A new industrial policy, incentives to promote manufacturing in key employment generating sectors, rationalisation of direct tax rates and speeding up of mega-infrastructure projects across sectors etc are amongst the hundreds of suggestions that are reaching the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) from individual central government departments these days.
The bureaucratic feedback is in response to a directive from the PMO that sought a priority list of decisions that can be announced and implemented during the first 100 days of the second term of Narendra Modi government. While there is no clarity on the specific issues or policy measures the government is going to announce, there are certain areas which it will not miss.
The full-budget, to be presented in July, may see changes in the direct tax rates. On the corporate tax front, the attempt will be to lower the rates marginally. On personal tax, the exemption threshold should increase to Rs 5 lakhs. The government may also announce stringent measures - as part of the budget or otherwise - to avoid indirect tax evasion to compensate for the revenue loss. Additional borrowing for infrastructure funding and institutional mechanisms for long term financing for infrastructure development projects in the private sector can be expected. The objective will be asset creation and in process, creation of employment opportunities.
As over 50 per cent of India's population depends on agriculture for livelihood, there will be measures to put more money into the hands of farmers and landless labourers. The prime minister's poll promise to take away the threshold for availing the 100 per cent central scheme of direct income support to the farmer (Rs 6000 in three instalments in a year) should happen. All the social sector programmes, especially the flagship schemes in the health and employment generation sectors will see an additional push in the first three months of the government.
Ease of doing business
Given Narendra Modi government's obsession to improve India's ranking in several global indicators, there will be special emphasis to ensure that India improves its position in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings this year. Relaxation of laws and rules, digitisation of data and processes (creation of digital land records is one such initiative that will get a big push) are unlikely to be ignored.
The government will also announce policy measures aimed at attracting foreign direct investments or domestic private investments and try to showcase India as an ideal place for companies that may be shifting base from China due to the ongoing China-US trade war.
Policies and legislation to protect Indian interests in the digital economy could also prioritised by the government; though its impact on bilateral trade and investment talks with major economic powers like the USA will be interesting to watch.
To conclude, Modi government's 100-day agenda will be packed with policy and administrative measures that can create a quick impact on businesses and industry, global and domestic, as well as the poor and the marginal Indian citizen. The government would want to be seen that it has hit the ground, running.