Opinion – Ritesh Malik on Budget 2019
In my opinion, the 2019 Budget presented by the Honourable Finance Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) is one of the most critical ones in the recent past for Startup India & Standup India – a dream initiative of our of Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi.
This budget clearly portrays the importance laid on turning India into a product-driven by the Modi Govt. The government announced a wide variety of initiatives to revolutionise the entrepreneurial spirit of the country.
1. TV Programme exclusively for Startups on the National Broadcaster:
Mainstream television viewership has steadily declined in Indian Metros over the past few years and, Doordarshan is not alone! However, the government has announced to launch a new TV programme on Doordarshan (The National Broadcaster). With such a positive step, the intent is clear!
Even though Startup Founders rarely engage with DD, the step to exclusively dedicate a programme to serve as a platform for startups and consumers would help the Indian population to be exposed to the world of entrepreneurship. This will subsequently also help them get inspired by storytelling as a theme.
2. 100 Incubators:
Under the Government’s flagship rural entrepreneurship focused i.e. ASPIRE Scheme (A Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industries and Entrepreneurship), 80 livelihood business incubators & 20 technology incubators in FY19-20, this step would help first-time entrepreneurs gain knowledge & exposure to the world of entrepreneurship & help create skilled entrepreneurs who will eventually create over 75,000 jobs for a job-deficient nation.
3. Relaxation on Foreign Direct Investments (FDI):
This has to be the most critical steps in my opinion for the Insurance/Retail Startups of the country. The proposed 100% FDI directly classifies most of the digital insurance startups and intermediaries.
Single-brand retails are also covered under the proposed 100% FDI rule. This would directly encourage more foreign capital influx into Indian Startups.
Several other measures have been proposed to simplify rental housing, labour laws and education. The ecosystem is also waiting for the promised modernisation of labour codes that directly impacts the operating costs for a startup.
4. Angel Tax:
This was a critical bottleneck for new investors joining the ecosystem of angel investment movement in the country. Without capital, Indian startups cannot create scaled impacts. The technical abolishment of Angel Tax is a much-needed breather for the Indian Startup Ecosystem.
However, we still have to wait for its on-ground implementation. A welcome change would be the fact that startups will no longer be subjected to scrutiny for share premium.
Furthermore, the finance minister also indicated that special arrangement for quick redressal of pending issues and grievances would be done by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). Easier verification, delinking of calculation and the justification of share premium are some added moves promised in the Budget 2019.
5. Women/Minority Empowerment:
India still ranks poorly on the WEF’s Global Gender Gap report. This can be attributed to India’s socio-cultural environment. However, while delivering the Budget 2019, Nirmala Sitharaman was actually making history by being the 1st Woman Finance Minister of the Union of India. Adding to this, the Indian Finance Minister made sure that emphasis was also placed on women entrepreneurs.
Creation of self-help groups at district levels for women/minorities in India to make sure the Standup India scheme is inclusive for all & not just a tip of the iceberg phenomenon.
6. Focus on Climate Change & Measures to Control:
The Budget also made sure that apart from focusing on Indian Startups, the govt. also focused on generating radical new changes to make sure the adoption of newer technologies is accessible to the majority of the Indian population.
The aim is to promote new green-technologies by incentivising Electric Vehicles which could prove to be a critical step in order to make sure that we become fore-frontiers in the battle of fighting climate change.
In my opinion, no budget since Indian independence has laid so much emphasis on Indian Startups and its ecosystem. This is an encouraging sign for the nation & its youth – the flag bearers of the new India. I just hope that ‘Made in India’ products are consumed delightfully in India and the World. The government’s commitment towards the transformation of the nation into a new India is commendable.
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