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Business News/ Opinion / Views/  A Budget for real businesses, not just economists
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A Budget for real businesses, not just economists

For Indian business and industry, the best news is the continued emphasis on infrastructure spending

The July 2024 budget, and the detailed roadmap in pursuit of Viksit Bharat, is something to look forward to. (Image: Pixabay)Premium
The July 2024 budget, and the detailed roadmap in pursuit of Viksit Bharat, is something to look forward to. (Image: Pixabay)

There is a difference between the perspective of economists and of real businesses. While economists look at macro numbers, owners of businesses focus on greater profits and turnover. For business owners, GDP does indeed stand for governance, development and performance, as the finance minister said. 

India’s macro-economic management is clearly better, which is reflected in higher tax revenues, lower fiscal deficit, and lower inflation. The prioritisation of ‘good’ expenditure is a case of actions speaking louder than words. It is the virtuous cycle of investing higher revenues into infrastructure and social safety nets that has led to rapid growth in toplines and bottom-lines for business and industry. The July 2024 budget, and the detailed roadmap in pursuit of Viksit Bharat, is something to look forward to.

For Indian business and industry, the best news is the continued emphasis on infrastructure spending. The allocation of Rs.11.11 trillion for infrastructure follows the record hike to 10 trillion last year. Focused strategies under the PM Gati Shakti National Plan, especially the three economic railway corridors—for energy, mineral and cement, port connectivity and high traffic density—would increase economic activity.

The MSME sector is an essential part of the ecosystem, and better financing, technology and training has been proposed. Orienting the regulatory environment to better serve MSMEs would be a welcome step. Digital Public Infrastructure in India is perhaps the best in the world, and MSMEs are again the largest gainers from DPI. Our digitalisation is poised to expand into newer sectors beyond identity, payments and services.

Social infrastructure, especially health and education, have come in for special attention in the interim budget. This is the trend for the last few years. Research and development would get a substantial boost from the 1 trillion fund for 50-year interest free loans, which are far better than grants. We look forward to the detailed scheme soon so younger entrepreneurs could apply for such R&D loans.

Further, Nari Shakti is a theme throughout this Union Budget. The provision for 20 million additional PM Awas Yojana homes, beyond the original 30 million homes announced when the scheme was launched in 2015, would benefit women. Rural prosperity is likely to get a boost, driven by a number of enabling announcements for farmers as well as the broader industry. 

Sustainability is reflected through the measures for renewable energy and energy efficiency. There is a clear commitment to green growth through viability gap funding for offshore wind energy, roof top solarisation, strengthening the electric vehicle ecosystem and more. 

The interim budget builds on what the government has been saying for the past few years—that the states are growth partners with the Centre. Provisioning 75,000 crore in 50-year interest-free loans linked to milestone-based reforms is a good step to incentivise states. The emphasis on new-age sectors like artificial intelligence, fintech, defence and space is welcome. Overall, the government’s vision of harnessing technology and innovation for redefining the economic future of the country holds much promise.

S.K. Pathak is secretary general, FICCI

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Published: 01 Feb 2024, 08:11 PM IST
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