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In line with continuing reforms: industry

Ramnath Subbu

MUMBAI: While the latest budget proposals failed to unleash any euphoria among the corridors of industry, despite divergent views, there has been some unanimity across the board that the proposals are in line with the continuing reform process and is another step at least in the right direction.

Larsen & Toubro Chairman and Managing Director A. M. Naik said, “This budget is a balancing act. Where there are no major initiatives, there are no negative surprises. Overall, it is a pragmatic budget under the current circumstances. The budget does not try to address the funding of Indian infrastructure. It has given some indications that the government is serious about accelerating the growth of the infrastructure sector. But much will, in fact, depend on execution and monitoring of the various projects and programmes that have been initiated by the government..''

Expressing satisfaction over the various proposals of the budget, Godrej Group Chairman Adi Godrej said, “I think it was a well balanced budget and growth oriented. It will be good for the economy. The decision to formally introduce the constitutional amendment for GST is a good one.''

He said the increase in the limit for income-tax exemption for taxpayers would add to consumption, ‘which is desirable.' While welcoming reduction in surcharge for companies from 7.5 per cent to 5 per cent, he said, “It is desirable, although I would have liked to see surcharge completely removed. I did not see anything negative in the budget.''

Confederation of Indian Industry (Western Region) Chairman Arun Nanda said, “The budget has been largely in line with industry expectations. We appreciate the government's commitment to bring down the fiscal deficit to 4.6 per cent.'' He added that the increased allocation on infrastructure, health and agriculture reiterated the government's focus on inclusive growth.

Calling it a ‘skilfully balanced budget', JSW Steel Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal said the Finance Minister had rightly “resisted the temptation to increase the excise duty, thereby giving out positive signals to industry and to the India growth story.'' On the steps for the steel industry, Mr. Jindal said, the hike in export duty on iron ore fines and lumps to 20 per cent advalorem is the most welcome. “I am sure that this will lead to greater value addition at home and encourage the domestic steel industry.''

While concurring with the view that increasing export duty on iron ore exports to a uniform rate of 20 per cent is a step in the right direction, Tata Steel Managing Director H. M. Nerurkar said, “The exemption of duty on pellets also reduces the scope for greater value addition within the country. It has been a persistent demand of the steel industry to include steel plants as infrastructure industry and it is hoped that steel plants would be included in infrastructure as capital investment in fertilizer production has been included in this budget. The Finance Minister may still consider this request of the steel industry.''

The budget has indeed some good features but, on overall analysis, there seems to be more a lip service than specifics so far as tightening of the country's loose governance systems, improving the competitiveness of its economy, and holding out hopes of effectively tapping its anticipated demographic dividend are concerned, according to the Indian Merchants' Chamber (IMC).

IMC Presidnet Dilip Dandekar said the budget had indeed extended benefits to the common people by the raising tax exemption limit by offering interest subvention on loans and direct subsidies on fertilizers to the rural sector and also some peace of mind to the business community by holding tax rates at the existing levels.

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