Two big events coincided on the date which comes once in four years – the Academy Awards and India’s Union Budget 2016. In his acceptance speech for the Oscar, Leonardo Di Caprio highlighted the significance of collective effort in handling a global challenge. Here in India, we heard another resounding speech which underlined the Government’s vision of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas’.
I take this opportunity today to congratulate Hon’ble Finance Minister and his team for presenting a promising Union Budget 2016. A budget clearly oriented towards inclusive development. And, a budget that puts in place the key enablers for fostering higher growth. The focus on ‘Bharat’ has been brought to the forefront and budget proposals will have a direct bearing on the lives and livelihood security of some of the most vulnerable sections of our society.
While Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi laid his vision of nation building through the mega programs like Make in India, Digital India, Start-Up India, Skill India and Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan, your budget, Sir, has laid out the nuts and bolts to further the implementation of these initiatives. The mantra of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’ has been re-emphasised with introduction of new initiatives for enhancing the ease of doing business.
The nine pillars on the edifice of which the budget 2016 intends to transform India are both focussed and laudable. These are clearly directed towards furthering the reforms process, addressing the demand concerns, creating employment opportunities, bringing in transparency and making India a progressive society.
There are of course a few provisions in the budget which would impact the industry and perhaps there are some where we need to seek your clarification. However, I would not like to draw your attention to these matters on this occasion. Some of these issues have been covered by my esteemed colleagues from CII and ASSOCHAM and some more would come up during the Q & A session to follow.
FICCI shall also send you a detailed submission on such issues for your kind consideration.
Today, however, I would like to stress upon the role that we as industry are perhaps required to play in nation building – a role that was envisaged by the Father of our Nation – Mahatma Gandhi, when he inspired the creation of FICCI.
Social stability and inclusive development are paramount for sustainable economic growth. We cannot have a sustainable growth model in conditions of rural distress. We do understand that the current realities of the nation called for certain priorities. And, this Budget has squarely addressed them. The thrust laid on agriculture, rural development and infrastructure is commendable. This would yield dividends. We foresee a multiplier effect in the form of demand generation and employment creation over time.
Practically speaking, there can be no ‘win all’ situation. Some short term pain is inevitable for some long term gain. Indian Industry realises that the Greater Good for the Greater Many is the only long term sustainable way for a thriving nation. Therefore, the Industry is well prepared to take some additional burden to provide the necessary fiscal space for socially imperative measures announced by you – be it in agriculture, rural development, empowerment of women or for the upliftment of weaker sections of the society. We feel confident that these measures will result in a harmonious and more equitable development of India. Peace and harmony forms the bedrock for furthering Industrial growth and development.
Likewise, a healthy and happy society is integral for nation’s progress. We see a clear reflection of this in the budget. The measures introduced for expansion of the social security net through introduction of new health protection scheme and the support extended to education via setting up of a Higher Education Financing Agency and steps towards strengthening skill infrastructure via 1500 Multi Skill Institutes will help us reap the demographic dividend in the years to come.
Despite the additional burden on account of Pay Commission recommendation and OROP, you have enhanced the developmental expenditure and yet stuck to the fiscal deficit roadmap. This is commendable indeed and will send very positive signals to the global community. Going forward, healthy and robust fiscal management would enable widening the tax base beyond the existing taxpayers.
We, at FICCI, are happy to note that several of our suggestions were incorporated in the Budget 2016. It will be our constant endeavour to constructively engage with the government in taking forward the reforms process and playing an enabling role in the nation’s development agenda.