Union Budget 2024-25: Different sectors, Different expectations

 Union Budget 2024-25: Different sectors, Different expectations

Team L&M

The Union Budget for 2024-25, scheduled to be presented on February 1st, is a highly anticipated event for every sector of the Indian economy. From infrastructure, Information technology, telecom, agriculture, healthcare, and human resources to education, stakeholders are eagerly waiting to see how the government’s financial roadmap will impact their industries. Let’s see what are the expectations of industry leaders from different sectors in the Budget 2024-25:

T V Ramachandran, President of BIF
India is undergoing rapid digital transformation on the back of continuous Government reforms. The recently notified Telecommunications Act 2023 is a game changer and will help catalyze the growth of the sector even further. As Broadband India Forum, we would like to see the Union Budget 2024-25 focus on three important aspects viz.
Facilitate affordable Broadband through Satcom through reasonably modest spectrum fees

Budgetary support for the growth of Public Wi-Fi through waiver of duties & levies on equipment and on revenues
Budgetary support to incentivize Fiber to the Building +Wi-Fi to enable rapid growth in Fixed Broadband, by way of reduction in statutory fees and levies and exemption of GST on service revenues
With the above measures, we hope that Union Budget will help accelerate the momentum of the reforms in the sector which has been set by other Government policies & measures”

Manoj Nair, Head of Global Delivery Centres, Fujitsu
Major economies across the world are seeing a challenging macroeconomic situation with slowdowns that have affected various industries. Amid this period, it is the tech industry that is leading the charge in recovery with a positive outlook. The demand for IT skills, especially in the new-age technologies – AI, ML, analytics, data science and other digital capabilities continues to surge presenting an opportune time to GCCs to further scale and usher in the next phase of digital revolution in India. India is a leading hub of Global Capability Centers (GCCs) with 1500+ GCCs housed in India that play a crucial role in growth of the tech industry. According to EY, the domestic GCC market size is expected to hit US$110b by 2030 with the number of GCCs  expected to scale to 2400. Over the past few years, there has been a major shift in how GCCs operate – from delivering cutting-edge services to becoming powerful innovation hubs. These GCCs, with their vast trove of STEM talent and heavy investments in technology and upskilling are uniquely positioned to spearhead digital transformation for customers. Our technical capabilities across AI, ML, data science, cloud, automation, enterprise applications are crucial to powering deep research and product development.
Now, as GCCs continue to invest in reskilling talent in the face of evolving tech landscape, building demand-based and niche skills in relevant areas, they are playing a crucial role in employment generation for India. With GCCs being a major engine for economic growth, Budget 2024 can play a key role in facilitating growth and sustainable development. GCCs require support and investment for infrastructure and growth environment. The Budget 2024 can help GCCs further scale and accelerate innovation at a faster rate as India emerges as the world’s technology and services hub.

Bimal Khandelwal, Chief Financial Officer, STT GDC India
As India charges ahead on its digital transformation journey, the upcoming budget offers a timely window to cultivate a world-class data center ecosystem that steers this advancement. We are hopeful of incentives to spur domestic manufacturing and infrastructure builds specially tailored for data centers’ massive scale and seamless connectivity needs. Attractive capital subsidies for setting up future-ready facilities and easy financing options to offset development costs will unleash growth. We also envision provisions that encourage the adoption of renewable energy to meet data centers’ clean power appetites. Additionally, preferential procurement directives favoring home-grown data centers will provide an upside. With an emphasis on nurturing a cutting-edge domestic data center industry, India can swiftly go up the technology value chain and cement dominance in delivering digital services globally. Having granted an infrastructure tag has remarkably expedited logistics.

Sumit Sabharwal, Head of HR Shared Services, Fujitsu International Regions
As an HR leader, I eagerly anticipate the 2024 budget, urging the Government of India to prioritize robust investments in skill development. A strategic focus on honing our workforce’s capabilities will propel India’s IT industry to new heights, fostering innovation, and global competitiveness. The India artificial intelligence market size reached $ 680 million in 2022 and further it is expected to reach $3,935.5 million by 2028, showcasing a growth rate (CAGR) of 33.28% between 2023-2028. Data Science and Analytics have emerged as a game-changer across industries, with organizations harnessing data-driven insights to make informed decisions. With exponential growth in the digital realm, this field is expected to witness substantial opportunities in the coming years. The demand for STEM jobs in India has increased by 44% in the last 5 years. STEM skills will be a requirement for 80% of the jobs created in the next decade. To meet the increasing demands for STEM professionals in India’s rapidly growing technology, engineering, and manufacturing sectors, it becomes imperative to offer robust STEM education. For organizations, it has become necessary to provide upskilling and reskilling opportunities to existing employees. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and STEM education will align closely with its demands. To keep up with this new information-based and technology-dependent world, India must scale up the innovation ladder with initiatives.”

Meghan Nandgaonkar, Head of JDU, Fujitsu
Technology has played an important role in India’s growth story. Our expectation from Budget 2024 furthers to boost technology solutions for sustainable society, green initiatives, agro-tech, etc., Additional focus on skilling initiatives for people engaged in traditional sectors, using technology and online delivery along with incentives for technology companies in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.”

Udit Garg, Director, Kundan Green Energy
It is consistently demonstrated that hydropower plants across the spectrum: storage, run-of-river, and pumped storage provide immense benefits. However, this sector faces a lot of challenges – the financing sentiment in the hydro power sector has been quite damp in the past two years with no major financial closure being reported. Then, clearances from multiple departments during the project-planning stage consumes a lot of time. Uncertainty over the public acceptance of the project’s socio-environmental impacts; water sharing disputes; Environmental Impact Assessment issues; geological surprises; underdeveloped project location with lack of basic infrastructure and communication networks; power evacuation issues; and lack of skilled contractors/workforce are some of the other challenges faced by Hydropower sector.
Keeping all these issues in consideration, I would like to recommend a few measures before the budget announcement this year. The Government may like to consider the need for central and state government’s cooperation to actively work towards hydropower promotion -the states’ water-sharing agreements should include hydropower development agenda; government’s cooperation in developing basic infrastructure as well as power evacuation infrastructure. Moreover, establishment of a nodal agency/ institution dedicated to hydropower development could be announced during the budget; Central and state governments could help in creating public awareness programs to highlight the importance of hydropower projects so that it minimizes the social barriers. The pumped storage hydropower plants can be incentivized for maintaining grid stability through the ancillary services and by acting as a water battery to support grid integration of intermittent renewables such as solar and wind.”

Sandeep Gulati, General Manager, South Asia, ResMed
We have a positive outlook on the forthcoming budget, recognizing the essential function of technology towards propelling healthcare in India. We anticipate that the government will demonstrate its commitment to encouraging the adoption of digital health technologies such as remote healthcare and electronic health records, in line with the National Digital Health Mission’s objectives.
As India strives to enhance patient care and operational efficiency in the healthcare industry, we believe that it is essential to explore the unrecognized epidemic of sleep health and sleep disorders within the country. Considering the dynamic healthcare landscape, there is potential for medical equipment and home healthcare using telemonitoring to be covered under insurance. We also encourage the inclusion of sleep-related disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) to the classification of Noncommunicable illnesses (NCDs). Additionally, there is a need to incorporate sleep testing in the category of diagnostics under National Diagnostics Essential List. This would not only be in keeping with the healthcare industry’s forward-thinking trajectory, but it would also make these essential services increasingly accessible and available for Indians.
At ResMed, we are encouraged to see how the government has been elevating the healthcare sector in India and we are looking forward to seeing what the budget holds for the industry. We are hopeful that the 2024 budget will accelerate the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) and focus on preventive healthcare would help reduce care gaps in India and lead to better health outcomes.

Varun Vashisthaa, Co-founder and CEO, Doc0Sage
The anticipated focus for the upcoming budget is centered on transformative healthcare measures. A substantial 30-35% increase in overall healthcare spending is paramount, with a specific emphasis on strengthening primary healthcare, fortifying the public health system, and investing in medical education. The focus extends to prioritizing preventive care through initiatives like physiotherapy and mental health awareness. We advocate for robust support for research, fostering collaboration among healthcare stakeholders, and embracing technology for an integrated healthcare approach.
In the financial realm, our expectations include extending health insurance to the missing middle, recognizing physiotherapy as primary care, and incentivizing healthcare infrastructure development. We stress the need for tax benefits, especially for preventive healthcare, innovative health apps, and domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing. Addressing challenges involves rationalizing GST rates, controlling drug prices, and enhancing public health preparedness. We believe a budget aligned with these principles will propel India towards accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare for all, marking a pivotal moment in our nation’s health evolution.
Overall, the health industry in India is expecting a budget that prioritizes accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare for all. Increased investment in public health infrastructure, mental health care, research, digital health, and data privacy will be crucial steps towards achieving this goal.

Amit Kapoor, Co-founder and CEO, Eupheus learning
The transformative NEP 2020 and an elaborate NCF 2023 have mandated holistic and experiential learning for school students. It also involves intervention at the infrastructure level, digitalization being the key. This will involve even higher level of engagement of schools with the EdTech companies. As we await the upcoming budget, a thoughtful GST policy, coupled with incentives will empower EdTech companies like ours to innovate and create tools and techniques for schools to implement these key mandates.
Mr. Gaurav Goel, Co-founder and CEO, Toprankers
As we sail into this year, our focus remains on bridging the social gap, providing quality education and enhancing the learning outcomes of students. With the upcoming union budget 2024, we eagerly anticipate allocations that boost the educational infrastructure, including cutting-edge technologies,  enhanced accessibility across diverse regions and a conducive regulatory environment for education technology players. These initiatives will play a key role in accomplishing the objectives of NEP 2020 and moving our nation towards a competitive global standing. I am confident that this budget will serve as a driving force, steering India towards a future where education becomes the cornerstone of progress and prosperity for all.
Sumit Mani, Member, EO Gurgaon and Managing Director at Westway Electronics Ltd. 
In light of fostering affordability and supporting the common man’s access to essential electronic goods, we propose pivotal changes to the upcoming budget’s tax structure for televisions. Presently, LED TVs above 32″ are subjected to a hefty 28% GST. To alleviate this burden on consumers, we strongly advocate reducing the GST on all LED TVs above 32″ to 18%. Additionally, open cells, crucial components for television manufacturing, currently face a 5% duty under IGCR imports. Recognizing the absence of domestic production, we recommend a significant reduction to 0% to encourage a more conducive environment for TV manufacturing within the country. These strategic adjustments not only align with the government’s commitment to ‘Make in India’ but also prioritize the affordability of common man products, ensuring that essential electronics are more accessible to a broader spectrum of the population.
Barun Aggarwal, Member, EO Gurgaon, CEO and Founder, BreatheEasy Consultants Pvt Ltd
Sustainability, decarbonisation and carbon neutrality are all important issues and have been spoken about in a big way by our Honorable Prime Minister.  We need to energise this entire sector by giving easier access to loans for start-ups in this sector.  We need to see reduction in GST taxes for technologies that directly support the above issues.  And most importantly, we would like to see a push in the budget via allocation of funds towards development of technologies supporting  the above.
More than our industry, the whole country and planet stand to benefit from the above.  The promises  made during COP28 and during the G20 summit need to be fulfilled and no better time to start than the present.

Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets in India
As we stand on the brink of Union Budget 2024, the Travel and Tourism sector emerges as a dynamic force, contributing INR 16.5 trillion in 2023 and projecting around 20 trillion to the GDP by 2030. With a remarkable 44% YoY increase in the demand of skilled workers, this sector is a robust employment generator. To position India as a global leader in the tourism market, we recommend implementing visa-free entry for tourists from top fifteen source countries. This strategic move can significantly boost foreign tourist arrivals, benefiting the entire tourism value chain and increasing job creation. Additionally, incentivizing eco-friendly practices, rectifying disparities in OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and reducing GST rates are crucial steps for the sector’s sustainable growth.
Furthermore, acknowledging the pivotal role of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) tourism, it is emphasised MICE is growing at a rate of nearly 20% per year, and with significant investments flowing in from leading global tourism agencies, India will soon become a prominent MICE destination in the coming years. Moreover, the MICE tourism market size is expected to reach $13.4 billion USD by 2031. To strengthen MICE tourism, the budget should allocate funds for promoting eco-friendly accommodations and tourist sites. Introducing incentives for industry players aligned with the MICE sector will enhance sustainability and drive growth in the global landscape.
As the organisers of trade expos, Informa Markets plays a proactive role in fostering business, leisure, and the travel industry through the events like SATTE, we strongly recommend budgetary measures that empower and strengthen India’s tourism sector. These provisions will enhance its global competitiveness and contribute to inclusive growth.

Jaikar Singh, Director of Symphony Resorts, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
2024 is sure to be a pivotal year for the tourism industry of India. In the Budget 2024, I am hopeful for a forward looking strategy that gradually doubles the Ministry of Tourism’s allocation over the next five years. I believe the development of tourism infrastructure, strategic marketing campaigns, and capacity building should be the key priorities of this funding. Additionally, I am hopeful that the Andaman Islands will stand to benefit greatly from reduced restrictions granted by the government for international visitors, through improved accessibility and inter-island connectivity. The Central Government’s approval of Rs 95,000 crore for Andamans infrastructure development over the last five to six years has laid a strong foundation. This push from the government will help position India as a premier tourist destination, mirroring the success enjoyed by Maldives and Thailand. Finally, I propose to grant the Andaman Islands special status, which would include reduced taxes, increased public auctions, and a streamlined approval process. In my opinion, the ecology of the Andaman Islands is superior than that of the Maldives. I urge that the government strive to ensure that more Indians have the opportunity to experience it.”

Ankit Shah, Group CFO, Omni Hospitals
Anticipating the Finance Budget 2024, OMNI Hospitals emphasizes key areas for consideration. According to the recent amendment in the Finance Act 2023, the insertion of clause (h) in Section 43B of the Income Tax Act raises concerns for the healthcare sector. Effective from Assessment Year 2024-25, any payment delay to micro or small enterprises under the MSMED Act may pose cash flow challenges for hospitals. We expect an exemption for hospitals engaged in the credit business and those registered under MSME. Additionally, we hope the Budget classifies healthcare projects as ‘Infrastructure’ to enable access to long-term funds at a lower cost. Inclusion in priority sector lending (PSL) classification would further support the growth of the healthcare sector. Tax relief is crucial for strengthening healthcare infrastructure. Consideration for tax incentives, including a tax holiday for both existing and new healthcare projects, can significantly contribute to this objective. Rationalizing the GST law for healthcare is imperative. Standardizing GST at 5% or a lower rate on all services would simplify input tax credit claims and streamline the cost of providing healthcare services. Lastly, addressing concerns related to insurance claim settlements is vital. Introducing provisions similar to Section 43B (h) for MSMEs, including penalties for undue settlements by insurance companies and establishing an Ombudsman under IRDA, would safeguard the interests of healthcare service providers.”

Ashish Sedani, Co-Founder and Director – Experiential Deliveries, NeoNiche Integrated Solutions Pvt Ltd.
As we herald the unveiling of the Finance Budget for the year 2024, it is with great enthusiasm I anticipate a forward-looking budget that would recognize the pivotal role of the 5 pillars of growth, which are: Infrastructure, Digitization, Rural, Agribusiness Development and Healthcare. The government’s steadfast backing of digital initiatives presents an unprecedented opportunity for our industry to revolutionize strategies. Elements that will support the economy will get impetus over incremental measures. We can expect a push on start-up, manufacturing and consumption to further the GDP. The push to increase consumption, as well as for digitization, presents an opportunity to seamlessly integrate ground-breaking experiential concepts with the government’s visionary roadmap for a digital future. The synergy between experiential marketers’ prowess in harnessing technology for crafting memorable brand experiences and the government’s forward-thinking economic stance establishes the foundation for a formidable future in the marketing industry. On the human front, I also expect notable focus to be placed on perks for individual taxpayers, Women & Child Welfare as well as perks for Senior Citizens.


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