Ludhiana, February 1
The Union Budget presented by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has evoked a mixed response from city industrialists. While many traders feel that the Budget announced today failed to give a boost to the micro entrepreneurs and no package was given to help the MSMEs, few others maintain that the Budget is futuristic and extends help to the troubled MSMEs and the small units in villages. It has been announced that 95 per cent of securities lost by MSMEs during the non-compliance of orders during the Covid period will be refunded back by the government.
No formation of steel regulator
Narinder Bhamra, president, Fastner Manufacturers’ Association of India, said the Budget has no provisions to boost the micro entrepreneurs and no package has been announced to uplift the MSMEs.
“We were expecting creation of a separate Ministry for Micro Enterprises, more liberalised labour laws, easing raw material prices such as formation of steel regulator, reduction in GST slab from 18 per cent to 12 per cent, etc. The micro entrepreneurs are facing problems because of fluctuations in steel prices and imports from China. They need special package to come out of the crisis but nothing of the sort has been announced and we are much disappointed,” Bhamra said.
Additional airports to boost businesses
SC Ralhan, former president, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), said the budget would help MSMEs and small units in villages. “The Finance Minister has announced that 95 per cent of securities of MSMEs lost during the non-compliance of orders during the Covid period will be refunded by the government. At the regional level, 50 additional airports will increase connectivity. The economy will grow at 7 per cent in the current year,” Ralhan said.
Highest ever allocation for education
With Rs 1,12,899 crore allocated for the Ministry of Education, the Union Budget 2023 has set the highest ever allocation for education. This is intended to help in the effective roll out of the National Education Policy- 2020. The Budget places a strong emphasis on teacher training, recognising it as a critical requirement in light of the recent shift in learning and teaching methods by using innovative pedagogies, continuous professional development and the use of ICT.
Monica Malhotra Kandhari, MD, MBD Group, said skilling is another emphasis of the budget with 30 Skill India International Centres announced in line with the National Education Policy. The launch of new-age courses like coding, AI, IOT and the move to set up Centres of Excellence for AI will have long-term benefits.
Dismay at Health Budget
The Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) has expressed dismay at the decrease in total allocation to the health sector in the budget presented today. In the last year's budget of Rs 39.45 lakh crore rupees, the health expenditure was Rs 86,606 crore, 2.19 per cent of the budget.
However, this year health has been allocated Rs 88,956 crore out of Rs 45 lakh crore, which is 1.97 per cent of the budget. Senior vice-president, IDPD, Dr Arun Mitra said this is a decrease of 0.22 per cent, despite high inflation.
“Our health budget is amongst the lowest in the world. That is why our health indices are far from satisfactory. There is need to have minimum of 10% allocation to health if we want to meet the needs of the people. The frontline health workers, ASHA and Aanganwadi workers have not been given the status of a worker in this budget,” Dr Mitra said.
Bicycle industry welcomes some decisions
FICO president Gurmit Singh Kular and UCPMA president D S Chawla said that they welcomed the new income tax regime, as it would benefit the masses. Further, the increase of import duty from 30 per cent to 35 per cent on complete bicycles was also good for the Indian bicycle industry but the government should have increased the import duty on bicycle parts as well to give a boost to local manufacturers, they added.
Directionless budget, says FOPSIA president
Federation of Punjab Small Industries Association (FOPSIA) president Badish Jindal said the Union Budget 2023-24 was a directionless budget and once again the Finance Minister had allegedly failed to present a growth-oriented budget. The focus of the budget was to please the masses with an increase in income tax limit from Rs 5 to 7 lakh, but this was not a major relief for the public as its direct benefit to income tax assessees is merely Rs 15,000 a year, Jindal said. He added that if the funds allocated to Prime Minister’s Employment Guarantee Program and Guarantee Emergency Credit Line were deducted, the total allocation to existing 7 crore MSMEs was merely Rs 4,478 crore, whereas 14.5 crores farmers have been given an allocation of Rs 1,25,035 crore.
- FM has proposed to increase capital expenditure by 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore, which would be 3.3 per cent of the GDP.
- The Union Government's focus on reforming the agriculture sector continues, after its legal reforms had to be repealed.
- The Budget envisages an open-source digital infrastructure for agriculture and an agriculture accelerator fund focused on the youths in rural areas.
- These steps will help the nascent agri-tech industry and could help boost the sector which still employs nearly half of the country's workforce.
- For enhancing the ease of doing business, more than 39,000 compliances have been reduced and over 3,400 legal provisions decriminalised.
- For the business establishments required to have a permanent account number, the PAN will be used as a common identifier for all digital systems of specified government agencies.
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