Union Budget 2021 – A balanced act…or not?

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Post-Budget Reactions –

1st February, 2021 – The Budget comes at a time when India is battling the COVID19 pandemic and the economy is reeling under the after-effects of the lockdown therefore expectations are high! In going a step further in becoming ‘Atma Nirbhar’ and adopting digitization, FM Nirmala Sitharaman presented her first paperless, Union Budget, read out from a ‘Made in India’ tablet! She announced a slew of measures on healthcare and infrastructure to give an impetus to the COVID-hit economy. The Budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 is “like never before”, as it is proposed under circumstances like ‘never seen before’ to pull up the economy ‘like never before’! Where Congress leader Rahul Gandhi  highlighted sectors that the government “must” focus on in their Budget, including the MSME sector, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the budget would  focus on  – Health, Human capital, innovation and R&D Physical infrastructure along with featuring every section of the society.

While the entire nation sat hopefully, glued to their television sets and social media to know about the  government’s plan to spend their money for the next year, here are some reactions we got from successful  entrepreneurs about the Union Budget 2021:

Jahnabi Phookan, National President, FICCI FLO –  The Budget proposed by the Finance Minister will help to boost the revival of our nation’s economy following the COVID induced economic fallout. With its targeted proposals for extending benefits to women in form of policies such as Mega Investments Textiles Park, incentivising one-person companies, implementation of the four labour codes, dedicating 3000 crore to NATS, proposal of funds for the welfare of tea workers especially the women & children in Assam & West Bengal,  it will provide a strong foundation for the female strata to rise and thereby support in building an Atmanirbhar Bharat”.

Ruby Sinha, Founder, sheatwork  – “The Budget has some welcome initiatives for all sectors. Appreciating that women had a tough time coping with the post pandemic situation and the need for women empowerment , the Budget is aimed at boosting employment opportunities for women.  While tabling the Budget, the FM said that minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers. Women will be allowed to work in all categories and also in night shifts with adequate protection which is a positive move. Free cooking gas LPG scheme, Ujjwala scheme extension to one crore more beneficiaries are other positives for women. The Budget overall boosts entrepreneurship, encouraging one-person startups as well.  This will help women to start ventures from home and scale up as need be. Steps to boost education and healthcare will ensure easier access to these facilities to large sections of the population, including women.”

Shammi Pant, Co-founder, MyJen.ai – This budget reinforces the focus on the fundamentals with intent to revive the economy from the unprecedented pandemic setback of last year.  In a major way it focuses on Health, Infrastructure and further rationalization of our financial regulations, which is going to give the economy an impetus in revival and put the focus back on fundamentals. The startup community welcomes the attention given in Budget speech of the Finance Ministry and we thank the government for announcements regarding Tax Holidays and Capital Gain Exemptions.”

Parbati Bhattacharya, Proprietor, Wanderers Footprints Travel Boutique–This Budget has been presented in the shadow of an unprecedented crisis and Government efforts are commendable. Even so, I am disappointed because the Budget has overlooked the Hospitality Industry. The industry really needs some support as it is amongst the worst hit by the pandemic. While the situation is beginning to improve, the hit has been huge and a little support from the government would have been more than welcome. However, as a woman, I like the part which in an attempt to reinvigorate Human Capital, grants women the freedom to work in all categories with adequate protection.”

Himani Mishra, CEO & Co-Founder, Brand Radiator – My expectations as a woman entrepreneur are that the Government and its allies, autonomous organisations, must provide relief in EMD, Total Turnover requirement, and experience years, besides other complicated terms and conditions, in its purchases/procurements, to promote Women Entrepreneurship. As ‘Women Entrepreneurship’ is a new chapter in Indian Business, women have mostly not achieved large number of years in experience and have lesser turnover, as well.I would like to quote Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, our beloved, former President, who said “Empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation; when women are empowered, society with stability is assured”.  Empowerment of women is essential as their value system leads to the development of a good family, society and ultimately a good nation.”

Romira Roy, Chairman, SEED – “The six-pack budget proposed by the Finance Minister encompasses the true spirit of sustainable and equal growth. The push for the health sector and the skilling space with tie-ups with UAE and Japan, to begin with, will go a long way. The focus on revamping the health infrastructure, the push for aggressive disinvestment with LIC’s IPOs, Tax holiday for start-up, expansion & strengthening of nameless faceless IT along with the revision of years are something to be applauded. Although tax slab revisions & further involvement of the private sector in the COVID vaccination distribution is something that could have also been looked at. Over all, it was a well-balanced budget given the fiscal deficit constraints”

Usha Jha, Owner, Petal Crafts – “In all, I feel, the Budget is a well-proposed one. A good portion has been allocated for infrastructure development, healthcare sector and education; and this is a positive step. However, the common man will be affected due to the increase in petrol prices by 2.50 rupees because logistic expenses will increase, thereby making necessary, everyday usage items costlier. Also, the middle class has not been granted any tax-relief and this is a little disheartening. Another cause for concern is that, custom duty on raw silk and cotton have been increased.”

 In conclusion, as an Indian citizen, a representative of the common masses, I would like to share my view, that,  balancing growth with fiscal prudence is what a budget should  aim to do. I perceive the Union Budget 2021,  as a shift in gears to help accelerate the pace of economic growth of our country. Hopefully, if the government ‘walks’ the impressive talks, Budget 2021 will indeed be seen as the ‘Budget of the century’!

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