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Image: Megan Rexazin from Pixabay
 
 
It's a wrap.. industry voices on the 2021 Indian budget

February 2 2021: Our final set of industry opinion on the  Indian Union budget 2021:
 Chocko Valliappa, Vice Chairman, Sona Group of education institutions,
Salem:  The Union Finance Minister deserves compliments for focusing on internships for engineering graduates and diploma holders, extension of skill development initiatives along the lines of existing arrangements with Japan to other countries and allocation of funds to set up additional residential schools for SC/ST students as also providing for more scholarships.Even though the coming year calls for rapid skill development to improve employability of youth more than ever before, a sharp decline in budget allocation for jobs and skill development is surprising.The education sector could have benefitted by an allocation higher than the Rs 93,224 provided for in the 2021-22 budget. Even though this is higher than revised budget estimates of Rs 85,089 crore, it falls short of what was budgeted in the 2019-20 budget by 6 per cent. Focus on Innovation and R&D, setting up of a Rs 50,000 crore National Research Foundation will fire up the research activity. I hope the share of allocation to private sector institutions doing worthy R&D grows from the current beyond a few IITs and research focused government institutions.
Dr Santanu Paul, CEO and Managing Director, TalentSprint: The 2021-22 Union Budget has been a letdown for edtech firms which performed extremely well during the pandemic and were revenue drivers. Platforms promoting hybrid and blended learning will play a pivotal role in accelerating reach in tier 2/3 towns and the government should have taken cognizance of this and provided special incentives. Home-grown edtech firms such as ours make a tremendous contribution to the tech industry in terms of providing job ready talent for future technologies. As an NSE group company, we welcome the allocation of Rs 1500 crore fund for digital payments as this will drive the need for more skilled talent in the fintech sector, and drive employment opportunities.However, we welcome the announcement of collaborative training and inter-training programmes between India and Japan to facilitate the transfer of Japanese vocational and industrial skills, and the partnership with UAE to benchmark skilled qualifications. We expect such initiatives will be a game changer for industries. Building and collaborating on skill initiatives with other countries will bring new avenues for India’s youth who want to reboot their career. The setting up a Higher Education Commission (HEC) and allocation of Rs 50,000 crore  for the National Research Foundation over five years will help in raising the bar in the education system of the country which is fast evolving.
Manish Mehan, CEO & MD, thyssenkrupp Elevator (India): The direction of the Union Budget 2021 seems progressive. However, more focus on the realty sector would have been welcome. Having said that, the Government’s decision to extend the tax benefit to boost demand and supply of affordable housing, and providing the much-needed push for the metro expansion projects across the nation will propel growth across segments including the elevator industry in India
Satyam Kumar, Co-Founder, and CEO, LoanTap and Co-Founder, Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment (FACE): Budget 2021 is a promising budget that has clearly defined the directions of the Modi Government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat. Increasing FDI in insurance companies, establishing a Fintech hub in IFSC, growing Health infrastructure, Highways, Railroad & public transport are steps that will pave way towards a new India. Buying of bad loans by ARC and INR 2000 crore recapitalization of banks will provide much-needed growth to the financial services sector. With small credit push and financial inclusion schemes announced by the government, the Fintech sector will get a chance to meet consumer expectations in FY21-22 and drive SME growth.
Dr Ambrish Kumar, Founder of Zipaworld and Group CEO, AAA 2 Innovate Private Ltd:The stakeholders and players of the logistics sector would resonate with the fact that Budget 2021 has not completely met the expectations of the sector. It can be said that some of the initiatives like  the  public-private partnership projects of ports, monetization of Dedicated Freight Corridor assets by railways, National Monetization Pipeline for financing infrastructure construction, rationalising and reducing customs duty on certain imports scrap and products and increasing for exports of agricultural products are in lines with encouraging manufacturing, distribution or Make in India initiative.However, some expectations like an investment in technology, speeding up of National Logistics Policy measures, promoting Start-ups and MSMEs, working capital influx for the logistics sector, etc that form the major concern of the logistics sector are not focussed upon. Also how fast the implementation of all the aspects on the ground level is something to be looked forward to.
Saurabh Jaitly, Co-Founder, Shippigo: "Eligibility for Tax Holiday for Startups has been extended by one more year to 31 Mar 2022 and the Exemption from capital gain in investment in startups has been increased by one more year to 31 Mar 2022. This will provide some relief to startup’s facing the heat of the pandemic. The fund infusion into the msme sector will also act as an enabler.
Yogita Tulsiani, Director and Co-founder iXceed Solutions: The year 2020 has seen a lot of ups and downs. The budget for 2021 has included various ways to bring the scattered businesses back on track. The Union Budget 2021 has focused on skill development by tieing up with countries like Japan and UAE. This would help in overall development of the Human Resource sector. With everything going digital, the launch of an online platform for gig workers will definitely ease the process of work. Startup sector is gifted with the Tax Holiday with the extension in eligibility for one more year till 2021. The tax exemption on capital gains till March 2022 will push more investments.
Anshul Gupta, CEO & Co-founder and YellowClass(An online hobby platform for young kids): This is a very progressive, forward looking budget. The government has been supporting startups and business innovation. The budget continues to keep the focus sharp. Extension of tax holiday for startups is a welcome step.
Supria Dhanda, Vice President and Country Manager for India, Western Digital: I would like to congratulate the Government on its first paperless budget to push India in its digital journey. The economic survey highlighted India’s aspiration to compete on Innovation with the top ten economies. Allocation of INR 50,000 crore for the National Research Fund for next five years is a definite step towards boosting the research ecosystem in a coordinated way. Focus on Innovation and R&D, coupled with the PLI for electronic manufacturing schemes lays down a very strong foundation in building a self-reliant digital India. We are confident that the technology industry will join hands with the Government in its plan to enhance manufacturing capabilities and expand R&D centres.
Kausshal Dugarr - Founder and CEO of Teabox, India's luxury premium tea brand:  Last year due to the pandemic, production of Indian tea was behind its global counterparts but the price realisation was better as compared to any other years. The average price of tea increased by almost 30% as compared to fiscal year 2019-20. This has in a way, set the base for the Indian tea industry for this year, as the increase in price gives a positive outlook.  Allocating 1000 crores for Assam and West Bengal tea industry at this point is a welcome move, which will boost the Indian tea industry for the coming years. The scheme for tea farmers declared in the Budget for the welfare of Children and women, is a necessity at this point of time, more than ever and will help in improving things on the ground level and we're hoping this is executed in the best possible way.
Lohit Bhatia, President- Workforce Management, Quess Corp: With the government’s keen focus on bolstering the manufacturing sector, through PLI schemes for 13 key industries, we are optimistic about the employment generation outlook for the coming years. Further, with the expansion of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), and the government’s support for innovative PPP models to allow participation from private players, we will not only witness a boost in economic growth but also find ease of business for companies across sectors, in addition to job creation opportunities. Acts like the Recycling of Ships Act 2019, are also expected to boost employment, in this case by generating an additional 1.5 lakh jobs for the youth.
Venkatraman Narayanan, MD & CFO, Happiest Minds:The budget has maintained continuity and consistency and in line with the themes of ease of doing business, simplification, transparency and manage effective delivery through digital channels. 
As a digital company  hearing announcement around leveraging digital technologies like video conferencing, e-assessments, e-invoicing, AI and ML for governance, incentives for digital transaction are heartening.The aspect of supporting the economy with increased spends on Infra, health, farming and education are welcome.  Inclusion and women empowerment into the larger Aatmanirbhar objectives of the government are laudable.  I see lots of support for the economy and a V shaped recovery for the economy.
George Alexander Muthoot, MD, Muthoot Finance:The 2021-22 budget has laid clear emphasis on economic growth and the financial services sector will play a crucial role in achieving the development goals of the government. Among the several business friendly announcements, some that stood out for us include net rationalisation of customs duty on gold by 2.5% which should bring more gold into the country through official channels and incentivising purchase of affordable homes by extending eligibility period for claiming additional deduction of interest paid of Rs. 1.5 lakh to 31st March 2022. Increasing FDI limit in insurance to 74% from 49% is another progressive announcement that will bring more investments and activity in this sector. Lastly, reflective of the importance of the MSME sector, the government has provided Rs. 15,700 cr for it, double of last year’s budgeted estimate and we stand steadfast with the MSMEs, individuals and entrepreneurs of India in financing and enabling their Atmanirbhar Bharat ambitions.
Dinesh Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt.Ltd: As was expected, the Union Budget 2021 has focused on our nation’s growth and brings a very positive sentiment to facilitate the economic reset. While on one hand there is a generous allocation towards the continued fight against COVID and the vaccination drive; on the other side, there is a clear objective of reviving India's GDP growth across all sectors, i.e. agriculture, manufacturing, and services. This was seen in the major fiscal support announced for Farm produce, the PLI scheme of 1.95 Lac crores over 5 years, for boosting manufacturing and the opening of FDI in the Insurance industry up to 74%. The Finance Minister has announced extended support for the manufacturing of electronic components & sub-assemblies, including mobile phones. The public infrastructure has got a strong boost with specific allocation for NHAI for continued vigour on highway construction and improvement of the roads; with specific budget allocation for some of the states, including Assam. REIT will be vastly encouraged due to the abolition of dividend distribution tax and, this will accelerate the real estate growth, especially since debt financing by FII has been allowed now.