The Union Budget 2017 was presented in the Parliament by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1. While the Budget is clearly strong on macro-economic intent – as is evident from the FM’s focus on agricultural growth, rural development, up-skilling of the youth, war on black money and pushing the digital economy, among others – it is the announcement by the Finance Minister that the impact of demonetization will not spill over to 2017 that has come as a relief to the retail industry at large. Here is what some of the big names in the industry had to say about Budget 2017.
The Union Budget is set amidst a complex geopolitical atmosphere punctuated by the US Fed rate, global protectionism and oil prices & a muted domestic sentiment owing to demonetization. Against this challenging backdrop, the Government’s efforts to maintain the fiscal deficit at 3.2%, CAD at .3%, forex reserves at $361 billion and increase FDI flow by 36% are indeed commendable.
The Union Budget is clearly strong on macro-economic intent, as is evident from the FM’s focus on agricultural growth, rural development, up-skilling of the youth, war on black money and pushing the digital economy, among others. Focused initiatives for rural growth through infrastructure investments, housing and financial assistance to farmers will boost agricultural growth and bolster the farm-to-market chain.
In line with the PM’s vision to dismantle bureaucracy, the FM’s announcement to abolish the FIPB and further liberalize the FDI policy deserves a round of cheer! The government’s continuous focus to bolster the digital economy is definitely applause-worthy.
On the flip side, lack of more announcement of more details on GST is a disappointment.
Modification of the Income Tax in the sub 5 lacs slab to 5% could moderately boost consumption. Here again, consumers seem to have been left wanting for more. We were hoping for broader and more impactful changes to boost consumer demand.
Overall, the budget has focused on measures to sustain India’s poster-image of growth against the backdrop of an otherwise dull global economy. And while, the Finance Minister may have endeavored to ease the burden of the common man, he doesn’t seem to have met the mighty burden of expectations on this budget.
It is a digital economy budget. Government has pushed the digital theme in every area of the budget. Every person from a small shops to consumers are pushed towards the digital economy. Tax benefits, incentives to use digital payments and extending loans based on a digital footprint will create a larger merchant ecosystem for digital payments. Incentives for labour intensive sectors including housing, farming and dairy will help SMEs to create new jobs. Focus and attention to bank NPAs, as well as increasing bank capitalisation is great step towards strengthening the financial system of the country. Finally, the income tax rate changes will encourage more people to report their incomes and create a larger tax net for the country. Overall, it is a great budget that will encourage people to move to the formal economy and derive benefits.
We commend the focus on growing the digital footprint in the country – enhancing digital infrastructure, capping cash transactions, reducing cash donations, using Adhaar Pay to enable more digital payments are significant measures. Initiatives make an impact when there is continued attention and the announcement of today builds on the demonetization efforts of last few weeks.
We also welcome the emphasis on skill development and technical education – this will enable India to successfully harness the demographic dividend. The attention to affordable housing, greater employment in rural areas are the right interventions to build a more equitable society.
Mayank Shah, Category Head, Parle Products Pvt. Ltd.
The Budget for India as of 2017 saw a huge transformation from a presentation perspective. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made careful interventions wherever required, without focusing on areas that did not need any reforms.
Increased focus on vulnerable sections of the population like rural and urban population, will help in acknowledging consumer sentiments which were deeply affected by demonetization in the last year. Encouraging online transactions and provision to make online gateways available to the common man is a big step towards a transparent economy. We look forward to the implementation of GST in July and the reforms in excise duties for biscuits, confectionery, snacking and baking segments.
Krishna Rao, Category Head, Parle Products Pvt. Ltd.
The reforms in agriculture and rural programs will give a much needed push to the Indian economy post demonetization. We are happy to see that the budget focuses on moving India towards a digital economy.
Reforms like Aadhar pay and schemes to promote BHIM app will not only aid economic growth but also streamline processes for the common man. While there is not much of a change in excise duties, we are positive that GST will provide a much needed breather for the FMCG sector.
Govind Rajan, CEO FreeCharge
FreeCharge welcomes the policy measures aimed at accelerating the adoption of a digital economy in India. The incentives for adoption of fintech equipment, expansion of digital infrastructure in under-served areas, Aadhar Pay for wider adoption by merchants and capping cash transactions at Rs 3 Lakhs, all together have kept the spotlight on building a less-cash India. In doing so, we will all help build a transparent and efficient future for our country.
Neelesh Talathi, CFO-Pepperfry.com:
“Promotes Growth, Builds Digital India’
The Union Budget 2018 has set the right priorities as India takes head-on the challenging global economic environment. The emphasis is rightly on growth with a slew of initiatives including higher allocation to infrastructure, increased emphasis on affordable housing & more disposal income in the hands of middle class Indians.
The Budget continues to focus on transforming India as a Digital Leader by allowing for easier flow of capital to create jobs and fostering innovation in our country, connecting Bharat and encouraging indigenous manufacture of POS terminals. These steps towards creating a digital economy will help grow our ecommerce ecosystem.
The Indian furniture industry employs around 5mn people and over 85% operate in the unorganised sector. We are heartened with the Government’s investment in skill upgradation and tax relief for the MSME sector. The Pepperfry marketplace continues to be committed to a strong partnership with small business owners and craftsmen; together we shall help 20 million Indians create beautiful homes by 2020.
Sharad Venkta, MD & CEO – Toonz Retail India Pvt. Ltd.
The Finance Minister has stuck to his agenda of fiscal prudence and pushing government’s idea for digital economy and rural push. Changes in direct taxes (reducing 10% slab to 5%) will have very limited money in hand for increasing consumption. Government has some of the ideas like abolishing FIPB, showing the expenses as capital expenses and revenue expenses instead of plan and non plan expenses indicates that government has clear cut agenda of larger reforms and acting one by one on it. FM has also shown the direction for wider tax base economy with transparency. Overall a good budget on predictable line and we look forward to GST fine print and implementation,.
C K Ranganathan, Chairman & Managing Director, CavinKare Pvt. Ltd.
The Budget 2017-18 has been a transformative and inclusive in nature. As a follow on measure to demonetisation which gave address tag to the black money stock, this budget has brought in various measure to control generation of black money like banning of cash transaction over Rs.3 Lac, disallowance of cash transactions of over Rs 10000/- in corporates, limiting political donations in cash form to Rs 2000 etc. These measures coupled with GST introduction and the Digital push would go a long way in broad basing the tax base and setting new norm for the way business is done.
Though the Budget could not stick to the promise of gradual reduction of corporate tax from 30% to 25%, it has reduced the same to 25% to the MSME sector which forms lion’s share of the corporate. Similarly, it has also addressed the concerns small business having turnover of upto Rs.2 crores by reducing the presumptive tax from 8% to 6% which is clean 25% concession.
As regards individuals, the middle class who stood in long lines during demonetization is given a sweetener in the form of reduced 5 pc tax rate between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 Lakh. This tax break coupled with interest subvention for housing loan now defined in carpet area as against built up area is a welcome measure. Further, applicability of long term capital gains for immovable properties upon completion of two years itself as against earlier three years is a positive move.
The Budget has done justice to the macro economic criteria by fixing a reduced target for revenue deficit at 2.1% for 2017-18 against 2.3 pc for 2016-17, containing fiscal deficit at 3.2% well within the norm, reducing the current account deficit at about half of previous year, merging railway budget with general budget, doing away with plan and non plan expenditure and targeting a larger and cleaner GDP in the future.
The Budget is inclusive in multiple ways, be it 24 pc increased allocation to agriculture and allied sectors at Rs.1.87 lakh crore thus giving higher push to doubling farm income in 5 years, be it fixing an enhanced limit of Rs.48000 crores for MNREGA coupled with tagging of assets created, be it higher allocation to defence spending, be it highest ever allocation to infrastructure growth both for rail and roadways, be it empowerment of rural youth by skill India, be it empowering by enhanced welfare initiatives for poor and marginalised women, be it over 35 pc higher allocation to Schedule Cast people, be it construction of 1 crore rural houses, be it giving digital push for cost saving and recording of transactions.
Manoj Gupta, Co-Founder Craftsvilla
“There is nothing big bang in this Union Budget. There is very little for startups and e-commerce. Abolition of FIPB would hopefully make FDI easier. Was looking forward for the Government to take more proactive actions on areas like handloom and tourism that has huge potential for India. Would have also loved it if they announced developing handloom parks or heritage parks across the country with better facilities.
Harkirat Singh, MD, Woodland Worldwide
“The overall budget seems to be quiet positive; we appreciate government’s decision to reduce 5% tax for small and medium companies. Also, there are some announcements of new schemes for leather and footwear. Though the outlay is not known for these schemes yet, it certainly will boost its growth and help in creation of jobs. This is certainly a step towards promoting production facilities in India thereby supporting ‘Make in India’campaign. The only deterrent according to me is that there is not much for the manufacturing or retail/textile sector in this budget. There was an expectation that the import duty will be reduced.
Reforms in Labor regulations in leather & textile sector to enhance the ease of manufacture are a welcome step as the consolidation of labor laws and minimization into 4 Codes will only facilitate compliance hassles. Currently we have around 20-labor legislation to be complied with by businesses in India.
Overall the Union Budget 2017 is reformist and growth oriented. The measures outlined in the budget to give boost to the infrastructure will indeed benefit the economy and the retail sector in the long run. The announcement to restrict cash transactions above 3 lakh will further move India towards a ‘cashless society’, which will help facilitate retail trade as well.”
Manu Agarwal, Founder and CEO, Naaptol
“Government has planned to take digitisation of transactions to the grass-root level and believe it is a good step towards a stronger economy.
The convenience of digital payments will instigate the consumers to spend more and I believe it is positive sign for us”.
Pankaj Anand & Anil Arora, Co-Founders, Sabhyata
As tax brackets have been amended the ultimate consumer would be benefited in terms of the tax saving hence increased purchasing capacity, this will provide a boost to Business sector. Carry forward for MAT till 15 years is beneficial for startups in apparel and e-commerce retail sector. There will be a less burden in terms of taxes, which could enhance their growth in the market.
In fact reducing custom duty is a good sign as it shall ease out the taxes paid. As corporate tax has been reduced for firms with less than 50 crores turnover so it looks like a positive scenario for the trade industry.
Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific India
I would like to congratulate the FM for presenting a positive and pro-growth budget this year. The government’s initiatives towards digital payments will benefit retail growth in the long term. Affordable housing has been given a huge impetus with Initiatives like “Housing for all by 2022”, DDT exemption in REIT, increased allocation towards the infrastructure sector including roads and highways and the NHB allocation to affordable Housing Finance Companies. Reduction in time to 2 years for long term capital gains tax benefits will aid the real estate investors as they can book profits by paying a bare minimum income tax at the end of two years only on profits earned from sale of property. This along with other initiatives like impetus towards skill development, Tax regime, jobs creation and will act as a big push towards the government’s make in India and smart city initiatives.
Swati Bhargava, Co-founder, CashKaro.com
Good part about the budget is that it is extremely focused on the core that forms Indian economy: Rural, Agriculture, SME and Middle Class. As a woman entrepreneur I also appreciate the special emphasis has been given on women empowerment in the Budget as the FM has allocated Rs 1.84 lakh crore for women skill development. The budget is focused on propelling the digital economy of the country though benefits to startups could certainly have been more. Concessions to startups have been limited and only startups which are recognized by DIPP will pay tax on profits for three out of seven years, increased from three out of five years. The budget has not offered big tax sop to corporates but has announced reduction of the corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent for those with an annual turnover of up to Rs 50 crore.
It was heartening to see the increased allocation towards public expenditure and building infrastructure in India which now includes affordable housing as it will encourage long term growth. At last GST Council finalized its recommendations but till the time it is implemented no change in excise and service tax rates for now, which could have been considered. FM has recognized the contribution of the salaried class to the Tax Revenues yet I feel did not meet the expectation of Standard Deduction of this class of tax payers. It has only proposed to reduce existing rate of taxation of those with income between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh from 10% to 5%. Overall, I feel it is a mix of a populist and a progressive budget with an emphasis on fiscal prudence.
Arun Bhati, COO & Founder, Orahi
This budget has got some good aspects for startups, fortunately in line with our expectations, extension of profit linked deduction from 3 years to 7 years is a good move. Also tax reduction for companies below Rs 25 crore and carry forwarding losses, if the founder remains involved, are excellent steps. Focus on digital infrastructure and cash less economy is also going to provide impetus to the growth.
Rashi Menda, CEO & Founder, Zapyle:
“Overall the budget looks positive but expected more announcements on startups and women entrepreneurs. While the emphasis was on agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare and education , there has been little said about women. Though demonetization was a bold move taken by the government hopefully as said by Hon’ble FM the effects of demonetization will not spill over to next year. However, we as an e-comm platform have also seen the market reacting positively now after undergoing a sudden downfall post demonetization. Market reviews have also been neutral to positive so far. Also it will be very beneficial for retail and other business as government abolishes FIPB and encourages more than 90% of automated inflow of FDI.”
Nitesh Chandra, Co-Founder, Maddhome.com
On behalf of online industry we welcome budget from our Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, strong efforts have been shown towards the future retail which is going to be online. As we have experienced the demonetisation few months back and the entire country moving towards plastic money.
Digital India is going to help the entire country in a big way, its going to be the future of our country. We have experienced a good growth in our business and more is expected in coming days.
Kapil Hetamsaria, CEO & Co-Founder, Velvetcase.com
The budget is a boon for startups and small scale industries as there are tax benefits for startups for the next 7 years. For jewellery sector, being a cash component segment we can witness a slight shift in the demand as the cash transaction is limited upto 3 Lakhs, this can further hit the jewellery segment for a short span of time. Online jewellery sees a larger number of smaller ticket size transactions upto 1 lakh – and that will only grow post this budget.
SME tax rate reduction to 25% is a great step for companies with turnover of 50 crores and less. Also we were expecting the reduction in the import duty but it remained constant. However, on the whole I find this budget positive, as the new budget emphasizes on the growth of startups and will further widen up the opportunities for young entrepreneur. The growth of startups will motivate the younger generation by rendering massive employment and would also help in bringing out the hidden talents and approach of the youth towards their contribution in growth of the economy.
The budget tabled by the honorable Finance Minister is a populous budget and gives some cheer to the entire nation. The initiatives taken to boost the rural India are commendable. The rural development and spends proposed for agriculture will help the farmers. With these initiatives we can expect increase in agri-produce which in return will have a significant impact on the GDP growth of the country. GJF appreciates the Union Budget 2017-18 and the initiatives to Shift to digital platforms and focus on increase transaction on digital platforms. However, the cash transaction limit upto Rs 3 lakh may affect consumers who still believe in cash. Gold jewellery purchases, being of high value, with majority of the customers based in rural segments may find difficulties. We are hopeful that soon Government will consider increasing the PAN card limit and hope there will be a good reduction in Import Duty of Gold.
Anjani Mandal, CEO & Co-founder, Fortigo Network
The continuing growth and stability in the economy as reflected by the positive macroeconomic indicators will get a further boost with the infusion of capital in infrastructure, boosting MSMEs post-tax profits (owing to the reduced Income Tax) as well as increased liquidity with the consumer for his spends (owing to reduced Income Tax).
As to the Road Transportation industry, with the growth in economy, any facet of infrastructure development or investment by businesses or an increase in consumption, boosts Logistics sector growth.
There is no negative element for the Logistics segment and several positives to directly and indirectly boost the Logistics sector through, (a) higher outlay on Highways; (b) support for MSMEs through a reduced income tax and (c) boosting money in hands of individuals through lower income tax will boost consumption.
In addition to the above support to the overall Logistics segment, three factors are positive news for a start-up like Fortigo Network: (a) getting a wider set of businesses to move into the organized sector; (b) the continued focus on encouraging digital payments and support to infrastructure for build-up of digital payments and (c) GST to be implemented in the current year.
Amit Goel, Founder & CEO, Just Relief
Today’s Budget has definitely brought some cheer to the healthcare sector as this will benefit the common man and to the companies operating in the sector. The finance minister’s budget will widen the accessibility of essential drugs across the country along with revisions in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules. These amendments will ensure availability of medicines at reasonable prices to the common man.
Added to this, the budget will further help in attracting investments in the sector and enable ease of doing business. Setting up of AIIMS at Jharkhand and Gujrat and creating additional 5,000 postgraduate seats per annum for medical education will further benefit the sector as this will increase the number of doctors which will in turn ensure better healthcare facilities for the common man.
Rahul Agarwal, CEO, Organic Harvest
Overall, the Union Budget 2017 is positive for the Indian economy. It is progressive in its outlook as it provides thrust to the start-up eco-system of the country, by introducing initiatives like reducing the income tax for startups with a turnover of up to Rs.50 crores to 25% from the present 30%.
Further, in a major push to digitization and cashless economy, the union budget has limited cash transactions up to Rs 3 lakhs only. This should help in curbing the parallel black economy to a large extent. We are also looking forward to the GST being implemented this year which is expected to eventually give a boost to the revenue of not just startups, but also other prominent industries.
Overall the budget is pro-entrepreneurs which will help create jobs in India, hire skilled talent at low cost and also improve industry output.
Two specific highlights of the budget which particularly enthuse me are :
- Firstly the easing of tax for India based funds and FDI/FIPB changes- this will give a big boost to early stage startups.
- Secondly, the tax exemption for startups, now that’s a big support to the Indian startups
Aji Nair – Chief Operating Officer, F&B Division, Mirah Hospitality
Budget 2017 proposes to lay a brighter road for the hospitality segment with the announcement of the Incredible India-2 campaign. We welcome this move as it will enable the hospitality and tourism sectors collectively serve the increased inflow of tourists.
The announcement of setting up 5 special tourism zones will also attract more traffic. These special tourism zones would be created as Special Purpose Vehicle (SPVs) in connection with the state government which again is a positive move for the industry and indicates a high potential of increase in job opportunities.
Extending tax holidays for start-ups upto 3 years of the first seven years will attract more entrepreneurs to the hospitality sector. Overall, the budget would bring back the lost sheen to the segment.
Pankaj Munjal, Chairman & MD, Hero Cycles
While there has not been any major big bang announcement in the Budget 2017, there have been some progressive small steps.
Cutting down the Income Tax rate to 5 pc for individuals having income between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh puts more money into the hands of salary earning people at the lowest rung of the income tax bracket. This is a welcome step. So is the slashing of corporate tax on small and medium scale companies, which will serve to strengthen this sector. The announcement to further liberalize the FDI policy is also an important step, and will serve as a boost to the investment-hungry Indian economy.
From the rural perspective, the step of increasing the allocation under MNREGA also comes as a good news. The Finance Minister’s announcement of more impending steps to benefit farmers promises to help revive demand in the rural economy”.
Deepak Chiripal, CEO, Nandan Denim Ltd
An inclusive Budget with a clear focus on agriculture, infrastructure, digitization and employment generation.
Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of the industry and generate the maximum employment. Tax cut for the MSMEs with an annual turnover of Rs 50 crore is a welcome gesture and will drive the growth engine as most of India’s companies will get this benefit of 5% tax reduction which will be a relief for them.
Labour reforms was much sought demand and budget announcement will definitely help foster a conducive labour environment leading to harmonious labour relations which will further lead to higher productivity.
Textile industry is one of the largest employers in India and contributes about 14% to industrial production, 4% to the GDP and gives direct employment to around 45 million workforces.
Expanding tax net by increasing tax limit slab up to Rs 5 lakh will give more money into low-medium income groups. This move will give more money into hands of such people which will trigger more demand in markets. After short term sluggish demand due to demonetization, this will surely help to boost the market sentiments.
Considering the benefits provided to the poor including affordable housing, it is a good budget for the poverty stricken as it mainly focuses on the rural economy.
Government has increased allocation to Prime Minister Employment Generation Scheme by 3 times which will definitely help to achieve employment generation targets. Abolition of FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) to ease flow of FDI is a good move which will reap good benefits as it will speed up the process.
Ravi Saxena, Managing Director, Wonderchef Home Appliances
The Government has put the money where the mouth is. It has taken a huge step towards cleaning up of political funding, has extended the scope of affordable housing for the poor, given massive tax relief to not only entry-level income individual tax payers but also to small and medium enterprises. There are provisions for massive infrastructure investments targeted at employment generation. I am confident that this budget will boost consumer confidence and kick-start the economy that got sluggish over the last three months due to the bold step of demonetization.
Cleaning up the political funding and reducing it to INR 2000from the earlier 20,000 is indeed a smart move. Some may argue that the scope for untraceable funding still remains, but all the same it would be unfair to completely exclude small-scale contributors from this process. Reduction of personal income tax rate for income up to 5 lacs is a bold and expensive step, but would hopefully increase compliance dramatically, thus paving the way to 10% of the population paying taxes over the next 10 years, up from a mere 3% as of now. Reduction in tax rate of SME’s would also increase compliance hopefully. India is now increasingly becoming digitally compliant. Our way of shopping, eating, travelling and transacting is becoming digital. A less-cash society would also expand the tax-net to small traders and outlets, which otherwise escaped the net. The government has played its card. Now it is up to the citizens of this country to raise their hand and comply with the lowered tax rates and favourable norms, thereby making the country stronger and resilient.
Affordable Housing norms have been eased which would definitely boost construction and real estate industry. Everyone in India deserves a proper roof above the head and it is a significant step in that direction. Railway budgets and Defence allocation pass muster.Agriculture and farm sector get the desired support.It is also true that there are no big bang reforms. But after seeing some reckless big bangs over the last one week in a country far west, one feels almost relieved that the way to reforms in India is more sure and steady yet relentless. This is what makes India a stable economy while the world may be crumbling around us. We saw that in the 2008 crisis. We would see that again.