The Union Budget is almost here, and expectations appear to be at a high. As key metrics show a slowdown for a time and the economy is truly in the midst of slowdowns, businesses across all sectors have put their hopes on a variety of measures to pull back the economy.
“With a steadily falling GDP, manufacturing at its lowest ebb in a while and consumption refusing to bounce back , it would be imperative for the budget to usher in optimism and instil a greater degree of confidence across companies, investors and consumers,” said Shailja Dutt, the founder of Stellar Search, a global executive search firm.
From tax incentives to tax cuts, The demands are numerous.
Here’s what a few founders of startups and CEOs of companies have to comment on the current situation in their particular industries and what they’re looking forward to from the budget announcement on January 1.
In the field of education, India has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. The startup ecosystem has particularly noticed the fundamental demand, with companies such as Byju’s becoming acknowledged names across the world.
“For the GDP target of $5 trillion by 2024, India will require a large number of highly skilled workforce. However, from the long term perspective, there is a need to focus on foundation learning to ensure every child can read well by class 2 and do all arithmetic operations by class 5,” said Sridhar Rajagopalan who is co-founder of Educational Initiatives, an education research company.
Zishaan Hayath, co-founder of Edtech startup Toppr He, said that efforts must be taken to assist students in learning more.
“At the moment, many of our graduates are ill-equipped for the job market. Investing in higher education will be a priority for this budget, particularly since the presiding economic conditions will make potential students hesitant to study further, as they’d prefer to secure jobs instead,” said Hayath.
The focus on higher education is something Manjeet Singh, the CEO of the scholarship platform Buddy4Study, believes is essential in this budget.
“Though state governments have good coverage with scholarships at the post-matric level, coverage in higher education is very poor. We expect the government to allocate more funds to scholarships in the higher education sector as well as encourage corporate CSR to allocate more funds for education and skilling initiatives,” the minister said.
“Low market sentiment and the transition to BS VI emission standards were said to be the prime reasons for the industry slowdown last year. The industry is hopeful that the government will announce policies to support the industry and increase the demand in the market,” stated Jeetender Sharma, the founder and managing director of automotive company Okinawa Autotech.
Sunil Gupta, managing director and CEO of Avis India, believes that the government must expand on the recent shift towards sustainability by prioritizing the expansion of electric vehicles.
“This can be done by promoting the creation of a strong and well-connected charging infrastructure on a pan-India level, promoting the setting up of EV battery capacity in the country and incentivising the adoption of EVs, especially for public transport buses, fleet operator cars and 2 and 3 wheelers,” Gupta stated.
Anil G, co-founder at Bounce, a startup that offers rental mobility Bounce, believed that sharing mobility is a crucial element with regard to pollution, traffic, and other social problems and the need to reward initiatives to encourage its use.
Regarding electric vehicles, Anil said, “the current 18 per cent GST on battery-operated vehicles is a deterrent to this transition. Considering the government’s strong focus on EV, we hope that the GST rates are waived or reduced, to accelerate adoption.”
The most sought-after property that is currently being developed in the startup world, Fintechs, has a lot of expectations for the budget.
The government, however, has been encouraging the use of digital payments. There exist three key areas where they require more attention, according to Harshil Mathur, co-founder and CEO of Razorpay.
“First, some sort of direct incentives for businesses to accept digital payments, second is improved infrastructure for better internet connectivity in tier-II and tier-III places and lastly, a framework for customers to gain trust and assured safety in making transactions online,” Mathur said. Mathur.
Harshvardhan Lunia co,-founder and CEO of the online finance firm Lendingkart, is expecting progressive policies in the budget that would increase financial inclusion.
Lunia believes that the policies she is seeking will allow the possibility of this “through geographic reach, increased use of technology as well as efforts to rejig NBFC funding through PSU bank participation in fundraising plans of small and mid-sized NBFCs.”
Although the advent of tech companies has helped make capital available to small-sized companies, there are still issues with the cost and accessibility in order to meet the growing demand, as stated by Alok Mittal, co-founder and CEO of Indifi Technologies.
“To ensure availability, we expect the authorities to make PSBs more inclusive and ease the rating mechanism to drive greater influx of capital in the market to further meet the demand of SMEs,” he stated, adding that a policy that allows the transmission of rates for NBFCs will assist in providing the provision of more credit to SMEs with reasonable rates.
Of the many sectors that have seen growth in the past couple of years is cybersecurity. With increasing numbers of the world becoming digital, the field has seen countermeasures appear against the most obvious dangers.
“From an industry perspective, the government should focus on establishing specialized cybersecurity incubation centers and R&D labs to bring up more product companies and make India a global center of innovation,” said Karmesh Gupta, who is co-founder of WiJungle, which assists businesses to manage and secure their networks.
Gupta added that the government must start a massive education and awareness campaign about cybersecurity.
“Considering the significance of cyber security in view, allocating a part of the budget can be considered as a stepping stone to a secure and stronger cyber-infrastructure. This percentage of the allocated budget is deserving with the vision to give employment to the skilled workforce,” said Pavan Kushwaha, co-founder and CEO at cybersecurity startup Kratikal.
As per Trishneet Arora, the founder and CEO of TAC Security, the government should prioritize encouraging indigenous cybersecurity players in the area of vulnerability management in the budget to come.
Arora declared, “Doing so will ensure that Indian organisations across industries have access to cutting-edge cybersecurity products and services that can streamline and strengthen their security profiles to make them ready for the digital age. It will also incentivise Indian cybersecurity companies to develop globally-defensible IPs that can add more momentum to the worldwide war on cybercrime.”
Healthcare is a sector in India that has always been in the shadows in terms of spending. While it is a vital element of the economy and an enormous market opportunity, it’s only in the last few years that technology has begun to really impact the healthcare system in India.
“As an emerging economy, India has a considerable expenditure when it comes to telemedicine,” said Ayush Mishra, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Tattvan’s e-clinic. Telemedicine means taking care of patients remotely, even when the two individuals are not physically located in the same place.
According to Mishra, the issue is the correct utilization of funds resources within the planned timeframe. “There is a long drawn tender process which leads to the delay ultimately causing the budgeted amount to lapse,” Mishra stated.
Gaurav Gupta, co-founder of Navia Life Care, believes the government must begin to partner with Startups Healthcare to carry out its initiatives. “The budget should aim to create healthcare facilities in small towns and rural areas. Ayushman Bharat is a nice step towards universal healthcare in India but better healthcare facilities need to be implemented.”