Budget 2022 Expectations from Business Leaders Across India | #7

Thought Habitat continues to speak with more business leaders across industries and cities in India to know their budget expectations and here they are.

The Budget 2022 session is just days away and the heat is on for the Finance Minister and the Union Government of India. Thought Habitat continues to speak with more business leaders across industries and different cities in India who are coming up with different problems to be addressed through this budget.

Here are budget 2022 expectations from more business leaders across India.

Gaurav Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Savaari Car Rentals

Despite the delta variant hitting the world early in 2021, the travel and tourism industry witnessed a strong resumption during the second half. However, the support from the government to boost growth was minimal, with the slashing of the ministry of tourism budget by 19% in 2021-22 compared to the 2020-21 numbers.

Today, with the global scare of omicron, the situation for the sector is scarily close to a repeat of 2021. While international travel remains largely restricted this year, it serves as the fitting opportunity for the domestic hospitality sector to revive and recover the heavy losses incurred since the pandemic. The government’s role is crucial to inject life into the beleaguered sector. 

The industry is looking forward to expanded budgetary allocations for industry investments, tax relief, and enhanced infrastructure in 2022We expect a budgetary allocation of Rs. 3000 crores for tourism promotion and publicity, and the development of the domestic tourism infrastructure.

Arjun Ananth, CEO, Medall Diagnostics

The union budget of 2022-23 is more significant than ever before in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic’s third wave. While the private sector has been on overdrive for offering diagnostic and preventive healthcare services, the expectation is that the Government allocates more funds for the preventive health and wellness segment. We are looking forward to the government increasing its share of public expenditure on healthcare to effectively combat the pandemic and its variants.

The need of the hour is prevention. Early screening and prevention of ailments that can cause COVID-19 are of prime importance. Moreover, providing health insurance at subsidized premiums will go a long way in the large embracing of policies to shield them in the event of any sudden misfortune. The government should make it mandatory for the functioning of primary health care centers in rural, Tier 2, and Tier 3 cities with sufficient allocation of funds to enable them to function smoothly. 

More importantly, sprucing such centers with the latest diagnostic equipment is important. Encouraging public-private partnership in the healthcare segment with subsidies and sops will put access to healthcare especially in rural, Tier 2, and Tier 3 cities within reach of the common man. The government can consider reintroducing tax holidays for investments in infrastructure in rural areas.

Also, the government needs to significantly increase investments in funding research on infectious diseases and strengthen the capabilities of institutions to be well prepared in handling situations that we are currently experiencing. Presently health services are exempt from GST due to which the industry is unable to avail input credit on purchases and credit. Last but not least import duties and processes on diagnostic equipment should be eased to enable smooth imports and make diagnostic services more affordable for the common man.

Raj Mehta, Founder, Greta Electric Scooters & MD, Raj Electromotives Pvt. Ltd.

Given the Government’s ambitious goal to be zero-emission by 2070, EV is the way forward; we anticipate a further boost for this sector in the forthcoming Budget. What is needed is incentivization from the Government to make EV the mode of choice for the end consumers. That could come in terms of tax relief, subsidizing the offering to name a few. 

The recent introduction of the PLI scheme for the EV sector was a welcome step. It complements the FAME scheme well in encouraging us to develop new technologies needed to grow and evolve. The scheme’s recent induction of  115 automobile and automobile-related ancillary companies promises increased localization and accelerated investments in the EV ecosystem – a much-needed support system to enable our growth story. Though I still feel the subsidies here should be relooked at to get more entrepreneurs in the fold.

The lack of charging station infrastructure and battery supply, which is currently heavily dependent on imports, are two growth bottlenecks for the sector. We need the Government to help with solutions that will clear this bottleneck and pave the way for EVs’ acceptability.

Incentivizing Auto Component manufacturers to add EV components to their lineup would be another as more availability of localized parts will push up growth of the sector and help bring down both production timelines and cost for the EV’S acceptability.

Given the current dependence of the EV sector on imports, a reduction in import duties and GST would be a welcome relief.

Reducing GST on components that are meant to be used in the production of EV’s would be one step to help bring down the cost of production and prices of EV’s. Easing the GST refund process would be another step that would help improve efficiency in operations.

Finally, easing the export process will encourage the EV manufacturers to look at export as an element of their go-to-market strategy.

Sudarshan, CEO, Save the Children, India

To build back better, a child-friendly budget with adequate investment in Human Capital is crucial for propelling India to a high growth path. There are more children in India than anywhere else in the world (UNICEF).

With a declining fertility rate at 2.1 (NFHS 5 survey report), we have a very narrow window to reap the dividends of a young population. Investment today in child development, protection, and welfare,  is critical for securing long-term and sustainable futures. This is our only chance to enable children to survive and develop into healthy, happy, and productive human beings for India to thrive.

Lavin Mirchandani, Co-Founder, ConnectEd Technologies

In comparison to 2021, India is in a much better state to handle the upcoming wave of Covid-19 cases. A majority of the sectors have recovered and are now back on track for rapid growth. One sector, however, has seen the slowest recovery – the Education sector, with students still unable to attend school physically and unable to get vaccinated, either. We expect the Government to shift a lot of focus to the Education sector in this version of the budget in the following ways:

Higher allocation in the overall budget – Last year, the Government slashed its allocation towards Education in the Annual Budget by 6%, amounting to a total allocation of Rs. 93,223 crores, against Rs. 99,311 crores in the year before that. This year, we expect the Government to increase allocation by around 10% since last year the 6% slash was attributed to funds allocation towards healthcare and other emergency services

Reducing the digital divide – We expect this year’s Education budget to focus on reducing the digital divide, which has kept a significant number of students – that rely on the country’s public education system and belong to challenged socio-economic backgrounds – from accessing education during the pandemic. We have already seen states like Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat provide devices and connectivity to needy students for free, or with heavy subsidies; we expect the Central Government to address this issue to ensure that students can resume classes virtually

Reduced GST rates – The pandemic’s impact on the education system, particularly the public education system, has increased the reliance of all students on supplementary sources of education that are provided by private organizations. Traditionally, such sources have been categorized under ‘Educational Services’ and taxed at 18% under Goods & Services Tax (GST). We expect the Government to revise the GST rate for this category to 5%, thereby easing the financial pressure on the students’ parents, particularly those from lower and middle-class families 

Partner with private companies – Given the utility of education-technology (EdTech) tools during the pandemic, we expect the Government to announce a host of schemes this year to make EdTech tools accessible to students across the country. These schemes could pertain to Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), subsidies, or Direct Bank Transfers (DBT) to enable citizens to procure devices, connectivity, and even subscription to educational services that’ll enable them to garner knowledge amidst closure of their educational institutions 

Focus on vernacular languages – Since a significant number of students relying on the public education system learn in vernacular languages – which are largely ignored by private EdTech players – it is quite likely that the Education budget will observe the Government mobilizing resources towards the creation or curation of regional-language educational content that’ll be aimed at such students. Efforts in this direction have already been initiated over the last few years, however, they are likely to receive a shot in the arm this year

I believe that these key features if addressed in the upcoming budget, will help India’s education system get back on track to recovery and help students continue their education even if they are unable to visit their schools till the students get fully vaccinated.

Dr. Angeli Misra (MD Path), Founder & Director, Lifeline Laboratory

To combat the pandemic crisis, increased fund allocation in every aspect of the healthcare sector, a reduction in GST and import duty for critical care equipment and components (86% of which are dependent on imports) as an initiative for government support for the medical devices manufacturing industry, more funding to boost the development of the digital health sector and the production of point-of-care equipment can bring the highest level of quality care to the interiors and remote areas of India. In addition, the establishment of more medical education institutions and imparting of advanced training to enhance the skills of healthcare workers is of considerable significance and the need of the hour.

Rajit Mehta, MD and CEO, Antara

India does not have a universal pension program for its 1.4 billion people. Most seniors rely on their personal savings for meeting more than 46 percent of their retirement expenditure. This mismatch clearly outlines an inadequacy and the critical need to streamline and strengthen the pension programs in the country.

The Union Budget 2022-23, which will be presented against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic should take into consideration the financial needs of India’s growing senior population and recommend policy measures to help them have income security in their silver years. It should also consider the inclusion of care-at-home services and assisted living facilities under the mandate of health insurance. This will be a crucial step in building a well-rounded senior care ecosystem in India, given the fact that the demand for dependable, specialized, and professional senior care services has witnessed a steady rise, especially after the second wave.

Keep watching this space for more updates!

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