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Guest Column: Budget '17 needs to incentivise digital adoption, stir rural economy

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This year’s Union Budget, called unique, has been the talk of the town. First, it’s going to be scheduled on 1 February 2017instead of the usual presentation on 28 February. Second, it’s the first time that the Railway Budget is going to be merged with the Union Budget.

However, I would like to consider it unique for other reasons as well. We are aware of the fact that this exercise has come against the backdrop of demonetisation. Due to this, demand has dropped and the GDP of the country has been affected gravely. While experts have already envisioned a poor growth rate, I would like to consider a worst possible situation of seven per cent plus rate as still healthy. What affects us the most in marketing, branding and advertising sectors of the media industry is consumer business segment.

The consumer business sector has seen a lot of volatility of late due to impending rollout of GST (Goods and Services Tax) and demonetisation. The retail and FMCG segments have been directly affected. This means stringent marketing budgets, which has slowed brand development exercises.

Hence, I would like to term the budget “unique” if my budget expectations are met. What are my expectations? The following:

1. Shaking up rural economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking about this for a long period of time. The finance minister had given hints to incentivise foreign companies to come here and market Indian agricultural produce. I am eagerly looking forward to this as this would mean sizable investment in this sector and more start-ups getting into it promoting healthy business and growth rates.

2. Promote digital payments

Now that the government has shown us the dream of a cashless economy, I am expecting clear incentives for financial technology companies and cashless transacting businesses. Some bit of it has already started, but some better provisions will ensure more innovation in the sector, thus leading to consumer ease.

3. Government investment in health and education

We have seen the government going strong on the Swachha Bharat (Clean India) campaign and many brands associating themselves to a larger social cause. I am expecting a similar impetus in the health and education sectors.

4. Clarity on GST game plan

A clearer roll out timeline for the GST is the need of the hour to end the uncertainty looming large everywhere. I am expecting a clearer picture after the budget is announced.

5. Tax relaxation

After the demonetisation drive, the government seems to have successfully collected a significant amount of money. The individual salaried person is definitely expecting a relaxation of tax slabs and rates. I am hoping that the fiscal deficit will be lower and, hence, the base line tax rate coming down, which can essentially widen the base and make the environment more conducive for business.

public://Saswata Das.jpg(Saswata Das is partner & executive director WOW Design. The views expressed here are personal, and Indiantelevision.com need not necessarily subscribe to them)

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