While achieving the targeted fiscal deficit and revenue deficit may be a daunting task, the execution on the ground will make all the difference, writes DK Vyas.
The Union Budget 2014-15 is probably one of those Budgets post-independence, which has been analysed in an environment of high expectation, sub five per cent growth, double digit inflation and extensive knowledge communication through media. In our opinion, given the magnanimity of the challenges, the Finance Minister has presented to the country a holistic and forward looking Budget.
The Budget recommendations clearly addresses the need to drive the growth engine through a robust manufacturing sector, enhanced investment through FDI, providing boost to infrastructure development, transparent taxation policies, enhanced skill development initiatives and developing the domestic competency in preparing for the future. Additionally, the Budget also focuses on critical aspects of broadbasing the growth by alleviating investments and initiatives in agriculture, rural development, education, healthcare, low-cost affordable housing and urban development. The Prime Minister´s mandate of ´Sab ka Saath Sab ka Vikas´ seems to be justified through this extensive and well-defined Budget.
We believe that while targeted fiscal deficit of 4.1 per cent of GDP and revenue deficit of 2.9 per cent estimated may be a daunting task, the execution on the ground will make all the difference. Raising FDI limit to 49 per cent in insurance and defense would need to see faster clearances. FDI floor reduction in real estate would need to be made attractive by reducing the overall clearance mechanism in the sector. About 8,500 km of national highways and Rs 37,880 crore investment in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) would be benefit through speedier contract allocation and enhanced support from the state government agencies in acquiring the affected stretches of land.
Municipal debt obligation facility of Rs 50,000 crore would call for prudent rules and regulation at the local levels. Jal Marg Vikas, industrial corridors, smart city initiatives and expressways for these corridors have to be time bound and would require executive monitoring-cum-intervention at the highest levels. The government would also need to bring good and services tax (GST) to speed and more effectively clarify the role of the high level committee on retrospective tax.
While execution would be the driving mantra to better governance for these recommendations; it is further encouraging to observe higher focus in building economic efficiencies through more ports, airports, power generation projects, mining rationalisation and enhanced research facilities. Banks being allowed to raise long term funds for lending to infrastructure sector with minimum regulatory pre-emption such as CRR, SLR and priority sector lending, is a welcome move.
We in SREI BNP Paribas believe that the Union Budget recommendations would profoundly impact the industries we operate in namely; infrastructure, mining, construction, information technology, healthcare and rural. We have experienced in the past that 15-20 per cent of the project cost in these segments go into buying of equipment. Hence, given our market leadership in equipment financing, we as an organisation would definitely play a much bigger role in aiding the government initiatives towards building the core strengths of our economy. We believe that this Budget, apart from banks, will also enable non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) like ours to become broad-based financial-cum-advisory catalysts in aiding infrastructure projects and organisations implementing them.
The author is Chief Executive Officer,
SREI BNP Paribas.