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Billion people, billion expectations

DNA - 9 July, 2014

Pune: As the Narendra Modi government table their first budget on Thursday, the industry has its hopes pinned on what it hopes will be a ‘reformist’ budget. The budget will be a first glimpse into the framework of the new government’s economic agenda for the coming years.

Umeed Kothavala, CEO and co-founder of Extentia Information Technology said that the new government is going to be presenting its first budget in the midst of high expectations. “The real challenge will be to deliver something to over a billion people. While it is tempting to carve out a long wish list, I imagine we are going to be better served as a nation, by a budget that is pragmatic – that forces some belt tightening, that communicates confidence and a belief in the long term and which demonstrates that the government is serious about growth and opportunity creation across the social and economic fabric of India. Simplicity, transparency, confidence and continuity are the key indicators that we are looking for – the actual number game will be less entertaining initially.”

Pragmatic and hopeful

Kedar Sabne, financial controller, Cybage Software said that this year’s budget has a different flavor all together. “Last few budgets were “accommodative” budgets, this year the budget could be a hope budget. Every individual is aware that things will not change overnight, so a pragmatic approach is already built in the thought process; hence the task of the new majority government is to make right moves, which will not daunt the hope of 130 crores Indians. Decisive direct tax regime for better tax planning and corporate expansion, removing ambiguities in existing tax laws to avoid double taxation will boost corporate confidence of both Indian and foreign companies. Young salaried class should be rewarded for being the genuine tax payer, they are the first who pay tax and then take home the net salary. The housing needs in this class are growing, some sop on the interest rates, increase in allowable deduction on account of interest and principal on housing loan and also increase in the amount of mediclaim should be looked into, this is certainly impacting their savings,” he said.

Insurance for all

Chartered accountant and director of Money Plant Consulting, Rishabh Parakh, hopes for an increase in tax slabs from Rs3lakh to Rs5Lakh, and there should be exemption from tax for an income lower than that of Rs5 lakh. “The scope for investable products should increase and the investment limit should be raised as well. The interest and principle amount of housing loans need to be revised. The Medical reimbursement limit should increase from Rs15,000 to Rs 1 lakh at least, looking at the way the medical costs have gone up. Short term sale of shares should also be monitored like the long term sale of shares to increase participation in the equity market,” he said.

Revised tax slabs

Mathew Job, Managing Director, Racold Thermo Ltd said that there could be a revision of deduction under section 80C at a higher level from the existing limit of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh to channel savings into financial instruments.

Meanwhile, as far as real estate Sector is concerned, affordable homes, treating big housing projects as infrastructure projects, reducing interest on home loan rates

Kumar Gera, Chairman Gera Developments said he looks forward to budget that reduces fiscal deficit, introduces interest subvention for first home buyers, treat all large scale real estate projects (which exceed 20000 square meters of built area) as infrastructure projects and raise tax exemption for interest paid on home loans to cumulative Rs5 lakhs. “The cost of implementing these suggestions will in fact lead to positive revenue for the government at the center, state and local levels through the indirect tax revenue streams in addition to boosting employment.”

Easy home loans

Sanjay Dutt, executive managing director–South Asia, Cushman & Wakefield said he hoped too that government delivers on promise of breaking the vicious cycle of high inflation and high interest rates. “Introduce uniform tax regime and rationalise stamp duty across states so that there is a higher degree of standardisation. Introduce and encourage building rental housing and affordable housing projects. We await clarity on the enactment of the real estate (Regulation and Development) Bill of 2013; time lines for introduction of Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and enactment of Goods and Services Tax (GST),” he said. He added all three regulations will impact the manner in which housing and commercial transactions are done in India and impact funding.

“Deduction of interest on home loans is expected to be increased from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs2 lakh, which will provide a boost to the home loan sector as well as housing industry. This will have a positive impact on house hold products growth as well,” explained Job.

Improve health sector

In the health sector, focus on preventive healthcare and medical insurance are top of mind.

Rekha Dubey, COO, Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital said, “The National Health Assurance Mission is said to be close to Prime Minister Modi’s. He has spoken frequently about how diseases debilitate the finances of poor households much more than those of well-off households. Hence, I am hoping that the upcoming budget in the health sector would emphasize on increasing the provision for healthcare industry, focusing on preventive care, targeting greater reach and significantly improving the productivity of private and public healthcare spending.”

She added that reducing the tax on import of advance technology medical equipment will enhance and expand India’s healthcare infrastructure. Bringing down the cost of drugs mainly for the treatment of chronic diseases, will ensure affordable treatment to all. “The Indian Government should firmly make provision for an increase in the healthcare budget and reduce out of pocket expenditure of patients,” said Dubey.

Skilled India

Meanwhile, Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, Principal Director of Symbiosis Pune said she hoped the budget walked the talk as far as education sector is concerned.

“We hope the budget has a bigger allocation for education as compared to the previous years. With the development agenda of the new government, the health and education budget should definitely show rise. The PM speaks of a skilled India - keeping this in mind enjoyability being one of the challenges in our country - higher education budget should be pushed for.”

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