India Inc:Budget populist,poll-oriented, but will boost growth

Mumbai, Feb 1 (PTI) Terming the Budget proposals as "populist and election-oriented", India Inc has said the finance ministers initiatives will give a further fillip to growth, especially in the hinterlands.

Giving an 8/10 to the Budget, Tata Group chairman N Chandrasekaran said, "as we enter a stage cycle where rural demand is slowing, the focus on rural support (Rs 14.3 trillion for rural infrastructure, and targets to double farmers incomes, generate non-farm rural jobs, and improve rural sanitation) the Budget proposals will help sustain our long-term growth trajectory."

He also said the key highlight of the Budget is that it reflects a timely and appropriate focus on rural India, which is important as on the ground we see that the most rapidly growing data is related to urban activity only.

Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra was more forthcoming in his analysis of the last Budget from the Modi government. "In a populous, agrarian country, a populist, pre-election Budget can be pro-growth!," he tweeted.

"I am biased, since it ignites growth in our key rural markets. So instead, Ill laud the Budget for health insurance for 10o million. Thats a real step towards becoming a developed society," he added.

JSW Group chairman Sajjan Jindal also labeled it as "a populist budget" and said it looks good for the economy. He lauded the Budgetary focus on health insurance to the poor and said the Budget should bring growth to the hinterlands.

But he was quick to add that the salaried class and corporates are not too happy with the Budget and noted that corporate tax rate is among the highest in the world in India.

"Government must revisit the corporate taxation policy," he tweeted.

RPG Groups Harsh Goenka went a step further and said, "while industry applauds the Budget, the farmers and SMEs must be dancing to ghoomar (the new number from Padmavat)."

Chandrasekaran also said lauded the increased focus on healthcare with the introduction of the National Health Protection Scheme.

Largest lender State Bank chairman Rajnish Kumar termed the Budget as "very comprehensive" with key measures that will have a positive impact on various segments, including farmers, 10 crore poor families and senior citizens.

"We believe all these measures will augur well for a meaningful growth in FY19," Kumar said, and listed specific proposals like national gold policy, integrating trade receivables platform with GSTN and maintaining government borrowings at the same level.

R Shankar Raman of Larsen & Toubro said the need of the hour is to embrace inclusive growth and bridge the rural- urban divide.

"The Budget while risks the perception of being politically-oriented, in the larger interest of the nation, it is important to reach out to the sections which are not presently equipped to participate and contribute to Indias growth story" Raman said.

Tata Consultancy Services chief financial officer V Ramakrishnan termed the Budget "a forward looking, growth- oriented with a focus on the rural economy, healthcare for the poor, infra investments.

Chanda Kochhar of ICICI Bank said the Budget holistically addresses the various priorities of the economy. It has also addressed social sector priorities and charted out a clear plan to boost infrastructure, while maintaining fiscal discipline.

"The wide ranging measures announced for various segments of the rural economy will boost income levels and create gainful and sustainable employment, which in turn will help increase consumption levels in the economy," she said.

TV Narendran of Tata Steel said the budget is both balanced and positive as it focuses on rural infrastructure, agricultural output and farmers income will not only help reduce the agrarian distress but also boost the rural economy.

"Emphasis on health, education and employment generation would promote inclusive growth," he said.

Alice G Vaidyan, chairperson of GIC Re said the Budget has done a fine work of balancing fiscal deficit, with growth priorities and has given a positive thrust to all important segments of the economy.

"National health insurance coverage is a much needed measure to address protection gap for the population and will boost penetration in a major way," she said. PTI BEN AA BEN BEN