Shantanu Prakash, Chairman and Managing Director, Educomp Solutions Ltd speaks to Business Today's Senior Editor Shamni Pande on budget expectations:
Q. Given the current challenges, what, in your opinion, would make a good budget? What measures or proposals would you like to see?
A. The number one thing on the agenda should be to get back confidence that India is an attractive destination for both overseas and domestic investments. Secondly, incentives and tax breaks should be introduced to restart the investment cycle, which has come to a halt.
Q. Given the constraints the government faces in raising revenue, do you see a case to increase income tax rates on the rich? Please identify the cut-off in income beyond which you would classify the person as rich.
A. The purpose of a progressive tax system is to encourage people to create more wealth. So, on the contrary, there should be tax cuts that encourage people to create more wealth. Excessive taxation typically leads to flight of capital.
Q. If the budget does not meet expectations, do you fear that business sentiment would once again dip?
Q. Specific to your sector, what could the current budget do to improve conditions?
A. Companies could be given an accelerated tax break of 150 per cent of their investment in education infrastructure. This would lead to capacity creation for education, which is much-needed today in our country with its huge youth population. The other would be to allow companies to set up education institutions freely and simultaneously set up a regulator for quality and compliance. Greater push and allocation for public-private partnerships will also help enhance quality of and access to education. These critical modifications will result in a boom in education infrastructure and provide the platform to educate our millions for the next century.