The countdown has begun for Nirmala Sitharaman’s fourth Budget on February 1 this year. All eyes are focused on union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s annual budget 2022-23? Will she be able to put India on the path for economic revival, by increasing production, curbing inflation, and maintaining an eight per cent plus growth rate?
Here’s what some of the industry CEOs expect from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget on 1 February 2022:
Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and CEO, Mobile Premier League (MPL)
The online skill gaming and esports industry has been one of the very few sectors that have not just weathered the pandemic-induced slowdown but has witnessed exponential growth. The industry is bound to grow even further, opening up new career opportunities for both gamers and game developers, and helping take Made in India games to the world.
As we look ahead, we hope the Government of India will introduce measures to adequately support this next phase of growth. Online skill gaming companies, which have flourished amid phenomenal investor interest, are well-placed to create jobs in roles ranging from VFX designing to software development. The Budget should consider levying a lower tax slab than the existing 18% to aid this. With esports a medal event at the Asian Games, and continues to gain prominence, this will also help incentivise a greater number of professionals to get into esports and represent the country at global tournaments of this stature.
The industry will also benefit from a fund that can provide capital to talented developers and designers, putting India on the path to becoming the hub for game development globally. Access to infrastructure will be crucial in this regard. This can be achieved by establishing specialised AVGC Centres and Universities for talented designers, visual artists, and developers who may have the capabilities but not the resources to build world-class games. Lastly, we hope that this year will bring more clarity from a regulatory standpoint. Online skill gaming suffers from a lack of differentiation from prohibited categories and games of chance. A uniform policy will be welcome and provide much-needed stability to the sunrise sector.
Rajiv Bhalla, MD, Barco India
The Indian Government is strongly focused on growth and development, and this trend has continued even during the pandemic. Given the hybrid normal we at Barco, are creating solutions aimed at promoting seamless remote work and bolstering the economy. We look forward to a budget that offers a roadmap for heightened economic revival, with greater spending on infrastructure and enhanced incentives for corporate capex. We believe that the country is still on track to achieve the $5-trillion vision by 2025 and expect a host of reforms aimed at empowering the start-up and entrepreneurial culture while augmenting healthcare and allied sectors. Technology, manufacturing, and R&D comprise the future of India and we look forward to initiatives aimed at making India a global super-power in these frontiers.
Vikram Singh, CEO & Founder, TechEagle
A dedicated budget for Drones in the Healthcare Sector by the Government of India in the 2022 budget is required to improve the sector and save lives. Drone delivery and air taxis require infrastructure policy in the urban landscape. Also, import duty exemptions or reductions shall be imposed on certain electrical and raw materials used in drone manufacturing. This might be done for a set number of years, with decisions being reviewed each year. As a result, corresponding items can be pushed to begin manufacturing during this time, creating an eco-system for India’s Drone Manufacturing Hub. A distinct department (not a ministry) shall be formed for emerging Technology, possibly within the Ministry of IT, that would focus on the demands of UAVs as well, resulting in a more focused approach to UAVs. Most importantly, the central government should encourage increased use of drone technology in various departments, such as infrastructure, defence, healthcare, maritime, and railways. As a result, based on the Central Government’s experience, states will adopt the use of drones more quickly. Lastly, Drones developed in India should be prioritized by the government.
Varun Mohan CEO, Definite
Numerous aspects have contributed to the development of the Indian real estate sector. The Government of India’s Digital India scheme accelerated technological growth, PropTech is booming in the Indian real estate industry and the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), 2016 helped in the promotion of the sector. But the pandemic has hit all the business sectors across the country including the real estate sector with the third wave ongoing recovery may once again take a setback. Investors are expecting relief from the government’s end. The expectations are reductions in GST and an increase in home loan interest, the deduction for a tax rebate, and a rise in FDI inflow.
The government must focus on the real estate sector; it is globally the most recognized sector and generates the second-highest employment in the country. Retail, hospitality, and commercial real estate are growing significantly, delivering the much-needed infrastructure for India’s growing need for relaxation in taxation would be helpful in the development of the sector, and reduction in GST rates can give a lot of relief to the fraternity. Also, steps must be taken to make the industry more technologically smart the ongoing pandemic has made us all realize how important technological aspects are for any business to run successfully.
Prashant Lohia, CEO and Founder, Ginesys
The ongoing pandemic has proved a catalyst for the digitization drive, with service providers stepping in to bridge the gap between the rural and urban landscapes. The Government is keen on a Digital India, and we expect the Union Budget 2023 to depict a greater and more sustained push towards the same, especially with regards to digital payments and retail technology. We expect the Union Budget to bring in more reforms for domestic retail manufacturers and brands as this would drive the Make in India and AatmaNirbhar Bharat initiatives while offering support and strengthening the local retail landscape. We are also keen on more clarity around the e-commerce guidelines and hope the Government promotes the sector in the upcoming budget. Further, we look forward to a well-calibrated reduction in income tax slabs as this will help taxpayers save money and, the money thus saved can fuel further consumption and economic growth, helping revive the economy as a whole. We also hope that the upcoming Budget focuses on growth and promotes spending by dropping the already deferred GST on textiles and garments.
Amit Relan, Director & Co-Founder, mFilterIt
The startup ecosystem in India has already emerged as the third-largest in the global market, which highlights the massive growth of the sector in recent years. Moving ahead, the ecosystem requires a more focused approach in terms of access to capital, allocation of more funds by the government, policy reforms for ease of doing business and creating a more supportive ecosystem in view of the pandemic’s impact. About the Indian ad-tech industry, it’s likely to cross $10 billion in revenue by 2030, making it one of the key contributors in terms of growth, job creation and export of services. In the global as well as Indian market, we can observe increasing ad spending over digital platforms which is likely to reach 60% of total advertising spending in 2022. Even the Indian government’s overall spending on digital advertising – including national and state governments – has already topped 3000 crores per annum, which involves outreach, promotion, and adverts.
At the same time, today the techniques and tricks used by the bad actors in the value chain -pose a greater threat to advertisers’ reputations through Brand Safety and Brand Infringement issues, leading to about 7-8% wastage of the overall digital spends. In this view, one of our key recommendations for the upcoming budget would be that the government should subject digital advertising expenditures to auditing in the same way that it subjects other expenditures, which goes beyond determining if procedural regulations were followed and include auditing for results as well. The government, with a vision of a $1 trillion digital economy and the massive shift to digitalization in recent years, should also pay attention to the ad-tech industry and take financial steps to help India’s existing ecosystem chart progress that will not only make India Atmanirbhar in the domain but also globally. Moreover, launching unique output-linked initiatives for the sector is crucial for India to position itself as a worldwide leader.
Rimo Bose, PR and Branding Manager, TCL India
We are expecting that the import tariff will be reduced, so that our country can match up with the other competing countries like China, Mexico, Thailand and more. Additionally, we have witnessed much of compliance reforms in the last two years, the PLI schemes have indeed helped in domestic and international investments, but we have to keep in mind that setting up manufacturing units might take several years, so the investment from the Government side will boost the ‘Make in India’ movement.
Hamish Patel, Chief Product Officer, World of Play
On the supply side, a much-needed relief would be to waive customs duty on the import of electronic components. This will provide a boost to a growing electronics manufacturing sector and relieve stress that has built up over the last 18 months. It is important that we see a reduction in GST rates, given the component shortages we have seen the price of electronics skyrocketing. Lowering GST will make products affordable and give a boost to the electronics industry. A progressive take by the government would be to see the government providing incentives to companies with spends on research and development
Aakrit Vaish, Co-Founder & CEO, Haptik
Due to the increased push toward digitalization, the usage of AI across industries has increased remarkably. While the previous two budgets had recognized the importance of technology in shaping the new India, we now anticipate opportunities and significant government efforts to locate India as one of the world’s preferred AI attractions this year. Considering this, we hope this time too the Finance Minister will put special emphasis on AI and technology for future-ready solutions. We at Haptik.ai are optimistic about the centre’s vision for a digital strong Bharat and are looking forward to favourable measures that will boost the tech ecosystem in India.
Jesal Doshi, Deputy CEO, B Medical Systems
One of the expectations is for increased allocation in the healthcare sector – across the entire infrastructure, specifically for immunization. COVID-19 is far from over and it is vital that the country is well prepared to fight the pandemic and any future pandemics, and a reliable medical cold chain is critical for the success of any immunization program. We believe that creating a sub-industry for medical cold chains and separating it from commercial refrigeration, along with reduced GST rates could further boost the sector. The government should reduce import duties on critical components that are essential for manufacturing reliable medical cold chain units. This, along with production-linked incentives will help improve the country’s ability to access world-class medical cold chain products and also improve India’s export competitiveness in this industry