INDUSTRY VIEWS-India budget focuses on tax cuts, farm spending to revive growth

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BENGALURU/MUMBAI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday unveiled the budget for fiscal 2020/21, vowing to boost income of Indians and their purchasing power, in a bid to revive domestic economic growth.

India estimates economic growth this fiscal year, which ends on March 31, will slip to 5% - its weakest pace since the global financial crisis of 2008-09.

Here are some reactions from Indian businesses, economists and analysts:

DEEPAK JAIN, PRESIDENT, AUTO COMPONENT MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (ACMA)

"Focus on electronics manufacturing including electronic equipment and semiconductor packaging is welcome and will encourage manufacturing of auto-electronics and components of electric vehicles.

Measures adopted by the government to strengthen checks on imports due to FTA (free trade agreement), review of rules of origin, enhancing safeguard duties and invoking quality control order on import sensitive items will encourage 'Make in India'."

PRASHANTH DORESWAMY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE INDIA & COUNTRY HEAD, CONTINENTAL GROUP INDIA

"The measures announced today towards setting up renewable energy stations will help us in the required power generation as we transition to electric vehicles.

Given the impulse of connected technology both in mobile phones and vehicles, a policy that enables the private sector to build data centre parks will help enhance connectivity and digitisation, which will also benefit our sector.

Focus on electronic and semiconductor manufacturing will be a big boost for FDI (foreign direct investment) and the scheme will promote automotive electronics in a big way."

SANJEEV KRISHAN, PARTNER & LEADER – DEALS, PWC

"The tax exemptions to sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) is a good step by the government - most of the developed assets have seen investments by SWFs and this can only be aided by the tax break. It should also help complete infrastructure projects which have been stuck due to lack of funds, but actually have good economic potential, as these can then become targets for long term, patient SWF capital."

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ASHISH KALE, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION OF AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION

"The budget's focus on agriculture, irrigation and rural development will have a rub off effect on rural demand in the next 3-4 months if all the measures are actioned immediately. This will give a fillip to rural auto demand, especially two-wheelers, tractors and small commercial vehicles.

A budget allocation for an attractive incentive based scrappage policy would have been a demand booster for commercial vehicles and also a positive for cleaner environment and road safety."

SUDEEP KUMAR SEN, BUSINESS HEAD, TEAMLEASE SERVICES LTD

"The introduction of national logistics policy is a good move and will have a positive impact on jobs. The increased investment in the sector will lead to a minimum of 12% to 15% incremental jobs in all categories unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled. It will also mean high number of mobilization of workers across the states.

However, for talent to enjoy the benefits of the proposal completely will require the policy provisions to cover the social security, health hazards benefits for the casual workers apart from work place security and support."

PARESH PAREKH, TAX LEADER, CONSUMER PRODUCTS & RETAIL, EY

"Custom duty rates increase on footwear, toys, furniture, and announcement to relook at duty benefits on FTA (free trade agreement) country imports will have to be analysed by some MNC (multi-national corporation) brands and stores. This will subtly motivate some of them to start exploring to shift manufacturing base to India."

RAJEEV JOISAR, COUNTRY LEADER, INDIA, BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION

"We really appreciate the efforts of Indian railways to explore the possibility of private train operation on their network. Bombardier is following the train operations project very closely and has already discussed the project with senior Indian railway officials."

YOGESH PATEL, CHIEF FINANCE OFFICER, MAHINDRA LOGISTICS

"The government providing viability gap funding for PPP-based warehousing at block and district level will add to the boost for the logistics sector and attract global investors and developers.

The proposal of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) mapping and geotagging the warehouses and cold storages will initiate making a seamless cold storage chain available across the country. We are confident that this policy will further enhance India's ability to trade globally."

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KIRAN MAZUMDAR SHAW, CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, BIOCON

"The proposed amendments to the Companies Act for removing criminal action in case of tax disputes is a step towards infusing trust among India Inc.

The expansion of health infrastructure in tier II and III cities through a PPP (public private partnership) model and upskilling for job creation will strengthen the Ayushman Bharat program (national health protection scheme)."

JAIDEEP HANSRAJ, MANAGING DIRECTOR & CEO, KOTAK SECURITIES

"Removal of Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) will lead to higher cash flows in the hands of cash-starved India Inc. If individual tax payers opt for the new tax regime then it will result in higher cash in the hands of the individuals. This in turn would lead to increased spending or higher investments, both being good for the country.

Market expectations were high on capital market reforms which have not materialised and to that extent there could be some near term disappointment."

PARTHAPRATIM PAL, PROFESSOR, ECONOMICS, INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT, KOLKATA

"The change in DDT (dividend distribution tax) will hurt shareholders who are in the top tax bracket. However, the tax and growth rate projections seem over-optimistic and the government may miss the target."

ZARIN DARUWALA, CEO, INDIA, STANDARD CHARTERED BANK

"The personal income tax cuts for the middle class would help address the urgency to revive consumer demand.

The focus on physical infrastructure along with social sector (health, education, rural, water) would boost the medium-term growth potential. In my view, the budget rightly attempts to boost spending by enhancing non-tax revenues via higher disinvestments including stake sale in LIC and IDBI Bank."

SAURABH MUKHERJEA, FOUNDER, MARCELLUS INVESTMENT

"While the income tax cuts and dividend distribution tax abolishment are to be lauded alongside targeted fiscal consolidation in FY21, it's distressing to hear the finance minister request Reserve Bank of India to extend the restructuring window even as India struggles to find a solution to the NBFC (non-banking finance companies) crisis."

MAHENDRA SINGHI, PRESIDENT, CEMENT MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

"The emphasis on highways and roads development is well placed. We would hope that rural demand gets revived and it assists in job creation.

More policy interventions to revive real estate and housing would be welcome. Infrastructure development, new 100 airports and emphasis on road would go a long way to revive cement demand."

MVS MURTHY, HEAD, MARKETING AND DIGITAL, TATA ASSET MANAGEMENT

"This Budget gives a strong tailwind to all things digital. Support to smart phone manufacturing while harnessing the engineering and design skills is another progressive step in the Make in India story.

Smart meters, use of solar panels alongside railway tracks benefit the households and also makes us seen as a conscious consumer of green-tech."

AJAY SINGH, CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR, SPICEJET

"The announcement for 100 new airports under UDAN (scheme) is a very positive move. Concessions to sovereign and pension funds to get long term funds for infrastructure is positive too."

SATYA EASWARAN, PARTNER, TECHNOLOGY, MEDIA AND TELECOM, KPMG

"In budget 2020, technology has been clearly recognised as both a disruptor and enabler of new models of business and lifestyles. Start-ups are receiving due attention with measures announced to not just provide early life funding from the government to support ideation and development, but also ensure that innovation and associated IP (intellectual property) can be protected.

On balance though, a few more announcements of measures to alleviate the financial stress of the telecom sector – the underlying platform for most digital innovation – would have been timely." (Reporting by Bengaluru and Mumbai bureaus, editing by Aditi Shah, Alasdair Pal and Swati Bhat)

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