[Budget 2020] From Healthcare to Cybersecurity, Here's What These Businesses Expect
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The Union Budget is almost here and expectations seem to be running high. With key metrics showing deceleration for a while, and the economy well and truly facing a slowdown, businesses across sectors have pinned their hopes on some kind of measures to help pull things back on track.
"With a steadily falling GDP, manufacturing at its lowest ebb in a while and consumption refusing to bounce back , it would be imperative for the budget to usher in optimism and instil a greater degree of confidence across companies, investors and consumers," said Shailja Dutt, founder at Stellar Search, a global executive search company.
From tax cuts to incentives, the wants are many.
Here's what some start-up founders company leaders have to say about the current situation in their respective sectors and what they would be expecting from the budget on February 1.
Education in India has seen widespread interest in the last few years. The start-up ecosystem has especially taken note of the underlying need, with those such as Byju’s becoming widely known names all across.
“For the GDP target of $5 trillion by 2024, India will require a large number of highly skilled workforce. However, from the long term perspective, there is a need to focus on foundation learning to ensure every child can read well by class 2 and do all arithmetic operations by class 5,” said Sridhar Rajagopalan, co-founder at Educational Initiatives, an education research firm.
Zishaan Hayath, co-founder at Edtech start-up Toppr, said efforts need to be made to help students upskill.
“At the moment, many of our graduates are ill-equipped for the job market. Investing in higher education will be a priority for this budget, particularly since the presiding economic conditions will make potential students hesitant to study further, as they’d prefer to secure jobs instead,” said Hayath.
A focus on higher education is something that Manjeet Singh, CEO at scholarship platform Buddy4Study, also believes is required from this budget.
“Though state governments have good coverage with scholarships at the post-matric level, coverage in higher education is very poor. We expect the government to allocate more funds to scholarships in the higher education sector as well as encourage corporate CSR to allocate more funds for education and skilling initiatives,” he said.
“Low market sentiment and the transition to BS VI emission standards were said to be the prime reasons for the industry slowdown last year. The industry is hopeful that the government will announce policies to support the industry and increase the demand in the market,” said Jeetender Sharma, founder and managing director at automobile firm Okinawa Autotech.
Sunil Gupta, managing director and CEO at Avis India, feels the government needs to build on its recent push towards sustainability by prioritizing the growth of electric vehicles.
“This can be done by promoting the creation of a strong and well-connected charging infrastructure on a pan-India level, promoting the setting up of EV battery capacity in the country and incentivising the adoption of EVs, especially for public transport buses, fleet operator cars and 2 and 3 wheelers,” Gupta said.
Anil G, co-founder at rental mobility start-up Bounce, felt with shared mobility a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to traffic, pollution and other social woes, there is a need for incentives on initiatives that further its adoption.
On EVs, Anil said, “the current 18 per cent GST on battery-operated vehicles is a deterrent to this transition. Considering the government's strong focus on EV, we hope that the GST rates are waived or reduced, to accelerate adoption.”
Perhaps the hottest property in start-up town right now, fintechs too have plenty of expectations from the budget.
While the government has been encouraging digital payments, there are three areas that need attention, said Harshil Mathur, co-founder and CEO at Razorpay.
“First, some sort of direct incentives for businesses to accept digital payments, second is improved infrastructure for better internet connectivity in tier-II and tier-III places and lastly, a framework for customers to gain trust and assured safety in making transactions online,” said Mathur.
Harshvardhan Lunia, co-founder & CEO at online financing firm Lendingkart, expects progressive policies from the budget that would enhance financial inclusion.
Lunia expects policies that would enable this “through geographic reach, increased use of technology as well as efforts to rejig NBFC funding through PSU bank participation in fundraising plans of small and mid-sized NBFCs.”
While the coming of fintechs has made capital more accessible to small businesses, there are challenges with cost and availability to meet the addressable demand, said Alok Mittal, co-founder and CEO at Indifi Technologies.
“To ensure availability, we expect the authorities to make PSBs more inclusive and ease the rating mechanism to drive greater influx of capital in the market to further meet the demand of SMEs,” he said, adding that a supportive policy that enables transmission of rates to NBFCs would help in more credit to SMEs at reasonable rates.
Among the many different industries that have seen a steady uptick in the last few years has been cybersecurity. With more and more of the world going digital, the space has seen countermeasures come up against the obvious threats.
"From an industry perspective, the government should focus on establishing specialized cybersecurity incubation centers and R&D labs to bring up more product companies and make India a global center of innovation,” said Karmesh Gupta, co-founder at WiJungle, which helps organizations manage and secure their networks.
Gupta also felt that the government needs to launch a mass education and awareness drive around cybersecurity.
“Considering the significance of cyber security in view, allocating a part of the budget can be considered as a stepping stone to a secure and stronger cyber-infrastructure. This percentage of the allocated budget is deserving with the vision to give employment to the skilled workforce,” said Pavan Kushwaha, co-founder and CEO at cybersecurity start-up Kratikal.
According to Trishneet Arora, founder and CEO at TAC Security, the government should prioritise promoting indigenous cybersecurity players in the vulnerability management space in the upcoming budget.
Arora said, “Doing so will ensure that Indian organisations across industries have access to cutting-edge cybersecurity products and services that can streamline and strengthen their security profiles to make them ready for the digital age. It will also incentivise Indian cybersecurity companies to develop globally-defensible IPs that can add more momentum to the worldwide war on cybercrime.”
Healthcare is one sector in India that has constantly been under the radar when it comes to spending. Despite being an integral part of the ecosystem and a massive market opportunity, it is only recently that technology has started to well and truly touch healthcare in the country.
“As an emerging economy, India has a considerable expenditure when it comes to telemedicine,” said Ayush Mishra, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at Tattvan e-clinic. Telemedicine refers to caring for patients remotely when the two parties are not physically in the same location.
According to Mishra, what is lacking is the proper utilization of funds within the desired time frame. “There is a long drawn tender process which leads to the delay ultimately causing the budgeted amount to lapse,” he said.
Gaurav Gupta, co-founder at Navia Life Care believes the government needs to start partnering with healthcare start-ups to implement their projects. “The budget should aim to create healthcare facilities in small towns and rural areas. Ayushman Bharat is a nice step towards universal healthcare in India but better healthcare facilities need to be implemented.”