The act of presenting the Indian Budget is akin to the performance of a trapeze artist in the circus. There are different people in the audience expecting different performances. Irrespective of what one chooses to perform, there is always the risk of disappointing parts of the audience.
Seen from a broader perspective, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has done a reasonably good job of balancing various priorities. It would be unfair to view this budget on its own. It comes on the back of extensive economic measures the government has taken in the past few years.
The finance minister’s focus was clearly on ease of living. The focus on agriculture and food processing industries, good health, senior citizens, infrastructure creation and MSMEs is worthwhile and the corporate sector has much to benefit from this budget. Its impact will be evident in the long run.
The biggest growth industries in India for the next couple of years will be food processing and infrastructure creation. More than half of our country is dependent on agricultural income. The Prime Minister aims to double the income of farmers by the 75th year of India’s Independence. Jaitley has correctly noted that this requires farmers to earn significantly more from their current produce.
India is also home to probably the largest number of entrepreneurs running small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The government’s focus on strengthening the MSME sector by linking the Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) with the GST network, the MUDRA scheme and increasing financing options for them will bring in more ease in conducting their business. The steps taken towards easing some of the labour norms for the textile sector and extending these to footwear and leather industries will also positively impact one of the largest employing sectors in India.
We often look at narrow indicators. But nothing benefits the economy more when a large section of the population benefits from macro changes that the government makes. This budget is clearly for the larger populace. And their well-being will surely trickle down to everyone.
kishore biyani Group CEO, Future Group