Industry reactions to Union Budget 2018
Hemal Zobalia, Partner, Deloitte India – Infra & energy Industry
Budget 2018 demonstrates the Finance Minister’s intent to boost investments in rural development, education, healthcare and social sectors. The Budget recognizes the role of “Infrastructure sector” as growth driver of the economy with an estimated investment requirement of massive INR 50 lakh crore. All time high allocation has been made to rail and road sector. The Finance Minister again shown interest to develop smart cities and bullet trains, but more action is expected at the ground level. Provision for rationalizing linkages of coal to power to railways have been made to make it more efficient.
As a welcome step, move to shift from ‘AA’ to ‘A’ grade ratings corporate bonds as eligible for investments will provide additional avenue to the corporate to raise funds for the infrastructure projects. On the direct tax front, the infrastructure sector did not get any relief on its long term standing demand of abolishing MAT or introducing group taxation provisions. However, 25% corporate tax rate has been extended to companies having turnover upto Rs. 250 crores in FY 2016-17. The benefit of lower corporate tax rate is subsidized by increase of cess rate from 3% to 4%. Also, long-term capital gains tax on equities at rate of 10% has been proposed which would impact Infra/energy companies planning IPO. On the indirect tax front, Social Welfare Cess of 10% has been proposed on import of goods by replacing existing Education Cess of 3%. For oil and gas industry, rationalization in duty and cess structure has been proposed for petrol and high speed diesel. To promote renewable energy sector and provide impetus to indigenous manufacturing of solar panels, cells and modules, it has been proposed to fully exempt customs duty on import of solar tempered glass including anti-reflective coated solar tempered glass. For ease of doing business, a single point of reference has been proposed to be established for importers, exporters and officers for regulating customs matters. A new Customs Advance Ruling Authority with Appellate mechanism has been appointed which will be useful for avoiding unnecessary litigation.
Milind Kothari, Managing Partner, Head-Tax and Regulatory services, BDO India:
The announcement in the area of health care is clearly path-breaking for the sheer size, coverage and the amount committed per family. This ushers India firmly in the next generation of social security as it moves aggressively towards a progressive developing economy”
Abhijeet Biswas, Managing Director & Co-Founder, 7i Advisors LLP says, “As part of the rural push, the government has addressed the crop burning issue and made allocations to help the farmer. This will have a twin benefit on rural India as well as environmental changes”
Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the government’s decision to double the Ministry’s budget allocation to Rs 1,400 crore for next fiscal will boost farmers income and generate million of new jobs. “Thank you, @arunjaitley Ji, for Doubling the Budget Allocation for Ministry Of Food Processing. This will immensely benefit farmers in availing various food processing related schemes and increasing their income. Will also generate millions of new jobs,” Ms. Badal tweeted.
In another tweet, Ms. Badal welcomed the government’s decision to increase farmers income by giving 1.5 times cost incurred to farmers as MSP. “No more potatoes on streets and crop-selling at loss,” she said.
Dipankar Chatterjee, Ex-chairman CJI, East and senior partner, L B Jha & Co says, “Finance Minister has gone beyond hand-outs and doles for agri sector, by laying base for a stronger agri sector. Any rise in farmers income as a result of these measures will also eventually help corporates , although they did not get the nudge to investments they had expected…,
Sanjay Jain, Chairman, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry
Allocation for Textile Industry increased from Rs. 6000 cr to Rs. 7148 crore – thanks to govt but falls much short of what was needed to take care of backlog of ROSL & TUF and current year requirement”
South India Mills Association
Allocation of Rs.7,148 cr to boost apparel and madeup exports, 12% EPF for first 3 yrs, and extension of fixed term employment for all segments (earlier only for apparel and madeups) welcomed.
Sardar Taranjit Singh, MD, JIS Group
“I welcome heartily the government ‘s plan and focus to move classroom black boards to digital boards. I also welcome the emphasis to be given to training of untrained teachers and allocation of 1 lakh crore for education research. Its also very commendable about the plans if coming up with 24 new Medical colleges. Also commendable is the plan of at least one medical college every three constituencies.”
Rakesh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann
Finance Minister clarifies that Cryptocurrencies shall not be deemed as legal tender and strict actions might be taken against investors in Cryptocurrencies. However, he also mentioned that Govt. can explore ways for using the blockchain technology for digital transactions. If it is not considered as legal tender, whether any transaction in it will be subject to GST or not is yet to be clarified.”
Pallavi Singhal, Partner – Corporate Tax, PwC India, says “The rise in the stock market in the recent past has been unprecedented. In order to garner additional revenues, the Government has proposed a 10% tax on long term capital gains tax on equities as expected. As per the statistics laid down by the FM, the exchequer should be richer by around 36,700 crore, which is substantial as compared to STT collections (introduced in lieu of LTCG a few years back) which has been around 7,500 crores. Existing investors can however breathe a sigh of relief since the gains till Jan 31, 2018 have been grandfathered and small investors have been provided with an exemption from the tax on gains below one lakh. Given that it impacts mutual fund investments as well, it would be interesting to watch the response of the stock market in the near future.
Abhishek Goenka, Partner & Leader, Corporate & International Tax, PwC India
Corporate tax rate of 25 percent will now be available to companies with turnover of upto Rs 250 crores. Disappointed with no across board reduction and this kind of patch work is unhelpful.
Monish Panda, Founder, Monish Panda & Associates (law firm
The Finance Minster in his budget speech has again confirmed that the Government does not recognise crypto currency and will take all steps to stop usage and circulation of such crypto currency. This clearly indicates that the Government will now either come out with a legislative mechanism or make suitable amendment in existing legislation to ensure that dealing and trading in crypto currency is made illegal and to penalise entities and individuals who are involved in trading and circulation of crypto currency. We will have to wait and watch as to what will be final framework of such legislation, if such legislation is introduced.