Business Today spoke to Indian business leaders on what they thought about Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's first Budget, for the 2014-15 fiscal.
Sanjay Reddy, Vice Chairman, GVK
"This is a comprehensive budget that has covered all the sectors with a lot of focus on infrastructure be it on projects or financing. For instance, the creation of Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs)."
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon
"Bit disappointed that there was nothing tangible for the pharma sector. However, overall, there are no negatives and it is largely positive. We need to build on this."
Rahul Bhasin, Managing Partner, Baring Private Equity Partners India
"The objective of meeting a three per cent fiscal deficit [target in 2016/17] is commendable and a move in the right direction."
Hasit Joshipura, MD, GSK Pharmaceutical India
"This budget has to be seen more as a signal of intent. It has touched several areas from trying to contain food inflation, boosting infrastructure, capacity building in health care, kick-starting investments and making an attempt to be industry-friendly. It does not refer to any specific measures on how to make subsidies more efficient and there is almost nothing for pharma."
Shankar Narayanan, MD, Carlyle Asia Growth Partners
"It is a step in the right direction. It aims at long-term fiscal prudence, which will be far more beneficial to the country. Policy measures around FDI in insurance, defence and real estate is an encouraging move. Long-term fund raising for banks, boosting manufacturing will attract investments, which would support higher economic growth."
Vijay Mahajan, social entrepreneur, founder and chairman, BASIX Group
"The budget is balanced in terms of looking at factors which have been inhibiting growth and at the same time taking care of issues of inequality, deprivation and poverty. There is pretty good micro-targeting particularly in agriculture and rural development, going into details like setting up 100 mobile soil testing laboratories, funds for development of indigenous cattle breed, for blue revolution and fisheries, climate change adaptation fund."
Rashesh Shah, Chairman and Group CEO, Edelweiss Group
"The budget definitely scored in the area of reforms especially in infrastructure and real estate sectors. The opening up of FDI in insurance is a vital step towards economic reform. However, issues like fuel subsidy rationalization and clarity in terms of definitive road map for the implementation of the GST were not addressed. Nonetheless, the announcements confirm that the government is committed to putting economy back on track to 8 per cent growth."
Rajesh Srivastava, CMD, Rabo Equity Advisors
"Agriculture had some great announcements such as overhaul of fuel and food subsidy schemes, restructuring of the Food Corporation of India, and public-private partnership in the food sector. The move to increase FDI ceiling in insurance and defence is welcome. But the muted approach to retroactive taxation is disappointing."
Suneeta Reddy, MD, Apollo Hospitals
"It is a good budget that facilitates growth as it seeks growth through building infrastructure and manufacturing and providing for long-term funding, which is extremely important. There are several things that have been announced for the health-care sector like raising the FDI cap in insurance, which will ensure more people get access because private health-care insurance will get capital. Or the grant of e-visas, for instance, for medical tourism is a good move."
Morten Karlsen Sorby, CEO, Uninor
"India is ready for the next phase of growth to which a wider penetration of the Internet in the country's 600,000-plus villages may have an important role to play. It is important to note that only a little over half of India's population in our estimate has a mobile connection and just one-fourth of those have any Internet-enabled phone. In our view the approach to Internet for all should be comprehensive - Affordable Mobile Internet for basic services and broadband for higher bandwidth services. The Digital India Initiative is a welcome move. While we expect this effort to require more investments than the Rs 500 crore earmarked at this initial stage, this is certainly a good beginning towards Internet for all."
Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman, Cargill India
"There has been a lot of talk on agriculture in this budget and the recognition that there is a need to step-up focus. So, it is a positive sign. The government has tried to address the operational hazards that plague agriculture, and given the constraints this is the best they could do. The effective implementation in each area like research, warehousing and credit, etc. will together make a difference."
Nirmal Gangwal, Founder and CEO, Brescon
"Promotion of corporate bonds is a welcome initiative. It will help reduce cost of funding and increase liquidity available to the corporate sector. Also, allowing the banking sector to raise long-term funds without earmarking provision for CRR/SLR will provide long-tenure funding with cost efficiency as banks need not park funds with the RBI. A modified REITS-type structure for infrastructure projects as the Infrastructure Investment Trusts will help in attracting long-term finance from foreign and domestic sources for the infrastructure sector."
Radhika Aggarwal, Co-founder, Shopclues.com
"It is a satisfactory budget for the industry. ShopClues is a marketplace for the masses and we welcome the focus on empowering the new middle class in India. The announcement on building airports in tier-2 and tier-3 cities is encouraging. We are glad that the government is considering the GST for simplifying the indirect tax regime. We also commend the measures for fuelling entrepreneurship including an investment fund for start-ups and SMEs. We would have welcomed openness in the FDI policy. But more importantly we need clarity in the policy followed by implementation of not only letter, but spirit of the policy. Otherwise, we will see pseudo-marketplaces appear that prevent other players from getting a level-playing field."
Satish Reddy, President, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, and Chairman, Dr Reddy's
"The pharmaceutical industry was hoping to see what the government plans to do on the health-care spend or on its roadmap for the sector. We did not find anything specific in terms of any issue which addresses the needs of the pharmaceutical sector in the budget speech and we need to look at the fine print."
R. Venkataraman, Managing Director, India Infoline
"Given the limited resources with the government I see this as a pragmatic budget. On a scale of 10, I will give the budget 8. Apart from the positives on manufacturing and infrastructure, this budget leaves money in the hands of the common man. In short, the finance minister has taken gentle steps in the right direction... I see the Sensex crossing 40,000 in the next two years."
Sunil Mantri, CMD, Mantri Realty
"Relaxation in FDI norms is a great thing. It is going to help projects in metros, which are high in value and where you need foreign capital because domestic banks are unable to fund us for land purchase. Allowing REITs for realty as well as infrastructure is also a great decision. It is going to open up investment avenues in India, particularly in commercial, IT zones and SEZ projects."
Ajit Joshi, CEO and MD, Infiniti Retail Ltd
"We were expecting a lot for the retail industry but not much is there. If you look at electronics, TVs of 19 inches and below there will not be any import duties. If you look at the industry right now, the most popular are the 32-inch and the 40-inch TVs. That's what most households are buying and the recommended size none of the bigger players are making anymore.
The important thing what the finance minister has done is that he has given benefits to individuals who will now use that extra income, which will hopefully come into the retail sector."
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