The consensus of captains of industry during CNBC-TV18's Budget Townhall today was that the Union Budget 2022-23 is very growth oriented and bodes well for India on the global stage.
The Townhall saw participation from TV Narendran, CEO and MD, Tata Steel; Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman and MD, Hindustan Unilever Limited; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Founder and Chairperson, Biocon; Vinayak Chatteree, Chairman, National Committee on Infrastructure & PPP, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII); Pawan Goenka, Chairman designate of INSPACe, Department of Space; Suneeta Reddy, MD, Apollo Hospitals; Sunil Mathur, MD and CEO, Siemens Limited; and Principal Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal.
Pawan Goenka said this budget sends out a clear message that "India is open for business". He pointed out that the 'Gati Shakti' initiative has the potential to reduce logistics costs and welcomed the push towards green mobility, and said the thrust on infrastructure and logistics augurs well for the auto sector.
Goenka, however, said the budget failed to address the need for reducing power costs and said the government needs to do more increase private sector investment in R&D. Further, Goenka said the Budget could have had provisions to drive up rural consumptions, and said after the Budget, the GST council could look at a targeted reduction of rates.
TV Narendran said there are many initiatives in the Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday that will build growth in the long term, while Sanjiv Mehta was full of praise for Sitharaman for presenting a growth oriented budget.
Mehta said the budget addresses the urban employment problem, which is always an area of concern. He further said India significantly lacks a research and development ecosystem and said there is a need to boost public-private sector investment.
Vinayak Chatterjee welcomed the fact that the budget reaches out to states with a support of Rs 1 lakh crore. Sunil Mathur agreed and said this will kickstart an investment cycle.
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Shaw called it a "very courageous and growth-oriented budget", which sets us up for a sustainable, digitally enabled growth in the future. She said the opportunity to deliver healthcare on a digital platform is very compelling, but said she was disappointed to not see an outlay for pharma research.
Nothing that robust growth has been driven by formal sector and GST collections, Shaw said divestment needs to be conducted at a rapid pace. She further said ease of doing business will drive investors' interest in India.
Sunil Mathur said it is important to ensure steadiness, continuity and predictability in policy-making. "We will be one of the first countries moving into 5G," he said.
"We launched our digital app which really is taking healthcare closer to the consumer, which is what we wanted to do. The most important thing is that, for the last decade, healthcare has wondered about its sustainability, and now we have the roadmap--digitising healthcare is the future," said Sunita Reddy.
PEA Sanjeev Sanyal explained that the main trust was on huge infrastructure spending and opening up as fast as possible. "We were focused on opening up contact services and getting them back on track."
He also said there is a need to get the patenting regime up and running. He said the sensible thing is to do is generate demand through capital investment in infrastructure and that the government was aiming at voluntary liquidation in six months rather than a year. "It is Important to make the process of doing business as seamless as possible," Sanyal said.