It’s a year post Covid19 pandemic, and recently Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced during her Budget speech that the government expected to spend ₹2,23,846 crore in the coming year on “health and well being”, a whopping 137% increase from last year. For our readers, we collate some reactions for the industry experts in different lifestyle and wellness categories to understand the impact in coming days.
Medical Care: Dr. Krishna Ella, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, “It’s a great step ahead, and far-reaching budget announcement, providing ₹35,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccination in 2021-22. The Finance Minister commitment providing more funds in order to contain the Coronavirus pandemic spread in the country and provide an effective, smooth path for the vaccination scheme will help contain, and lead our nation towards accomplishing a covid-19 disease free Bharat. The lay out plan of a ₹64,180 crore spending plan for healthcare over the next six years to be spent on primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, in addition to the National Health Mission is also a welcome move, which will strengthen public health services as 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres and integrated public health labs to be set up in each district. The government focus, on three areas – preventive health, curative health and well-being, is also very reassuring.”
Health Care: Dr Prem Kumar Nair, Medical Director, Amrita Hospitals, Kochi, “This is a very good and bold Budget. It has provided substantial allocation for healthcare, which is a very positive step in the right direction for healthcare services in India. The Budget would help address the gap in the healthcare infrastructure as well as in the delivery of healthcare services in both urban and rural areas. Setting up of 28,000 wellness centres across the country, establishing integrated public healthcare labs in 11 states, setting up critical care hospital blocks, earmarking funds for COVID vaccine, strengthening integrated health information portal in all states, regional research platforms and four new National Institute of Virology will help the healthcare industry combat emerging viral infections effectively. The overall thrust of the Budget is on strengthening the preventive and curative aspects of healthcare, which is critical in advancing the health of our people.”
Education: Dr. Anunaya Chaubey Provost, Anant National University, “I found the focus of the budget on effective implementation of new education policy to be reassuring. The proposal for the higher education commission as an umbrella organisation having four dedicated bodies for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding will bring focus on performance and bring clarity to institutions seeking help from the government. The creation of city-based structures to create synergies among higher education institutions located in a city which is also supported by a glue grant is an innovative step. I hope Ahmedabad will be one of the cities selected for the benefit as it has a large number of old and new educational institutions. The continuing commitment to National Research Foundation with the allocation of 50,000 crores over next five years will provide a thrust to the strengthening of the research ecosystem in India. Overall I find the budget to be forward looking that continues to build upon past work and create new and facilitating structures that will help implementation of the new education policy.”
Information & Technology: Sai Srinivas, Co-founder and CEO, Mobile Premier League, “Government’s budget announcement has been extremely encouraging for the start-up ecosystem in India. The extended exemption on capital gains for investments will definitely make more funds available for budding entrepreneurs and growing organizations alike. Digital payments infrastructure has played a very important role in the growth of the mobile gaming industry. It is very encouraging to see the government’s efforts to strengthen digital payments through incentivization. The Rs 1,500 crore boost will further support migration of more people towards digital payments and will have a positive impact on the mobile skill gaming industry. The incentivizing of one person companies is especially heartening as it promotes the development of more game creators that will help in strengthening the gaming industry in India. The move has also allowed conversion of one-person companies to any other kind, reducing residency limit from 182 days to 120 days. India is at the cusp of creating a wave of mobile gaming unicorns, these measures only support that momentum. With these announcements acting as winds in our sails the Indian Gaming Industry can aspire to be the Global Hub of game development.”
Hospitality: Tarun Gulati, Director, Himalayan Hotels & DJUBO Hotel Tech Suite, “Tourism constitutes 10% ($275 Billion) to India’s GDP. This is no small amount and we required a plan by the government and the industry to overcome the havoc caused by Covid-19 in this budget. The tourism industry employs 75 million people directly or indirectly. There were a lot of expectations from the Government in the Union Budget. The Tourism and Hospitality sector has made several recommendations to the government to help it emerge from the impact of Covid-19 crisis. But Government failed to give importance.”
Travel: Arun Chittilappilly, Managing Director, Wonderla Holidays, “The first paperless Union Budget presented today has been envisioned on a self-reliant or ‘Atma-Nirbhar’ Bharat. At the onset, it is a balanced budget that has identified various avenues to deal with immediate and long-term after-effects of the economic slowdown. However, we are disappointed with no provisions made for the Amusement Park business as it had suffered huge losses due to the pandemic. We directly employ more than 2,500+ individuals and are one of the largest single-site employers in the villages/districts we operate. The government should positively look at generating employment through this non-polluting industry. And relief in terms of reduced GST, exemption from e-invoicing or any state-level tax burden like local body tax (LBT) would have been a blessing for the amusement park industry.”
Tourism: Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel, “Union Budget 2021 focused on infrastructure, agriculture, healthcare, education and industrial sectors. While the Union Budget 2021 did not directly address several of the demands being made by the travel and tourism industry, it addressed a relatable need that acts as a medium for growth of the infrastructure sector. More economic corridors are being planned to boost road infrastructure with an allocation of 1.18 Lakh Crore. The government has set an ambitious target of building infrastructure in the country with special scheme to nudge states to spend more of their budget on infrastructure, providing Rs 1.10 Lakh Crore for railways, privatizing of airports and Indian railways national rail plan for India to prepare a future-ready railway system by 2030. These contribute towards sustainable growth within the tourism sector. With airports to be privatized in tier 2 and 3 cities, it will improve regional connectivity. Addressing concerns like immediate waiver / rationalisation of 5% TCS for outbound tourism, rationalisation of taxes will create the necessary boost for the tourism segment.”
Fashion: Ashish Jain, Director and CEO, Iatric Industries Pvt. Ltd.- Von Wellx Germany, “After one of the toughest years for the economy, the biggest positive of the budget is that there are no negatives like major increased burden on the business with special covid cess, taxes or so. While at the same time, they have tried several measures to simplify business challenges, easier compliance showing moves in the right direction. Ease of doing business with less compliance in terms of reopening of cases, creation of level playing field with increased custom duties, motivation for MSME and startup with tax holiday extension and higher coverage limits, Increasing spending in infrastructure and health care. For the footwear industry there are no major benefits. We were looking for production linked incentives being announced for footwear and leather, for it being one of top employment sectors of the world. Also increased leather prices would make things difficult for leather footwear exports and domestic prices. Also, the major con for the budget is that there are no major benefits for the MSME and business sector to support them in one of their worst crisis.”
Entertainment and news: K. Madhavan, President of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, “This is a growth-oriented budget that will provide a strong and much-needed impetus to the economic growth engines in the wake of the pandemic. The focus on privatisation and providing support for startups and innovation is likely to benefit the overall corporate sector and in-turn help the media and entertainment industry, as it will lead to strong advertising growth. I believe this budget can pave the way for the resurgence of economic growth in a significant and impactful manner.”
Startup: Nitesh Salvi, Founder and CEO, Pocket52, “If 2020 has taught us something, that’s the importance of good health. Not just ours but of people in general. And the key to good health is strong immunity. Apart from Covid-19 vaccine coming in, many other measures need to be taken to educate people on having strong immunity. Also, to have a hygienic lifestyle. And for that investing in the health sector and human capital is of utmost importance. Indian Government launched the Startup India Initiative back in the year 2016 with the idea to increase wealth and employability – giving wings to entrepreneurial spirits. So definitely, for the old start-ups another year of tax holiday has no importance. As they would be well-funded by now and then paying TAX would not be a challenge anymore. And the ones which are not well-funded have crossed the time-limit of tax holiday. For the new and budding start-ups it can definitely act as a confidence-boosting attribute but as a good entrepreneur and citizen, I would still want to focus on reducing operational costs and enhancing profits rather than saving taxes.