By: G M Rao
We welcome the Union Budget. This is a directional Budget towards setting a long-term roadmap for fiscal responsibility as well as development. There has been a visible balance that the finance minister has struck between social and economic development. While larger foreign participation has been invited by enhancing FDI limit in insurance, defence, e-commerce sectors, it has given a clear and positive signal on the approach to retrospective tax.
Strong attempt has been made to revive the manufacturing and MSME sector and render the much required thrust on the revival of the infrastructure sector. There is a clear focus on kick-starting the economic growth through investment in infrastructure. We also welcome the steps to bring in private capital into the sector.
We welcome the announcement of 3P India — the agency to streamline and address the issues that the developers have been facing. Critical financing support that the Infrastructure sector was seeking have been given a green signal. Various enablers have been set for banks to fund infrastructure. Announcement on the equity side have been encouraging . Fresh award of road and airports projects, which is significantly higher than last year, would be critical to kickstart the capex cycle. The government’s focus on the smart cities is evident by the announcement of 100 smart cities.
Due impetus has been given to other sectors — inland water transport, new ports and urban development — would take Indian infrastructure to the next level. In order to facilitate the work on the Industrial corridors, a dedicated corridor agency has been announced. In energy sector, allocating fuel to coal-based power plants getting commissioned before March 2015 has been announced. The high priority given to the new and renewable energy is also crucial in creating a long-term energy security.
There has been a pragmatic rationalisation of customs duties and simplification of the indirect taxation regime with the rollout of GST in due course and no retrospective tax.
The government has given an equal weightage to the social development through the announcement of new IITs, IIMs and AIIMS. Apart from education and agriculture, the focus is on women’s welfare & safety, hygiene and sanitation and increasing household savings. Broadband connectivity to villages would go a long way in creating rural upliftment.
A significant budgetary allocation has been given to the development of the border areas and the Northeast as well. It has also been a boost to the common man as the investment limits have been enhanced.
Overall, this has been an appreciable attempt to positively touch all sections of society and we look forward to its successful implementation.
The writer is Group Chairman, GMR Group