The past year saw an unprecedented calamity across the world, the COVID 19 Pandemic and the subsequent lockdown across the world bought the world and India to a standstill. The new normal in a world where Covid-19 unfortunately has become part of our life and will bring about many changes in the way businesses will be conducted, and more importantly the way we live our life.
In a world post-lockdown where the rules of the game have changed, we are seeing a tectonic change in the way we communicate and conduct businesses. We are seeing green shoots and the industry is gearing up for the new normal.
We spoke to Business leaders across various industries for their Expectations on the Budget in 2021
Neena Dasgupta (CEO and Director, Zirca Digital Solutions)
With 2020 in the rear-view and considering how it went, I would want 2 things to be included in this year’s budget. One Government providing support to SMB sector for digital transformation. If we want the economy to fast track to recovery and be stronger in future to brave any slowdowns, we need to ensure that the SMB sector is well equipped, digitally for future growth. And secondly, I hope that govt, who is constantly talking about digital India, starts looking differently at the companies who are driving digital growth. If you want digital companies to drive the next level of growth, you can’t tax them like any other company from any other sector.
Aditya Bafna, MD at Seva Group
One of the key ways to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic is to increase the revenue prospects of the retail sector. The Union Budget 2021 must focus on increasing spending capacity of the household. To do so, the centre must reduce GST on the readymade garments that our sector has been eyeing on for long. By making the sector physically and digitally strong and eradicating supply chain inadequacies can the government create an organized retail ecosystem in India. The central government must also emphasize on the National Retail Policy in order to help start-ups by streamlining the licensing process, improving infrastructure and giving a touch of modernization to the sector. Encouraging foreign direct investments is another way that the budget 2021 can help retailers to improvise their business models and add digitization to them.
Amit Gupta, Managing Director, Httpool India
Budget 2021 carries a lot of responsibility to revive specific sectors like tourism, services & apparel, which have been hit hard by the pandemic. These sectors contribute considerably to advertising revenues. Given the fact that the situation becomes better with the arrival of vaccination, we should see higher consumer consumption & demand. This budget should help with sops to get these verticals back on track. Another essential boost will be required in the MSMEs sector to help create more job opportunities & help to bridge the loss of employment caused during the pandemic. MSMEs also play an essential role in creating Make in India products & later taking the products to the global map. Advertising has seen saturation or slower growths with large brands & now the industry is looking ahead to MSMEs for additional growth.
Finally, we also expect the government to continue with its policy of growing & liberalizing the digital economy. The growth has to be inclusive & now come from rural India, which is dependent primarily on agriculture & handicrafts.
Milan Thakkar, CEO, Walplast
The current Budget is an opportune time for the government to continue its momentum and support towards the MSME sector. Thus the government needs to focus on expanding the Atmanirbhar Bharat sentiment that was announced by the government last year. This includes further expanding and encouraging local production and supply chains through partnerships with MSMEs. The government should also consider rewarding businesses and organizations who have been making time-payments to the MSME sector through tax incentives. The Budget should also focus on improving infrastructure especially in the rural sector as this will help bolster businesses in the short and long term. The government should also look at expanding its skill development programs to help labourers across the country. This will be an opportune time to help improve the labour force skills in the long term which is beneficial for both the labourers as well as businesses. Last, but not the least, the government needs to look at smoothening the loan application process for the MSMEs through reforms in loan application policies for collaterals, interest rates as well as credibility checks.
Ambika Sharma, Founder and MD, Pulp Strategy
Digital has not reached its full potential from both a depth and breadth perspective there is more to be achieved. As the digital adoption increases in T3 T4 and non-urban areas there will be an increase in regional language content and in turn localized advertising will grow, the future of digital will follow a similar trend like newspapers or television did decades ago, localized content and proliferation of platforms. ad spending in the Digital Advertising market is projected to reach US$398,762m in 2021 and the market’s largest segment is Search Advertising with a projected market volume of US$171,641m in 2021. In FY2020, the revenue generated by digital advertising across India was valued at around Rs 199 billion. In India, the digital ad revenue in the country will be worth almost Rs 540 billion by fiscal year 2024, while the television and print ad revenues were projected to reach about Rs 455 billion and Rs 276 billion rupees respectively. These numbers clearly show that India is heading towards a digital advertising future. I would not venture and say that we are even midway yet.
Engagement has always been the centre focus; it is the largest contributor to ROI in advertising. Planned and sustained engagement with the brand is important to improve confidence, increase consumer satisfaction and drive loyalty. Loyalty translates into consistent brand adoption. It’s good for business.
The government has taken many definitive steps in improving digital adoption, Digidhan, MyGov, Openforge and other government initiatives like digital payments, each time that the government adopts a digital platform or promotes one, it is taking a definitive step to improve adoption of digital and nudge a larger percentage of 1.3 Billion of us on to digital, driving mass acceptance and unlocking the potential of digital in the country.
Any new stimulus that you are expecting in terms of flexi policies/ sops/infra/taxes etc. Covid 19 has hit businesses hard, technology adoption for businesses especially MSME has taken a backseat except in the most essential areas. The government can look at SOP’s for MSME’s adopting technology this will give a boost to MSME’s as well as to the digital industry. There are many initiatives for small businesses that have been launched in last 2 years, I think it is important to refocus on them and set a TAT or improve the efficiency of those policies or systems. Improving efficiency should be of importance.
Sonam Shah, Founder and CEO, Treize Communications
Business owners and entrepreneurs have high expectations from this year’s Budget, as it will be the first in a post-pandemic economy. Our Finance Minister, Ms.NirmalaSitharaman has promised a “never before” like Union Budget and I am expecting that it will live up to that. I expect the upcoming Budget to focus more on reviving the country’s economy and bringing in relief for SME’s, MSME’s, and entrepreneurial business models. With payments and cashflow being affected badly this year, I look forward to some strict norms and policies in late payments due.
A lot of people may face a struggle in paying taxes on time this year, so a one-time tax-cut policy will be very helpful, for individuals under a certain income slab.
With income not being stable and jobs being lost, there should be some ease for the common man, when it comes to paying EMI’s and interest.
Also, with multiple changes being introduced in the tax and GST procedures, there have been many challenges cropped up for independent businesses across India. While digitisation is important, we, in India, have a lot of businesses that are run by individuals who cannot easily adapt to the new ways of digital working. There is an overburden in compliance, which increases overhead costs for any business. There should be a substitute method for this too.
It is imperative to understand that small businesses across India, including freelancing individuals, hold great importance in reviving the country’s economy at a fast rate, so this sector must be provided a lot of ease and support.
Dr.Smita Naram, Co-Founder, Ayushakti
This Budget is the first one in the post-pandemic economy and our FM has ensured it will be like never before. From our Ayurveda industry, any Ayurvedic product when gets exported from an organization, gets an incentive of 3%, this can be increased up to 5%. The GST on ayurvedic products is 12% which can be reduced up to 5% for the benefit of any Ayurvedic organizations. These 2 steps can help in the increase in the working capital of an organization.
The Government can also come up with a plan or scheme for expansion of Ayurvedic industry since it has boomed very largely in last 1 year. Providing special loans at a very subsidized rate for farming of herbal organic plantation is the same as it is given to the farmers of essential commodities. The interest rate 7% PA and processing fees at 0- 1% that will increase the export of Ayurvedic products in other countries.