Future Group Chairman Kishore Biyani spoke to Business Today's Suman Layak on his key takeaways from P Chidambaram's Budget speech. Excerpts -
Q. What is the big takeaway for you from the budget?
A. I think it is a reasonable and balanced budget by the finance minister. He has taken various small yet significant measures across sectors, and combined together, these will have a very large and positive impact on the nation. It is great to see the focus coming back on clothing and food, the two sectors that have been the backbone of the Indian economy.
Q. What do you think is the outlook for the economy?
A. What is also in this budget is some expressions of intent. The finance minister has quite rightly emphasised on the need for job creation and skill enhancement and acknowledged that it is indeed often difficult to do business in this country. He has emphasised the need to support small and medium entrepreneurs, and taken a few steps to further improve financial inclusion and broad-base access to equity investments and insurance in India.
Q. What is the outlook for your sector in particular?
A. I welcome the much-needed measure of restoring the 'zero excise duty route' for the clothing industry. This step will not just revive the industry but will also create huge job opportunities. Other measures like setting up of Apparel Parks and continuation of TUFS (Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme) will further strengthen the sector.
The finance minister has also taken various pertinent steps to boost the agriculture sector and incentivise farmers. This will go a long way in fighting food inflation and cut down on food imports as well.
The minister has put a roadmap for GST (goods and services tax) rollout and provided for compensation to be paid to states for loss of CST (central sales tax) in the budget. Implementation of GST is a much awaited step and is positive for the businesses.