The Union Budget 2021-22, will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2021.
Here are some quotes from leading Industrialists, Market experts, and Startup Founders putting across their expectations from Union Budget 2021:
Tushar Aggarwal, Founder Partner, Tattvam Advisors:
The lack of guidelines on the implementation of anti-profiteering provisions and interference of the authorities in price determination has become a challenge for the industry. There is a high need to abolish these anti-profiteering provisions and the market forces should be let to determine the prices.
To boost the hard-hit sectors like tours and travel, hospitality, etc. GST rate should be decreased until normalcy is achieved. Moreover, to better the cash flows of businesses especially the MSME and real estate sector, relaxation for payment of GST on a receipt basis would be a welcome step.
Several taxpayer-friendly amendments like GST relief in case of bad debts and relaxation in the ineligible list of input tax credit are much needed by the industry during the ongoing Covid times.
Pitam Goel, Founder Partner, VPTP & Co:
The government’s measures to curb the pandemic has critically drained its finances in 2020. A Covid cess is expected to be levied on high-income individuals. A definitive decision whether this levy will be in the form of cess or surcharge will be taken closer to the budget date. Though no big-ticket reforms are likely to happen this year but it is expected that the govt may introduce minor tweaks to help the tax-payer.
Higher deduction in taxable income can be expected on account of increased health expenses during the pandemic. Some relief in the form of tax benefit under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act is expected.
It is also anticipated the government might increase the Long term capital gain on the sale of shares and equity-oriented mutual funds. Currently, MSMEs receive funding assistance under the Credit Guarantee Fund for Micro and SmalI Enterprise Scheme of the central government wherein they receive a collateral-free credit. Several MSME bodies are expecting that the collateral-free loan limit should be enhanced by the government to 5Cr. for micro-units, Rs. 15 Cr. for small businesses, and 35 Cr. for medium businesses. Also, a tax incentive to boost the adoption of technology in the MSME sector is much anticipated.
Deepak Gupta, Founding Partner, WEH Ventures:
“One area which has implications for growth and job creation is the ease of doing business (“EODB”). Within that India lags substantially relative to most in the area of enforcement of contracts- there are many elements to resolving this issue- from accelerated recruitment of judges to improvement of arbitration processes and others.
We hope that action can be taken on this front in short order with specific pronouncements in the budget and follow-up from thereon.
Other things in EODB can also be pursued- e.g the websites of government agencies that deal with the public tend to have downtimes (sometimes at peak filing season)- an impetus on measuring the user experience and uptime and targeting improvement could perhaps save time and give us a leg-up in EODB.”
Pronam Chatterjee CEO, BluePi Consulting Pvt. Ltd:
“Retail industry came to a virtual standstill during the pandemic and was one of the worst-hit sectors. The cascading effects impacted the entire value chain that serves the industry.
The festive season has shown signs of recovery with major retailers recuperating to around 90% of pre-covid sales. But the recovery is still nascent and not strong enough to carry on without support. A few things that we expect from the budget are measures to improve the disposable income in the short term, by reducing the tax burden and thereby spurring demand. The supply side of the value chain also needs to be supported by easing retailers’ access to capital.
Ease of doing business and access to capital should be the focus area for the retail sector in this budget. MSME does not cover the retail trading that constitutes a bulk of retailers; if they are not manufacturing. On the other hand, the garment manufacturers are considered MSME, but without a special package that assists them with working capital, they would also be left high and dry. So we expect the government to broaden the MSME umbrella and announce special packaged for retailers under MSME so that they can tide over these challenging times.”
Gaurav Shinh, Founder and CEO at DAAS Labs:
“The government has started realizing the importance of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and has even called Data as the new oil in the previous Budget 2020. According to a recent NASSCOM report, Deep-tech and new start-up hubs will continue to grow at 40-45% CAGR. It also stated that investments are expected to return to 2019 levels, after seeing a dip in 2020 (if not exceed in 2021).
The pandemic has been a huge boost to Edtech, AgriTech, FinTech, HRtech, and HealthTech startups. So, we expect to see decisions to fuel the growth of cloud data storage, big data, and AI technologies in several domains. The work from home trend due to the pandemic has seen a lot of investment being made in Tier II and Tier III cities and the trend is supposed to continue. Reforms are expected to support and enable these start-ups as they can have a huge long-term impact.”
Gaurav Mehta, Founder & CEO, Jaipur Watch Company:
“As an entrepreneur, I hope this year’s Budget prioritizes growth-oriented measures and includes incentives for homegrown brands. From a watch industry perspective, considering the hit that we’ve all taken following the pandemic, tax concessions, reduction in GST rates encouraging consumers to spend more is of utmost priority at the moment.
Especially since the demand for bespoke gold watches are at an all-time low, what with gold prices soaring, we are looking forward to the budget addressing the issues of high Import/Customs duties on gold and thus helping bring stability to the market. Also, we are hoping government comes up with a special mark for “Made in India” products to distinguish them from Imported products”
Mr. Anand Shukla, Managing Director, Ocean Infraheights Pvt. Ltd. (Golden I):
“This pandemic has wreaked havoc on the real-estate sector too! Considering that real-estate is the second-largest job-creating sector in the country, we are hoping that the Government looks at doing something concrete for the sector, keeping customer sentiments in mind.
Especially from a commercial real estate perspective, we are looking forward to reforms and incentives that encourage the manufacturing, start-up sectors, etc.; offer interest or capital subsidies on systems and equipment for all players looking to invest in technology, sustainable building, and digitization of operations.
Furthermore, we hope that the central and state governments can work together and take a look at reducing GST, stamp duty, and circle rates.”
Dr. Harshit Jain, Founder, and CEO, Doceree:
‘The government’s priority in the budget this time around would be to boost the economy which got severely hit due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Start-ups are an important component of the economy and would play a crucial role in driving it forward. As we are present in two markets – the US and India – I think the US government is more supportive of start-ups in terms of financing and I would seek the same kind of support in India with respect to access to capital and access to cheaper credit.
The cost of capital in India is highest compared to other markets and a lot of paperwork and approvals are required that make the entire process very cumbersome. The government should make the process of raising funds and related procedures easier and less laborious so that start-ups, especially early age start-ups, could be at ease and feel supported.”
Ashraf Rizvi, founder & CEO of Digital Swiss Gold and Gilded:
“India’s working-age population (15-59 years old) is a cohort estimated to comprise roughly two-thirds of India’s total population, which the United Nations estimates at 1.38 billion in 2020. As the economy opens up, we expect the government to roll out more initiatives and investment that create jobs which will to more spending and consumption, and also more saving and investing as personal finances improve, Digital Gold being one such safe, flexible, and scalable investment option suited to all investors.
We, at Digital Swiss Gold, are among the many excitedly anticipating Indian Finance Minister Sitharaman’s Union Budget 2021-22. Gold continues to be one of the biggest imports in India and is an easy source of increased revenues for the government.
We will be eager to see if the gold business draws additional import duties as has been the case in prior budgets over the past decade. We are confident that this budget will spur growth across industries while keeping the needs of Indians at their core.
With our cutting-edge financial technology and unparalleled service, Digital Swiss Gold hopes to play a role in helping Indians realize their financial hopes and dreams in 2021 and beyond.”
Mr Raj N , Founder and Chairman of Zaggle:
“2020 has been a really difficult year for everybody, and especially so on the economic front. Individuals and organisations have faced the negative effect of the pandemic. 2021, hence comes with a lot of hope and expectations. The Government has tried to address the problems that have arisen because of the pandemic. But the situation warrants continued support for various industries including FinTech’s.
The FinTech industry has been a great support to the entire ecosystem during this time crisis. But we too have gone through pain. It is therefore important that the government considers and provides for the FinTech industry in the budget which can create a balance between revenue generation for the exchequer and ensure an enabling economic environment for the FinTech industry. Unless there is a hand of support in the form of adequate provisions to ensure growth of FinTechs, there will not be a win-win situation for both sides.
These are times to be brave and I expect the Government to rise to the occasion and further intensify the stimulus especially for the Industries which were more or less crippled because of the Pandemic. We all saw how Digital Payments and over all Digitisation helped India to overcome the crucial problem of access to one’s own funds and allowed businesses to function without much trouble.
What India needs is an overhauling of the existing Banking system and believing in FinTechs to reach the last mile and make India a Fully Payments Digital Country.
We need Pragmatic, Bold, Goal-led and continuous reforms on a sustainable basis to take India to glory and nothing better than to start with FinTechs – With Freedom comes Responsibility, Regulating the necessary processes but allow the businesses to operate with Freedom especially on the Neo Banks.”
Lalit Mehta, co-founder & CEO of Decimal Technologies:
“The lockdown brought with it an economic downturn for enterprises of all sizes, which urged the government to offer Loan Moratorium to borrowers amidst liquidity crunch. While this helped kick-start the economy, the government must introduce a long-term stimulus in its upcoming budget to ensure cash-flow for the BFSI industry. In the post-COVID19 economy, credit is going to be the enabler of businesses, we expect the government to introduce credit schemes that will provide a fillip to the sector. Schemes that would ensure continuous availability of credit as and when needed will provide a great boost, especially to the lending industry. During the lockdown, borrowing, for both commercial and personal purposes, increased, facilitated by FinTech players. We expect the government to announce necessary regulatory changes that would create an easy line of access for FinTech players to secure credit from conservative banks and further disburse loans to borrowers.
Covid-19 catapulted India into a digital economy and the FinTech start-up ecosystem witnessed some high-value investments in 2020. While the PM has already announced a Rs 1,000 cr Startup India seed fund, the FinTech start-ups can further benefit from the launch of a fund focused on equity capital requirements of start-ups in the lending space. This will help give steam to India’s $ 5-trillion GDP target by 2024 and fill the $380-billion MSME credit gap.”
Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby:
“PayNearby’s retail network has worked tirelessly to ensure seamless access to financial services, especially during the peak lockdown months last year. 93% of our business correspondent network has been committed to working in tier 2 and tier 3 towns, serving as the sole point of cash disbursal in locations with limited financial infrastructure. However, the commission rates for BC services are very low to make it a profitable business. Additionally, BCs, by default, come under the 27% GST and 5% TDS on cash withdrawal even after the tax act having enabling provisions. This makes it difficult for them to stay afloat.
We hope that this Budget takes into consideration the tough working condition of the BC network and make a few regulatory changes to ensure the viability of a community that has been vital to the cause of financial inclusion in the country. To continue sustaining the competitive advantage in Digital proliferation in India, restoring normal MDR on transactions will incentivise the digital ecosystem and facilitate a smoother growth trajectory towards innovation.”
Mandar Agashe, Founder, MD and Vice Chairman, Sarvatra Technologies:
“With the world’s largest immunisation drive already underway, economic recovery will be the major focus of the government. Despite the wreck created, the pandemic has offered a huge impetus to digital penetration all throughout the country, which has accelerated in the unlock phase. It is therefore critical the budget draws out bold policy interventions to strengthen digital infrastructure which will eventually help in digitising the overall economy.
The PoS terminal is financially, infrastructurally, and operationally far more affordable and far less demanding than an ATM. However with just 4 million POS machines active in the country, the budget should consider making devices such as the PoS terminal / mini ATMs’ the most viable acquiring infrastructure for banks and fintech companies by offering incentive such as a tax subsidy. Additionally, tax breaks in GST for merchants providing digital payments and tax benefits for companies helping build digital infrastructure for friction-free digital on boarding, too will catalyse the financial inclusion movement envisioned by the government.
The government should also consider a dedicated fund to strengthen digital infrastructure of co-operative banks across the county which will offer a big boost to a more inclusive financial system. Budgetary concessions such as a GST waiver for digital transactions along with incentivization, especially in semi-urban and rural India will further augment cashless payments.
UPI has been a breakthrough, home-grown technology and it is important we replicate its success through newer and more innovative technologies. Fintechs and technology startups should be encouraged to invest more in R&D to introduce newer products and diversify into newer geographies. The upcoming budget should therefore consider offering tax benefits such as private investments being exempted.
Besides, considering the amount of data being created and stored across industries growing at unprecedented rates, enhancing the security infrastructure to protect and manage data seamlessly should be another focus area. In the post-COVID world, digital infrastructure will be a game changer for companies and countries and therefore it is important we take timely measures to ride this wave.”
Considering the real estate sector is the second-largest employer in the country and directly or indirectly, accounts for approx.10 percent of the GDP, it deserves serious attention in the upcoming budget. Within realty the commercial real-estate has been a watch-out sector for investors both overseas and back home owing to its strong fundamentals and resilience. The government should therefore consider measures to further encourage more NRI investments in the country. For instance considering a reduction in the income earned from long-term capital gains would be helpful.
Owing to fractional platforms, affordable commercial realty is now a reality in India and therefore for retail investors intending to invest in commercial assets, the government should consider a higher exemption limit. Alternatively since both the interest income as well as dividend earned by investors are taxable as per their slab rates, the government should consider a waiver of tax on dividend. These measures will help boost retail sale which in turn can offer a huge impetus to trade and economic activities. Considering personal loan is expensive, the government should also bring in a policy whereby retail investors can avail a loan seamlessly from banks at a reasonable interest rate for investment in commercial assets through fractional route.
Besides it is important to address investor sentiments while also addressing the challenges being faced by developers. For instance considering a stress fund can help generate cash flow for developers thereby helping build the supply side of the industry. Alternatively encouraging banks and NBFCs’ to lend to commercial real-estate projects or take over and restructure stalled projects will also go a long way in kick-starting the economy. Similarly properties that are not sold but developed for leasing, GST at 18 percent should be reconsidered as it is a huge liability for the developers as it pushes the cost of construction and poses further challenges in the wake of a liquidity crunch.
Additionally, the Government should also consider incentivising alternative asset classes such as warehousing, SEZs’, data canters and co-working spaces to build momentum on both the demand and supply side.”
Sumit Gupta, CEO and Co-founder, CoinDCX:
“Cryptocurrency has been emerging as one of the fastest-growing digital assets globally and India has seen tremendous traction building up following the supreme court lifting the banking ban. With growing awareness, there is growing consensus that cryptocurrencies will certainly play a crucial role in the way we deal with money and therefore it can positively contribute to the nation’s GDP. . At the moment, one cannot ignore the industry’s growth and the interest it has generated from the investors. In the past few years, the industry has generated thousands of direct employment in the country.
As more and more companies related to cryptocurrency set up base in India, the industry expects recognition. A recognition can accelerate its contribution to the GDP and employment by multifold. It will bring a trust factor not only for the retail investors but also for the institutional players. While there may be a delay in bringing in bringing in smart and sensible regulations for the sector recognising crypto as a tradable commodity will be a significant relief. Further, to tackle AML & other funding concerns, the government should consider a formal direction to exchanges to follow the virtual assets guidelines of FATF.
Additionally, considering the ambiguity among investors pertaining to the tax applicability for the income earned from crypto trading, we expect the upcoming budget to bring in amendments in the income tax and GST laws thereby offering more clarity to investors, traders, and crypto organizations.”
Sanjay Bhatia, Co-Founder, Freightwalla:
In the year 2020, the pandemic brought global industries to their knees. The USD 160 billion Indian logistics industry was also not spared as it came to a standstill during the pandemic lockdown. The industry faced many challenges in terms of clearance, processing, and movement of shipments.
Few technology-driven businesses managed to overcome some of the EXIM industry’s challenges during the pandemic. The stumbling-blocks faced by the exporters and importers could have been avoided if the entire ecosystem was working digitally.
There is a pressing need for a complete digital transformation of the industry to handle international shipments efficiently. Consider the case of customs that have taken part in their processes online. There are still many things that need to be re-moulded with advanced technologies. We hope the union budget to announce suitable investments towards the digitization of the shipping and logistics sector.
A leap towards the initiative will bring in transparency, reduction in cost, and better cost management. Digitization should also include implementing smart single-window clearance for smooth processing of shipments or approvals. Such initiatives will prepare us to tackle any untoward incidences in the future, like the current pandemic.
Investments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and BlockChain technologies can facilitate complete transformation. It can boost productivity in every sector, and style pretty effective and successful workflow
Further, the Union Cabinet recently approved a multimodal logistics hub proposal and set up industrial corridor nodes at Krishnapatnam and Tumakuru. We hope to see implementations of these at the earliest. It will facilitate the transportation of goods, thereby cutting travel time and making the system more efficient.
There is also an expectation that the proposed National Logistics Policy may get announced during the announcement of union budget 2021. We are optimistic that that will improve productivity and reduce logistics costs.
Swastik Nigam, Founder & CEO, Winvesta:
“Last FY, the Finance Minister introduced a TCS of 5% on all outward remittances above Rs. 7L. This measure was to create an audit trail on the money that is remitted under LRS. However, this has resulted in fewer investors remitting money due to the capital outlay that they need to do early in the year. The challenge is that this has stunted the participation in the overseas capital markets – and the investors are not able to monetise the gains as much as they’d have liked to.
*A 5% TCS is very high to create an audit trail. It would be more reasonable to consider a smaller value (say 2%), so that the investors aren’t being penalised for remitting the money.
This can be offset through a marginal increase in capital gains tax on Short Term CG on overseas investments – this will help boost the marginal tax collected by the government, rather than the upfront load cost of investing.*
The FM should also consider ways to make cross-border investing as easy as possible, and set out a policy for it. This will aid India’s image as being more open – to both attract capital as well as make it easier for cross-border flow of capital.
We should also hope to see how the Finance Minister supports the remote working policy. As the economy has cooled, businesses need an ability to swiftly open an ability to be a business, without being tied down with paperwork, while also being incentivized to employ people quickly. In other geographies, we’ve seen this in the form of relief / grants and waivers. We’d be keen to see how the FM pushes reforms through the budget to solve for this as well.”
Rohit Gajbhiye, Founder Financepeer:
“The stakeholders are eyeing the Budget 2021 with a lot of expectations as the government has already signalled allocation of 6% of the GDP towards education.
This can be a healthy start towards strengthening the sector. Aligning with it, we expect the government to introduce a framework for formalizing the online education coupling it with exhaustive provisions for bridging the digital divide between both ends of the education value chain i.e. the Teachers and the Students.
Also, the reducing gaps in quality of education between rural and urban areas has to be on the priority list and technology is pivotal for that. We are also expecting the government to lay the ground for a gradual increase in the annual budget of education to 10% of GDP to create an ecosystem for a vigorous research and development infrastructure in the education sector.”
Ajay Kaushik Founder & CEO Panacea Infosec:
“After Digital India Initiative Digital Innovations are on fast track, and Data became a new fuel for digital economy. Government has to ensure that data is not an asset of an organisation but it is a responsibility and eventually liability. We need a robust cyber security policy.
Government should accelerate enactment of the Data Protection Act and set up a strong and effective Data Protection Authority. Few key areas where we are expecting reform is ensuring predictability, consistency and rationalization of levies and taxes to promote innovation and investments in the sector to achieve Indian Government’s Digital India vision.
Post pandemic circumstances empowering start-ups can help to overcome some economic headwinds and create a culture of entrepreneurship to facilitate sustainable economic growth and generating large-scale employment opportunities.
As digitalisation of economy is taking pace, the focus of policy makers should be on building superior trust in technology. Allocation of 10% to 20% of the technology budget for cybersecurity initiatives should be a priority of the GOI. In this budget government must add simulation-based cybersecurity training solutions in the Skill India campaign.
We are expecting from govt to create a strong compliance culture for Payment Data security as well as PII security. Although we have practices such as PCI DSS, ISO 27K and few others prescribed by CERT-In and NCIIPC in India. we have to analyse these practices with the point of view of its practical implementation and orientation along with its interoperability with the international frameworks.
Government should give policy support for cybersecurity services with proactive application of policy mandates. All guidelines for data protection and Risk assessments should be enforced very strictly just like the government enforces income tax and GST filings. It will make the nation safer from a cybersecurity perspective.”