Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented the Union Budget in the Lok Sabha. This Budget holds much significance as the country is scheduled to have the next Lok Sabha elections in April-May 2024. Like the previous two Union Budgets, this one was also delivered in paperless form. Experts and analysts across the industry have shared their reactions.

Here are some reactions in the following.

Rajat Agrawal, CEO Barista

The Union Budget 2023 is out, retail industry was expecting few direct SOPs which were a complete miss from the Budget, especially around input tax credit. Keeping a positive view, I see measures for bringing more cash flows in hands of individuals through relaxed tax sops, this will certainly have a direct bearing on their spends and we see this as a small window of opportunity which can benefit the retail sector with increased spending.

Anirban Mukherjee, CEO, PayU India

Budget 2023 is a great step towards supporting the long-term growth potential of India’s fintech ecosystem amidst increasing global headwinds. The new National Financial Information Registry, simplified KYC processes and adoption of PAN as the common business identifier will help streamline business operations for fintechs across India. The government’s strong focus on cutting-edge tech like AI & 5G will offer a much-needed growth impetus to our country’s digital infra at a grassroots level. We at PayU India welcome the policies laid out in Budget 2023 and are excited to contribute driving financial inclusion through our digital payments & credit businesses.

Divya Gokulnath, co-founder, BYJU’S

With a focus on digitalisation and formalisation, the Budget is investing in digital public infrastructure that will position India for continued growth and competitiveness. The education sector is a key area of investment, with the launch of PM Schools for Rising India, the recruitment of 38,800 teachers, and the establishment of a National Digital Library for children. These initiatives will help equip students with the skills and knowledge needed for success in the future, and the emphasis on teacher training and innovative pedagogy will ensure that the quality of education in India continues to improve. This forward-thinking budget sets India on a path towards self-reliance and global competitiveness.

Shreya Jaiswal, CA and Finfluencer

Considering the high inflation rate of the country, the global recession, post-pandemic recovery, and the upcoming 2024 election there is no doubt that all eyes were set on today’s Budget speech. The 2024 budget is a perfect example of what we call a Populist Budget. From promoting the MSMEs to continue driving the start-up ecosystem in India and favouring domestic tourism over international tourism, the government is also betting big on India emerging as a superpower amid the global recession. The direct tax proposals received the loudest cheer not only in the Parliament but across the nation. It would be safe to say the personal tax proposals are indeed intended towards luring the middle class for the upcoming elections. The government has very closely monitored the middle class’s budget expectations for the last 5 years and has fulfilled them all at once. Increasing the tax rebate to Rs 7 lakh from the existing Rs 5 lakh, increasing the basic tax exemption limit to Rs 3 lakhs from the existing Rs 2 lakh, and increasing the exemption limit on leave encashment from the existing Rs 3 lakhs to a whooping Rs. 25 lakhs and considering all the other several relaxations that were announced, I can see the middle-class rejoicing. While on one hand, we see the direct tax collections going down, on the other hand, you can also expect an increase in the GST collections considering that there will now be surplus funds in the hands of the public. What effect it will have on inflation, only the coming days will tell.

Shubham Singhal, CEO, Dot Media

Nothing unites humans like a common enemy, in our case the common enemy has proven to be Covid. It has turned us into humanitarians, the way war does. With a huge relief in tax slabs, revamped schemes for MSME’s, exceptional allocation to boosting connectivity, reducing compliances for the ease of doing business and the measures involving the health sector are all welcome changes to boost our economy as well as our standard of living at large to the next level. India is fast approaching the time of truly ‘making’ in India with the extended support of the government bodies to ease the way we do business. I will have my eyes pierced to see the next batch of entrepreneurs, problem solvers and small scale business owners that slowly but surely will take over the world.

CA Deepak Bhati, co-founder, Digiwhistle

Today’s Union Budget, presented by Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman is an inclusive and growth-oriented balanced budget with a clear focus on strengthening physical and digital infrastructure, boosting the ‘Make in India’ start-up ecosystem, and providing a strong digital push. The various initiatives will make a significant contribution to India’s goal of creating a $5 trillion economy. This government support will encourage an increasing number of students and young citizens to embark on the start-up journey, thereby creating more jobs and wealth. The extension of tax breaks for the middle class is welcome. The changes made to the income tax regime are the high point of the Budget, and they will surely help the middle class.

Sunil Gandhi, CEO, JLNPhenix Energy

It is great to witness the inclusion of multiple initiatives and considerations towards green fuel, green energy, green mobility, and green equipment. Also, the latest budget included policies for efficient use of energy across various economic sectors including the EV and Lithium battery industries. These sustainable measures will help in reducing carbon intensity of the economy and also provide more employability. Allocation of Rs 35,000 crores for priority capital investments towards energy transition and net zero objectives, and energy security by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas will serve towards the greater purpose of promoting clean energy. Additionally, continuation of custom duty relief on lithium ion batteries and the government push to replace polluting vehicles with new and preferably with EVs are quite encouraging”.

Naveen Kulkarni, CEO, Quantumzyme

Several energizing initiatives in the budget will contribute to the expansion of the economy. The need for an extensive research and development policy has always been stressed by the pharmaceutical industry. We appreciate the government’s consideration in announcing the launch of a new pharmaceutical research programme to boost R&D, which will re-energize the sector and create investment prospects.

Sonica Aron, managing partner & founder, Marching Sheep

A focus on Youth power as one of the key priorities and the intention to set up International Skill India centers is a welcome initiative. Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow across sectors and the right inputs and education will support the nation in the long term. It will be even more good to see an inclusive approach to ensure youth from diverse sections- with disabilities and from the LGBTQ community benefitting from this initiative.

Sathvik Vishwanath, co-founder & CEO, Unocoin

New income tax laws for crypto triggered only 10 months ago, more over the TDS being applied only for 7 months. The government needs to have enough data for an extended period of time say 1-2 full financial years to analyse and do amendments as necessary. Hence no significant news was expected on the crypto industry anyway. So far, Unocoin has been giving interim data to the government about transactions and the effect of the new tax regime on the crypto industry. We may expect some amendments in due course or during the next Budget.

Manish Godha, founder & CEO, Advaiya Solutions

The Budget has a lot of right ideas, which make this quite opportune for sustained growth of the economy. With global headwinds, it is heartening that the focus is on modernizing the economy, and while the long-term investments have not been ignored. Thrust on digital, AI, and formalisation of commerce would bear fruit as new business models and entrepreneurship would evolve and take benefits from the same — fuelling overall growth. From the perspective of tech and consulting, we believe it will unlock many opportunities to transform Indian businesses and the governance transformation would only propel this further. With slowing down global markets, this should allow the Indian IT industry to pivot in a significant manner, with capabilities, innovation and IP becoming drivers of growth rather than cost arbitrage.

Dr Rajesh Verma, Dean of Strategy & Marketing at Mittal School of Business, LPU

Considering the current employment scenario coupled with news of lay-offs coming from many companies and recession fears, it is expected that the Government will focus on jobs. So, it was not a surprise that the Finance Minister declared youth power as one of the seven priorities and job creation as one of the key focuses of the national budget and announced the highest capex spending (3.3 per cent of the GDP) proposed to support the economy and job creation. The announcement of PMKVY 4.0 to skill lakhs of youth within the next three years in alignment with the needs for Industry 4.0 is highly appreciable as it will lead to enhancement of employability. As the IT sector has the potential to generate more jobs, skill in AI, coding, mechatronics, drones, 3d printing and more would be the focus.

Sachin Gaikwad, founder and CEO, Buildd

During Covid, India’s digital infrastructure ensured most of the business running and the impact was relatively managed well with help of banks providing digital services & the fund movement & trade did not come to a complete halt. Using the unique identifier PAN, the common information and documents could be auto-fetched across systems. An integrated system at the central and state level departments will provide relief to the user from repeated submission of documents, ensure the authenticity of the same and lead to quicker processing of requests. The Indian economy has become more formalised as witnessed by significant enhancement in digital payments. Fintech & Fintech infrastructure technology players played a crucial role in keeping the engines running for businesses.

Aman Mittal, vice-president, LPU [education]

The Budget announcement on education by our Finance Minister is a great initiative for the improvement in the sector. In today’s announcement, Sitaramanji has mentioned various new initiatives, especially setting up the artificial intelligence labs in the institution and opening of 100 labs on the 5G services across the country which is a primary necessity. When India intends to be the superpower of the world, it is required to invest in new technologies. 5G services and AI are the new technologies that the world is talking about and the government putting money into training the youth would give out a positive outcome. The new initiative named  “Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0” is going to not only provide the basic skills required by the youth of India, but also to the entire Industry .Adding on to  the announcement regarding the online training platform, which is also another remarkable move as it will help train a number of youth in a unique and faster way. Although the result orientation and the parts of skills improvement is yet to be seen, surely it’s going to provide the impetus that is required by the education sector.

Dr. Kanury Rao, co-founder and CSO, PredOmix

We applaud the announcement of the establishment of centres of excellence for AI in prestigious institutions, which will aid in the creation of ground-breaking applications and scalable solutions to challenges in the field of health. The introduction of a new course will aid medical students in learning about medical devices and provide them with new career opportunities. Furthermore, we anticipate additional investment in the healthcare sector as a result of the expansion of ICMR labs in India.

Chandresh Sharma, CEO, Techpanion

We anticipate that the Union Budget would focus more on stabilizing the Indian macro economy and strengthening the macro economy will soothe the nerves of the bond and forex markets for India. India’s envisioned technology-driven economy for 2023, includes a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy, with strong public finances and a robust financial sector. We are glad that the world has also recognized India as a bright star, our growth for the current year is estimated at 7.0 per cent, which is the highest among all major economies, in spite of massive global slowdown caused by pandemic and the war. Also, we are looking ahead to the centers of excellence to empower technology via AI. Both ‘Make AI for India’ & ‘Make AI work for India’ will play a transformative role in 2023.

Adhil Shetty, CEO,

HNIs impacted by the high surcharge have reasons to be happy. Mid-income groups too. Essentially, income up to Rs 7.5 lakh a year is now tax-free. This will boost sentiment of taxpayers at those income levels. Taxes may marginally reduce between Rs 7 and 15 lakh on the new regime. Taxpayers now need to evaluate if they still need to be in the old regime. The new regime is going to be the way forward as the default option. The old regime with its brackets frozen in 2013 may not be enhanced anytime soon and hence are becoming increasingly tougher to stick to. Taxpayers can use an online tax calculator to understand which regime serves them the best. The new regime has no deductions barring standard deduction which has now been added. The old regime still allows deductions such as home loan, insurance, provident fund etc. but its ‘real’ rates are too high when adjusted for inflation, with the 30 per cent slab essentially acting like a 40 per cent one without bracket enhancements.

Anand Rathi, founder and chairman, Anand Rathi Group

A 33 per cent increase in capital expenditure to 10 lakh crore rupees, the highest ever will go a long way in building roads, ports, and airports — crucial for making India a reliable investment destination. Investment of Rs 2.4 lakh crore in railways is commendable. Boost to capex before the national polls is an indication Modi is focused on realising his dream of making India a factory for the world. The gross borrowing estimate of Rs 15.43 lakh crore for next year is lower than the survey estimates of Rs 15.77 lakh crore. Hopefully, that should cheer the bond markets. Net borrowing at Rs 12. lakh crore, however, is higher than the estimate. Need to see how much of that could be raised via green bonds.

Jaideep Arora, CEO, Sharekhan

The Union Budget has delivered on all fronts such as substantially higher allocation for capital expenditure, measures to provide impetus to manufacturing sector, especially MSMEs, and focus on boosting high employment-generating sectors such as tourism, start-ups, renewable energy, among others. The relief to middle class is also on expected lines. However, at the same time, the Finance Minister has stayed on the course of the fiscal consolidation path. Both the fiscal deficit target of 5.9 per cent of GDP and a manageable gross government borrowing plan of Rs 15.43 lakh crore are largely in line with ours and the street’s expectations. Specific to capital markets, there is no change in capital gain tax regime or on STT front. To summarise, it is a well-balanced budget with something for everyone and no obvious negatives.

Abhay Bhutada, MD, Poonawalla Fincorp

The 2023-2024 Union Budget presented by FM Nirmala Sitharaman showcases the government’s commitment to putting people first and uplifting the nation’s financial status. With a focus on ‘janbhagidari’ through ‘sabka saath, sabka prayas’ and seven pillars, including green growth, youthpower, and infrastructure investment, this budget sets the foundation for a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy. The new tax slabs, with a reduced maximum marginal rate of 39 per cent and an income rebate limit of Rs 7 lakh, empowers the middle class with more spending power, thereby elevating the country’s economy. The government’s continued support and commitment to the MSME sector are commendable, as it is crucial in driving the nation’s economic growth. The improved credit guarantee scheme, along with reducing compliances will significantly help alleviate stress in the MSME sector. The digitisation and expanded Digilocker services, along with The National Financial Information Registry, will enhance transparency in financial security and the sector at large.  The budget paves the way for a brighter future for the citizens of India. We look forward to seeing its successful implementation and playing our role in helping the nation become a global leader in the financial industry.

Banwari Lal Sharma, CEO, Consumer Business, CarTrade Tech

The Union Budget 2023-2024 announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is progressive, prudent and growth-led, with an eye to provide impetus on the savings of the public. It is a ‘green budget’ for the automotive and mobility sectors. The sustainability measures taken through announcements on green hydrogen and other energy sectors will help in furthering the government’s target of carbon neutrality by 2070. The increased capex outlay on energy transition is likely to spur investments and skill development in a green economy. The viability gap funding for battery energy storage systems is also likely to create critical infrastructure, while the Custom duty reduction on capital goods for Lithium batteries manufacturing will facilitate faster adoption of EVs. Increase in spending on infrastructure, setting up of 50 new airports and heliports, creation of 100 transport infrastructure projects are welcome moves, in addition to the central support for replacing old vehicles. All of these should drive consumption and overall demand of vehicles.

[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.]