonetization and so on. We hope the Budget 2017 is able to resist all these and yet provide a stable socio-economic environment. Technology is undoubtedly at the core of most growth and development. Tax reforms, initiatives and policies to further boost the technology sector are always a priority on the budget wish-list.”
Deepak Chandnani, CEO of Worldline South Asia and Middle East: “The government is taking many steps to further the cause of digital payments and move towards a less-cash economy. However, with the reduction in MDR and other short-term measures, the acquiring business is losing its profitability. In the upcoming budget, we hope that the government takes a long-term perspective and brings in measures that make the business viable again. Also, the industry would benefit from the proposed Acceptance Development Fund (ADF), which in turn will accelerate the growth in the acceptance infrastructure of the country.”
Bipin Preet Singh, CEO and Founder, MobiKwik: “The Budget must announce measures to upgrade digital infrastructure across the country. This will encourage more merchants and consumers to transact on non-cash, online platforms. Digital India is a laudable initiative. We need to improve digital literacy and connect cities, towns and villages with high-speed internet networks so that every citizen is empowered with access to a mobile broadband connection. Access to online services should actually be a fundamental right. This will move a large portion of cash transactions to formal economy. The Budget must reduce corporate tax for start-ups and companies promoting digital payments ecosystem. At the moment, it is flat at 35 per cent. There should be reduction in income tax for individuals and companies promoting secure digital payments. The Budget should announce sops for fin-tech companies providing data protection. We need to see visible action on government initiatives like Make in India, Skill India, Start-Up India and Stand Up India. The Budget must announce steps to tone up physical infrastructure. We need good roads, good connectivity with rural areas where 65 per cent of Indians live. India needs world-class seaports and airports. Implementation of GST from April 1 may be deferred to help businesses and overall economy recover from demonetisation. Clear, uniform taxation for all goods and services is important. India should be a tax compliant society. At present, not even three per cent of people pay any income tax. Transactions worth one trillion dollars are done in the country annually. Of these, barely 10 per cent are on digital platforms. Mobile wallet providers have thus clearly a larger role to play. India is poised for high growth. By 2030, it could become the world’s third largest economy after the United States and China.”
Ramki Gaddipati, CTO & Co-founder of Zeta: “As digital payments take off, we’d like this year’s budget to focus on financial inclusion. We hope the Government of India reduces indirect taxes and charges levied on digital transactions. Further, income tax incentives should be provided to people who use digital payment options. It’s also time that digital payment and documents be treated legally on par with physical instruments. We also hope that the Government increases the ceilings on employee tax benefits as they’re now quite overdue. To aid merchants, the Merchant Discount Rate on card payments should be abolished. The industry can also benefit from tax incentives provided to organisations operating in the digital payments space.”
Inalsa Home Appliances
Pankaj Gupta, Head Marketing, Inalsa Home Appliances: “Small appliances industry in India is performing on an average growth rate of 5-6 % in last 3-4 years . However this industry has potential to perform much better. The penetration of many categories in Indian household is as low as 5% . Keeping in view the above we look forward to a budget where few upcoming categories like Chimneys , air purifiers , food steamers are given a preferential treatment. The import duties on such products may be reduced . This shall enable these products to be sold at an affordable price . The industry in these categories can grow to the extent of more than 50% too, as the potential of growth in these categories is huge. Manufacturing sector particularly for traditional product categories like Mixer Grinders & Irons needs to be focused to give much required respite to these categories. These categories have huge potential as penetration still is not very huge but these categories have become stagnant as the major players are not pumping in money in these categories . This stalemate is related to competition between organized & unorganised players. If excise duties are lowered , two fold advantage can be attained. One is that operating prices of all major players shall go down & the second advantage shall be unorganized players too shall be forced to enter into the mainstream of excise & VAT. This shall enable to give a level playing field to all. There is every possibility that we may see not only growth in this sector but innovative product introduction. Organized sector in India is looking forward to implementation of GST so that the differentiated market of organized & unorganized players gets narrower. A major expectation from the Budget 2017 is related to the “Make in India” campaign of government of India. We look forward to impressions of the same in the budget so that domestic small appliance market feels comfortable in the time to come. This shall also ensure employment generation & in totality a better nation-India.”
Trade Smart Online: A discount brokerage firm
Vijay Singhania, Founder-Director, Trade Smart Online: Expectation from the forthcoming Union Budget, Q3FY17 earnings and forthcoming public issue of BSE will drive the markets in the coming week. The pre-budget market rally has started and investors have started building positions on likely announcements from the budget to be presented on February 1. Q3FY17 earnings from blue-chip companies is set to be the next big trigger for the markets. Reliance Industries and LIC Housing Finance will announce October – December 2016 quarterly results on Monday. While Axis Bank and Yes Bank will announce December 2016 quarterly results on Thursday, Adani Power and RBL Bank will announce quarterly results on Friday. Meanwhile, Asia’s oldest bourse BSE will launch its much-awaited Rs 1,500 crore initial public offering (IPO) on January 23. The public offer of BSE will see sale of 1.54 crore shares by the existing shareholders through the offer for sale (OFS) route. This works out to close to 30 percent of the total holding. On macro front, the government will announce monthly inflation data based on wholesale price index (WPI) for December 2016 on Monday. Inflation based on WPI eased for the third straight month to 3.2 per cent in November 2016 from 3.4% in October 2016.
Aniketh Jain, CEO & Co-Founder of Solutions Infini: “The upcoming budget is crucial to honest taxpayers and we look forward to a low taxation system, which will simultaneously promote a robust digital ecosystem. Moreover, the government should simplify the tax regime for ITs and startups to foster innovations and boost a healthy start-up environment in the country. Also, the union budget 2017-2018 should focus on digital inclusion across industries. Simplification of overall processes across all government infrastructures will be key for the success of India and I believe they should ensure that sufficient budget is allocated for the same.”
Giftease.com: India’s biggest online gifting portal
Vivek Mathur, CEO at Giftease Technologies Pvt. Ltd: “The current financial year has seen some landmark reforms, which should help boost tax collection. Hence, there are strong expectations of a significant cut in income taxes, for both corporates & individuals. Overall, consumption has been severely impacted in the last couple of months, and firm steps to boost consumption & improve consumer sentiment, are crucial for the retail & ecommerce sectors”.
Neelesh Talathi, CFO, Pepperfry.com:
“E-commerce sector in India continues to grow at scorching pace thereby contributing to Government’s ambitious plans around “Make in India” & employment generation. We anticipate that the government will leverage Budget 2017 to provide further impetus to this sector through tax reforms and enhanced level playing field. GST is the cornerstone to releasing the dream of one-country one-market, as it can potentially resolve impediments in Inter-State movement, unburden e-Commerce of multitude of taxes e.g. Entry Tax etc. All Indians aspire to own their home and we hope that the Budget 2017 accelerates development of urban infrastructure and provides incentive to home buyers. It will also support our mission of helping 20 million customers create beautiful homes by 2020.”
REAL ESTATE, CONSTRUCTION, INFRASTRUCTURE
House of Hiranandani
Mr. Surendra Hiranandani, CMD, House of Hiranandani: “The real estate sector certainly awaits an accommodative stance by the government in the upcoming budget. Even as the GST rates have been finalized and the slabs fixed at 5%, 12%,18% and 28%, the real estate sector awaits to know which tax rate will be applied to the industry. A 12% slab is preferred by the sector as it will reduce the cost of apartments and increase affordability for end users. Developers too stand to gain as this would positively impact sales in the market. A higher rate of 18% is expected to increase the cost of homes, especially in under construction projects, unless there is clarity provided on the composition scheme (abetment of cost of land), VAT charges if they have been paid by developers for under construction properties). Apart from this we hope the government raises HRA deduction and provides tax incentives for first time home buyers. The corporate taxes needs to be reduced and Dividend distribution tax must be scrapped. To get returns one has to pay over 55% in taxes which is the highest in the world. It is more profitable today to trade in shares than to invest in creating a business. Entrepreneurs are presently being penalized while trading is encouraged.”
Berger Paints India Limited
Abhijit Roy, CEO & MD of Berger Paints: “Demonitization has affected consumer sentiment with some withholding of purchase decision specially in the discretionary category. We expect the Government to give a boost to the consumer sentiment by lowering taxes and giving tax breaks for buying affordable houses.”
mjunction: An e-marketplace for steel
Vinaya Varma, CEO, mjunction: “I look forward to a budget which carries forward the Prime Minister’s vision of a Digital India in the truest sense of the term. Let e-governance be the order of the day, and let e-payments and digital wallets be more incentivised in order to eradicate corruption from its very roots. I am also looking forward to implementation in letter and spirit of the Prime Minister’s Startup India programme. This will boost innovative thinking and fresh ideas so crucial for India’s economy now.”
Denave: A global sales enablement company
Snehashish Bhattacharjee, Global CEO & Co-founder, Denave: “With demonetization significantly altering the dynamics of the entire national economy, expectations are high from the upcoming budget. Alongside countering black money practices, this move has helped the government in expanding the bracket of tax-paying population. This in-turn, equips the government to offer considerable tax rebates and SOPs focused towards societal development and growth. The ambiguities present in the modern-day service sector operations can be lessened with apt reform provisions in the budget. In line with the gradual industrial revamp, we are at interesting junctures wherein artificial intelligence and machine learning are steadily changing the long-established industrial norms and challenging the cheap-labor tag which our country has borne for long now. This technological disruption has created the need for R&D support in the ITES/ BPO industry. The industry needs more government support to build state-of-the-art R&D to eventually create alternate solutions and get back into the game. Lastly, for a holistic growth and development, focus on building a world-class infrastructure and real-estate industry is also critical. Both these sectors require better regularization and standardization support in order to foster an efficient business environment. I expect the upcoming budget to cater to this as well, through incentivized SOPs and other measures.”
Tenon: Facility Management and Security Company
Major Manjit Rajain, Group Chairman, Tenon: “The forthcoming Union Budget is expected to unveil reform-centric policies and an action plan that would help boost the growth. The security industry is the second largest employment generator in India, which provides fresh workforce through facilitating pre-job and on the job training. Considering recent initiatives taken by the current government in the areas of agriculture, job creation, skill development and education, we hope this budget to be beneficial for companies like us. We expect new tax incentives in the areas like skill development & job creation and are very optimistic about new policies. Through this Union budget’17, we would request the government to categorize the private security guard under skilled and highly skilled workers under minimum wages Act, while providing with more tax incentives for such trainings. In addition to this, we are expecting simple tax compliances under proposed GST environment. Furthermore, we hope the reduction in custom duty on the electronic security products for the growth and expansion of the industry.”
The Akshaya Patra Foundation: Not for profit organisation running food program of mid-day meals
Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation: “The upcoming budget has raised expectations on various significant points. We are hopeful of an increase in allocation of funds in child welfare and educational sector – both primary and secondary. On income tax exemption for charitable activities, we hope that the exemptions already in effect will continue. Withdrawal of these exemptions is expected to discourage such donations, adversely impacting voluntary contributions. Overall we expect that the budget creates a positive environment for child welfare and development, education and the social sector as a whole.”
Vinay Sinha, Head of Sales – India, Director – Commercial Business, AMD Asia Pacific-Japan (APJ) Mega Region: “Last year’s budget saw the Government focus on digital literacy by setting up a scheme to cover 6 crore rural households. Along with the ‘national digital literacy mission’ and ‘digital saksharta abhiyan’, these schemes will help democratize use and familiarity with digital devices such as computers, tablet PCs, and smartphones, as well as internet usage. As a result, these trained workers can more actively and effectively participate in the cycle of development, thereby empowering start-ups and large organizations to experience digital transformation. The rapid adoption of the Digital India policy aided by the strong, decisive, and time bound rollout of each of the related pillars fueled the demand for computers and mobility devices in the country. The government must continue to push these programs that proliferate digital services and digital inclusion to the common man.The demonetization move resulted in slowdown of cash purchases, however, the balance of slowdown on cash purchases was offset to a small extent by increased online and B2B growth. The robustness of the digitization move and its impact will only be understood once we have enough data to measure the market movement.”