Budget 2021 Expectations From India’s Most Influential Founders, CEOs, CTOs: Find Out What Indian Startups Need In 2021

Budget 2021 Expectations From India's Most Influential Founders, CEOs, CTOs: Find Out Indian Startups Need In 2021
Budget 2021 Expectations From India’s Most Influential Founders, CEOs, CTOs: Find Out Indian Startups Need In 2021

As Govt of India is all set to announce the most anticipated #Budget2021, we asked India’s leading entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs and CTOs about their expectations and hopes from the Govt.

Since a pandemic slowed down India’s growth, and millions of jobs were lost all around, this budget is important, and critical for India’s future.

Let’s find out what India’s most influential business leaders expect from the Govt in 2021.

Budget 2021 Expectations & Hopes From Leading Business Leaders

CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra:

“2020 has been an unprecedented year and we hope that the upcoming budget will address the challenges faced by businesses and propel the economy towards faster recovery and growth. Digital technology and connectivity continue to be the cornerstone of India’s growth and leadership. The pandemic accelerated the shift to digital and we need to maintain this growth momentum, as it will have a cascading effect on creating efficient businesses, new jobs and all round development. R&D (Research and Development) spending must be increased in order to accelerate digital transformation and jumpstart education with focus on next-gen technologies, skilling, reskilling and upskilling programs, to nurture our young talent pool and thus accelerate our journey towards an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self-reliant India). We also hope to see focused initiatives to boost consumer sentiment, accelerate infrastructure development, move towards a lower interest rate regime and increase investments in key areas including healthcare and education. From an IT (Information Technology) perspective, we expect the government to create a fund for product companies along with extended SEZ (Special Economic Zone) benefits in the new normal of remote working, besides nurturing an ecosystem for deep tech startups in areas including blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality. India is on the path of a higher growth trajectory and the vision of a $5 trillion economy can be achieved with focus on economic growth and development.”

Mr. Bhavin Turakhia, Founder & CEO, Flock and Co-Founder and CEO, Zeta:

“We believe the two most important sectors for the Government to focus on in the upcoming Union Budget should be healthcare and technology. Given the current vaccination drive, healthcare should continue to remain a key focus this year. Similarly, with the ongoing pandemic, technology has become imperative in many industry sectors—education, BFSI, healthcare, and even manufacturing have realized the importance of jumping on the digital bandwagon. Additionally, the government should invest in strengthening technologies around communication platforms, digital payments, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the internet of things. It is vital that the budget draws out bold policy interventions to strengthen digital infrastructure which will eventually help the Indian economy return to its fast-paced growth phase.

Rohit Kapoor, CEO, OYO – India & South Asia:

“This year’s Union Budget is expected to be truly reformative given the unpredictable circumstances we are presently in. As the entire country prepares for the upcoming budget, a focus on growth-oriented measures, economic reforms and inclusive growth will be critical to bring the COVID-battered economy back on track. With turbulent economic recovery trends, we expect further streamlining of regulations in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries to spur greater demand amongst domestic and international travellers for accommodations. We are hopeful for some stimulus package, uniform taxation, an extension of the moratorium period so that our small hotel partners can benefit from the required working capital to sustain these challenging times and thereby, meet their operational costs, retain jobs and boost domestic tourism, an integral contributor towards India’s robust revival story.
Technology continues to play an enabling role in opening doors to new industries and new roles, most notably in fintech, food tech, ridesharing, e-commerce deliveries, education, logistics and now in hospitality. The government should continue to promote entrepreneurship to foster a culture of innovation using emerging technologies like making regulatory processes easier and offering incentives to those who set up their start-ups in remote towns.”

Mr. Manish Sharma, President and CEO, Panasonic India and South Asia:

“India’s lockdown in Q1 of FY21 did have a significant impact on the GDP which contracted an unprecedented 23.9 percent. However, over the last few months, macroeconomic indicators are showing signs of recovery. RBI also predicts that the economic shrinkage is over and GDP will grow in the next few quarters. The government continues to show commitment towards introducing long-due reforms leading to ‘Ease of Doing Business,’ making India ‘AtmaNirbhar’ by promoting ‘Make in India’ initiatives aggressively.

With this backdrop, we strongly believe that the consumer durables and electronics industry has the potential to help our economy recover faster. And, our expectation from the Union Budget 2020 is to see reforms that drive consumption and improve consumer demand. “

Sandeep Lodha, CEO, OYO’s Weddingz.in:

“The wedding industry although known to be recession-proof has also faced the brunt of the pandemic like all other businesses. With the cultural significance weddings hold in India, while the industry is gradually pacing towards its recovery, it is imperative for the government to give impetus and aid rebound of the sector through consideration in Union Budget 2021.

We suggest two things:

To provide some financial relief for the banquets that have paid GST for FY19-20, provide them with 25% of the GST amount or credit. This will definitely help small and medium hotel owners sustain operations.

Additionally, there is a growing need for the formalization of the sector. The wedding industry is an unorganized sector and formalizing it will provide a level playing field for players across the board. We are hopeful that the Union Budget will lower the GST for banquets and other ancillary wedding services from 18% to 5% [and 2% in the short term] to bring about resurgence to both consumers and businesses.”

Surya Phadke, Chairman at Doot said, “Pre-Budget Expectations: For budget 2021 we hope the government takes definitive actions for realizing the dream of a truly Atmanirbhar Bharat. For attracting investments in the MSME and startup sectors we hope the Hon’ble Finance Minister can ease reduction of taxation on dividend distribution and capital gains. The authorities also must open government sourcing/tenders to start-ups and ease access to such opportunities to all MSME sectors.
This growth in demand must also be coupled with policy changes to improve cash flow and thereby liquidity in the MSME sectors. We recognize the need to increase tax collection to match increase in government spending, however increasing advance tax collection hampers cash flow and thereby growth especially for small and medium enterprises.
The government must take a long term view on not only bringing the economy back on track to pre-pandemic levels but also strengthening our manufacturing and technology sectors to become a net-exporter of all goods and not just IT.
Lastly, we also hope the Hon’ble FM can ease compliance procedures and move to a complete digital solution and reduce the need for multiple repetitive procedures, which takes away significant resources from focusing on growth – that actually matters.

Karthikeyan Natarajan, President and Chief Operating Officer, Cyient:

“It will be a critical Budget as India battles the twin challenges of economic slowdown and COVID pandemic.

We hope the Budget lays down a clear roadmap for a higher Innovation Quotient and sets vision to carve India into an Innovative Economy by 2050. This would require India to grow from 0.5 % of R&D spend to the GDP to improve to 1.5% by end of this decade and reach 2.5-3% by 2050. At Cyient, we are hopeful of an increased Research and Innovation enabling more IP to come from India in the budget from the Finance Minister. Companies are also eagerly awaiting a central Research & Innovation Fund to help build up intellectual property out of the country. This will not only help domestic technology companies but attract global clients to set up their engineering centres out of India.

At Cyient, we have outlined areas of Sustainable Mobility, Smart Manufacturing & Digital plants, Clean plants for Semicon/Pharma industries, smart Healthcare as areas of innovation/IP internally. We would like to request to create innovation clusters across India and help realize the Vocal for Local commitment.”

Mr. Sunil Kulkarni, CEO and head of Business Correspondent Federation of India (BCFI):

“While urban banked customers are reaping the benefits of UPI and mobile banking services, the Business Correspondents (BC) Industry – the last mile in branchless banking, is hoping that the upcoming budget will implement the recommendation of RBI constituted “Report of High-Level Committee on Deepening of Digital Payments-May 2019″ headed by Nandan Nilekani for under-banked urban/rural population by making BC originated and terminated transactions of IMPS and AEPS exempted from GST, which is currently levied at an effective rate of 27% on these customers. Considering the business correspondent’s fraternity serves the lower bracket of the income pyramid, the tax bracket is very high. Additionally, for better penetration of financial services to the masses, BC’s should be permitted to offer products and services of more than one or two banks. The industry has already witnessed the critical role BC’s played during the pandemic lockdown by helping deliver banking and financial services to the last mile. We hope our concerns get highlighted and resolved with favourable policies during the budget announcement.”

CEO of CarWale & BikeWale, Mr. Banwari Lal Sharma:

“Although the pandemic has caused ripples across industries, it has turned out to be an ill wind for the automotive industry to some extent. With increased focus on personal mobility, sales of PVs have considerably seen an uptake towards the later half of 2020. Also, the lockdown has compelled auto players to realize the significance of digital transformation for the sake of customer convenience, process automation, easy operations and a truncated car buying and selling journey.

However, while we continue to march forward, we expect Union Budget 2021 to address some fundamental issues that the industry has been dealing with. Firstly, GST rates to be lowered to 18% to boost demand across all segments of PVs and CVs in India and to assuage the burden of taxation on first-time buyers. Focus on augmenting the financing framework for implementing ‘soft approvals’ on loans for car buyers, on par with consumer durable loans will go a long way in boosting demand. Also, introduction of vehicle scrappage policy is the need of the hour. Although this may take some time to culminate, in the interim, the government can announce incentives for self scrapping of End of Life vehicles that are in contradiction with the emission requirements. Recycling parts of these scrapped vehicles will also allow domestic manufacturers to cater to the widening demand-supply gap.

Sharad Malhotra, President, Nippon Paint India – Automotive Refinishes & Wood Coatings:

“As the economy recovers post Covid, pent-up demand has pushed up consumption within the country. For Union Budget 2021, measures that will boost demand further and aid consumer sentiment remain the most important aspect for our industry. We are also looking forward to the government incentivizing consumers through tax breaks and other measures. We are hopeful of enhanced measures that will increase India’s ranking in Ease of Doing Business and meet Government’s target to scale up manufacturing to 25 per cent of the GDP.

Going into the next decade, smaller cities and towns are expected to be key consumption drivers and we have realigned our business strategy to outperform in the new normal. As further growth opportunities get unlocked, we are confident that our sector will be able to add to the economic growth of the nation.”

Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco India:

“We expect the budget to act as a much-needed catalyst for boosting demand, curbing inflation and thereby reviving the economy. There is a need to undertake definite policy measures and provide fiscal stimulus to ensure financial recovery and spur economic growth, specifically across, sectors, like healthcare, EdTech, Infrastructure and Manufacturing. We are also hopeful that the budget will address measures essential for an accelerated digital transformation. This includes investment in R&D, automation technologies, skilling and development of a talent pool trained in digital age skills which will help accelerate the pace of development.”

Mr. Harsha Kadam, CEO Schaeffler India and President Industrial Business:

“Budget declaration is an exciting part of the year and considering the year we faced in 2020, everyone is looking forward to this year’s budget. Amongst the many sectors affected the auto industry was surely one of the worst hit even prior to the pandemic. Budget 2021 is an opportunity to bring in measures that can help to boost a sustainable growth for the industry. The auto components industry will also see more investments if further clarity is provided on the PLI Scheme announced in 2020. Implementation of the scrappage policy will also improve sales that will benefit the industry and environment. From an overall manufacturing industry perspective, stabilization of raw material prices is of importance to the industry, promoting finished good exports will in turn increase forex reserve and a positive step. The industry also requires some relief in custom duties especially for raw materials and other manufacturing elements. The government is putting efforts in public spending on infrastructure projects that are driving the core sector industries. Considering the year 2020 and the effects of pandemic, government should also focus on steps that will enable job creation, which will be a critical success factor. Budget 2021 is hope for many industries and we are looking forward to it with anticipation. “

Amit Raj Singh, Co-Founder, Gemopai:

“Last year, the pandemic impact was tough on an already low performing Automotive sector. Despite all the challenges, EV adoption continued to increase and Government’s constant support in helping EV companies reduce cost of the ownership by offering subsidies and other incentives, is highly commendable. We hope that in this budget, the government considers reducing the GST rate on lithium ion batteries. This would go a long way in providing a relief to the EV Manufacturers in the country and effectively increase the adoption of Value-for-Money EVs like Gemopai.”

Sunil Sharma, Managing Director- Sales, India & SAARC, Sophos:

“The pandemic and ensuing lockdown in 2020, saw a huge proportion of organisations pulling out all the stops to ensure their employees can work both remotely and seamlessly. However, the sudden shift to work from home also threw open several opportunities for cybercriminals to take advantage of. As businesses return to offices, it will be a different challenge to regain cyber hygiene due to tampered settings and multiple uses of office devices.

This year’s Union Budget will be one that organisations across industry sectors are looking forward to. We believe it should take into account necessary provisions for companies to secure their operations from cybercriminals and ensure complete compliance. This can be done through incentives and tax subsidies.

As per our recent survey, with 100% Indian businesses being concerned about their current level of cloud security, there is a need for initiatives to develop cybersecurity skill sets that also take care of security of cloud environment which is the backbone of accelerated digital transformation that India is witnessing due to the pandemic.”

Dukaan App- Vaibhav Tolia, COO, Dukaan App:

“2020 has been a tough year for everyone but the worst affected segment has been SMBs across the country. They were forced into lockdowns multiple times and while their businesses were primarily offline.
Our expectations from 2021 budget is to empower these businesses with financial support as well as weather-proof them from black swan events.
Digital first SMBs can weather such events and thrive in the consumer economy which is quickly moving online. Regulatory framework & compliances needs to be thought from a SMB perspective, making it easier for them to do their business digitally and not be dependent on large e-commerce providers.
Government should also focus on incentivising businesses that are willing to transition to the digital era. India has millions of entrepreneurs fueling one of the fastest growing GDP globally, digital first should become the precursor to Digital India.”

Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director at Syska Group:

““With the ongoing pandemic and a challenging 2020 for businesses across industry sectors, everyone is looking forward to the Union Budget 2021 that will be presented soon. We believe the government can offer support to the manufacturing industry through tax reforms and by supporting the expansion of distribution and supply chains. Further, the Government could also look at mitigating the legal procedures involved in establishing manufacturing facilities in the country, under its ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative. In the last few years, the government led by Modi Ji has brought about a slew of policies and reforms to ensure economic prosperity of the country. Last year, the honorable Prime Minister Shri Modi Ji introduced the production incentive scheme (PLI) scheme with an aim to offer opportunities for home-grown and international electronic businesses to improve their manufacturing competences in India. We are confident that the Modi Ji’s Government will consider this sentiment and enable India based organizations to avail of benefits that will help them establish a strong foothold from a manufacturing perspective.”

Satyajit Sahu, Co founder Livdemy:

“An Analytics First Approach:
Budgets till now have been seemingly built around trend chasing the latest consumption patterns with no substance behind the arbitrary taxation, and tax exemptions. I hope it sees a change this time around with some data that backs up the direction of how the budget allows financial mobility. More focused on low cost creation, instead of the anticipation of ancillary consumption like EVs.

Enabling Creators, not just Consumers:
It is an attention economy. There’s no doubt about that. What is visible, is what sells. EdTech enables people to go beyond their formal skillets and be generalists instead of specialists. It allows them to find their custom calling, and we think that’s important. The budget should reflect that, it should support the changing mindsets of Indian explorers and pioneers.

On Startups:
The government has done a great job in providing assistance to MSMEs and Startups over the last decade. We hope they have seen actualised results due to this and the trend continues to provide ease of transactions with governmental term sheets, and streamlines the floor for more employment generators to be comfortable with ambiguous fine print and bureaucratic red tape.”

Matthew Flannery, CEO and Co-founder, Branch Personal Finance App:

“2020 was a tough year for borrowers and lenders. Lenders saw a sharp increase in demand and subsequent delinquency rates. This in turn had tightened lending rules for most part of the year. With early signs of economic recovery, we are hoping the Government stimulates spending and increases liquidity in the market. It would be an excellent move from the government if there are economic stimulus packages that can aid both individuals and industries.”

TaxMantra Global- Alok Patnia, Managing Partner,TaxMantra Global:

“All inflows and outflows of funds into and outside India must go through stringent RBIScrutiny, reporting, and limits. They become a blocker for foreign investments into India as investors worry about the extant compliance not only during inflows but also when the funds are to be repatriated back, either the original investment amount, interest, or dividend. The institutional investors and investees still have the resources at their disposal to carry out the compliances, however, many times it becomes a deal ‘breaker’ for smaller investors impacting the smaller MSMEs / startups seeking such funds.”

Mr. Bharat Goyal, Founder & Director, BHARTIYAM INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL:

“In our country, the core services provided by schools, colleges and universities remain outside the umbrella of GST. Having said this, there are out-of-school education like hobby classes, sports training that are taxed 18 per cent and when they are passed on to the parents, they feel the pinch. One expects reconsideration of GST slab on supplementary education in the upcoming budget.

There needs to be an increase in facilities that aim to build capacity of the teachers, and the support extended to the anganwadi workers should be bolstered. The expense for the same is huge which is why budgetary allocation for the education sector has to be stepped up from the existing levels. It needs to be mentioned here that as things stand right now, the current level of around is only around three percent of GDP.”

RoboGenius- Sudhanshu Sharma, Founder & CEO, RoboGenius:

“The Govt. should look at reducing or removing GST altogether, which at present is a hefty 18%, from Coding, Robotics and A.I. Educational classes outside the formal school framework. It will be big help to make this segment affordable and accessible for all. Learning to Code, Build Robots and A.I. systems is essential for securing the future of India’s young people and making India “Atamanirbhar”. The future of India becoming a powerful self-sustained nation lies in the quality education and futuristic approach that RoboGenius takes. This sector will benefit from reducing the taxes and giving a breather to the parents who are taking the blow of Covid times. Our kids and their future should not suffer irrespective of the economy ups and downs.”

Mrityunjay Shahi, Founder & CEO, SalaryDost:

“The year 2020 was unexceptional for every sector. Though the Fintech sector seemed to be profitable, it faced a lot of challenges in the Financial year. We are expecting a few key steps that should be taken by the Ministry of Finance in this financial year. First of all, there must be a regulatory authority assigned by RBI & Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY) to keep an eye on the fresh industry players. There should be a pre-defined set of rules & regulations for the startups to manage their businesses ethically; respecting the customer’s entity. Also, talking from the customer’s POV the Government should set up subsidiary bodies dealing with the Fintech startups concerning underprivileged customers who are failing to repay their dues. Last year the Finance ministry took some of the beneficiary decisions including tax relief on ESOPs and the reduction on corporate tax to 22% which is the lowest in the world. We are seeking simplified GST rules to smoothen the process for both the customers’ and company’s end”.

Mr. Nilesh Shah, Chairman and MD, Atlas Integrated Finance Ltd:

“With the disastrous effects that Covid19 had on everyone`s lives, businesses and the Indian economy, the expectations from the upcoming Union Budget 2021 is sky high. The unemployment rate though has come down from 23.52% in April 2020 to 9.06% in Dec 2020, is still on the higher side. At Atlas Integrated Finance Ltd, we have identified some sectors which can help India solve its falling GDP and unemployment problem, if those sectors get the necessary support from the government in this Budget. We think the necessary exemptions in the below sectors will pave the path for a resounding growth of the economy”

Lakshmi Mittra, VP and Head, Clover Academy:

“As enterprises move on with their business continuity plans for 2021 after a year full of tech disruptions, the aim should now be to adapt fully to the new normal, and upskilling and reskilling are an integral part of this process. Organizations now need to focus on holistic development of employees and not just on technical skillset enhancement. Since, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and augmentation are increasingly getting integrated in the workplace, digital literacy has become an imperative for employees to function seamlessly in the post COVID – 19 era. Training and reskilling at organizational level is not going to help the workforce of future. The government need to take this opportunity to re-look at university curricula and skilling programmes and update it with relevant digital-age skills. It must create the technology infrastructure and internet penetration to create a democratized opportunity to learn digital skills. Furthermore, it must come up with learning and development initiatives at various levels – national, state, districts and towns to train the fresh talent in these new-age skillsets that have become vital for survival in the new normal.”

Dhruvil Sanghvi, Chief Executive Officer, LogiNext:

“For India, this budget will probably be the most important one in decades. The world has changed and from our perspective, the pandemic has put all focus on the importance of Logistics and Technology. Global and national supply chain is of paramount criticality in 2021 and beyond. This sector is the backbone of modern civilization and the Indian government should look at ways to simplify global trade. We build from India for the world and increasingly, more technology startups would be doing this. Currently, there is a very high degree of compliance and paperwork which makes it difficult for technology companies to serve the global audience and this forces companies to shift base outside the country. Urgent steps in this direction will help high growth companies keep base in India, generate employment across the spectrum and help revive the national economy after the shock of the pandemic.”

Mr.Ram Iyer, Founder & CEO,Vayana Network:

“The Union budget 2021 should look into the following with urgency:

GST relief for the SMEs and MSMEs: There should be rationalization of GST rates on various goods and services which are used by SMEs and MSMEs. e.g., Supply Chain Management Service, HR services, Services of Chartered accountants, Under Construction property as well as on Passenger and Commercial Vehicles etc. The new rule that restricts use of input tax credit (ITC) for discharging GST liability to 99 % effective January 1, 2021 should also be relaxed in the budget, as this will make more cash available in the hands of MSMEs to fund their growth and increase their working capital. Especially as most of them have had very rough 2020

Incentivising digitization for smaller players :The E-invoicing regime is about to start for >5 crore turnover companies from 1st April 2021. This will be a great push for digitization for SMEs. However, the Budget should make special provisions for SMEs to help them adopt E-invoicing via certain incentives such as providing free (or special priced) E-invoicing applications for such SMEs.

Incentivising the lending sector: The key is to make CKYC and NBFC-AA validated bank credentialized KYC as sufficient for any lender to assume KYC done. This is especially for MSME’s.

Providing benefits to lending players beyond banks : Banks will continue to grow at customary 1.5 x of GDP, The opportunity and need is to scale lending 10x for unbanked/lightly banked, which can be helped by fintechs and non banks, anything that helps this cause in the budget will be welcome, as it opens the door to credit for a larger audience.

Also, the borrower downloaded credit reports (digitally signed by the rating agency) should be considered as good enough rather than lending institutions retrieving credit rating reports and downgrading the credit score of the borrower. The former does not result in downgrade.”

Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby:

“PayNearby’s retail network has worked tirelessly to ensure seamless access to financial services, especially during the peak lockdown months last year. 93% of our business correspondent network has been committed to working in tier 2 and tier 3 towns, serving as the sole point of cash disbursal in locations with limited financial infrastructure. However, the commission rates for BC services are very low to make it a profitable business. Additionally, BCs, by default, come under the 27% GST and 5% TDS on cash withdrawal even after the tax act having enabling provisions. This makes it difficult for them to stay afloat.”

“We hope that this Budget takes into consideration the tough working condition of the BC network and make a few regulatory changes to ensure the viability of a community that has been vital to the cause of financial inclusion in the country. To continue sustaining the competitive advantage in Digital proliferation in India, restoring normal MDR on transactions will incentivise the digital ecosystem and facilitate a smoother growth trajectory towards innovation.”

Mandar Agashe, Founder, MD and Vice Chairman, Sarvatra Technologies:

““With the world’s largest immunisation drive already underway, economic recovery will be the major focus of the government. Despite the wreck created, the pandemic has offered a huge impetus to digital penetration all throughout the country, which has accelerated in the unlock phase. It is therefore critical the budget draws out bold policy interventions to strengthen digital infrastructure which will eventually help in digitising the overall economy.”

Sudarshan Lodha, Co-founder, Strata:

“Considering the real estate sector is the second-largest employer in the country and directly or indirectly, accounts for approx.10 percent of the GDP, it deserves serious attention in the upcoming budget. Within realty the commercial real-estate has been a watch-out sector for investors both overseas and back home owing to its strong fundamentals and resilience. The government should therefore consider measures to further encourage more NRI investments in the country. For instance considering a reduction in the income earned from long-term capital gains would be helpful.

Sanjay Bhatia, Co-Founder, Freightwalla:

“In the year 2020, the pandemic brought global industries to their knees. The USD 160 billion Indian logistics industry was also not spared as it came to a standstill during the pandemic lockdown. The industry faced many challenges in terms of clearance, processing, and movement of shipments. Few technology-driven businesses managed to overcome some of the EXIM industry’s challenges during the pandemic. The stumbling-blocks faced by the exporters and importers could have been avoided if the entire ecosystem was working digitally. There is a pressing need for a complete digital transformation of the industry to handle international shipments efficiently. Consider the case of customs that have taken part in their processes online. There are still many things that need to be re-moulded with advanced technologies. We hope the union budget to announce suitable investments towards the digitization of the shipping and logistics sector. A leap towards the initiative will bring in transparency, reduction in cost, and better cost management. Digitization should also include implementing smart single-window clearance for smooth processing of shipments or approvals. Such initiatives will prepare us to tackle any untoward incidences in the future, like the current pandemic. Investments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and BlockChain technologies can facilitate complete transformation. It can boost productivity in every sector, and style pretty effective and successful workflow.”

Mr. Kishan Jain, Director, Goldmedal Electricals

“In 2020, the manufacturing sector faced several challenges due to the pandemic and ensuing lockdown. To help overcome the obstacles, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave it a fresh impetus by making it the centre of the Government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. The government introduced the production linked incentive (PLI) Scheme in November 2020 to help open up opportunities for domestic and global electronic businesses to increase their manufacturing capabilities. Even though such steps have been taken to counter the obstacles faced in 2020, there is a requirement in terms of providing further incentives to industry especially when it comes to manufacturing companies, in the forthcoming Union Budget 2021. The Government can focus on attracting foreign investment, adopting cutting-edge technology, and enhance exports in order to make India a global manufacturing hub, through its ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India; initiatives. This in turn will boost employment opportunities for citizens which is the need of the hour in a post-pandemic world. We look forward to policies that will leave more money in the hands of consumers as it will help boost demand in the economy.”

Niraj Hutheesing, Founder and Managing Director, Cygnet Infotech:

“The ’21 Union Budget provides two big opportunities. Firstly, boost economic growth by scaling investment in digitization. Secondly, drive technology enabled rationalization of the country’s tax infrastructure. The former will bring employment and self-employment opportunities for the youth through digital initiatives of Start-ups and MSMEs. The latter will enable businesses to thrive in a simplified indirect- tax compliance regime powered by new technologies like hyper automation. This will also ensure that the funds collected through GST are used efficiently and help in generating economic growth in this financial year. It is important to have a set framework and policy for GST compliance for all businesses in India, let us see how the government addresses this..”

Ms. Surabhi Goel, CEO, Aditya Birla World Academy, Aditya Birla Education Academy, The Aditya Birla Integrated School:

We believe one of the sectors that requires some focus in the upcoming Union Budget 2021 is education. With the pandemic and ensuing lockdown having disrupted the sector to a great extent, students and teachers were not prepared for the sudden shift to online forms of teaching and learning. This new normal in education calls for a renewed focus and investments in order for our educational institutions to be at par with their global counterparts. There is an increased need for investing in virtual forms of education and training through digital tools, upskilling and digital training for teachers through interactive mentoring sessions, leadership training and more. Further, the government can also bring to light the importance of easing the challenges faced by students with learning disabilities in order to build a conducive learning atmosphere that fuels their growth. We hope the government increases the funds allocated to the education sector especially when it comes to resources such as the internet as this will open up countless new opportunities for the sector to grow and thrive

Ram N Kumar, Founder, NirogStreet (Heath-tech):

“After the Narendra Modi government assumed office, the task of reviving India’s Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom got a new lease of life. The Central government has undertaken several initiatives to safeguard and generate mass awareness on the global stage around India’s traditional medicinal systems. In the past few years the government has actively promoted Ayurveda and supported the growth of pioneering research and medical facilities in the country. As the Modi government gears up for the Union Budget 2021, there is a dire need to focus on creating a robust ayurevda ecosystem, make Ayurveda Atmanirbhar and mainstream it for future generations to accept it as the first call of prevention and treatment. This is the right time for the Union budget to allocate funds to create a robust ecosystem supporting world class research, product development and drug discovery in the Ayurvedic sector. A significant price drop in Ayurvedic and immunity boosting medicines can promote the consumption of natural and ayurvedic products. This is only possible if Goods and Services Tax (GST) should be waived off for ayurvedic medicines and products. We expect the upcoming Union Budget to focus on creating a unique ecosystem for tech enabled startups who are reinventing and reimagining the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to make it more acceptable and palatable for millennials. India is the knowledge and talent hub for Ayurveda. There are over 4, 00,000 Ayurveda practitioners in India and over 350 Ayurveda medical colleges producing over 20, 000 medical graduates every year. The education budget must specifically address the gaps and the need to nurture more and more Ayurveda practitioners and scholars backed by modern research, drug discovery and evidence based medicine knowledge.”

Danish Ahmed, CEO, Hospals (India’s largest medical travel startup – Health-Tech):

“The Travel and Tourism sector has been badly hit in Covid, and Medical travel is the surest way to take this worst hit sector on the recovery path. Millions of people in Asia and Africa consider India as the healthcare center of the world. Thousands of patients have applied for visas, despite covid, and are waiting for flight volumes to increase .These patients contribute to revenues of hospitals, hotels, pharmacies, restaurants, airlines, taxis and indirectly provide employment to over 2 lac people. We hope the budget will allocate significant funds to promote medical tourism to India for allopathic and AYUSH related treatments. Governments in Turkey, UAE, Korea and Malaysia are spending millions to develop their medical tourism sector and give tough competition to India. We hope the India government will ear mark a fund of 1000 crores for investment and promotion of medical travel companies and medical value travel startups across India, enabling them to go out and attract foreign patients to India.”

Tarun Lawadia, Founder & CEO, PumPumPum (Auto-Tech):

“Auto industry has always been a key contributor to India’s economic growth and job creation. We expect the upcoming Union Budget to be a game-changer for all the sectors especially the worst-hit auto sector. India’s automotive growth story is waiting for the much-needed booster shot from the upcoming Union Budget 2021. Relief in the direct and indirect taxation, reduction of GST rates on vehicles, enhancing the disposable income of the salaried class, further incentives to make the auto manufacturing Atmanirbhar, incentivising EV manufacturing along with various policy-level initiatives can spur consumer demand and motivate the sector to drive faster on the road to recovery. Steps to curb rising raw material and fuel prices will aid both vehicle manufacturers and auto component makers in the long-term. In addition the budget should encourage the startup ecosystem for new consumer trends such as used car leasing, car rental, car subscription models etc. which are going to be the promising industries of the future and can boost the growth of Indian auto sector. As the pandemic has pushed the need for personal mobility, a huge population of first time vehicle buyers can be attracted by making cars cheaper by temporarily reducing the GST rate to 18% from the existing 28% and reducing the compensation cess rates. The government’s recent announcements on the promotion of EVs in India, especially for government use and public transport, is encouraging. The need of the hour is to put right policies, incentives, and charging infrastructure in place so as to introduce more and more EVs on the road.”

Sparsh Garg, Founder and CEO, Educlouds (India’s leading Edtech startup transforming educators and wannaedupreneurs of the post covid era):

“According to a KPMG estimate, the number of edtech startups in the country grew to 3,500 in the previous year. As per Government projections, India’s edtech expenditure could rise to $10 trillion by 2030. The ‘everything virtual’ norm set by the pandemic has ushered a new era of edtech growth and online education in India. Penetrating deeper into Urban and Rural India these unique tech enabled platforms are consistently shaping the future of education in India. To bridge the digital divide and strengthen India’s promising edtech startup ecosystem, we expect the government to provide better internet infrastructure, robust data protection systems and more tax exemptions in the upcoming Union Budget. By ensuring round-the-clock reliability of electricity supply, accessible and affordable high-speed internet, deeper penetration of cheaper connectivity devices such as notebooks, laptops, smartphones etc. to every nook and corner of the country, Government can support India in becoming the Global Hub for Digital Education. By creating a unique ecosystem combining traditional and online learning, the government can take Indian education system to newer heights. By incentivising the edtech sector, Union Budget can strengthen its roadmap of offering quality education accessible to all through simple and affordable tech innovations. 100% FDI in the inventory-based model will encourage capital for R&D investing disrupting new tech platforms for parents, students, teachers and educators. Considering the huge contribution of the edtech sector in assuring accessible and affordable education amid the pandemic, the existing 18% GST slab for the edtech sector can be further reduced to make quality digital education a reality for every Indian student.”

Mr. Gurmeet Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India Limited:

“I want to start by expressing my gratitude to all the front-line medical staff for their tireless and selfless efforts in helping us fight the pandemic. Over the past one year, we have witnessed the Central Government rising to the occasion by taking several bold steps to revive the economy and more specifically the manufacturing sector. The revision of the definition of MSME, introduction of several support provisions for MSMEs under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package and introduction of Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme, to name a few, have started to bring back the positive sentiment in this labor intensive sector. The proposal to cover Air Conditioning products under the Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP) and the imposition of import ban on refrigerant filled Air Conditioning units are expected to improve local manufacturing in our industry. As we begin to turn the page on the pandemic, the aftershocks of this pandemic, seen in the form of rising commodity prices, a sudden surge in ocean freight costs, rising fuel costs, rising NPAs in the banking sector to name a few, pose a serious threat to our economic recovery. It is a fact that our country lags behind our peers in the penetration of Room Air Conditioning, which is currently at around 6% – this is clearly a huge opportunity for growth. Putting Room ACs under 18% GST slab from the existing 28% would not only help the manufacturers in combating these cost increases but also support strong growth of the sector. As the Finance Ministry prepares to announce the budget in a few short weeks from now, we look forward to more such bold and decisive steps ‘unlike anything in the past 100 years.”

Mr. Nakul Pasricha, ASPA (Authentication Solution Provider’s Association):

“Needless to say that this union budget due to its timing is more crucial than ever. A precedent needs to be set for the future after re-analysing and re-prioritising what is important for the people of the country. We have been advocating that The government should adopt a strategy to fight counterfeiting in the country. Counterfeiting robs approximately INR 1 lakh crore every year from the government’s revenue, by reducing this loss the money could be directed towards public welfare and aid the country in time of crisis such as the one we are facing. With a global focus on the issue of counterfeiting and illicit trade situation has become a matter of national pride along with being a critical economic well-being and human well-being matter. It is encouraging to see that the government is paying attention to the counterfeiting issue – systems such as the COVIN app are being created and Hon’ble Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has said that ‘Vocal for Local is an extremely potent tool in the fight against illicit trade’. But, a national strategy for developing and nurturing an authentication ecosystem and committing resources to it is the only way that can effectively fight counterfeiting and illicit trade in the country. Smart and practical use of integrated technology and solutions need to be employed across industries nationwide to ensure health and safety of Indians. “

Mr. Prashant Solomon, Managing Director, Chintels India and Hon. Treasurer, CREDAI NCR:

“After a challenging 2020, as we enter 2021, there is a need for some more fiscal measures in the upcoming budget to accelerate growth in this important sector that generates demand for around 250 other industries. Further extension of the CLSS scheme for the next fiscal year, increase in tax incentives for home buyers, infrastructure status for the entire real estate sector and abolishing tax on unsold homes are some of the key demand of the industry. States on their part must cut stamp duty on registration of properties, as Maharashtra has done. If the government announces some positive measures on demand side in the Budget, housing sales will bounce back to reach pre-COVID level.”

Neetish Sarda – Founder Smartworks:

“With the Pandemic having accelerated the need for flexible office spaces, and coworking market poised for growth with new entrants, expectations are for a new/ reduced TDS bracket for service payment to coworking spaces. We hope the budget would also allocate more funds towards IT infra spending as we believe technology and digitization are the way forward for commercial real estate and coworking segment in specific.
There is a need for an industry status, single window clearance and reinstatement of Input Tax Credit in GST. We look forward to a stimulus to investments in commercial real estate in the upcoming union budget, thereby providing a significant fillip to the growth engine, creating jobs, and spur in demand. Another wish in the pan is that the government should provide for allowance of capital expenditure incurred by the companies in the coworking segment.”

Mr. Aloke Paskar, President & CEO, JK Technosoft Ltd:

“As the economy gets back on track to recovery, we expect the upcoming Union Budget to propagate export-led growth and continue with export benefits. This will help add to India’s foreign exchange reserves. As part of the Union Budget 2021, we hope that the government comes out with possible solutions like bringing down the tariffs and putting our exchange rates and trade facilitation properly. Our Government has been extensively promoting ‘Make in India’, which is great to boost the domestic industry through domestic consumption, but we should be selling the “Make in India” good aggressively and to the external world, as strong foreign exchange reserves will give India the power to grow exponentially”

Mr Rajesh Murthy, Founder Architect & Vice President (Engineering) Intellicus Technologies:

“The 2021 budget is going to be crucial, as the government sets out to revive the economy. Technology has emerged as one of the key drivers of growth in 2020 and is expected to further boost productivity and sustenance for businesses across sectors. Therefore, we believe that technology adoption and uptake should be one of the key priority areas for this year’s budget. Last year, we saw significant interest from businesses to leverage the power of data and analytics to make better business decisions and predict future outcomes. We believe that the use of modern BI tools and augmented analytics is going to be the future of how businesses operate. We at Intellicus, remain positive on the tech-driven growth opportunities in the country and look forward to some favourable measures from the centre.”

Rishi Ahuja, Founder Klip VR Immersive Technologies:

“India has one of the most dynamic and thriving startup community and ecosystem in the world today. Our demographics advantage is a boon and promises immense opportunities, we expect the government to bring forward the policies to boost investors’ confidence and opportunities. Indian startups today are big job creators and incentivizing private investments can really stimulate growth for startups as apart from ease of doing business, cash flows are the real challenges for us. The government took a number of decisive steps to relegate financial stress in our economy arisen due to unprecedented pandemic, we believe with positive signs in the economy now it’s time to give a flip to our efforts and government support can play a pivotal role.”

Mr.Ram Iyer, Founder & CEO,Vayana Network:

“The Union budget 2021 should look into the following with urgency:
GST relief for the SMEs and MSMEs: There should be rationalization of GST rates on various goods and services which are used by SMEs and MSMEs. e.g., Supply Chain Management Service, HR services, Services of Chartered accountants, Under Construction property as well as on Passenger and Commercial Vehicles etc. The new rule that restricts use of input tax credit (ITC) for discharging GST liability to 99 % effective January 1, 2021 should also be relaxed in the budget, as this will make more cash available in the hands of MSMEs to fund their growth and increase their working capital. Especially as most of them have had very rough 2020
Incentivising digitization for smaller players :The E-invoicing regime is about to start for >5 crore turnover companies from 1st April 2021. This will be a great push for digitization for SMEs. However, the Budget should make special provisions for SMEs to help them adopt E-invoicing via certain incentives such as providing free (or special priced) E-invoicing applications for such SMEs.
Incentivising the lending sector: The key is to make CKYC and NBFC-AA validated bank credentialized KYC as sufficient for any lender to assume KYC done. This is especially for MSME’s.
Providing benefits to lending players beyond banks : Banks will continue to grow at customary 1.5 x of GDP, The opportunity and need is to scale lending 10x for unbanked/lightly banked, which can be helped by fintechs and non banks, anything that helps this cause in the budget will be welcome, as it opens the door to credit for a larger audience.
Also, the borrower downloaded credit reports (digitally signed by the rating agency) should be considered as good enough rather than lending institutions retrieving credit rating reports and downgrading the credit score of the borrower. The former does not result in downgrade.”

Saurabh Jaitly, Co-Founder, Shippigo:

“After being hit by COVID19, logistics industry started getting back on track after initial hiccups. As the logistics industry is getting digitalized, we are looking forward to digitalized taxation and documentation through a single window which will not be time consuming for startups. As, any start-up is resource constrained and a good amount of time is spent on tax calculation and statutory compliances. A special fund should be set up by the government to provide easier access to capital for startups.

We expect a lower income tax rate for newly incorporated startups as currently the newly incorporated manufacturing companies are taxed at 15%. Startups are largely dependent on foreign investments to build their brands; the government should look into incentives that motivate Indian investors to help support Indian startups. The government should reduce long term capital gains on the sale of shares to 10% at par with foreign investors. There is a dire need for more and more investment in tech that will improve the functioning of the companies which will make Indian logistics industry at par with leading global companies.”

Sanjay Joshi, Regional Managing Principal and Head – Asia, ZS Associates:

“India’s public healthcare spending today remains below the government’s own target of 2.5% of GDP. The pandemic further exposed the gaps in our healthcare infrastructure. My hope is that the upcoming budget will accelerate the move towards the target and increase the allocation to healthcare expenditure to strengthen the public health infrastructure and improve the accessibility and affordability of healthcare for the masses”

Jahnabi Phookan, President, FICCI FLO:

“The Pandemic has led to significant setbacks across the socio-economic fabric of the country. In order to ensure development and growth, it is critical to incorporate adequate policy planning and programs to ensure that women are able to get the benefits of these schemes. There is a need to also address areas like upskilling of the female workforce, more women in tech and women entrepreneurship. Due to the pandemic induced lockdown women, entrepreneurs suffered from factors such as lack of orders, supply chain disruptions, limited workforce, and financial crunch. We hope the budget addresses these areas by providing relaxation in taxation policies, new schemes for driving women entrepreneurship opportunities such as increasing the availability of collateral free loans for women entrepreneurs especially in MSMEs and start-ups”.

Arun Pandey, MD & Chairman Rhiti Group

“2020 was a year of disruption for the sports industry. We hope that the upcoming budget will ensure policy measures and allocations to revive the industry. An increase in the overall budget for the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, would help in developing better training facilities for our athletes across the nation. The pandemic has accelerated macro trends in sports like digital transformation and e-sports along with programs at the ground level like Khelo India Movement. This will help in promoting sports amongst the children from an early stage, making it an integral part of our education system”.

Mr Animesh Damani, Managing Partner, Artha Energy Resources:

“The government needs to push lending into the roof-top solar sector. Currently, the banks do not offer rooftop solar specific loans. These loans are only offered when the property on which the solar rooftop is proposed is offered as collateral. We need a dedicated facility setup through one of our existing central government PSU lenders which will enable rooftop projects to be used as collaterals and that alone to finance such projects.

On promoting domestic solar manufacturing, I would expect the government to make domestic manufacturing more competitive. Obviously, the PLI was one step towards it. However, there is a need for more policy driven initiatives to enable domestic manufacturing. The customs duty that was planned for 2022 should ideally only be done if domestic manufacturing is competitive enough. Otherwise, we would unnecessarily increase project costs and the cost of solar power. Higher costs will derail the solar targets the country aims to achieve to meet its Paris commitments.”

Mr. Mustakeen Sheikh, Co-Founder Realta Ventures and spokesperson for London Bubble Co:

“The pandemic has had a dampening impact on the F&B industry in India compelling it to restructure operations, reshape efforts and redevise strategies for survival. As hospitality players wade through the turmoil, we expect the Union Budget to lay special focus on providing stimulus packages enabling speedy recovery of the sector.

Pragmatic tax relief measures will foster a conducive environment for hospitality players to revive operations and bounce back sooner. Also, restoration of input tax credit for the F&B sector will spur investment and ease long-term funding challenges. Additionally, with the national contagion leading to several job losses across the country, further taking a hit on consumers’ discretionary spends, is imperative that the power tariff slabs for F&B outlets are in line with rates applicable to industries at least for the ongoing immediate-post-lockdown period.

We are positive that Union Budget 2021 will recoup the hospitality and F&B landscape in India and provide respite measures to rejuvenate the sector.”

Md. Shahid-Product Head & Director in Insurance,IIFL:

“Bringing a large number of people under healthcare coverage should be the primary priority as it’s the only available instrument of social security for people in India. Measures like increasing the 80D limit and providing rebates may also be offered to people buying health insurance for spouse and dependent children rebates will be a positive step. Rationalizing GST, which is currently levied on health insurance policies at 18 percent, should be brought down to boost the coverage rate. This will play a major role in increasing the demand for health insurance policies, especially considering the ongoing pandemic situation.”

Mr. Narayan ‘Naru’ Ramamoorthy, Chief Revenue Officer, Global PayEX:

“AI can digitize B2B processes at scale – speed, costs, and productivity. Companies doing business in India have a tremendous opportunity to leverage AI across the B2B process flows right from purchase order (PO) to payments and reconciliation. Today a lot of these processes are manual – hence in-efficient both from a cost and time perspective, e-invoicing is a great first step by the Government of India. This will enable AI led digitization of invoice acceptance and reconciliation processes for buyers. The next step is to enable tracking payments. If payment data becomes available, AI can help track key metrics, such as Days Payments Outstanding (DPO) and Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) across receivables and payables and start providing actionable insights for companies and the economy as a whole. This will also help address the key issue for MSMEs– getting paid on time, besides enabling digital lending through cash flow, payment, and invoice data.”

Naveen Aggarwal, Partner, Tax, KPMG in India:

“With the FM set to present the most challenging budget of her tenure, the IT sector, which anchored a Pandemic ridden economy, is hopeful of finding a resolution to the digital taxation fault lines and enable foundational support for the post pandemic operating environment.

There is an immediate need to disperse ambiguities around the scope and applicability of the expanded Equalisation levy (EL) provisions. In its current form, foreign technology players, amongst others, are grappling with myriad interpretations due to lack of any Revenue guidance, as also a potential double whammy of withholding tax and EL on certain transactions, for FY 2020-21. Simplification and certainty in the expansive provisions would not only result in wider final quarter compliance, but also allay concerns of the levy being inequitable.”

Harshvardhan Lunia, Co-founder & CEO at Lendingkart:

“During the past year through pandemic, fintech industry witnessed revolutionary traction to serve MSMEs across the country, leveraging technological capabilities built over past several years. With the collaborative approach consistently supported by the Central Bank and Government of India through Ministry of MSME, this industry have empowered otherwise vulnerable small businesses through equitable access to working capital and funding requirements. Considering pace of evolution and associated large scale benefits delivered from fintech ecosystem to support Government’s vision of inclusive growth, the industry is best placed to gain elevated focus in the upcoming fiscal priorities for government to support Fintech industry through various grants for technology investment and innovation, ensuring allocation of funds to digital lenders to encourage developing new solutions, extending digital reach for them to service deserving small businesses and to help achieve the dreams of $5 Trillion economy.
The government’s sustained support to Fintechs serving MSMEs will help transform initiatives such as “Atmanirbhar Bharat” into successful realities and will also help set up the hub of opportunities in this industry. Governments push will in turn support increased capital for Fintech sector working with dedicated focus to empower country’s Micro and Small businesses and operating as extended arms of large banks and financial institutions. Government should also push the collaborative approach decided by the Reserve Bank to incentivise banking sector to partner with fintech lenders on various risk sharing co-lending models to extend capital support to MSMEs leveraging Fintech’s well established widespread origination, underwriting and seamless delivery capabilities. “

Amit Das, Co-founder and CEO of Think360.ai:

“Stimulus that drives “creation” and “recovery”; For example, infrastructure financing with downstream impact on various sectors including the unorganized labor and construction and manufacturing-oriented setups. The year has been tough for the retail and SMB segments. A lot of government programs are designed to be benefits-driven. However, with this budget, there can be some affirmative action around job creation, or business opportunity creation, (with dovetailed information and technology pathways).”

Shachindra Nath, Executive Chairman & Managing Director, U GRO Capital:

“The MSME sector is vital for India’s economy, responsible for employing over 120 million people. Unfortunately, the sector was severely hit by the pandemic. Aware of its importance, the government has already undertaken exceptional work with TLTRO, TLTRO 2.0, Partial Credit Guarantee Schemes, and the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) in 2020. Rescuing the sector from the pandemic should be the top priority for the government in the upcoming Budget 2021.

The crucial challenge would be to address lenders’ risk appetite in the face of loan default fears. Lending can be encouraged by bringing the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme in line with the ECLGS.

The government must also ensure that NBFCs can access liquidity. This, in turn, would give them the tools to support MSMEs. The 2021 budget needs to set up a dedicated institutional framework for the same (existing or new), which would provide credit enhancements to NBFCs in different formats. A long-term financing institution for NBFCs would be the right revival strategy to tide through a liquidity crisis.

There are several schemes and systems in place to democratize credit in India, such as OCEN, account aggregators, and co-lending initiatives. The Budget should put into place a governance and oversight framework to protect customer interests.

Provisions for the right framework and liquidity will empower them to digitize and make this the year of recovery for MSMEs.”

Piyush Gupta – President, Kestone:

“The service sector has been the most impacted amongst all in 2020. The on-ground events and marketing services were shut and the prevailing circumstances hints that it may continue for the first quarter of 2021 as well. While many firms innovated and switched their services digitally, there is still a lot of scope for improvement in the Digital Infrastructure segment in order to truly accrue the benefits of this digital shift in the user-experience corridor. Aligning more focus towards Make in India, Atmanirbhar goals coupled with global exports in the services sector will ameliorate the brutal impact it had had. In order to become a land of Digital Power, government should allocate some budgetary focus on improving the telecom and internet infrastructure with set goals and measurement criteria. The event industry will soon be transiting into in Hybrid world which will need both of the best deals to stand and prosper, globally”.

Amit Singh, CEO, Teliolabs:

“With upcoming budget we are looking forward to major push towards technology sector. After AI hubs, it is time for creating ecosystem for 5G which can help sectors to reap benefits out of it. Also, IoT device manufacturers should be considered for lower taxes and import duties to actually push the whole new digital ecosystem adoptability. I wish if there could be tax incentives on R&D expense in deep tech startup’s and rebates on utilising made in India technology in commercial usage”

Mr. Vinay Jain, Founder & CEO, Grafdoer:

“The Ministry of Finance will be presenting the budget on 1st February for the assessment year 2021-2022, and everyone including corporates, individuals, taxpayers and professionals have different expectations from the upcoming budget. Considering the slowdown in the economy and growth, MSMEs which form part of the backbone of the Indian value chain are expecting a big relief and reforms in the upcoming budget. We expect that the upcoming budget will take stringent actions to empower the MSME sector to revive the economy from the current slowdown. Apart from GST rationalization, we expect extension of credit facilities from the upcoming budget, since the Government should focus on infusing liquidity into the markets and promoting ‘Make in India’.”

Mr. Kapil Bhatia, CEO, UniMask:

“MSME has always been the backbone of the Indian Economy with around 29 percent share to India’s GDP. We expect the government to re-establish favorable policies and allocate substantial funds for the growth of MSMEs. 2020 was a blessing in disguise for MSME industry where the initial most of 2020 was quite brutal but the later half came to the rescue especially with the #boycottchinesegoods campaign and push towards Make-In-India. The MSME sector is hoping to get rid of challenges like lack of access to capital, infrastructure, skilled labor, and power supply issues that plague MSMEs in India. Therefore, Indian entrepreneurs hope that the Union Budget 2021 will provide some long-term benefits to the sector with better access to credit and lenient taxation policies.”

Mr. Mandeep Arora, Managing Director, UBON:

“The year 2020 was a year of challenges for nearly every sector, so, we are eagerly waiting for Budget 2021. Every sector is expecting the government to focus on overall economic growth and taking measures to continue positioning India as the business epicenter of the world. We expect new policies promoting R&D innovations by pushing relevant initiatives, making innovative and bold policy interventions to propel the process of Make-in-India across sectors. There’s no denying that Digital Innovation is an important building block for India’s future growth. Thus, nurturing new-age tech, improving the quality of talent, and enabling MSME must be on the agenda for the Government.”

Mr. Lalit Arora, Co-founder and CEO, VingaJoy:

“The consumer tech industry has great expectations from the Union Budget 2021-22. We hope that the upcoming budget has provisions that can strengthen progressive initiatives such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, and the ‘Smart Cities Mission’. In the upcoming budget, we are hopeful that the government would continue the good work it began carrying out in its first term with regards to GST, Make in India, along with a host of initiatives it has undertaken in the consumer tech / FMCG sector. There has been an abolition of Chinese applications in India; this has led to considerable slowdown in import of Chinese products, so our industry is expecting improved funding and credit facility from the upcoming budget. Additionally, we are hopeful that the Government will continue to promote manufacturing in India through its ‘Make in India’ initiative as this would not only provide a boost to Indian companies but also aid in creating more employment opportunities.”

Mr.Ashwani Rawat & Mr. Amarsh Chaturvedi, Co-Founder & Director, Transerve:

“Innovation is an important driver in India’s business and economic growth and this was proven true during the pandemic crisis. India as a nation has a great potential in the R&D space, especially owing to the large talent pool we have. Being a part of NASSCOM’s Deep-Tech Club we saw 10% rises in tech startups in 2020 alone with the addition of over 12 new unicorns. According to NASSCOM, Indian deep tech industry led by AI is capable of adding USD 957 billion to the country’s GDP by 2035. We expect the Union Budget to increase its expenditure in the R&D sector especially in the Location Intelligence industry to bore the benefits that the technology offers. We expect liberalizing the policies and framework to support the startup ecosystem.”

Mr. Sangeet Kumar, CEO & Co- Founder, Addverb

“From the Union Budget 2021, we expect that the Government will ease the legal processes and regulations involved in setting up manufacturing facilities in India under its ‘Make in India’ initiative. As the future of manufacturing is driven with robotics and other automation technologies, I feel necessary steps need to be taken to encourage ingenious technology production as well as consumption in India. Measures such as extension of PLI schemes for the Indian Industrial Robotics Manufacturers from suppliers’ front, and from buyers’ front, mandating automation adoption for PSU enterprises to enhance their performance indices. Overall incentivising adoption of industry 4.0 technologies adoption from across the sectors will enhance the manufacturing quantity as well as quality.”

Prof (Dr.) Sanjiv Marwah, Director, JK Business School :

“We anticipate that Union Budget 2021 will bring in revolutionary changes to the education sector. The New Education Policy (NEP-2020) brought aggressive changes in the Higher Education System of our country – provided flexibility in the learning curve, emphasized on conceptual understanding, and blended learning. Similarly, the upcoming FY budget must promote the perfect amalgamation of digital and traditional education and strive to encourage the adoption of emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things as well as promoting Research & Development. Along with it, another key aspect that we are looking forward to in the Union Budget 2021 is financial support that can be provided to private sector institutions, including low-cost and zero-cost loans, which is done in many countries. We request the Govt. to consider ‘National Education Bank’ as a concept, just like the ‘National Housing Bank,’ such that education loans too can be provided at the lowest possible interest rate.”

Dippankar S. Haldar, Founder and CEO at Jalongi.com:

“Fish and Seafood is one of the most trusted immunity superfoods, the relevance of which is becoming increasingly significant. This year, we expect real boosters for the aquaculture sector itself. Fish farmers need insurance to get access to bank finance and we hope to see this covered from the government’s end. At the same time, we are also expecting support in the setting up of regional collection facilities and cold chain logistics.”

Ankush Singla, Co-founder, Coding Ninjas and Captain Coder:

“We have witnessed a huge transformation in the education system in the past one year due to the advent of pandemic. We are optimistic and looking forward to some announcements in the education sector especially with respect to the New Education Policy with more focus for the K12 segment. We are also ready to have a collaborative approach where we as an edtech platform, can come forward and associate with the private and government institutions to scale up coding education. This will increase our contribution in the industry to provide education to more and more students across the nation. We expect focus on the skilling and STEM based education in schools and colleges will become even more significant than before.”

Lalit Mehta, Co-founder & CEO, Decimal Technologies:

““The lockdown brought with it an economic downturn for enterprises of all sizes, which urged the government to offer Loan Moratorium to borrowers amidst liquidity crunch. While this helped kick-start the economy, the government must introduce a long-term stimulus in its upcoming budget to ensure cash-flow for the BFSI industry. In the post-COVID19 economy, credit is going to be the enabler of businesses, we expect the government to introduce credit schemes that will provide a fillip to the sector. Schemes that would ensure continuous availability of credit as and when needed will provide a great boost, especially to the lending industry. During the lockdown, borrowing, for both commercial and personal purposes, increased, facilitated by FinTech players. We expect the government to announce necessary regulatory changes that would create an easy line of access for FinTech players to secure credit from conservative banks and further disburse loans to borrowers.”

Ashraf Rizvi, Founder & CEO of Digital Swiss Gold and Gilded:

“India’s working-age population (15-59 years old) is a cohort estimated to comprise roughly two-thirds of India’s total population, which the United Nations estimates at 1.38 billion in 2020. As the economy opens up, we expect the government to roll out more initiatives and investment that create jobs which will will to more spending and consumption, and also more saving and investing as personal finances improve, Digital Gold being one such safe, flexible and scalable investment option suited to all investors.

We, at Digital Swiss Gold, are among the many excitedly anticipating Indian Finance Minister Sitharaman’s Union Budget 2021-22. Gold continues to be one of the biggest imports in India and is an easy source of increased revenues for the government. We will be eager to see if the gold business draws additional import duties as has been the case in prior budgets over the past decade. We are confident that this budget will spur growth across industries while keeping the needs of Indians at its core. With our cutting-edge financial technology and unparalleled service, Digital Swiss Gold hopes to play a role in helping Indians realize their financial hopes and dreams in 2021 and beyond.”

Rajat Jadhav, Co-founder, Bold Care:

“First and foremost, we laud the government’s recent move towards allocating 1000 crores for seed funding start-ups in India. And yes, while it will boost the start-up ecosystem, 2020 has been a rather stifling year and we are hopeful that Union Budget 2021 will succor the sector.

There is an increased need for simplification of GST structure and easing of taxes to help start-ups and MSMEs crusade through shortcomings caused due to liquidity gaps. Also, start-ups must be exempted from compliances pertaining to taxes, filings and the corresponding paperwork atleast for the first 20 months so that they can pivot their energies towards business and operations. Focus on ease of doing businesses will attract foreign and domestic investors and will create a well-cushioned environment for start-ups expediting their scope of growth, ensuring long – term survival and strengthening their footing in the market.

Additionally, with the pandemic heralding a new wave of digital transformation, emphasis on incentivization and fortification of digital infrastructure will go a long way in ushering innovation and accelerating growth.”

Dilip Modi, Founder of Spice Money:

While encouraging initiatives such as PIDF by RBI have already been announced, in the upcoming Union Budget, we expect the government to announce a subsidy on MDR and POS devices. Waivers on MDR and POS are pertinent to encourage the expansion of these services via the BC network. Accessibility of financial services is a major gap in financial inclusion and POS terminals would be more sustainable than ATM infrastructure in semi-urban and rural areas.

Another key aspect, like many have echoed, would be taxes. The earnings of the underbanked population are hit with taxes levied on basic money transfers. The government should consider providing some GST relief on smaller transactions conducted on the BC network. A special provision on GST and TDS for the BC model will help create visibility for this business. Further, tax benefits to the rural end-customer on digital purchases will also help boost adoption of digital financial services in the low-income groups.

The government showed support for the rural areas by deploying DBT schemes with the BC networks backing them by providing withdrawal services. The government should further this support by building BC networks as it will spell growth for the vision of Digital India beyond simple internet connectivity. It will allow more financial products and services to reach the remotest parts of India and accelerate the bridging of the gap in the access to banking services in India.”

Neeraj Bahl, MD & CEO, BSH Home Appliances:

“The pandemic induced lockdown has resulted in flat growth for the consumer durable industry last year. In the 2021-22 budget, we are hopeful that there will be a relaxation on personal/income tax which will help boost consumer demand and drive growth for the industry. Moreover, the government should also consider reduction in GST rates for products like dishwashers, dryers, refrigerators and air conditioners, which are now evolving from being luxuries to necessities for consumers. We also hope that the government reconsiders the rebate on tax for second home owners, which will go a long way in boosting real estate and therefore the consumer durable sector.

While the government stays committed to Make in India, we are hoping to see some encouraging and motivating policies towards companies who are focussing in manufacturing in India as well. Overall, we expect the 2021 budget to be a holistic one and a one that will enhance the consumer and retail purchase and also do a lot in terms of home purchase.”

Mr. Rishab Mehta, Founder & CEO, GrayQuest

“The significance of this year’s Union Budget can be inferred from the fact that this is the first budget post pandemic. While the National Education Policy has set a great opportunity for the Indian education sector to grow and flourish, the Covid-19 induced pandemic has had serious implications both on education and education financing. Therefore, government intervention is the need of the hour to make education more affordable and accessible.
The successful integration of technology with education, witnessed in 2020, is here to stay and therefore steps to improve and enhance the technological infrastructure is one of our key expectations from the government. This will also be a crucial step in bridging the gap between rural and urban areas thus providing equal opportunities to all.
With growing aspirations among parents and students, education fees nowadays form a significant proportion of any household expenditure. The current pandemic has caused a significant liquidity crisis among parents thereby highlighting the need for education financing options more than ever. This requires the government to take measures to reduce the interest rates on education loans so that students can pursue the education of their choice without being held down by financial burdens. Another key step in this regard would be to increase the percentage of GDP allocated towards the education sector which will incentivise infrastructure creation and promote quality education.
As a representative of India’s booming start up industry, which has withered several storms over the past 12 months, we would like to urge the government to provide tax reliefs by easing the present Angel Tax norms and decreasing the GST rates applicable on us. These measures would prove to be substantial in ensuring prosperity in a post-pandemic world.”

Mr. Vinay Bagri, CEO & Co-founder, Niyo

“The expectations from the upcoming Budget 2021 have soared ever since the FM has indicated this will be unlike any other in the “past 100 years”, especially in the backdrop of the unprecedented economic downturn and disruption of business activities globally due to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown and travel ban.

There is an expectation of a well-defined and faster license approval process for different licenses such as NBFC, prepaid wallet (PPI), UPI third party processor etc., as regulatory clearances are imperative for fintech lenders and start-ups as a whole.

The 5% TCS (tax collected at source) for outward remittances has resulted in fewer investors remitting money due to the capital outlay that they need to do early in the year, as well as foreign currency transactions during travel or educational spends by students. We expect a rationalization of this tax to a smaller value (say 2%), that can be offset through a marginal increase in capital gains tax on Short Term CG on overseas investments.

Eddie Chandok, President of Global Delivery at Infogain:

“The COVID 19 pandemic significantly disrupted economic and business outlook for the year 2020. The integration of technology and digital transformation of organizations across sectors such as retail, manufacturing, travel and hospitality, insurance etc., will help build resilience as well as play an important role in business recovery over the next year.

With India Inc. reeling under the stress caused by a drop in GDP, weak market, job losses, cash crunch and more, the government needs to continue positioning India as an international IT hub and invest more in the technology for faster creation of digital infrastructure for economic recovery.

In the Union Budget for 2021, we could see emergence of new initiatives and progressive policy interventions that will propel digital adoption across industries. This year, the government will also need to strengthen its focus on the development of emerging technologies, IT, entrepreneurship and quality of talent in the country. Only by incentivizing the use of emerging technologies like 5G, IoT, AI, Cloud and more, will India still have a chance at realizing, what at present looks like, ‘an ambitious goal’ of becoming a 5 Trillion Dollar economy by 2025.”

Mr. Shikhil Sharma, CEO and founder, Astra Security:

“The upcoming budget will be the biggest testimony for India’s posture in this new post COVID19 world. A sharp focus on employment & entrepreneurship lead growth is anticipated. Over the last decade, Indian IT startups have preferred to have their headquarters in the US or Singapore to have a friendly tax & compliance setup. If this budget is able to address this by offering more relaxed & flexible compliance to these startups, it’ll not only attract more investments but keep made in India startups, in India. New policies should facilitate the smooth landing of offline businesses in a digital world by relaxing compliance requirements which in turn will enable payment gateways to offer these businesses a smoother transition. This will empower more Indian SMEs to take their products and services across the globe. As India prepares to become more digitally savvy in 2021, we need to shore up our defenses against cyber-attacks by enhancing data protection and have a much-strengthened policy in place for all sectors which is enriched via consultations from startups and companies working in this space, public consultations and aligned with best global practices.”

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.

who's online