KOCHI: The Union Budget 2018-19 evoked positive response from the business community in Kochi. ''Though it's an election-oriented budget, it is a balanced one with focus on general welfare, rural development, healthcare, education and infrastructure, '' businessmen observed. Those who spoke at the budget viewing session organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said there are proposals in the budget which would give a fillip to the rural economy and the agriculture sector that will have a cascading effect on the overall growth in the coming years.
Former chairman of the CII Kerala and managing director of Sterling Group Shivdas B Menon said certain proposals in the budget on agriculture could be advantageous for a state like Kerala.''Many of the announcements regarding the rural economy are going to have cascading effect in future. Focus on rural infrastructure will create more employment opportunities. Focus on horticulture and specialised agricultural endeavours, concessions to farmer producer companies, helping hand to aqua framers etc are expected to help Kerala in a big way. The reduction in Customs duty on raw cashew import will help the cashew processing industry," he said. Jose Dominic, of CGH Earth, said announcements like regional air connectivity, improved rail traffic, development of heritage sites etc would help tourism in a big way.
"The attraction of India is its cultural diversity, which is in the rural regions. Visitors should be provided accessibility to rural India,'' he said.Abad Group managing director Najeeb Zackeria pointed out proposals on affordable housing would help the real estate sector. The government has also promised to revisit the Indian Stamp Act, which would help the industry in Kerala. ''Kerala is a state where higher stamp duty exists. Let's hope new steps would bring down the cost of transactions,'' he said.
The budget had also spoken of building toilets which could spur activities in the sector. According to Akhilesh Agarwal of Acumen Commodities (India) Ltd, the Long Term Capital Gain Tax is likely to fade attraction of investment in shares and mutual funds.''Though this tax had been expected in previous budgets, it was proposed this year only, Agarwal said. CII Kerala state council chairman G Krishna Kumar said the budget proposals which focussed on important areas such as agriculture, healthcare and public infrastructure could have a cascading impact on several sectors. It can lead to creation of several job opportunities, he said.
“The Finance Minister announced a National Health Insurance scheme which will cover around 10 crore vulnerable families up to `5 lakh for secondary and tertiary hospitalisation. Malayalis are synonymous with the services that they provide in the field of medicine. This new initiative from the government will create many new job openings in the healthcare sector,” he added. Navas Meeran of Eastern Group, who is also the former chairman of CII Kerala, and M S A Kumar, former managing director of AVT Natural Products and Vivek Krishna Govind partner, Varma and Varma also spoke at the event.