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Budget wish ranges from GST rates, wellness to Water ATMs

Jan 31, 2019

OneWorld brings a wishlist from various sectors from the upcoming interim budget of the NDA government.

With this being the election year, NDA Government is all set to present its last budget, the Interim budget or vote on account, on February 1, 2019. Various sections of the society have expressed their opinions about the expectations they hold from the upcoming budget. Here is a wishlist from some of the organisations.

Parag Agarwal, Founder & CMD of Janajal on water sector

Growth of the social sector is critical to the development of India. The Government of India needs to build strong focus on making safe drinking water available to people at an affordable cost. It is imperative that drinking water be priced so that it is valued and thereby made available in a consistent and sustainable manner.

Decentralised water infrastructure is the order of the day and water ATMs are the ideal alternative that besides safe water, also deliver jobs and social entrepreneurship opportunities to people.

The Government should issue a national level water ATM policy and allocate funds to every State specifically for such projects so that they can be implemented across urban and rural areas besides smart cities and industrial belts.

Debt financing should be made available from nationalised banks for installation and operation of water ATMs to encourage individuals to work as social entrepreneurs and serve communities besides earn a respectable livelihood.”

Dr Rishi Mohan Bhatnagar, President, Aeris India

With the initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ empowering the IT sector, I believe that the government must take some concrete steps towards lowering the GST slab in the device manufacturing.

This solely comes from the fact that this will give a boost to the R&D centres across the country to develop new innovative sensors and devices. It is crucial to focus in supporting innovation within the country to ensure India’s pace in development in the IT sector.

Another area that could use some attention is the need to rationalise the spectrum license fees for IoT as the sector is gaining developmental momentum and the time has come that India brings in the change to ensure smooth functioning. To boost India’s innovation journey it is also a must to increase the focus on skills development on IoT and AI to prepare Indian talent for future job skills.

Nakkyun Chong, CEO & Founder, Avenue11

Looking forward, we believe that e-commerce growth will be boosted by two factors- first, a continued and strengthened focus on investments in digital infrastructure resulting in the reduction of data costs for the public and making the internet more accessible for all Indians.

Second, increasing incentives for digital payments over cash will not only boost digital growth, but also create a lower barrier to entry for the common man. We believe these two factors working in tandem will not just increase e-commerce penetration in the already technologically-adept Tier I cities, but also prove to be the driving force behind large-scale e-commerce adoption in Tier II and Tier III cities.

As far as expectations go, we welcome simplification of the regulations around accepting foreign direct investments. Opening up this channel would allow us to focus more on our overall customer experience.

Additionally we believe that moving forward, a concrete vision and stance policy-wise will help us not only comply to legislation but also focus on our next steps without worrying about sudden policy shifts. "

Ashish Sarin, Director and CEO, AlphaCorp

The real estate sector is expected to witness a boost in budget 2019. Keeping the trend of promoting affordable housing alive this year, the major demand in budget is extension of income tax exemption applicable to current affordable housing units. Another prominent expectation from the government will be single window clearance system. Reduction of GST on under construction projects upto 5% from 12% will be a significant demand in the upcoming budget.

Ssumit Berry, Managing Director, BDI Group

2019 will be the year of growth and development for Indian real estate. We expect the budget 2019 will be in favor of the sector. Additional income tax deduction will encourage more homebuyers to invest in the affordable housing segment.

Bringing stamp duty within the purview of GST and other tax benefits to the affordable centric realty market will turn government’s affordable housing dream into reality.

Akshay Verma, Co-Founder, FITPASS

There is a fitness crisis in our country. 1 in 3 Indians is medically unfit. And we need to fix this urgently. As part of our ongoing consultations with the Ministry of Finance, it is our recommendation that for Budget 2019 the government encourages people to invest in their own fitness.

Expenses on fitness services/memberships should also be included under Section 80D to extend tax benefits like those currently given for medical expenses. So, instead of only helping people with tax benefits once they fall sick, we make fitness accessible and affordable for millions of Indians to stay healthy and contribute productively to the growth of the nation.”

Dr KK Aggarwal, President of Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI)

The union budget last year focused on the Ayushman Bharat Programme – the new flagship National Health Protection Scheme. This was aimed at providing a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh a family per annum with an expected benefit to 10 crore vulnerable families -- with approximately 50 crore beneficiaries.

We hope that the budget this year will place more focus on Ayushman Bharat by creating benefits under the scheme addressing people who are not covered yet but eligible and also cover additional 10% given reservations form upper class.

The government should ensure 100% universal insurance coverage in the country. Another aspect that needs attention is the provision of enough subsidies for Ayushman only hospitals wanting to become a part of the scheme.

The government, we hope, will also address prevention and harm reduction to a large extent apart from the social determinants of health to achieve the desired results and sustain them. A common budget allocated for various health programmes will ensure more intersectoral cooperation and knowledge sharing. This will also avoid any overlap in programmes in these ministries to a large extent and result in saving of financial outflow.

All in all, we look forward to a budget that focuses on overall health and wellness thereby contributing to better productivity. Positive policies that will make healthcare more simple, affordable and accessible to common people are the need of the hour.

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