FM Arun Jaitley presents general Budget 2018-19 in Parliament

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A symbolic photograph by city air news.

“A series of structural reforms will propel India among the fastest growing economies of the world”, says Government

The Union Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley on Thursday (February 01, 2018) presented general Budget 2018-19 in Parliament. Overall, the Budget is guided by mission to strengthen agriculture, rural development, health, education, employment, MSMEs and infrastructure sectors. The government has stated that “a series of structural reforms will propel India among the fastest growing economies of the world. Country firmly on course to achieve over 8 % growth as manufacturing, services and exports back on good growth path.”

Highlights of Budget 2018-19
• MSP for all unannounced kharif crops will be one and half times of their production cost like majority of rabi crops: Institutional Farm Credit raised to 11 lakh crore in 2018-19 from 8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15.
• 22,000 rural haats to be developed and upgraded into Gramin Agricultural Markets to protect the interests of 86% small and marginal farmers.
• “Operation Greens” launched to address price fluctuations in potato, tomato and onion for benefit of farmers and consumers.
• Two New Funds of Rs10,000 crore announced for Fisheries and Animal Husbandary sectors; Re-structured National Bamboo Mission gets Rs.1290 crore.
• Loans to Women Self Help Groups will increase to Rs.75,000 crore in 2019 from 42,500 crore last year.
• Higher targets for Ujjwala, Saubhagya and Swachh Mission to cater to lower and middle class in providing free LPG connections, electricity and toilets.
• Outlay on health, education and social protection will be 1.38 lakh crore. Tribal students to get Ekalavya Residential School in each tribal block by 2022. Welfare fund for SCs gets a boost.
• World’s largest Health Protection Scheme covering over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families launched with a family limit upto 5 lakh rupees for secondary and tertiary treatment.
• Fiscal Deficit pegged at 3.5 %, projected at 3.3 % for 2018-19.
• Rs. 5.97 lakh crore allocation for infrastructure
• Ten prominent sites to be developed as Iconic tourist destinations
• NITI Aayog to initiate a national programme on Artificial Intelligence(AI)
• Centres of excellence to be set up on robotics, AI, Internet of things etc
• Disinvestment crossed target of Rs 72,500 crore to reach Rs 1,00,000 crore
• Comprehensive Gold Policy on the anvil to develop yellow metal as an asset class
• 100 percent deduction proposed to companies registered as Farmer Producer Companies with an annual turnover upto Rs. 100 crore on profit derived from such activities, for five years from 2018-19.
• Deduction of 30 percent on emoluments paid to new employees Under Section 80-JJAA to be relaxed to 150 days for footwear and leather industry, to create more employment.
• No adjustment in respect of transactions in immovable property where Circle Rate value does not exceed 5 percent of consideration.
• Proposal to extend reduced rate of 25 percent currently available for companies with turnover of less than 50 crore (in Financial Year 2015-16), to companies reporting turnover up to Rs. 250 crore in Financial Year 2016-17, to benefit micro, small and medium enterprises.
• Standard Deduction of Rs. 40,000 in place of present exemption for transport allowance and reimbursement of miscellaneous medical expenses. 2.5 crore salaried employees and pensioners to benefit.
• Relief to Senior Citizens proposed:-
 Exemption of interest income on deposits with banks and post offices to be increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000.
 TDS not required to be deducted under section 194A. Benefit also available for interest from all fixed deposit schemes and recurring deposit schemes.
 Hike in deduction limit for health insurance premium and/ or medical expenditure from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 under section 80D.
 Increase in deduction limit for medical expenditure for certain critical illness from Rs. 60,000 (in case of senior citizens) and from Rs. 80,000 (in case of very senior citizens) to Rs. 1 lakh for all senior citizens, under section 80DDB.
 Proposed to extend Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana up to March, 2020. Current investment limit proposed to be increased to Rs. 15 lakh from the existing limit of Rs. 7.5 lakh per senior citizen.
 More concessions for International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), to promote trade in stock exchanges located in IFSC.
 To control cash economy, payments exceeding Rs. 10,000 in cash made by trusts and institutions to be disallowed and would be subject to tax.
 Tax on Long Term Capital Gains exceeding Rs. 1 lakh at the rate of 10 percent, without allowing any indexation benefit. However, all gains up to 31st January, 2018 will be grandfathered.
 Proposal to introduce tax on distributed income by equity oriented mutual funds at the rate of 10 percent.
 Proposal to increase cess on personal income tax and corporation tax to 4 percent from present 3 percent.
 Proposal to roll out E-assessment across the country to almost eliminate person to person contact leading to greater efficiency and transparency in direct tax collection.
 Proposed changes in customs duty to promote creation of more jobs in the country and also to incentivise domestic value addition and Make in India in sectors such as food processing, electronics, auto components, footwear and furniture.

REACTIONS TO UNION BUDGET:

Mr.Ram Walase, MD & CEO, VBHC Value Homes Private Ltd.
“The government had already undertaken a number of policy and fiscal steps for housing sector through a series of pre-budget announcements such as reduction in GST for PMAY beneficiaries, increasing the size of housing units under PMAY CLSS, increasing the permissible ratios of loans to asset value of homes, etc.
Some additional positives in the budget for the housing sector have been:
(1) In the recent past, equities had become a most favoured asset class for investors. 10% LTCG tax on equities would encourage investors / home buyers to explore real estate and other asset classes
(2) Banks have been limiting their exposure to real estate / housing sectors. Two positives from the budget for financing of housing sector : (a) creation of housing fund under NHB to promote housing finance under priority sector, and (b) push for 25% of debt for large corporates through bond markets, which may free up some bank financing for other sectors including real estate
(3) NHB shareholding to shift from RBI to Government. This would mean a shift towards development orientation from the existing regulatory approach.
Overall, an incrementally positive budget for the housing sector. If the budget achieves its job creation objectives, the housing sector would also benefit.”

Col. Rajendra Prasad Nadella, CO-FOUNDER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, iScholar
“Education for once got due attention from the finance minister in the budget speech. Mr Jaitley acknowledged that technology will be the biggest driver in improving the quality of education. Among other major announcements are Eklavya schools in tribal districts on the lines of Navodaya schools, integrated B Ed, initiative for teachers training. Announcement of five lakh WiFi hot-spots in rural areas will enable access to high quality education to even even rural regions of the country.

Naveen Mandava, Co-Founder - IMAX Program
"Budget 2018 comes with a positive outlook towards education. As outlined in the budget, getting students to the school is not a concern anymore but improvement in the quality of education is the need of the hour. The plan to devise a district-wise strategy, enhance teacher training and usage of digital boards is welcome. But it won't be enough. The National Achievement Survey shows that even in class 5, more than 50% of students were not able to do a simple subtraction of 555 minus 198. To be able to have macro improvement, we need to go micro. We should delineate the learning outcomes and have one-to-one follow up for each and every student. We at IMAX Program have been working to upgrade traditional classrooms to one-to-one classrooms where there is individualised feedback for students on every single learning outcome, and the results have been very encouraging. District-level tracking is a positive step, but we should fast move towards interventions that allow us to follow-up and improve every student.”

Dr. Kaushik Murali, Paediatric Ophthalmologist & President, Sankara Eye Hospital
“Healthcare sector has been a clear priority in budget 2018. There has been a good balance on short term respite from out of pocket health costs & building capacity in the long term.
The Ayushman Bharath the scheme to provide health cover to 50 crore Indians of Rs 5 lakhs is simply audacious in scale and reach and could be a game changer. Healthcare needs to be universally accessible and also start from preventive care. This should be taken care of with the proposed 1.5 lakh health & wellness centres .
The idea to increase the number of doctors is good with the 24 district hospitals being upgraded , however strengthening of the other post graduate programmes like the DNB course would also need to be done simultaneously. Health can be one of the key job creators. More focus from the Skill India initiative with these announcements should see this sector contribute in this area too.
We hope that other announcements like the Pradhan Mantri Research Fellowship & the Research allocation would also spur healthcare research. With 1200 crores to the National Health Policy , we look forward to a continued impetus to the National Programme for Control of Blindness which is one of the most successful Public – Private healthcare programmes.
It would be interesting to see how these would be funded, the finance minister indicated a widening of the tax base and an additional 1% cess, we only hope that the 3.5% fiscal deficit does not force a rethink on these allocations later. Also it would be good to expand the ease of doing business to ease of working with insurance & schemes and simplifying the process for health care providers.”

Professor Madhu Veeraraghavan, Director and T.A. Pai Chair Professor of Finance T.A. PAI MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE
“The measures announced by the FM for the education sector will go a long way in helping scholars from IITs and IISc publish their work n top ranked journals. Currently, the quality of academic output is quite bad and the slew of measures announced by the FM – in particular, investment in research and the PM’S new initiative will certainly encourage scholars to publish their research in world class journals. This is the only way Indian Universities can even dream to enter the coveted top 100 World University Rankings.”

Mr. Rohit Saboo, President and CEO, National Engineering Industries Limited (NEI)
“While there was no specific mention about the automobile industry in the budget, the sector is poised to benefit from the government's strong focus on boosting infrastructure and connectivity. Increased allocation of funds for roads and highways will bring positive sentiments for the sector by increasing demand for transport. Infrastructure development has always been prerequisite for growth and the key focus towards boosting rural economy and improving the farming sector will further spur the demand for automobile components especially for tractors and two-wheelers. With a certain focus on increase in custom duty on the auto component, we also expect a boost for the manufacturing sector.”

Mr. Ashok Shah, Partner, Khaitan & Co.
• Budget philosophy so far appears to be driven by Elections 2019.Aiming to have India which is Clean-Connected-Illuminated-Healthy- Educated. Will interesting to see how this vision will be funded.
• FM seeking blessings of Senior citizens and salaried employees. Increases the limits for medical insurance premium, medical expenses, limit for guaranteed deposit with LIC raised to 15.00 lacs.
Blessings will be neutralized by changes in Long term capital gains which will be taxed at 10% for gain above 1.00 lac. For shares purchased on or prior to 31st January, the cost will be higher of cost or closing price on 31st January.
• Vision to put India on Fast track being unveiled. More money in hands of women due to reduction in Employees provident Fund contribution to 8% instead of 12% for next 3 years. Crypto currencies will be crippled as they are not legal tender. There will be stricter regime of governance to achieve the vision.

Sanjay Padode, Secretary, CDE, IFIM Institutions
“The move to expunge segmentation and treat education holistically is a great step by the government. There is a dire need to provide students with quality education to ensure a successful future. The 2018 budget seems promising to work toward the same.
Although the quality of education is still a concern, the implementation of the Institutes Of Eminence is set to fast track the sector onto a smoother and up skilled one.
Following the re-skilling movement, the country is set to employ 50 lakh youth where the government will share the cost of training. This works as an added advantage to the education sector where the government is also looking to increase the digital intensity.
The budget announcement sees great improvements and an optimistic future for the education sector. These alterations will definitely improve the quality of education and in turn result in a more skilled India.”

Priya Krishnan, Founder & CEO, KLAY Schools:
"Despite all the benefits provided during the last fiscal to promote women's inclusiveness at the workplace, the lack of any mention of support in the Budget 2018 to corporates that provide these benefits to women is disheartening. It does not do anything to promote women's employment. This will further increase the discrimination against women's employability and make it difficult for companies that are striving for gender equality.
The government's decision to reduce a woman's contribution to EPF to 8% from 12% for the first three years is a notional change where the increase in take-home salary still comes out of women's savings. This still doesn't address how the government can help subsidize the cost of high-quality childcare for mothers."

Mr Samyak Jain, Director, Siddha Group
“This Union Budget 2018-19 can now be termed as a Pro-India budget that will ensure an all-round growth of the economy and boost the nation’s GDP. Infrastructure development, a key factor in the growth of real estate has been given significant importance and we welcome this move as improvement in road and rail connectivity will be instrumental in changing the face of the industry. Initiatives to boost affordable housing sector will lead to the fruition of the government’s ‘Housing for all by 2022’ vision. Additionally, we appreciate the government’s efforts to advance their smart cities project which aims to improve the quality of life. Job creation was the need of the hour and we applaud the positive outlook towards employment in rural development and healthcare services. We anticipated some announcements on income tax relief, single window clearance, granting industry status to real estate and clarity on GST with respect to subsuming stamp duty and registration charges but we hope the government takes measures to address this in the near future. The proposed budgeted expenses in various sectors; Rural Infrastructure, Health and Fishing will have a positive impact on the economy allowing us to be optimistic about the real estate market and we look forward to a productive year.”

Mr. Khushru Jijina, Managing Director, Piramal Finance & Piramal Housing Finance
“The Union budget 2018 was a pragmatic one and focused on fortifying the economy as a whole. The Government’s endeavor to provide housing to every poor citizen by 2020 through the establishment of a dedicated affordable housing fund in the national housing bank, along with priority sector status being granted, is a commendable one. The government assuming ownership of NHB from RBI is also positive as it would translate into the focus of NHB shifting from regulation to development.
The reduction of the GST rate from 12% to 8% on affordable and low-cost housing units last week was a welcome reform. Building 31 lakh homes in 2018-19 in urban areas and a further 51 lakh in rural areas will go a long way in addressing primary housing demand.
Overall, the strong economic impetus provided in the budget will ultimately boost housing and real estate. The introduction of long term capital gains tax at 10 per cent on equities will also have an indirect impact on making investment in real estate (over listed stocks) more attractive than before. Tax breaks being granted to senior citizens and salaried employees will increase their disposable income available for making capital purchases. A push on infrastructure comprising public investment in the rural areas, agricultural marketing, urban connectivity, particularly Metros etc will also multiply investment prospects for real estate sector.”

Mr. Rajesh Mhatre- CEO- Real Estate, Vascon Engineers Limited
“The budget 2018 has completely focused on areas that have not gained much attention in the past. We welcome this measure by the honorable Finance Minister, which we are sure is a move towards overall economic development. However as real estate is the back bone of the economy, we are slightly upset that there has not been much announcement for the housing sector except for the affordable housing segment.
We are happy that announcements on building 1 cr houses to be built under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in rural areas and establishing a dedicated affordable housing fund under National Housing Bank for priority sector are some bright points to look for. However these are not enough to soothe the negative impact of demonetization and GST that the sector has beared in the past year. The economy was looking for some deduction in the corporate tax. But there has been disappointment here too. Capital gains tax of 10 percent may bring some investments to the real estate sector.
The sector has been facing some hard time. With the governments focus on affordable housing in the past, we were expecting some announcements on relaxation in the interest rates or reduction in GST or providing an industry status for the real estate sector. However nothing much has been done this time.”

Mr. Vinay Sethi, Head-Market Development, Tax & Accounting, Thomson Reuters, South Asia
“Being the last full fledged Budget by the current Government before the next General Elections, Union Budget 2018 did not deliver big bang reforms that many were anticipating. The Government, however, did roll out some promising programs which will support long term welfare and development. One of the key highlights of this budget is the launch of the flagship National Health Protection Scheme to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families and provide them up to INR 5 lakh per family per year in secondary and tertiary care institutions. While this is a welcome development, the Government will have to plan the implementation well as it may cripple the existing limited medical infrastructure in the country. For this initiative to thrive, it is imperative for the Government to rapidly augment high quality medical facilities in the country.
Two positive developments that will bolster the health of direct taxes in the long term are reducing corporate tax rate to 25% for companies with turnover upto Rs. 250 cr and rolling out of E-assessments across country. This would build on the FM’s promise to make taxes simpler and easier to comply with, and tax processes to be automated and technology driven.
The Budget however, is a dampener for the much expected relief to the salaried class as the standard deduction of 40, 000 has been given by taking away the existing benefits on medical and transport. The benefit to senior citizen by exempting interest income up to INR 50,000 is a well thought of initiative.
The introduction of Long term capital gain of 10% on stock market transactions will also create significant impact in the long term.”

Mr. Aniruddha Chatterjee, Head- Buy-side business, Thomson Reuters, South Asia
“The Union budget 2018 reinforces Government’s intention to improve the rural economy by boosting credit and investment in the farming sector. Since the measures taken are mostly structural in nature, right implementation will eventually grow the rural economy and benefit both real economy as well as the Street.
The return of Long Term Capital Gain Tax (LCGT), which was not entirely unexpected, but may not be seen as a welcome move particularly by the high value investors. There is a fear that this might vitiate the investment environment in the short term.”

Mr. Bhargav Dasgupta's (MD & CEO - ICICI Lombard)
“The Government has focused on inclusive measures in the budget , targeting critical areas of agriculture , education , health , power among others. On health insurance, the introduction of Rs. 5 lakh cover for families and increase in medical insurance tax exemption for senior citizens indicate the focus of policy makers to ensure adequate protection against health hazards for India’s populace.”

Mr.Vikram Puri, CEO, Transworld Technologies, Pune
“We are pleased to see the government’s continual focus on the Smart Cities mission and its development through advanced infrastructure as announced in the Budget 2018. Technology spending on public areas and deliveries like surveillance for citizen safety, automated and transparent emergency services, intelligent and shared parking systems, electrification of public transport, public internet access and management of health and sanitation services online will certainly bring down the cost of governance and the national healthcare bill . It will strongly enhance the public's compliance to the law, with a feeling of confidence and safety.
We note that the budget also specially focused on overall rural development, which will support and prop up the creation of smaller smart cities in India, driving technology, public services and healthcare to the masses. The Government must however continue to look at our logistics infrastructure with specific development and investment targets, like the plan for 101 new projects in the cold chain, truck terminals and stops, and better facilities for safer road transport operations. Big data, integrated services, transparency of government deliveries will truly ensure that the Smart Cities mission will deliver results.”

Mr. Abhesh Verma, COO nexGTv
"The Finance Minister has doubled the budget for the Digital India Scheme, emerging as a major move towards assisting the nation to progress further. The second development of investment of Rs 10,000 crore for rural Wi-Fi hotspots, giving 5 crore citizens access to broadband speed internet by the deployment of 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots should help bring more consumers online, increasing digital consumption of services like OTT, entertainment, banking, and e-commerce. We at nexGTv feel that all these steps are a definite plus for the significant growth of the digital businesses in the country."

Ms. Ambika Sharma- Founder & MD, Instappy
"The latest budget announcement holds great promise. I am particularly enthused by doubling the allocation to Digital India to Rs 3073 cr for the 2018-19 fiscal and. This move will empower the society in areas like broadband and mobile connectivity and government services on demand and will help the country's vision to be a digital-first economy.
Furthermore, the allocation of INR 10,000 crore for the 5 lakh WiFi HotSpots to provide Broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens is also promising. With nearly 70% of the country’s population living in rural and semi-urban geographies, the move will give the vision of a ‘Digital India’ a big boost and provide businesses an opportunity to upscale."

Mr. Sanjay Padode, Secretary, Centre for Developmental Education, IFIM Institutions
“The move to expunge segmentation and treat education holistically is a great step by the government. There is a dire need to provide students with quality education to ensure a successful future. The 2018 budget seems promising to work toward the same.
Although the quality of education is still a concern, the implementation of the Institutes Of Eminence is set to fast track the sector onto a smoother and up skilled one.
Following the re-skilling movement, the country is set to employ 50 lakh youth where the government will share the cost of training. This works as an added advantage to the education sector where the government is also looking to increase the digital intensity.
The budget announcement sees great improvements and an optimistic future for the education sector. These alterations will definitely improve the quality of education and in turn result in a more skilled India.”

Neeraj Sharma, Country Head – Spreadtrum India.
“The increase in the customs duty on imported mobile phones is a great move which will boost the ‘Make in India’ campaign by promoting local manufacturing. The government’s focus on the new digital technologies will help lead to a empowered digital society and a knowledge economy”

Mr Aakrit Vaish, Founder & CEO, Haptik
Allocation of significant fund and announcing efforts to enhance research in disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotics implies that the importance of adoption of such technologies has finally been taken into consideration by the government. With NITI Aayog to establish a national programme for artificial intelligence, this will not only significantly aid job creation but will also assist the government to move towards its Digital India vision.

Atul Rai, CEO and Co-founder, Staqu
This year’s budget not only takes significant steps towards the Digital India vision but also towards inculcating the latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence for the national development. With NITI Aayog to establish a national programme for artificial intelligence, we look forward to supporting the nation with R&D support and more programmes like ABHED which is already assisting the Polices forces with AI capabilities. With the advent of new technologies and the Indian government being equally eager to adopt them, we strongly foresee the nation to be on the road to transformation and emerge as one of the leading Digital Nations on the world map.

Mr. Prabhakar Chaudhary, MD - HAL Robotics said, "Emphasizing Digital India powered over AI and by allocating substantial fund, this government has seriously understood the need and capability of technology. It's great to see that government is recognising future technology for building nations future. Not only this helps in job creation but also advances the nation in competitive global space".

Mr Raghvendra Nath, Managing Director, Ladderup Wealth Management

“The big positive is the introduction of universal health insurance. Rs.5 lac cover for 10 cr vulnerable families or 50 cr Indians would mean a coverage to almost 40% of the countries’ population. Considering that this insurance is for secondary and tertiary medical treatment would mean that the poor of the country would now get access to medical facilities of private practitioners and private hospitals and do not have to depend on Govt. hospitals alone. After MNREGA and Food Security, this would help the poor of the country immensely.
The big negative is the introduction of 10% Long Term Capital Gains Tax on Listed Equities and Equity oriented mutual funds. The FM has lessened the blow by grandfathering capital gains till January 31st 2018. However, introduction of LTCG while keeping the STT unchanged is double impact on Equity Market investors. Something that could have been avoided considering that Equity Markets are an engine of growth. Introduction of Dividend Distribution Tax of 10% on Equity Oriented funds is another negative of the budget.
Overall, the budget was on expected lines with focus on social sector as it is the last full budget of this govt before 2019 elections. The revised fiscal deficit estimated of 3.5% is a dampener and points to sluggishness in GST collections. While the budget has kept the fiscal deficit for next year at 3.3%, it looks difficult that it would be achieved considering the last year of the govt before election.
Barring these two negatives, the budget overall is very directional and shows an intention of the government to focus on Development and Growth.”

Prasanna Pathak, Fund Manager- Equity, Taurus Asset Management Co. Ltd.
“Any long term capital gain through equity investments including mutual fund equity schemes is now subject to 10% tax. Obviously there will some kind of sentimental impact but equity as an asset class continues to be lucrative and is still expected to out perform all other asset classes. Also, the window given till July 2018, will reduce volatility in the stock markets as there is no incentive to sell stock immediately.
I dont think flows to equity market and to equity mutual funds will slow because of LTCG tax. Any ways, market was expecting this to come in and as long as equity as an asset class continues to be lucrative over medium to long term, the equity cult and flows to Equity MF will thrive.”

Mr.Dinabandhu Mohapatra, Managing Director & CEO, Bank of India
“Union Budget 2018-19 has set the right tone for growth. GDP growth for FY 19 is estimated at 7.2 - 7.4%. Farm credit target has been hiked to Rs.11 Lakh Crore, an increase of 30%. A major development is the proposal to link APMCs to the electronic National Agricultural Market enabling farmers to sell their produce anywhere in India.
Housing sector will receive a boost with a target of housing for all by 2022. Ancillary industries like cement and construction will reap collateral benefits. The MSME package will provide huge relief to the sector post the demonetization and GST environment. The reduction in corporate tax rate to 25% for MSMEs upto Rs.250 crore turnover is a welcome measure which will substantially enhance their cash flows. Rs.3 Lakh Crore has been earmarked for MUDRA while banks will be exhorted to join TREDS platform and will be linked to GSTN. To develop the corporate bond market, large corporates will be mandated to raise a quarter of their fund requirements via bonds. The above measure will also ease ALM issues of banks. The extension of insurance and pension coverage for all Jan Dhan accounts are among a series of steps which goes a long way in revamping the entire financial ecosystem. RBI Act will be amended to permit Standing Deposit Facility.
Fiscal deficit for FY 19 is estimated at 3.3%. This is a visionary budget sure to accelerate the path towards 8% growth with the necessary impetus to MSME, housing and rural infrastructure segments.”

Sameer Sah, Associate Partner, Khaitan & Co
“Increase in tax allowances for health insurance will increase the opportunity on healthcare services delivery. This is an indirect fillip for not only insurance service providers but also healthcare services providers.
The FM highlighted the availability of low cost medicines and the like. The glorifying tenor should lead to a reasonable presumption that there will be further action on the price control front going forward.
The National Health Protection Scheme will be an interesting initiative – private players, if allowed to participate in the scheme, will have an additional opportunity to service more patients.”

Nilesh Palresha, Executive Director, EarthFood
“The Union Budget 2018 is very promising, especially for the agriculture sector. The Indian economy is spurring and is poised to become the 5th largest very soon. Government’s plan to set up an agriculture market infrastructure fund of INR 2000 crore is a great move to uplift the agriculture sector in India.
INR 500 crore for Operation Green to provide logistics, storage and infrastructure support to address issues of perishables and prevent wastage is a great move at first glance. India's agricultural production is at a record high level at 275 million tonne food grains and 300 million tonne fruits and vegetable. It is heartening to see that the Government is committed to generate higher income for famers and encourage them to produce more and realise higher prices. Additionally, farmer welfare, which has been a major topic of discussion, especially in Maharashtra, is well taken care of. We are excited to see how these schemes are going to be implemented.
The Warehousing Development Regulations Act (WRDA), which was in the backburner since 2012, will be revived. This is a welcome move, as India needs to focus on warehousing for agriculture. Although the budget does not indicate how they will deal with multiple hurdles engulfing warehousing, it will be interesting to see its execution. Another important point that has been addressed in this union budget is the promotion of organic farming that would be highly beneficial for the seed companies.
We are looking forward to the taxation scheme for start-ups by the Government. They will be taking additional measures to strengthen environment for venture capitalists and angel investors. This is one of the most welcome moves for the startup ecosystem as the Government has addressed the elephant in the room. We now wait to see how this translates into tangible benefits.
From a business standpoint, 25% corporate tax which is now stretched to companies with turnover of 250 crore is going to really boost the MSMEs and help them grow and survive in the competitive market.”

Mr. Tushar Aggarwal, Founder, StashFin – one of India’s leading online lending platform
“As a former a Private Equity and Venture Capital Investor I welcome the steps. It was overall a very happy budget for the fintech sector. By forming a group in the ministry of finance to examine the policy and development measures needed for creating right environment for fintech companies, the finance minister has recognised the role played by us in assisting MSMEs and economic development. Fintech companies especially the ones in online lending space are not only easing the credit delivery to salaried class and MSMEs, but are also improving the entire delivery chain through innovative use of technology as well as lowering cost. In fact a flourishing fintech sector has the capability to improve various segments of banking and bring efficiency in the credit lending process.
The second major promise was to take additional innovative measures to strengthen venture capital and angel investor ecosystem. The government has been quite supportive earlier by launching Startup India program and taking steps to build a robust alternative investment regime. Additional measures will further energise our already booming sector and lead the economic development in the country. With good support, online lending companies will be able to expand the business, reach out to larger sections of the country and aid in job creation.”

Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group
“FM Jaitley’s budget this year focuses on investments to be placed in artificial intelligence, machine learning and The Internet of Things with the NITI Aayog establishing a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence. The government has committed itself to the development of technology along with concentrating on AI and its applications which is a revolutionary move for the digital industry. Initiatives on infrastructure growth and education expansion have been looked at from a digital perspective, which reflects the significance of the ‘Blackboard to digital board’ movement. Decisions benefiting rural citizens – such as 5 lakh WiFi spots, give it a further impetus. Another game changer mentioned in this budget was the government’s will to proactively explore the use of blockchain technology. The allocation of Digital India has been doubled which indicates the government’s emphasis on digital, heralding a stronger digital economy. I believe this was a great budget for the digital ecosystem.”

Mr. Vinay Sethi, Head-Market Development, Tax & Accounting, Thomson Reuters, South Asia

“Being the last full fledged Budget by the current Government before the next General Elections, Union Budget 2018 did not deliver big bang reforms that many were anticipating. The Government, however, did roll out some promising programs which will support long term welfare and development. One of the key highlights of this budget is the launch of the flagship National Health Protection Scheme to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families and provide them up to INR 5 lakh per family per year in secondary and tertiary care institutions. While this is a welcome development, the Government will have to plan the implementation well as it may cripple the existing limited medical infrastructure in the country. For this initiative to thrive, it is imperative for the Government to rapidly augment high quality medical facilities in the country.
Two positive developments that will bolster the health of direct taxes in the long term are reducing corporate tax rate to 25% for companies with turnover upto Rs. 250 cr and rolling out of E-assessments across country. This would build on the FM’s promise to make taxes simpler and easier to comply with, and tax processes to be automated and technology driven.
The Budget however, is a dampener for the much expected relief to the salaried class as the standard deduction of 40, 000 has been given by taking away the existing benefits on medical and transport. The benefit to senior citizen by exempting interest income up to INR 50,000 is a well thought of initiative.
The introduction of Long term capital gain of 10% on stock market transactions will also create significant impact in the long term.”

Mr. Mayur Shah, Managing Director, Marathon Group and President CREDAI MCHI
“The budget has focused on areas such as agriculture, rural sections and health care that are vital and have lacked attention in the previous budget.
Announcements on building 1 cr houses to be built under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in rural areas will surely promote housing in the rural areas. This includes 31 Lakh homes will be built in 2018-19 in urban areas. Also establishing a dedicated affordable housing fund under National Housing Bank for priority sector lending will help developers in financing projects. Government assuming ownership of National Housing Bank from RBI would translate in to focus of National Housing Bank shifting from regulation to development.
The government has shown special focus on developing connectivity in Mumbai by strengthening and expanding the rail network. Creating smart cities will further boost the spirit of development in the country.
Corporate tax reduction for MSME will be good news for developers and 10 percent tax has been charged on capital gain , may bring more investments to Real estate , as it’s a level playing field with equity market .
The government has also addressed the anomaly under section 43 to tax real estate transactions at their real value rather than the value arrived at by applying the artificially higher circle rate.
However, we were expecting some more from the honorable finance minister. Post demonetization and GST the sector has been limping back. In such circumstances an announcement on providing industry sector to real estate would have made things easy. Also, there was no announcement on GST, very high rate coupled with states Stamp duty, around 20 % transaction cost is being biggest dampener for real estate and housing.
The industry was expecting some measures for home buyers on higher interest exemptions on home loans.”

Sachin Bhandari, CEO, VTP Realty
“With real estate being a major focus owing to the infrastructure development and housing for all initiatives by the Government, the Union Budget 2018 announced today did have some interesting inclusions. Infact, prior to the Union Budget being broadcasted, the Government had declared reduction of GST to 8% for all houses qualifying under credit link subsidy scheme under PMAY. This itself shows the Government’s keenness and commitment to make Housing for All a reality by 2022. Funds have also been allocated by the government for building 37 lakh houses in urban areas. These project the Government’s sanguine outlook towards the realty sector which is very encouraging for us as a business and also as consumers.
Out of 100 smart cities, 99 have been identified and Government announced budgets for development of various projects in these cities. The Finance Minister further announced that the Centre will create a dedicated affordable housing fund in collaboration with the National Housing Bank. For companies like ours, which have MIG and Affordable House offerings, this is a great opportunity to play a role in the development of India and contribute our bit in making our country one of the largest economies in the world. Government’s initiative to focus on both rural and urban housing will further help in accelerating the growth of real estate in our country.”

Mr.Aniruddha Chatterjee, Head- Buy-side business, Thomson Reuters, South Asia.
“The Union budget 2018 reinforces Government’s intention to improve the rural economy by boosting credit and investment in the farming sector. Since the measures taken are mostly structural in nature, right implementation will eventually grow the rural economy and benefit both real economy as well as the Street.
The return of Long Term Capital Gain Tax (LCGT), which was not entirely unexpected, but may not be seen as a welcome move particularly by the high value investors. There is a fear that this might vitiate the investment environment in the short term.”

Pravin Patil, MD & CEO-Starkenn Sports Pvt. Ltd.
“This Union budget for FY 2018-19 is a very balanced budget. The extension of 25% corporate tax benefit to organizations with turnover up to 250Cr is a mega boost to all MEMEs who have high valuation and sales. This will leave companies with higher investible surplus which in turn will create more jobs. The budget also earmarked Rs3 trillion for 2018-19 under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana or Mudra scheme. In addition to it, allocation of Rs3,794 crore for credit support to MSMEs is also a welcome move. In a nutshell this budget has paved ways for the growth of MSME sector and we at Starkenn Sports are looking forward to FY 18-19.”

Mr Ashwin Sheth-CMD-Sheth Group
“The Union Budget 2018-19 has struck the right chord in line with its affordable housing vision which will promote a robust development of the Real Estate Sector. We applaud the finance minister’s decision to establish a dedicated affordable housing fund in the national housing bank to make this vision a reality. The government has taken a step in the right direction by focusing on infrastructure development with respect to road and rail connectivity as this will catalyze the growth of the housing sector. Initiatives to boost the Mumbai suburban railway network will significantly boost the residential and commercial market in the city. Moreover, focus on the smart cities project will help in improving the standard of living for residents. However, clarity on single window clearance and GST was much anticipated. We also expected incentives for first time home buyers which would have helped increase demand and create equilibrium in the demand-supply gap. Most importantly, granting industry status to the real estate sector which is one of the largest contributors to the growth of the economy was the need of the hour. While this budget focuses on the overall growth of the economy, we will adopt a wait and watch approach and hope adequate measures are taken to complement their continuous endeavours to boost the real estate sector.”

Ravi B Goyal, Chairman & Managing Director, AGS Transact Technologies Limited

“As India’s leading end-to-end payment solutions provider, we appreciate the government’s agenda to push ‘ease of living’ since it will simplify lives through technological innovation thereby spurring automation.

With the government recognizing the immense potential of MSMEs and trying to nurture a financial ecosystem for them to grow, Fintech companies will play a critical role in financing space for MSMEs. Online loan approvals for MSMEs will enable higher MSME financing and reduce the cash crunch faced by them.

As anticipated, digitisation is the foremost agenda this year as well. With the allocation to Digital India scheme being doubled up to Rs 3073 crore, financial inclusion will receive the much needed impetus. The announcement to allocate Rs 10,000 crore for creating of 5 lakh WiFi HotSpots to provide broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens will ensure Digital India initiative penetrates deeper into the remote areas. Overall, these initiatives will definitely enable the booming FinTech and Banking Payments Services industry to further enhance this growth.

Additionally, the Government’s plans to come out with a policy to introduce toll system on ‘‘pay as you use’’ basis along with the system of cash toll payments being replaced with Fastags and other electronic payment systems will make road travel experience effective and seamless.”

Mr. Mayank Bathwal, Chief Executive Officer – Aditya Birla Health Insurance Company Limited

“The announcement towards building a holistic healthcare protection ecosystem is a revolutionary move undertaken by the government. The health insurance claims in the country today contributes to nearly 5 percent of the total healthcare spends, clearly reflecting that most of the citizens in the country are either under-insured or un-insured. The announcement of National Healthcare protection scheme reinforces government’s commitment towards providing healthcare protection solutions and mitigating the financial uncertainties of vulnerable families in the country. Additionally, FM’s proposal to raise a deduction under health insurance premium to Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 1 lakh for senior citizens with critical illnesses, along with the allocation of additional funds under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna will provide a fresh impetus to the adoption of protection solutions in the country.”

Mr.Satish Reddy, Chairman, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories

“The government’s focus on rural development and agriculture is a welcome step. The long overdue emphasis on our rural economy and agriculture will stimulate demand. The announcement of the Aayushman Bharat program for healthcare is a game changer and the coverage of ten crore people under the National health protection scheme is commendable. This will give an impetus to healthcare benefits for people in the most deserving sections of society.
Overall, while the budget appears to be a progressive one, it was disappointing to note that the reduction in corporate tax was offered only to companies with a turnover under of Rs. 250 crores.”

CA. Rajeev K. Sharma
“I really appreciate the budget 2018-19 that shows a kind hearted approach for agriculturists, the women and the under privileged sectors of the society.
Upward increase in Minimum Support Price for the food grain crops to be 1.5 times of the cost shall surely go a long way to the help the poor marginalized farmers who account for around 80 percent of total farm community.
In addition to it, proposal for allowance of agricultural limits to cultivators for the leasehold land being cultivated shall also help the landless agriculturists.
Proposal of extension of Kisaan Credit Card i.e. agricultural limits by banks to the Animal Husbandry Sector and Fisheries Sector will help induction of capital in these agriculture ancillary sectors.
Raising of allocation from Rs. 700 Crore to Rs. 1400 Crore for Food Processing Sector, allocating Rs. Fisheries and Aquatic Infrastructure Development Fund and Animal Husbandry Fund for total of Rs. 10000 Crores are really appreciable.
For the underprivileged sectors of society increased target from previous of around 1.5 lakh Crores to 3.0 lac Crore in the next year for extending loans under MUDRA Scheme shall be beneficial to the women and SC ST section which account for respectively 76 and 50 percent of present number of borrowers under these schemes.
Giving a deduction of Rs. 40000/- as Standard Deduction could give a better taste to the salaried class, had the exemptions of Rs. 19200/- annually for transportation allowance and Rs. 15000/- annually for medical reimbursement not been taken back. Effectively salaried class will be having a relief of Rs. 5800/- only. Ironically, where the salaried class pays average annual tax of Rs. 76306/- per individual, other individual tax payers pay Rs. 25,753/- only as average annual tax.”

Bajaj Allianz Life’s CEO & MD, Mr. Tarun Chugh

“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has by and large presented a balanced Union Budget. It creates room for better profitability for small, and medium term enterprises with the proposal for reduction in corporate tax rate to 25% for companies with a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore.
While there has been no revision in the tax slabs for individuals apart from Rs 40,000 standard deduction for salaried class for medical and travel-related expenses, various incentives and deductions have been provided to senior citizens. We remain optimistic on the measures being undertaken by the government and would recommend policyholders to stay invested and pay their premiums regularly to benefit from the uptick in the economic growth over the coming years.
One of the key announcements proposed is the judicious health cover of Rs 5 lakh for hospitalization under the National Health Protection Scheme, which has been regarded by the Finance Minister as the world’s largest government funded health care programme. This is a progressive move by the Government towards bringing more number of people under the ambit of health insurance. It will incentivize the common people on the need of a health insurance cover, and help boost the penetration level
The announcement of higher infrastructure spend to rev up the ailing economy is a significant move and will boost the overall economic growth.”

Bajaj Allianz Life’s CIO, Mr. Sampath Reddy, on Union Budget 2018.
“Overall, the Budget was a balanced one, with a focus on rural and agricultural sector.
The revised estimate of fiscal deficit for the FY18 is at 3.5% of GDP from 3.2% budgeted earlier, which is inline, however the fiscal deficit target for FY19 at 3.3% is a bit on the higher side, vis a vis market expectations of around 3.0% to 3.2%. This has been done with the Government wanting to push growth and budgetary allocation in rural and agricultural sectors for employment generation. Bond yields have already reacted to this higher than expected fiscal deficit.
It was widely expected that the Government would announce some reduction in corporate tax rate for larger corporates. While the finance minister has cut the corporate tax rate for smaller companies with annual turnover up to Rs.50 crore to 25% in the last year’s budget, the same has now been extended to the companies with turnover of up to 250cr. This is going to help the SME and MSME sector, but the large listed companies may not see any benefit of lower tax rate this year. This is a bit disappointment for the equity market as majority of the large companies do not get benefit.
As widely feared, the Government has proposed a 10% tax on Long-term Capital Gains (LTCG) greater than Rs 1 lakh for equities and equity-oriented funds, while the short term capital gains tax rate of 15% is retained on holdings up to 1 year. However, government has provided grand-fathering clause to protect the gains accrued so far, but the future gains and investment in equities will attract both long term and short term capital gains tax. This is a bit of a dampener for the equity markets, however the 10% long term tax and 15% short term tax is still relatively attractive.
The policyholders of life insurance companies will continue to enjoy the same tax regime as earlier, given that Insurance investors are holding for a minimum of five years.”

Raj Kalady, Managing Director – Project Management Institute, India
This is a well-crafted budget with a serious emphasis on health, education and agri business. One of the key highlights of the proposed Union Budget for FY2018-19 is emphasis on Indian Education system. For any economy to achieve economic and social dreams education plays a pivotal role and it is encouraging to see government’s priority in this space. For India to be able to leverage its strengths and opportunities as a knowledge economy on a global scale, it needs to undertake significant reforms and investments in building education and vocational skills, strengthening its innovation system and promoting new age skills. India has done well in the field of Information Technology by focusing on skill training. Adoption and utilization of project management skills, techniques, and methodologies has played a key role in the global success of India’s IT industry. The need of the hour now is training personnel in project management skills across all other sectors. With this India has the potential of becoming the export capital of skilled project managers across the world for infrastructure, construction, healthcare, telecom and many other project oriented industries and not just limited to IT and ITeS industry.
Setting aside Rs. One lakh crore in the next four years for revitalizing current education infrastructure and technology across the country over the next four years. will be a stepping stone to fast track job creation and overall to achieve a 8% plus GDP growth on a sustained basis.”

Ms. Shanti Ekambaram, President – Consumer Banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.
“The Finance Minister focused the FY18/19 budget on spends in Agriculture, rural upliftment, the poor, health, education, Infrastructure and Digital India.
The fiscal deficit projected, thus, saw a marginal slippage to 3.3% in FY19, with the current year’s deficit estimated at 3.5%. Given the criticality of areas that spends have been allocated to, the money would be well spent and good for India and the Indian economy in the long run.
The National Health Protection Scheme to cover 10 crore families at Rs 5 lakh per family is commendable, as are measures to provide for basics to the poor, increase spends in rural India, and steps to ensure farmers get fair compensation and direct linkages to consumers and markets.
The continued spends on infrastructure – particularly roads, railways, ports, smart cities, are all steps which will give a boost to India’s economic growth and development in the medium to long term.
The steps to ensure increased credit flow to the MSME segment and a reduction in the corporate tax to 25% for companies with a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore will again go a long way in giving a significant boost to this segment, and will create more employment.
The salaried segment did not receive any added benefits other than a higher standard deduction. Benefits to senior citizens, including an increase in the tax exemption limit for interest income on fixed deposit returns, is welcome.
The much discussed and awaited Long Term Capital Gains tax (LTCG) was also announced. In what is a fair move, the 10% LTCG tax is applicable on an incremental basis and all holdings as on Jan 31st 2018 would be grandfathered and valued at prices on that day. However, Securities Transaction Tax (STT) was not reduced.
The introduction of dividend distribution tax on equity mutual funds was a surprise.
Overall, it was a balanced budget with focused allocation given to priority segments that are needed to lay the foundation for India’s long term sustainable growth, with only a marginal slippage on the fiscal deficit.”

Mr. Rakesh Singh, CEO, Aditya Birla Finance Limited.
“The Union Budget 2019 is a step in the right direction as it is a fiscally responsible one with sound policy announcements, striking a balance between rural and urban development. Demonetisation further accelerated digitization and also led to an increased tax base and that has got a further boost in the budget.
The measures announced by the Finance Minister, including the focus on increasing expenditure in rural areas and boosting infrastructure, as well as the moves to improve the tax structure for small corporates, are consistent with the government’s intentions to drive consumption-led growth. SMEs form the bulk of the middle class and employ more than 40 percent of India’s workforce. For a holistic growth of the economy it is essential to bring in reforms in the sector. The capital support, interest subsidy, and reduction of corporate tax for the MSMEs will lead to more job creation and income to households as well as increase in productive capacity and consumption.
In the past year, the real estate sector has witnessed some landmark reformative policies being rolled out by the Government which has made the sector become more transparent and credible. The announcement of establishing a dedicated affordable housing fund under National Housing Bank for priority sector lending and sanctioning the assistance to construct 37 lakh houses under the PMAY shows the focus of government towards making ‘Housing For All’ a reality by 2020 and also gives impetus to the sector. This is very beneficial for ABFL, which is betting big on its SMEs and affordable housing segment and has adopted a robust strategy to strengthen and expand the business further.”

Mr. Manish Nuwal, Managing Director and CEO, Solar Industries India Ltd.
“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s move to set up 2 defence production corridors is the right step to boost the `Make in India’ initiative aimed at self-sufficiency in ammunition procurement. It also compliments initiatives taken in the past to nurture domestic defence production capability that will make India self-reliant in meeting our defence needs.”

Mr. B. J. Maheshwari, Wholetime director and CS cum CCO, Dwarikesh Sugar Industries Ltd
“We appreciate the fact that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was more focused towards improving the lives of farmers by introducing far reaching changes in agricultural financing. Still, 60 percent of India lives in villages and initiatives like doubling income from farming and allied activities will go a long way in decreasing rural stress. Also, developing cluster based models in a scientific manner for identified agricultural products will help in improving agricultural practices and give them a boost to match international farming practices.”

Mr. Tushad Dubash – Director, Duville Estates
“Budget 2018-19 focus on infrastructure and the Smart Cities initiative is a positive move for the real estate sector and Pune in specific. The Smart Cities Mission is an ambition to develop 100 cities across India that would also harness the Information Communication Technology (ICT) capabilities. Pune comes under the governments Smart City initiative and the allocation of Rs. 2.04 lakh crore towards the listed 99 Smart Cities will serve well for Pune’s real estate market. Pune’s real estate is one is the lesser impacted markets in comparison to the other key cities and have proved to be one of the more resilient markets in the country. Unlike other metros where buyers have demonstrated a strong preference for ready-to-move in apartments, in Pune there has been a steady skew to in terms of interest in under-construction projects. It is important to note that strong Real Estate have had a steady momentum in terms of inventory off-take and that the excellent infrastructural connectivity has definitely lent a positive slant to sustaining the current momentum especially in some of Pune’s micro-geographies which have withstood the onslaught of a decline in prices due to the impact of de-monetization, RERA and GST. Combining Pune’s growing infrastructure along with the sustained demand will boost Pune’s real estate market further. Infrastructure is a growth driver for the country and the budgets focus on infrastructure and connectivity will have an impact on not only the real estate sector but the economy on the whole.”

Mrs Alice G Vaidyan, CMD, General Insurance Corporation of India- Reinsurance (GIC Re)
“This year’s Budget had assumed great significance, since it was the first one after implementation of GST, the boldest tax reform in India since independence. The insurance industry – both life and general, were expecting that their demands will be met. The industry demanded lower GST rates and input credit on insurance premiums - in view of the fact that insurance sector holds strategic significance, especially life and health insurance, which offers first layer of financial security to Indian masses. The pre-budget clarification that no GST will be levied on agri-insurance, was certainly helpful. Overall the Finance Minister has done a fine work of balancing fiscal deficit, with growth priorities and has given a positive thrust to all important segments of the economy.
Health insurance coverage is a much needed measure to address protection gap for the Indian population and will boost penetration in a major way. However, the success will depend upon the adequate pricing based on actuarial assessment. We have a very good template in terms of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana for boosting penetration for crop insurance.
Rs.5 lakh per family and 10 crore families – the sum insured involved is 50 lakh crore. This has the potential to match, if not dwarf the crop segment which saw momentous growth during last two years.
As regards the merger of three PSUs are concerned, the proposal is sound but it is the implementation which will the key to reaping the benefits of the proposal.
This will boost the growth prospects of the insurance sector on a sustainable basis and will have knock on effect on the reinsurance growth as well.”

Anjani Mandal, CEO & Co-Founder, Fortigo Networks Pvt Ltd
“The Department of Commerce will be developing a National Logistics Portal as a single window online marketplace to link all stakeholders.
While the complete details are not available, an online marketplace to link all stakeholders has the potential of reducing the overall logistics cost by a few percentage points for the manufacturing industry as a whole. This move would eventually result in transparency and the elimination of non-value-adding players who just use information arbitrage for keeping a disproportionate share of the freight paid by the end-customer of the service.”

Ms. Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO, ICICI Bank on Union Budget 2018-19
“The Union Budget 2018-19 has done a commendable job in holistically addressing the various priorities of the Indian economy. It has addressed social sector priorities and charted out a clear plan to boost infrastructure, while maintaining fiscal discipline.
The wide ranging measures announced for various segments of the rural economy will boost income levels and create gainful & sustainable employment. This in turn will help to increase consumption levels in the economy.
The far reaching National Health Protection Scheme, which will be the largest of its kind in the world, along with measures taken to enhance education, skilling and research & development are indeed welcome steps.
The Government has also maintained its focus on creating infrastructure with an aim to catapult India onto a higher and sustainable growth path. The allocations for roads and railways are at all-time highs, which will have a positive impact on related sectors as well.
All these measures have been undertaken with an eye on continued fiscal prudence. Expenditure has been divided between budgetary and non-budgetary sources. The adoption of a maximum level for public debt to GDP will instil even more confidence in the fiscal framework.
Overall, the budget has laid out a vision for higher economic growth along with social empowerment through a holistic approach to various sections of the economy.”

Mr. Girish Bapat, Blueair Director West and South Asia Region for your reference.
“We appreciate government’s decision to tackle the crop burning issue by implementing special schemes and providing machinery at special rate to support Governments of Haryana, Punjab, UP and Delhi NCR for management of crop residue. Every year, tonnes of agricultural stubble are burnt by farmers in northern India to make way for the winter crop. This would address the primary reasons behind farmers setting crop residue afire and give a brief relief to Delhi’s air pollution. However, this is just one of the contributors to heavy air pollution in the national capital region. In addition to the crop burning there are many other factors that deteriorates the air quality such as vehicular emissions, dust particles and pollutants in the air, large scale construction, industrial pollution and garbage dump, etc. The air quality needs to be within the permissible limit of 51-100 which is still a widely felt public concern.”

Mr.Pramod Agarwal, Chairman, Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC)
“We welcome the Government’s development oriented Budget that will spur the India consumption story and create more employment opportunities. We are disappointed with the increase in customs duty of cut and polished Diamonds and cut and polished coloured gemstones from 2.5% to 5%, as it was not included as part of the industry’s recommendations to the Government. This move hampers India’s chances of becoming an international diamond trading hub. This move doesn’t provide India a level playing field vis-à-vis other peers such as Belgium, Dubai and Israel. It will also have a negative impact on the Shut Out business from the US, which has been a fast growing segment.
Union Finance Minister mentioned in his Budget speech that exports will grow by 15% in FY18 and the Government is planning to enhance export growth, but we are awaiting clarity on the specific roadmap for achieving this growth. We welcome the Government’s initiative to formulate a comprehensive Gold Policy to develop gold as an asset class subsequent to the GJEPC’s Gold Summit held in the Capital in December 2017. This will assure a new era of development for the gold market and exports in the sector. We shall continue to seek a reduction in basic import duty on Gold, Silver and Precious Metals and hope that it will be considered as part of the Gold Policy announcement. It is good that the Government will also establish a system of consumer friendly and trade efficient system of regulated gold exchanges in the country. Gold Monetization Scheme will be revamped to enable people to open a hassle free Gold Deposit Account.
The proposal to cut corporate tax of companies with annual revenues of upto Rs. 250 crore to 25% will benefit the gems and jewellery sector but this measure should be also made applicable to all gems & jewellery exporters. The cut in corporate tax will result in more investments and job creation.
We welcome the Government's move to contribute 12% to Employee Provident Fund (EPF) in wages of new employment for three years in all sectors. The Government’s emphasis on education and skill enhancement should be extended to creating more institutes for the gems and jewellery sector.
We welcome the schemes and increased outlay for MSMEs as well as the initiative to create a database and identity for MSMEs. We welcome the Government’s move to incentivise domestic value addition and Make in India in the gems & jewellery sector in addition to others. The benefits extended to leather, textile and footwear businesses should be extended to the gems & jewellery sector also as it is a job-intensive industry.
In sync with the Government’s emphasis on manufacturing and creating infrastructure, more jewellery parks with shared support services and resources can be created to stimulate job creation as mentioned in the Economic Survey. The Finance Minister announced that the Department of Commerce will be developing a National Logistics Portal as a single window online market place to link all stakeholders.”

Mr. Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, Managing Director, Bandhan Bank
“This is a Budget for the people of India. It has sent all the right signals and focused on the relevant sectors -- health, education and rural distress -- in a big way. As a result of this, people in rural India will have more money in hand and spend for consumption. That, in turn, will help corporate India. We could not have a better budget than this.
The biggest beneficiaries of this Budget are the medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) –the units which can create massive employment opportunities. Besides ensuring easy access to bank loans the government is working on measures to address the bad loans and stressed accounts of the MSMEs. The tax burden on this set of companies is also being reduced to 25%. Indeed, this budget will go a long way for job creation and addressing agrarian distress.
Finally, I must mention that the exemption on interest income on bank deposits (from Rs10,000 to Rs40,000 a year) and rise in the limit of health insurance premiums and medical expenditure will help senior citizens lead a dignified life.”

KE Ranganathan, Managing Director, Roca Bathrooms Pvt Ltd
“Overall a good budget which is well thought out to take India on a sustained growth path. Focus on demand drivers like Housing for all by year 2022, over 2 Cr toilets in 2 years to be built for making India ODF (Open Defecation Free), Education sector spending, Medical facilities (Modicare) for poor families, Investments in Railways, Airports, Smart cities etc. are bound to generate sufficient demand to drive GDP at 7-7.5% levels in the year ahead.
Perhaps the Government could have looked at more concessions for Corporates to spend more on Capex, which is a key measure of growth. Also with Rupee stabilising and Oil prices under control - both of which have led to lower forex outgo for the Government - it would have been prudent to drive down inflation thru bringing down prices of essential items. Lower inflation will always lead to higher surplus funds, which will be channelled to higher consumer spending.
Water for all households in 500 cities is a big dream. This calls for linking of rivers which should be the top agenda. Also thrust on exploiting natural resources like Solar & Wind power is missing in this budget.”

Mr.Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director at Barco Electronic Systems
“The Union Budget 2018-19 is a balanced budget that I believe will help drive & sustain long-term growth for India. The increased focus on higher infrastructure spends, smart cities, digital India, and healthcare is a step in the right direction. With 99 smart cities being selected and an amount of over Rs. 2 lakh crore being allocated, it will give the nation a significant opportunity to upscale its Infrastructure as a growth driver. In addition, doubling the Digital India budget allocation this year is a step ahead towards becoming a digital-first economy which will assist in reshaping and empowering the country by leveraging technology.
The budget also brings momentum to India’s Healthcare by announcing Rs. 1,200 crore for 1.5 lakh wellness health centers, which is set to bring advancements in the Indian Healthcare sector.
Furthermore, we hope that impact due to the increased customs duties will offset the government’s dedicated push towards promoting manufacturing in India.
All in all, the budget is set to have a transformational impact and give a massive boost to the economy.”

Suramya Nevatia, CEO of Hind Rectifiers Ltd.
“This is an overall inclusive growth augmented budget with special emphasis on the backbone of the economy: Agriculture, Health, Education and Infrastructure. We welcome the finance minister’s announcement of allocating Rs 1.48 lakh crore towards capital expenditure for Indian Railways, which is the highest ever amount provided till date for this sector. The Railway’s focus on modernization of signaling and safety systems along with optimum electrification will not only enhance the efficiency but can also move a large amount of trade traffic from road to railways”.
“Most ancillary companies affiliated with rail infrastructure should benefit on account of this huge proposed capex allocated towards rail infrastructure”.

Nikhil Aggarwal, CEO, Campus Footwear
"We Welcome the increase in custom duty from 10% to 20% on footwear industry, a great move to boost “make in india” by the finance minister and we congratulate him for the same. Also the 2600 crore allocation to the leather and footwear industry, will auger well for job creation in the country. Budget 2018 has a lot for the 40% of the agricultural and rural population base, the national health cover and MSP is a fantastic step, which would result in generation of disposable income and inclusive growth for years to come."

Dr. Subho Ray, President, IAMAI
“The Union budget recognizes the positive role of digital technologies for development of social sectors like health, agriculture and education, and hence IAMAI would like to term it as technology oriented budget. Digital technologies can bring in efficiency and economic scaling up in the critical social sectors. Budget 2018 gives recognition to the emerging sectors like Edutech, Agritech, Healthtech in India and is an encouragement for Digital India. 372 basic business reform actions identified for improving ease of doing business in India is a positive step.
Some of the initiatives like greater digital intensity in the education sector, Special Group under the Ministry of Finance on exploring fin-tech options for MSMEs, allocation of INR 10,000 crores for five lakh public wi-fi spots, are some of the positives in this regard. This in particular will help promote internet penetration in the country.
The association is happy to note that our earlier suggestions for promoting futuristic technologies have been acknowledged in the budget 2018. The National Programme on Artificial Intelligence to be set up by Niti Aayog, the 5G test-bed in IIT Chennai and the mission by the Department of Science and Technology to encourage big data, cyber security and robotics are some of the initiatives that will help promote Industry 4.0, create new skills and jobs and help usher in the next phase of the IT-BPM sector in India. The association further notes that the encouragement for blockchain technology will boost digital economy and will usher in transparency and efficiency in the economy.
The association has also welcomed the proposal to reduce corporate tax for small companies with turnover up to INR 250 crores to 25% which will help the emerging Indian digital services companies.
For the second year in running, the Union Budget recognizes the importance of digital services and gives a direction. It is now up to the relevant departments to act on these directions and help realize the targets envisaged in budget 2018.”

Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder & CEO of Ola
“The budget is progressive, balanced and forward looking with a well-defined focus on Digital India. Ola is already a partner to some of the Digital India initiatives. Allocation of INR 3073 crore towards Digital India is a significant leg-up. The thrust provided to tourism with the commitment of creating iconic tourist spots, investment earmarked for transport infrastructure, progress made on Smart Cities and creation of more than 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in India is truly welcome. Overall, it is a balanced budget which will further strengthen India’s position as a leading world economy with good livability index and business environment.”

Dr. GSK Velu, Chairman Neuberg Diagnostics
“It is heartening to see the increased focus by the government in improving healthcare infrastructure especially with focus of Prevention and Early diagnosis. Along with increased outlay for healthcare, 5 lakhs insurance coverage for 10 Cr families, access to CSR funds and increased focus on PPP programs healthcare sector should see a never seen new momentum next year”.

Vikram Puri, CEO, Transworld Technologie
“We are pleased to see the government’s continual focus on the Smart Cities mission and its development through advanced infrastructure as announced in the Budget 2018. Technology spending on public areas and deliveries like surveillance for citizen safety, automated and transparent emergency services, intelligent and shared parking systems, electrification of public transport, public internet access and management of health and sanitation services online will certainly bring down the cost of governance and the national healthcare bill . It will strongly enhance the public's compliance to the law, with a feeling of confidence and safety.
We note that the budget also specially focused on overall rural development, which will support and prop up the creation of smaller smart cities in India, driving technology, public services and healthcare to the masses. The Government must however continue to look at our logistics infrastructure with specific development and investment targets, like the plan for 101 new projects in the cold chain, truck terminals and stops, and better facilities for safer road transport operations. Big data, integrated services, transparency of government deliveries will truly ensure that the Smart Cities mission will deliver results.”

Mr Amish Panchal, President, IIF (The Institute of Indian Foundrymen)
“Budget is average or slightly positive for MSME and foundry sector:

1. Allocation of more funds in the infrastructure such as roads, tunnels and railways which will boost the business of foundry suppliers.

2. tax rate of 25 % up to 250 Cr will give some relief to industry.

4. Government’s proposal to give special emphasis on research and application of 3D printing technology will boost New tech. In the industry.

5. Special incentives for startups will boost New technologies.

6. More allocation in Defence sector with proposal of private investment give fillip to Foundries.

7. Sizeable amount allocated to rural infrastructure and agricultural sector and Rs. 7100 cr allocated for textile industry which are consumer sector of FOUNDRY industry will increase business for the industry.

Overall industry was expecting more from FM for job creations and overall boost for the industry.”

Mr Bhavdeep Singh, CEO, Fortis Healthcare
“We welcome the Hon’ble Finance Minister’s announcement today on two new healthcare programmes. Under the Flagship National Healthcare Protection Scheme, 10 crore people will be covered, reaching almost 50 crore beneficiaries, through a coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year. This will be the world’s largest government-aided programme. It is also heartening to note that under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, Rs 1200 crore has been set aside for the launch of health and wellness centres across the country and around 1.5 lakh centres will provide free essential drugs, diagnostic, maternal and child services. The private sector has also been called upon to contribute to this though CSR and philanthropic activities. In addition, Rs 600 cr is being provided to give nutritional support to TB patients during treatment at Rs 500 per patient per month. Most importantly, to meet the existing shortage of doctors and healthcare professionals in the country, 24 new government medical colleges and hospitals will be set up by upgrading existing district hospitals. All this is good news for the healthcare sector and Fortis Healthcare will offer complete support to the Government to make these a success.”

Mr Guruvayurappan PV, Senior Vice President & Head - Human Resources, Omega Healthcare Management Services Pvt. Ltd.
"The finance minister unveiled that 500 million poor and vulnerable citizens will get insurance cover of as much as Rs 5 lakh each under a National Health Protection Scheme. This insurance scheme is billed as world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme which would be an eye opener in the insurance industry and will welcome global insurance companies to invest in our country. The initiative will help make healthcare services accessible and affordable. There will be a rise in number of healthcare insurance companies who would need further support from healthcare outsourcing firms. With increased medical claims and billing amendments required, the role of healthcare KPOs becomes crucial. Also, it will help in the creation of jobs in the healthcare insurance sector to further add to employability ratio in the country."

Mr Archit Gupta, Founder & CEO ClearTax
“Standard deduction has been reintroduced but at a cost, it takes away medical reimbursement and travel allowance. There were several demands to raise medical reimbursement from 15,000 and bring it up according to current prices (the amount has been same since more than a decade). However, now the clamour for raising this limit will die down. With this, for a salaried, the amount taxable under salary shall be reduced by Rs 5,800. While cess will go up by 1%. Senior citizens have much to rejoice and will face much lower burden of taxes, this is especially crucial in the falling interest rates from banks and deposits.”

Mr K Vijayaraghavan, Chairman, Sathguru management Consultants

“The Budget has for the first time brought focus on bringing innovation to farm level application and consolidation of the food supply chain with market commanding prices for produce. The impact will be enormous if the simultaneous efforts are also initiated to do away archaic regulatory impediments that inhibit technologies to be brought to the farm sector. Overall, a game changing intention and well framed measures to bring Indian agriculture to global competitive levels.”

Date: 
Thursday, February 1, 2018