What are the three things you wish for from the Budget?
First, tax breaks for the middle class, especially increase in tax slabs and a cut in excise. This will provide fiscal stimulus to the manufacturing sector and alleviate some tax burden on the middle class. Second, there should be incentives for investing in corporate bonds. The development of the bond market will reduce the cost of credit and will lead to increase in investments and more capital productivity. Third, there should be incentives for investing in infrastructure. We need household, retail and wholesale investors to fund infrastructure projects as we need to invest close to $400-500 billion (Rs16-20 trillion) in infrastructure over the next four-five years. If India is to realize its true potential, then infrastructure development is a must.
If you could end one thing, what would that be?
Fringe benefit tax should be removed.
If you were finance minister, what would be the one thing outside your industry you would want in the Budget?
Long-term investment in health and education. We need to ensure that our young people are immediately employable in the service and manufacturing sectors.
What is the one thing you don’t want changed?
There shouldn’t be any change in direct taxes. We are evenly balanced at the moment and should keep it so.
Which budget disappointed you the most? Why?
Most budgets have been average. But the truly outstanding ones were Manmohan Singh’s 1992 “economic liberalization” Budget and P.Chidambaram’s 1996 “dream budget”.
One proposal you think is shot down in every budget but shouldn’t be.
The imposition of tax on wealthy farmers and reducing fuel subsidies.
What would you consider to be inclusive growth?
Inclusion would mean growth and its benefits are equitably shared by various sections of the population. For instance, rising agricultural incomes, better farm productivity, increase in middle class surpluses, etc.
Rashesh Shah is chairman, CEO and managing director, Edelweiss Capital Ltd.
By Rachna Monga