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Union Budget 2019-20: Reactions from Industry Experts

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the proposals while presenting the budget for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020 to parliament, the first since the Hindu nationalist-led government was re-elected in a vote in April and May.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government on Friday proposed giving foreign investors a bigger role in India's giant insurance and aviation sectors to help reverse weakening growth and investment that threatens to take the shine off its recent landslide election victory.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the proposals while presenting the budget for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, to parliament, the first since the Hindu nationalist-led government was re-elected in a vote in April and May.

Garima Kapoor, Economist, And Vice-President, Elara Capital, Mumbai

"The budget strikes a reasonable balance between addressing the objective of inclusivity and laying the path for a $5-trillion economy by focusing on infrastructure spending, incentivising affordable housing, providing growth capital for PSU banks and signalling support for sound NBFCs."

"Additional areas of spending have been created not at the cost of a higher fiscal deficit. The fiscal deficit has been reduced by 10 bps to 3.3% in FY20, which is heartening."

Jagannadham Thunuguntla, Sr. VP & Head Of Research (Wealth), Centrum Broking Limited, Mumbai

"...While we need to await SEBI regulations regarding how much time will be given to these companies to meet with minimum public shareholding norms, the overhang of this requirement of off-loading of promoter shareholding can have a significant impact on the markets and the specific stocks. The regulator needs to provide sufficient time to meet this requirement so as to not over-flood the markets with stake sales by promoters."


Swetank Shekhar, Founder & CSO, E3 Retail
"In the first budget of second term of the new government, it has made it easy for FII and FDI to invest more funds in the country by lowering their risk. Retail sector which contributes significantly to the growth impetus has been given a fillip with the easing of local sourcing norms for single brand retailers; enabling the MSMEs; easing Angel Tax for start-ups; and addressing the need to fill the skill gap that exists in areas like AI, Big Data, Robotics  and others. Young India is going to be a major supplier of skilled manpower to the world, and more importantly to an  merging technology-savvy country like India, and hence arming the youth with new age skills will boost its probability of achieving its goal to take the country from the current 3 trillion economy (almost) to a 5 trillion economy. Incentives for faster adoption of EVs is one of the heartening aspects of the budget, for a country battling with rising air pollution and health concerns, which are likely to emerge as major cause of loss of manpower in the coming future."

Anagha Deodhar, Economist, ICICI Securities, Mumbai
"Agriculture sector is a major employment generator in the country and is currently reeling under stress. Hence, Sitharaman's focus on agriculture and the rural sector is a welcome step."

"Moreover, the proposals to make India an electric car manufacturing hub, a large investment in quality higher education, focus on building infrastructure, efforts to widen tax net, incentives for start-ups, etc. are big positives. She also proposed to provide 700 billion rupees for PSU bank recapitalisation and raised the disinvestment target to 1.05 trillion rupees, which will be taken positively by the market."

"On the downside, the proposal to increase minimum public shareholding in listed companies to 35% could negatively impact some companies. If budgets in the coming years keep focusing on the right areas, the target of making India a $5-trillion economy in the next 5 years looks achievable."

"There was a widespread expectation of a stimulus to combat the current slowdown. The budget did not announce any stimulus. On the contrary, (it) raised some of the taxes. Also, the fiscal deficit target for FY20 was revised down to 3.3%, which is surprising."

Applauding the Government's budget, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO & MD, Viacom18 and Chairman, National Committee on Media & Entertainment, CII said:
"My congratulations to Hon’ble Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her maiden budget – one that is equitable, inclusive and promises to leave more in the hands of the average Indian thereby providing an impetus to the consumer economy. Budget 2019 has laid down a roadmap for the $5 trillion goal of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji. Key macro measures on the financial sector with interoperability of accounts across PSU banks, regulatory powers to RBI on NBFCs and bringing HFCs under it, and focus on infrastructure spending will augur well for the economy in the long run. A clear roadmap on direct taxation in the future will be very helpful.”

Rajiv Singh, CEO, Stock Broking, Karvy, Hyderabad
"The nominal GDP growth assumption is realistic and can be achieved by giving a boost to infrastructure. The economy has enough strength to achieve this growth rate, however, the risk to this forecast would be from a financial market turmoil or an increase in commodity prices like oil which may result in a significant depreciation of the rupee."

"The increase in public shareholding from 25% to 35% is a good step for the deepening of capital markets. It also means that many companies will need to increase their public shareholding, mostly by selling of promoter stake or additional equity issuance. The requirement to meet 35% would result in companies needing to offer approximately 1 trillion rupees to the public."

"The additional supply of equity should keep a lid on valuations, but in the longer term, (it) should help in getting more retail money in equity markets."

Vivek Gupta, Partner And National Head – M&A/ PE TAX, KPMG, New Delhi
"The move to increase minimum public shareholding for listed companies from 25% to 35% must be implemented carefully. Timing, applicability, etc (need) to be closely evaluated. We don't want this to be another 'forced sale'. (This is a) good opportunity for institutional capital and funds."

Anil Talreja, Partner, Deloitte India, Mumbai
"The proposed announcement to increase the minimum shareholding threshold from 25% to 35% is a move to increase public participation in listed entities, thereby fortifying the fundamentals of governance."

"One would need to evaluate once the fine print is available (as the FM mentioned that SEBI will be issuing the requisite circulars) as there would be some clarifications expected, including on grandfathering of existing situations, a movement to the desired threshold."

Suvodeep Rakshit, Senior Economist, Kotak Institutional Equities, Mumbai
"The government has the primary focus on infrastructure building. However, we need to see what the cost and budgeting of the same will be."

Deepak Jasani, Head Of Retail Research, HDFC Securities, Mumbai
"The budget is not very different from the interim budget even as market participants await fiscal deficit proposals."

"Trade will be fluctuating. Until the fiscal deficit proposals are heard, one should not jump to conclusions."

Dr. Yajulu Medury, Director, Mahindra Ecole Centrale
“We welcome the budget and look forward to the continued focus on ensuring that we reap the demographic dividend. The FM has rightly focused on the youth of the country and education is the tool for development. The commitment to bringing in the new education policy and make sweeping changes in how education is imparted with the focus on learning outcomes will play a big role in bettering the education level. The focus on research and innovation and the setting up of a National Research Foundation with access to research funds from all Government schemes will help fund and promote research in the country. Bringing in legislation for finally setting up the Higher Education Commission of India is a step in the right direction. With all the sweeping changes in the education system, I will not be surprised to see the roaring success of the proposed Study in India programme.”

Dinesh Chhabra, CEO, Usha International
“We welcome the union budget which will boost the country’s development in the coming years, particularly in rural markets. With the economy growing and a rise in disposable income, this news ahead of the festive season will certainly bring cheer to all stakeholders in the consumer durable sector – companies, partners, and customers – and we are optimistic that this will lead to a spur in the growth in the consumer durables category. We also welcome and are hopeful that the announcement of pension benefits to 3 crore shop owners under the new Pradhan Mantri Karamyogi Mandhan Scheme will bring some relief to the small retailers.”

Vinay Sah, MD & CEO, LIC Housing Finance
“We see this as a highly growth-oriented Budget where the Government has laid specific emphasis on infrastructure development. As far as housing is concerned, we are extremely happy to note the additional Rs 1.5 lac deduction on interest on home loans  – this will certainly trigger a strong demand from end-users in the Affordable category. The renewed emphasis on PMAY (Urban) is also encouraging.  A very important step has been in the area of Rental Housing where there has not been much progress in the country till now and which has a strong potential especially in Urban areas. The move to bring regulation of HFCs under RBI will ensure consistency in the regulatory environment and a level playing field for both Banks & HFCs in the area of housing. We are also encouraged that the Govt. will be taking steps to deepen the Corporate Bond market – which will ease the access to raise funds especially long-term funds. Also, the partial guarantee on securitised papers of good NBFCs will generate liquidity to the sector.”

Parveen Kharb, CEO and Co-Founder, 22KYMCO
“The budget announced by the Finance Minister for 2019-20 will catalyse India’s journey to electrification and will be beneficial for both, the e-mobility industry as well as consumers who are looking to make the shift to electric vehicles. The budget has a strong synergy with the FAME – II scheme and the announcement will generate positive sentiment. Lowering GST rates on electric vehicles to 5% will make EVs more attractive to the buyer in the future. In addition, incentives on income tax will also increase the momentum for the sector. We welcome the new budget and trust that this will encourage faster adoption of e-mobility in India.”

Dr. Karthik Nagendra, Founder & CEO, ThoughtStarters and Co-Founder, Pink Ladder
"Mandating business payments to be done online and levy TDS of 2% on cash withdrawal exceeding Rs 1 crore in a year from a bank account is bad idea as it will further boost the circulation of cash with businesses not even bringing in that money into the bank accounts.. It will work against their idea of reducing cash payment..."

"The Modi 2.0 budget is a big let down for small and medium enterprises. Various measures proposed in the economic survey don't find any place in the budget. Companies that had taken major hit due to demonetisation and GST were hoping for some lifelines to be offered in this budget, especially when the govt had a majority mandate and no opposition. Some will continue to suffer and this is no good news for employment opportunities in the country."

Ashutosh Harbola, CEO & Co-founder, Buzzoka
"The budget looks to be a Truly Digital one in nature and strong steps are seen for the upcoming fiscal year. From new channels to be started under the Doordarshan bouquet to provide a platform for startups to disseminate information in the industry to Bharat Net which is targeting internet connectivity in local bodies in every panchayat in the country are all welcome steps. 

Also, training of 10 million in industry-relevant skills like AI, IoT, and Big Data will help address the severe skill-shortage of technology and IT. We are really optimistic that the digital path taken by the government is surely matching the $3 Trillion vision."

Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO- Housing.com, PropTiger.com, Makaan.com, and Fastfox.com
“The standout announcement in Union Budget 2019, for the real estate sector, was the additional deduction of Rs 1.5 lakhs for those seeking home loans for affordable housing projects, which will be allowed till March 31, 2020. The FM mentioned that this takes the deduction up to Rs 3.5 lakhs cumulatively and translates into a gain of Rs 7 lakhs, during a 15-year loan repayment tenure. This boost on the demand side was clearly needed considering that many home buyers have turned fence-sitters, awaiting such tax sops or correction in prices. On the supply side, over 81 lakh houses have been sanctioned, out of which construction has been completed for 26 lakh houses under the PMAY Urban scheme and this too, shall continue to boost the market for affordable homes.

While it may seem like that there haven’t been any direct announcements to benefit the sector, the real story lies in the fine print. All the initiatives spoken of, to improve road, suburban railways, and Metro connectivity; create a robust water management system; work on the Ease of Living; invest Rs 100 lakh crores in infrastructure over the next 5 years, will create more liveable cities and encourage people to invest in projects, even in peripheral areas and not overcrowd the CBDs and SBDs. On the regulatory side, we see the move to hand over regulation of housing finance companies to RBI, as a positive one. Reduction in NPAs of commercial banks by over Rs 1 lakh crores over the last year, is an encouraging sign for the sector that has been hit hard by the funding crisis. Another major area that has been addressed is Rental Housing – we look forward to the Model Tenancy Law that has been promised, to do away with the current archaic laws. The government’s clear focus on continuing to attract global investors into various sectors bodes well for the economy at large.

We are also very enthused about the government’s vision to train 10 million youth to take up industry oriented training and acquire various skillsets in AI, big data, VR, 3-D printing, etc. For a sector that has been grappling with the lack of a trained workforce, the importance of a skilled, employable workforce, can’t be emphasised enough.”

Vineet Chaturvedi, Co-Founder, Edureka
"This union budget has given due importance to skilling and education which is a welcome move in today's skill-driven industry. The expansion of Skill India to include AI, IoT, and other futuristic technologies hits the nail on the head and the establishment of the National Research Foundation is a major boost towards building India's technical competence. Additional allocation of budget to Bharatnet will also have a deep impact on skilling rural India as it has the potential to open up online learning to students and professionals from remote villages. All in all, I am happy that Education has received 10% higher allocation in this budget which will help schools and higher education institutions in the country invest in catching up with industry requirements."
 
Vamsi Krishna, CEO & Co-Founder, Vedantu
“Digitization has given a major boost to the robust education system in India - the second largest market for e-learning after the US. Therefore, a National Education Policy to bring India’s higher education system on par with global standards will be a big leap towards bolstering the e-learning market. With the resultant demand in e-learning, Vedantu will leverage this opportunity towards improving learning outcomes for students hailing from even the remotest part of the country, this will be possible by using the pillars of technology such as AI & ML. The government’s plan to re-energize the education sector is a positive step to boost the morale of young learners. On the back of these emerging technologies such as AI & ML will help in spreading education through EdTech platform across the country. Further, the proposition to launch ‘Study in India’ that will position India as a prime destination for higher education amongst students aboard, will open doors and present opportunities for educators and e-learning sector as a whole.”
 
Rishabh Chokhani, CEO & Founder, Naturevibe Botanicals
"We welcome the government's initiative for farmers which aims at forming 10,000 new Farmer Producers Company. Adhering to government's continuous efforts to double the farmer's income by 2022, we at Naturevibe Botanicals are also working towards it at an organizational level, by offering farmers the required training and support needed for their anticipated growth."

Samarth Setia, CEO & Co-Founder, Mr. Milkman
"A great move by the government on the Angel Tax. Startups can now focus on growth and innovation without having to worry about being dragged into such complications. For a very long period, there has been a huge gap between the skill set required by the Industry and what was being provided through the colleges of our country. It was a much-needed push which the government is now taking, to improve skills of youth in technology areas like AI and Big Data."

Pankaj Muthe, Program Manager, Academic Program, APAC, Qlik
“The government’s continued push to improve the quality of higher education in India is extremely commendable. The allocation of INR 400 crore to create a world-class higher education ecosystem in the country will definitely improve the quality of talent that joins the workforce. The focus on the amplification of skills in new-age tech domains such as AI, IoT, Big Data, and Robotics will also help to address the severe skills shortage that businesses across India are facing at present, apart from opening newer avenues of career growth for Indian professionals. The government should also make stronger efforts to incorporate data literacy training at the grassroots level and incentivise organisations to launch data literacy training initiatives for their employees. Doing so will equip current and future Indian professionals with the required knowledge and competencies to navigate the data-driven world of tomorrow.”

Dharmesh Kant, Head - Retail Research, IndiaNivesh Securities Limited
“The government's budget is all about integration, ease of doing business, ease of raising capital, and government-driven infra-push. These will serve as the directional road map to be chartered in the next few years. The government has announced big bang structural reforms at the macro level - the opening of the financial sector, aviation, FDI in retail, raising of debt money by NBFC’s through FDI route. The government has made sure that the power reforms will continue, the push on infra will be dedicated to the freight corridor and waterways. To further improve the condition of the industries, the overhaul and reform of the rental laws will be carried out, the payment window for MSME through a platform for government contracts will be put in place. There will likely be a boost to the FPI flows by creating an investor-friendly environment. A new window will be opened on electronic fundraising platform for social organizations like NGO’s through equity capital. The proposals are primarily focused on ease of raising foreign capital for various investment opportunities."


Abhishek Bansal, Founder, and CEO, Shadowfax
"As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman promised, the new budget proposal surely gives us hope for a new and better India. The budget will foster advanced technology leading to improved last mile delivery and will continue to support the growth of the logistics industry and e-commerce. Eradication of Angel tax has assured that the funds raised by starts ups would not be required scrutiny by the tax department. Also, Special measures should be taken by the tax department for pending scrutiny of Startups. Introduction of exclusive start-ups TV programs on Doordarshan is a big boost to start-ups industry and investors. Taking another remarkable step towards the globalization of industries, FM has announced an annual global meet with National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) as the anchor. This meet will provide a collaborative platform to industrialists, corporate leaders, corporate sovereign and venture funds and will accelerate the economic growth. It seems like the Modi Government has few more benefits for e-commerce ecosystem down their sleeves."

Vinay Singhal, Co-Founder & CEO - WittyFeed
"We are welcoming the new initiative wherein the startups and investors filing returns will not be subject to the scrutiny for angel tax. The Angel Tax has emerged as one of the key issues faced by the Indian startup ecosystem. But, a lot more regarding the same needs to be addressed by the Government to boost angel investments in the country. The Minister also stated that special administrative arrangements will be made by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for pending assessments of startups and redressal of their grievances. This vital step will help startups ecosystems of the nation. In the Union Budget 2019, finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced that govt will start an exclusive television program for start-ups and as a platform for promoting startups, discussing their growth as well as funding and tax planning. This program will be run by startups themselves which will help the new and emerging entrepreneurs of tire 2 and tier 3 cities of our country.
 
Through this budget, the government has more focused on 'The Bharat' to build 80 livelihood incubators, 20 tech incubators to help create 75,000 skilled entrepreneurs in agriculture and rural industry. Hence, this government has taken a few good steps for the growth of startups but more needs to be done to take this ecosystem for the next level."

Vinay Agrrawal, Founder & CEO - Hubbler
"The country’s growing start-up ecosystem was eagerly looking forward to having a special spotlight with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2019. It is definitely a measure taken in the right direction as the Minister determined on positioning the economy for future sustainable growth of the start-up. The abolishment of angel tax, one of the key concerns of Startup, is a great step taken by the government to boost up the economy. Furthermore, the introduction of the e-verification mechanism will exempt start-ups from any kind of tax scrutiny. Also, the minister stated that special administrative arrangements by CBDT for all the pending assessments of start-ups to rectify their problems will boost the start-up's ecosystem of the country.

The government’s efforts to improve the skill of youth with innovation like AI, IoT, and Robotics, etc is very commendable. This will reduce the skill shortage among the workforce especially by the technology and IT companies. We really hope the proposed initiative of starting a TV program in DD for start-ups will bring in a positive change in the start-up sector. The Union Budget 2019, announced today has done an admirable job in addressing the overall priorities of the Indian economy." 

Satyen Kothari, Founder & CEO, Cube Wealth
1. Angel tax: Excellent news to hear the govt taking this matter seriously. We are on Day 1 of the startup boom in India and the govt should nurture this industry careful to ensure entrepreneurs and angel investors are encouraged instead of being fearful.
 
2. Cube Wealth is also excited to hear about the huge capital commitment to infrastructure projects since this will allow retail investors to participate in this growth industry by making smart investments. Additionally, the push to make govt securities earning 8% be widely available as investment instruments will also benefit investors as a stable option will be freely available for short term investments.

Vinod Subramanian, CEO, Logo Infosoft
"It's a strong bottom end of pyramid budget. The value will be visible to rural India and SMEs in quality of life, and cost of doing business,  continuing focus on digital India and construction, especially affordable housing. Middle and top end will see continuity and nothing significant."
 
"Very supportive to SMEs, further smoothening the processes for credit and operational efficiencies. The move to eInvoices is going to be the most impactful next step in GST. eInvoices will substantially reduce the tax compliance burden for SMEs. Increasing the corporate tax slab to 400 Crore, an angel tax removal are icings on the cake.
 
The push for digital payments and waiver of all merchant fee is a superb move. It underlines the focus on transparency and reduces the cost of doing business".

Kausshal Dugarr, Founder and CEO of Teabox
"Government keeping "Gaon, Garib and Kisan" at the center of everything and since we deal with agriculture produce tea, which is a labor-intensive industry and one of the biggest employment generators in our country, such an approach will go a long way in helping the huge labor force working in the tea plantations based in remote locations across the country. Multiple initiatives have been proposed in this budget to double the farmers income through various initiatives such as the creation of 10,000 new Farmer Producer organizations to ensure economies of scale for farmers over the next 5 years, innovative pilots of “Zero Budget Farming” to be replicated across the country for doubling farmers income, dairying through co-operatives to be encouraged by creating infrastructure for milk procurement, processing, and marketing. Such initiatives, if implemented will lead to a strengthening of the rural economy which in turn, will result in the overall growth of the country.

Some encouraging points of the new budget are encouraging proposals for startups - The finance minister proposed easing angel tax for startups. This coupled with a vibrant “Stand Up India” scheme will provide a boost to the start-up ecosystem in India. Further, start-ups won’t require scrutiny from Income Tax department with a 2% interest subvention for GST-registered MSME on fresh or incremental loans. There is a proposal for a dedicated television channel for start-ups. New payment platform for MSMEs is to be created with a plan to extend pension benefit to retail traders with annual turnover less than Rs 1.5 crore. 

Overall it is a non-populist holistic budget keeping '5 Trillion Dollar Economy in next 5 years' in mind."

Aditi Balbir, Founder, And CEO, V Resorts
On Hospitality and Tourism Industry
“It can be a game-changer for the Indian economy and society in the coming years. We are expecting more schemes and policies for travel and tourism sector. The attention of our honourable Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on policies pertaining to better connectivity to different tourist destinations, enhanced facilities, and experiences for the tourists will certainly help our tourism industry. The focus should also be given to the gap in the skilled workforce which can be fulfilled by starting skill development programs.

The development of 17 iconic tourist sites as world-class tourist centres by the government comes as great news for the hospitality and tourism sector. This will not only attract more tourists but also generate better job opportunities. The budget also laid emphasis on the promotion of the rich tribal heritage of India and its culture. Steps were taken to ensure that it goes beyond our own borders will encourage tribal arts, crafts, and fashion on a global platform. This might put us on the world map and generate revenue for the tribal sections of our society.”  

On Women Entrepreneurs
“With the developing socio-economic health of the nation, we are seeing the benefit that is being passed to the softer side as well. As per our Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, rural India has seen an exponential curve w.r.t. the employment rate in rural areas since the 2017-18. A great scheme for women entrepreneurs, "Naari to Narayani" has been introduced by the government for the socio-economic growth on all levels. I strongly believe that this budget holds a promising future for the women of India. Moreover, under the Mudra Scheme, women will get a loan benefit of 1 lac for their entrepreneurial aspirations. This is an excellent initiative which will bring out more women leaders in the coming future.

Our government is aware of the need and demands of women-led initiatives that will certainly help in generating more opportunities for the women entrepreneurs of tomorrow. This will also lead to an increase in participation of women across all sectors, not just tourism and hospitality.

This #BudgetForNewIndia looks promising as it will offer equal rights and opportunities to women. I am excited about it and believe that it will empower more women entrepreneurs to set off on their entrepreneurial journeys and achieve their dreams.”  

Pankaj Mohindroo, Chairman, India Cellular And Electronics Association
"Single brand retail adds to our economy and does not in any way upset the equilibrium of organic retail. By its core, character single brand retail promotes the brand, enhances retailing standards, keeps the sanctity of price which does not exert predatory pressure on our small retailers intact it grows the market by creating additional demand for small retailers where value-conscious customers fall back on!"

Deepak Maheshwari, Director of Government Affairs, India 

"Within just four years since its launch, the impact of the Prime Minister Modi’s visionary program Digital India is visible everywhere, from accelerated growth in digital payments to increasing simplification of tax returns. No wonder, it is one of the ten pillars for realizing his vision of India’s evolution and development over the next decade.

Accordingly, Union Budget 2019 highlights the crucial role of interoperable and digitally enabled platforms and grids from energy and taxation to highways. In addition, the focus on fostering and supporting technological innovation is loud and clear whether one looks at Artificial Intelligence and Robotics or 3D printing and Virtual Reality.

However, if not protected well against vulnerabilities and malicious actors, crippling of digital systems or data breaches can have a far-reaching and devastating impact, especially in critical information infrastructure sectors. Hence, the government must set aside ten percent of technology budgets exclusively towards cybersecurity. In addition, cyber safety must become part and parcel of the Digital Literacy and Financial Inclusion initiatives."

Ms. Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO, Portea Medical   

"It is heartening to see the key issues faced by startups in the country being addressed in the Union Budget 2019. The budget is definitely pro-entrepreneurship and provides clarity and relief in respect to the arbitrary Angel Tax that has been stalling startup growth in the country over the past few years. Start-ups no longer need to be worried about coming under the scrutiny of the Income Tax Department as long as there is full disclosure of the identity of the investor and source of income which is fair and straight forward. The exemption of capital gains from the sale of residential property for investment in start-ups until FY 21 is a welcome move. The new dedicated start-up channel to be operated by the Doordarshan Group will encourage people in the remotest parts of the country to take the path the entrepreneurship and will help SME's strengthen their operations. The relaxation of conditions for carry-forwarding and setting off company losses will also boost the ecosystem. 

The government has also given due acknowledgment and assured support to women-led initiatives which will be crucial to leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs. The dedicated SME portal facilitating online submission and payment of bills will improve the ease of doing business in India.

Healthcare and increasing spending in this sector are two crucial areas that were completely left unaddressed although they are the need of the hour. It is a known fact that healthcare spending in India is currently a dismal 2.2% Despite Ayushman Bharat figuring in the government’s ten-point agenda, it was disheartening to see the lack of any solid policies in the healthcare sector. We hoped to see some action points on areas such as home care, affordable and accessible care, as well as other aspects pertaining to the sector."

Mr. Ashwin Venkatraman, Chief Operating Officer, Furlenco 

"Through the Union Budget 2019, the government has put forth several conducive policies for the start-up and SME sectors. One of the biggest takeaways has been the decision to exempt those companies that file their requisite returns from the ambit of the Angel Tax. The elimination of Income Tax scrutiny on the funds raised by start-ups and e-KYC of foreign investors is also likely to make a positive impact on the funding scene in India. Another welcome move is the emphasis on skill development of artisans as well as training the future entrepreneurs in advanced technologies. Being an e-commerce portal, Furlenco is glad to see the government doing away with the customer as well as vendor side of transaction fees on digital payments. It is also encouraging to see local sourcing norms being eased for FDI in the single-brand retail sector. The additional 1 rupee per liter added to the cost of fuels like diesel and petrol will make logistics costlier for us, but other than that, it is a positive budget from the government. However, we have to go through the fine print and understand the deeper implications of the budget."

Mr. Sanjay Lakhotia, Co-Founder, Noble House Consulting Pte 

"The union budget 2019 speaks volumes about the government’s push for structural reforms and support for the start-up and SME sectors. The emphasis has been on skill development and ease of funding and business for the sector. The government’s plan to integrate cutting edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Virtual Reality, Animation, 3-D Printing, and Robotics as skills to be trained under the PMKY is a far-reaching step. It will help in making Indian entrepreneurs capable of competing at a global level. India's stringent labor laws are one of the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs setting up shop. It is, therefore, encouraging that the government is pushing for streamlining multiple labor laws into a set of four labor codes.

From a business perspective, the elimination of IT scrutiny on funds raised by start-ups and the provision of doing away of Angel Tax compliance for companies that have been timely filing all their necessary returns is going to reduce a lot of burdens. The e-KYC of foreign investors will make it easier to infuse funds from overseas investors into Indian start-ups. As was rightly indicated, India Inc. is India’s primary job and wealth creator. In this light, there is a need to bring in conducive policies for the growing segment of gig workers in India. We hope to see some efforts in this direction going forward."

Ms. Saroja Yeramilli, CEO & Founder, Melorra

"From a start-up sector perspective, the budget has been encouraging. The plan to set up 80 business incubators for livelihood and 20 for technology-based skill development with an aim to develop 75,000 skilled new entrepreneurs is a step in the right direction. We are happy to see the greater emphasis being accorded to training people on advanced technologies such as AI, Big Data, 3-D Printing, and VR under the PMKY. The e-verification for foreign investors and freedom from IT scrutiny on funds generated by start-ups will also be a big boost. It is a welcome move that the government has decided to do away with the scrutiny on Angel Tax Valuation. The emphasis on digital payments and waiver of fees on such transactions will help online retailers. Another proposal that should be given due consideration is that of merging all the existing labor laws and consolidating them into “four codes”. This will ensure smooth and simple compliance and help start-ups in a big way. However, the increase in duty on gold import from 10% to 12.5% will impact jewellery e-retailers like us and we hope that this is reconsidered. Despite certain things still left unaddressed, the budget is overall an encouraging one for the Indian start-up ecosystem." 

Anupam Pahuja, Managing Director, PayPal India 

"The budget provides a blueprint for the Prime Minister’s vision of a USD 5 trillion economy, with a focus on ease of doing business for MSME’s and ease of living for citizens. The Budget emphasizes on enabling growth for traditional industries and artisan while offering them business and technology incubation facilities, which is commendable."


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