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Advertising agencies keenly await Budget 2014

MUMBAI: Thanks to elections, the year started with a bang for the media and entertainment (M&E) industry.

The political parties didn’t hesitate to spend on the various mediums – print, TV, digital, OOH – to woo the voters. Various studies by media agencies also estimated that advertising by political parties will boost the AdEx by up to +2.5 per cent.

This apart, the year is estimated to be good for the industry. With ad spends of most FMCG companies on the rise to ride on the back of higher disposable income due to election spending and recent RBI policies leading to a more favourable business environment, the industry is hoping for healthy year even with various issues (digitisation, ad cap, service tax, FDI etc) gripping it.

Indiantelevision.com spoke to various advertising agencies heads to know what they are expecting from the budget.

Dentsu Aegis Network chairman & CEO South Asia Ashish Bhasin

Service tax should be rationalised, the surcharge on it should be removed and also the quantum of it should be reduced a bit. It can be noted that the process and procedure of collecting service tax is cumbersome. What we as an industry want is transparency in this process. I am also keen to watch some FDI in media in the coming days.

Perfect Relations founding partner Dilip Cherian

Undoubtedly, there are high expectations from the Budget and it remains to be seen how Finance Minister Arun Jaitley goes about restoring growth while reining in the deficit. We need something that in the next six months will start generating revenue for the long run. A push in the infrastructure sector is vital because that will help growth of the core sectors -- steel, cement, construction etc and create jobs. I would like to see Jaitley spell out his plans for this vital sector, which will also have a long lasting impact on the economy. The introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) has been delayed for far too long. Though this is a point of contention between the Centre and the states, I would be happy to see some positive movement on this front.

FCB Ulka Group chairman Nagesh Alai

The days of seeking specific tax sops or concessions are really over, more so when over the years a fair amount of tax rationalisation has already happened. How do you expect the government to run the country? However I do expect the government to stick to its promise of withdrawing the one time surcharge of 10 per cent which was imposed for the FY 2013-14, but there has been no notice of that withdrawal yet. Secondly, the authorities should also honour their commitment of timely refunds to assesses rather than putting counter pressures in the months running up to March every year by arbitrary add-backs and demands, which is just a ruse to keep refunds on hold.   In the interest of avoiding short termism and addressing the macro-economic issues effectively so that the fiscal and revenue deficits can be plugged, we should seriously consider having a fixed budget for say three or five years. This will bring about a stability of tax regime and also help all constituents plan better, including the government. The annual budget exercise has perhaps become a lobbying exercise for political and power brokers.  Lastly, agriculture income should be brought into the tax net. It is an anachronism – and is perpetuated for the benefit of the few rich politically powerful people.

Madison World chairman and MD Sam Balsara

I don’t think my expectations from the budget are unique or different from what the nation expects. I expect the budget to do more than its bit to grow the economy which is the major need of the hour. Whatever is required to give a shot in the arm to the economy, the budget must do. This year’s budget is going to be specially important because it is the first budget that the BJP will present after its landslide victory and all Indians, as well as global businesses are going to evaluate it and form an impression about the future of India. The Finance Minister is keenly aware of this and being an intelligent and practical man, I am sure he will not miss this opportunity, nor will he try to pull wool over our eyes. Whatever it takes to spearhead growth, he should do, be it GST, divestment, roping in more tax payers especially at the top end or abolishing retrospective tax loss, etc. What is good for the economy is good for the advertising industry.

Global Advertisers MD Sanjeev Gupta

After achieving a historic victory in General Elections 2014, we have high expectations from the newly-elected Modi-led government. From an outdoor advertising industry perspective, we believe that our growth is the reflection of development in our country.  Better infrastructure, improved road connectivity, advance transport mediums, enhanced public spaces give us opportunities to connect with end consumer. India is likely to emerge as the world’s largest middle class consumer market with aggregated consumer spends of $ 13 trillion by 2030. With increasing population and their demand, it has become essential for MNCs / SMEs to be visible on different advertising mediums to promote their services / products. Therefore, outdoor advertising industry needs government support to grow in the future. We would like the center government to focus on creating new opportunities for us, allow FDIs, develop transparent policies and reforms, and address tax issues and licensing procedure of public structures. We wish to see changing India, growing India.

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