The Finance Minister has made a very good attempt at removing the surprise element that a Union Budget typically carries and has given medium-term guidance on various items such as fiscal deficit, fiscal provisions etc. This is probably the first time that a Finance Minister has taken and publicly stated a longer term view on public finances and growth. This is definitely an out-of-the-box approach towards managing growth and finances for India.
The overall focus of this Budget is clearly on a few pivots of growth, namely job creation, skill development & higher education, creation of an ecosystem that enables ease of doing business, less of government and more of governance, broad-based growth across states and demographic profiles of the population, Make-in-India and Swatch Bharat - both literally and figuratively, conducive framework for healthy collaboration between Centre and State, and increased focus on agriculture and manufacturing.
Budget proposals around universal Social Security Scheme and integrating social benefit schemes with Jan Dhan mobile platform will ensure broad-based prosperity.
The growth of the FMCG sector is predicated on a broad-based GDP growth in the country. With the Budget's focus on such growth, the FMCG industry will benefit as the disposable income in the hands of consumers would go up, thus aiding up-trading from loose to packaged goods.
Focus on agriculture and manufacturing will help boost demand in rural and urban India.
The directional statement on reducing the corporate tax rates from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over the next four years augurs well for the industry. Although the service tax rate has been increased from 12.36 per cent to 14 per cent, with implementation of GST, input tax credit can be availed.
In summary, the Budget has sent out the right signals to the investor community about ease of doing business in India. It stands firm on the government's commitment to progressive reduction of fiscal deficit, simpler tax laws and streamlined tax administration. The long term view in the Budget should provide clarity to all stakeholders on the government's vision of development and growth. This, clearly, is a growth-oriented Budget.
(The author is Chairman, Marico Limited)