Union Budget 2024-25: Need a roadmap that supports a progressive country

 Union Budget 2024-25: Need a roadmap that supports a progressive country

Team L&M

Business owners and professionals across different industries speak about their expectations from the forthcoming Union Budget.

Shomiron Das Gupta, Founder, DNIF Hypercloud
As India’s IT sector continues to drive economic growth, the escalating scale of cyber threats demands urgent attention in the upcoming 2024 budget. According to a Singapore-based cybersecurity firm Cyfirma, a staggering 278 per cent surge in state-sponsored cyberattacks on India between 2021 and September 2023, primarily targeting services companies, especially in the IT and BPO sectors. The report also revealed a significant 460 per cent increase in cyberattacks on government agencies and a substantial 508 per cent rise affecting startups and SMEs during this period.
To address these challenges, the budget must strategically prioritise cybersecurity, directing resources towards resilient digital infrastructure. Investment in training programs and upskilling initiatives is essential to cultivate a skilled workforce capable of tackling sophisticated cyber threats. A focused increase in university education for the cyber industry will contribute to building a competent talent pool. Additionally, allocating resources to bridge skill gaps and enhance awareness is crucial for creating a cyber-resilient nation. The budget should earmark funds for the development of cutting-edge cybersecurity technology to stay ahead of evolving threats. Strengthening regulatory mandates in the industry will provide a solid foundation for a secure and thriving digital ecosystem. As a result, we believe the 2024 budget is pivotal in fortifying India’s digital landscape and securing the future of the IT sector.

Deepak Tiwari, CEO, KSH
In the 2024 budget, we look forward to transformative measures that can propel the logistics and warehousing industry into a new era of efficiency and inclusivity.
Labour law reform is a critical aspect of streamlining operations. Also, reduced interest rates for investments in CAPEX, Automation, and Technology will not only stimulate growth but also drive innovation within the industry. We hope for financial incentives that promote gender neutrality, encouraging the employment of more women and the third gender, and fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce. Furthermore, an infrastructure push in Tier 2 cities will not only decongest urban centres but also create new hubs for warehousing, facilitating better regional connectivity.
As we await the budget announcement, we look forward to a roadmap that supports our vision for a progressive, technologically advanced, and inclusive future in the warehousing sector.

Vishal Goel, Managing Director, RX Propellant 
The Indian healthcare system, one of the largest in the world, is likely to grow to USD 50 billion by 2033, with contributions from both public and private sectors. The government expenditure for health has been a steady increase from 1.4% of GDP in FY19 to 2.1% of GDP in FY23. However, in view of the healthcare needs from within and outside of India, there is an urgent need to infuse more investments to upgrade the life sciences infrastructure. Doing so is important to aid the R&D capability of pharma majors as well as Indian startups in the life sciences research, which will further boost India’s rise as an innovation hub and help go beyond the ‘pharmacy of the world’ tag. We have witnessed encouraging steps of 35% on-year increase in budgetary support to capital expenditure in the budget of 2022. Continuing a similarly robust budgetary allocation for healthcare infrastructure will not only improve the state of life sciences R&D in India but will also augur well for the country’s capability to offer quality but cost-effective medical services.

Dr Harshit Jain, Founder & Global CEO, Doceree
In the last few years, the Government of India has taken significant steps to revamp the healthcare infrastructure, placing a strong emphasis on digital health records under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission. We anticipate government’s continued commitment towards the initiative and look forward to a heightened focus on the robust implementation of this scheme in the upcoming fiscal year, fostering transparency in the healthcare ecosystem and accelerating advancements in treatment outcomes. We also expect a forward-looking approach from the government, emphasizing on allocating funds to enhance technology-powered innovative healthcare models tailored for India’s diverse population. As a pioneer in the digital healthcare messaging industry, Doceree reaffirms its unwavering commitment to providing steadfast support to the government and its initiative and stands ready to contribute to the ongoing journey to fortify the digitalization of the healthcare economy, leveraging its expertise to drive positive transformation and innovation in the sector.

Pritika Singh, CEO, Prayag Hospitals Group
I believe the upcoming budget is a crucial opportunity for the government to fortify the healthcare sector, especially in the wake of recent challenges. We anticipate a strategic focus on enhancing healthcare infrastructure, allocating resources for advanced medical technologies, and fostering research and development.
The government’s support in the form of tax incentives for healthcare investments, streamlined policies to encourage public-private partnerships, and increased budgetary allocation for medical education and training would greatly contribute to elevating the overall healthcare ecosystem.
Moreover, prioritizing health insurance reforms and incentivizing preventive healthcare measures can lead to a healthier nation and reduce the burden on the healthcare system.
In these unprecedented times, a collaborative effort between the government and private healthcare entities is essential. We hope the budget reflects a forward-looking approach, aligning with the industry’s expectations, and ultimately resulting in a robust healthcare framework for the nation.”

Naresh Ahuja, Founder and CEO, SMS Scientific Products Pvt Ltd
Patient education remains a significantly overlooked domain, yet it holds pivotal importance in ensuring accurate information dissemination, especially in the current era dominated by the Internet and social media. The prevalence of misinformation circulating online poses a serious challenge, misleading both patients and caregivers.
There is a pressing need to promote patient education and awareness, supported by the development and implementation of tools and resources facilitating seamless and precise communication between healthcare providers and patients during consultations. Recognizing the gravity of this issue, we express our hope that the finance minister considers allocating special attention to this critical aspect.
We advocate for GST relief on products and tools designed to enhance doctor-patient communication, and we also propose providing incentives to pharmaceutical companies utilizing these products and tools as part of their services to the medical industry. Such measures will not only foster improved patient understanding but also contribute to the overall efficiency of the healthcare system.

Susanta Kumar Ghosh, Scientific Advisor at Eco BioTraps
In the 2023-24 budget plan, a substantial allocation of 89,565 crores had been designated for the health sector. The National Health Mission (NHM) is a pivotal initiative within this budget aimed at addressing both communicable and non-communicable diseases, significantly impacting health delivery. A commendable allocation of 35,947 crores had been directed towards NHM, encompassing comprehensive programs for both rural and urban health.
Within the NHM framework, specific funds have been earmarked for the National Disease Control Programme, focusing on tuberculosis and vector-borne diseases. Notably, the National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC) primarily addresses six vector borne diseases such as malaria, Filaria, Kala-azar, Japanese Encephalitis, dengue and chikungunya besides other disease like Zika, West Nile Virus, Scrub Typhus, Kyasanur Forest Disease, Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever are also come under the umbrella of NCVBDC. As per the available resources, the annual budget of NCVBDC is estimated to be around 1400 to 1500 crores. has received a dedicated budget of 1500 crores. NHM has an additional supportive budget of about 8 to 10%. Hence the total budget varies from 4200 to 4500 crores. Despite the importance of addressing vector-borne diseases, this sector only constitutes 10% of the NHM budget, amounting to 4000 crores.
This amount is not enough when three diseases malaria, filaria and Kala-azar are under the process of elimination by 2030. A significant reduction of malaria cases have been recorded since 2015. About 90% of the malaria cases are concentrated in the 8 tribal states in 27 districts. Camp-based, DASTAK-like programme launched in Uttar Pradesh for effective control of Japanese Encephalitis should find a place with sufficient funding. Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (ELF) is now present in 272 endemic districts. Special funding should also be made available for home-based morbidity case management. Also special financial assistance should be provided to the patients with Lymphedema needing integrative medicine. Currently less than 1000 patients are reported for Kala-azar. Strict monitoring would achieve the goal of elimination of mosquito-borne diseases. After all, ‘Log Bhagidar’ is the main focus on management of vector borne diseases effectively.”

Madhavan Menon, Executive Chairman, Thomas Cook India Ltd.
The Travel & Tourism sector represents a vital economic driver: With a 5.8% contribution to India’s GDP (2022) and the government’s target of achieving $1 trillion by 2047, the sector forms a strong force multiplier – across allied sec​tors, employment generation and foreign exchange receipts. Our expectations from the Union Budget include key pivots to transform India into a destination of choice:
Infrastructural Focus: As a key fundamental for the​ sector, setting up of new airports via private participation must become a priority – thus creating a viable hub & spoke model; also rapid expansion in rail, road and waterways (sea and river cruises). Additionally, infrastructure development for high growth areas like religious circuits and underleveraged hidden gems (Lakshadweep).
Inbound Tourism: revival of the Inbound incentive scheme – but for select destinations.
1. Tax:
– Reduced Income tax levels to provide increased disposable income in the hands of the people – a boost for travel & tourism spends
– LTA exemption annually, against twice in 4 years to catalyse domestic tourism
– Standardisation of TCS at 5% on foreign travel packages (against the current 5% and 20% slabs).
– Clarity wrt TCS on Forex card payments

  1. GST is a key area and our wish list for Budget 2024-25 includes:

– Allow GST input credit facility for inbound and domestic tourism
– Centralise similar issues faced by a single assessee in multiple states – reducing unwarranted time, efforts and litigations in multiple jurisdictions
– Simplify the compliance mechanism in filing reports, reconciliations, audits.

Vishal Suri- Managing Director, SOTC Travel
SOTC Travel advocates for a muti-pronged approach.Albeit interim, the Union Budget offers significant opportunity as a growth accelerator for the travel & tourism sector – a valuable  contributor to the country’s GDP and a powerful employment engine. Our ask is a multi-pronged approach:
Coalesce the TCS rate on outbound tours into a single 5% slab to reduce the significant advantage enjoyed by international competitors (exempt from this levy).
Remove the deterrent to technology – in the form of the current TDS that is levied on automated bookings (self-booking tools) for internal/closed user groups such as our Business Travel platforms. This would align with the government’s commitment to ease of doing business and digital adoption, and the larger objective of building a Digital India.We are confident of the government’s continued focus on expediting infra development, especially extension of its Udan Yojana and Vande Bharat routes that ensures regional access and affordability. Connectivity to remote but viable tourism areas creates vibrant new circuits plus meaningful employment that uplifts the entire eco-system. Incentives that promote sustainable travel and tourism is now a critical ask as we endeavour to preserve our planet for future generations.”

Aditi Balbir, Co-founder, EcoRatings
“The 2024 budget should prioritize sustainability in the infrastructure and energy sectors. Emphasizing sustainable agriculture and striving for net zero targets are also key focal points. We also expect measures including incentivizing sustainability in the retail sector, extending industry status recognition, and encouraging the adoption of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) ratings across various sectors beyond securities and banks. To reinforce the link between sustainability and financial benefits, the budget should introduce substantial incentives, such as lower interest rates for ESG loans and grants for companies compliant with ESG standards. This approach will establish a direct correlation between sustainability efforts and financial advantages. Furthermore, the budget should also envision the mandatory adoption of comprehensive compliances, such as the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR), for all companies. Additionally, the introduction of product-level ratings to enhance transparency, providing clearer insights into ESG parameters.”

Achal Saran Pande, Partner at Vector Consulting Group, TOC (Theory of Constraints) Consultant
India’s pharmaceutical industry, often referred to as the ‘Pharmacy of the World,’ faces a dual challenge. Recent government initiatives to strengthen regulations and amend export policies are commendable steps forward. These actions demonstrate the government’s commitment to address issues of substandard and counterfeit drugs, both domestically and globally. However, the journey to becoming a global pharmaceutical leader requires sustained efforts. Long-term success will depend on not just immediate fixes but also structural reforms, including a single unified regulatory framework, process-based inspections, and a central database of errant manufacturers. There is also a need for capacity building to deal with a large number of small firms in the country. India has the potential to lead the world in pharmaceuticals, but the path must be paved with unwavering dedication to quality.

Partha Pratim Das Mahapatra, Founder and CEO, EzeRx, a MedTech company
Policymakers should prioritise preventive health infrastructure, local manufacturing, and mass anemia reduction in the Interim Budget 2024. India has the potential to transform into a global preventive healthcare role model through strategic budgetary allocation across three key pillars: preventive screening access via decentralised medical technology, self-reliant domestic medtech capabilities, and programmes enabling mass anemia eradication.
EzeRx’s recommendations stress the acceleration of digitally-enabled screening and diagnostic devices for early disease detection, which can save countless lives and reduce the burden for individuals and the healthcare system.
By channelling funds into decentralised screening delivery models, domestic medtech manufacturing, and anemia eradication programmes in the interim budget, India can truly cementing its position as a pharmacy and medical technology innovator. Local manufacturing talent and innovation needs to be boosted in alignment with Atmanirbhar Bharat’s goals, to enhance access to world-class yet affordable indigenous medical solutions.
The Government must also put adequate investment behind national anemia reduction schemes such as Anemia Mukt Bharat’s 6-6-6 strategy across beneficiaries, interventions, and mechanisms, supplementing these large-scale efforts through sustained community engagement.

Mansi Poddar, Founder, Heal. Grow. Thrive Foundation
The government should remove or reduce the 18 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on mental health services. While government centers receive some relief, private practitioners are left burdened. Extending tax benefits to private practitioners is crucial, given the high operational costs for the average therapist. This adjustment would not only acknowledge the financial challenges faced by private practitioners but also contribute to making mental health services more accessible and affordable for the general public.

Rajat Goel, Co Founder of Eye Q Super Speciality Hospital
As a leading eye care hospital chain in India, Eye-Q is acutely aware of the pressing need for proactive measures in addressing the vision challenges faced by millions. With an estimated 34 million people grappling with blindness or moderate to severe visual impairment, the economic toll on our nation cannot be understated. As we await the Union Budget 2024, our expectations are centered on transformative initiatives. The government must prioritize large-scale door-to-door eye screening, testing, and awareness programs, especially in remote regions and among marginalized communities. A dedicated drive to clear the backlog of cataract surgeries, particularly in tier-II III towns is paramount. In order to realize this objective, we expect the budget to incentivize eye care hospital chains committed to ensuring accessibility, inclusivity, and maintaining high-quality eye care. Moreover, a strategic reduction in GST and import taxes is crucial for enhancing affordability of health insurance and eye-care equipment.

Dr Gorav Gupta, Psychiatrist and Co- Founder of Emoneeds
At Emoneeds, we eagerly await the upcoming budget with optimism for groundbreaking initiatives in the mental health sector. In a country where there is just one psychiatrist for every two-lakh people, the need for increased accessibility to mental health services is paramount, especially as the population continues to rise. We strongly advocate for the allocation of resources to back awareness programs reaching all communities, with the aim of destigmatizing the act of seeking help when needed. A dedicated fund to address serious mental illnesses should be an integral component of this initiative. To combat the alarming suicide rates among students and corporate employees, we propose the incorporation of emotional wellness programs in educational institutions and corporations to enhance accessibility and support. Including the reimbursement of mental health services in healthcare insurance would be a vital step in this direction. Recognizing the innovative solutions emerging from the Healthtech sector, we also urge the provision of a dedicated budget for startups leveraging deep technology.



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