Subhrakant Panda, MD, Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Ltd, says the need of the hour is a clear and unambiguous policy for the mining sector that is both people and business friendly.
Given the current challenges, what, in your opinion, would make a good budget? What measures or proposals would you like to see?
A "good budget" will be one that carries on with the reform process and focuses on growth while addressing key issues such as the fiscal deficit, inflation, infrastructure augmentation, etc. Transparency and greater accountability should be the pillars of any policy-making process.
Given the constraints the government faces in raising revenue, do you see a case to increase income tax rates on the rich?
It may be tempting to tax a few but that is neither advisable nor sufficient. Ensuring greater compliance is far more important than tinkering with the rates.
If the budget does not meet expectations, do you fear that business sentiment would once again dip?
Yes, there is a definite concern that a budget that falls short of expectations such as bringing about clarity on the policy front, addressing growth concerns, etc, will have a negative impact.
Specific to your sector, what could the current budget do to improve conditions?
The mining and power generation sectors have suffered on account of lack of clarity in policy. As such, the need of the hour is a clear and unambiguous policy for the mining sector that is both people and business friendly. It should address the issue of fuel supply for the power sector. Also, despite the new Electricity Act being enacted almost a decade ago, "open access" still remains a chimera in many parts of the country. The ferro alloys industry will benefit from any action taken to stimulate growth as also clarity in mining and power, which together constitute about 70 per cent of the cost of production.
Which budget, in the recent past, do you remember as having been a good one?
Every budget is enacted under a set of constraints and has had its high points. The stimulus provided to overcome the 2008 economic crisis is an example of positive action that helped contain the effects of the global crisis inasmuch as India was concerned.