India is all set to unveil its annual budget for financial year 2017-18 tomorrow. This year, the finance document will be different as policies by the Modi government have been trying to bring populist measures while at the same time adopt radical steps. Demonetisation, for instance, has brought in the spin to the Indian growth, which advanced 7.3 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2016.
This is the first time that the government has adopted an unusual approach by presenting the Union budget on February 1, unlike earlier practice to announce it on February 28 or 29. The railway budget will also be a part of general budget this year.
Analysts and experts say economic development in India and the country’s strong relations with the UAE are very important as NRIs based here invest massively back home. They say 2.8 million NRIs in the UAE will be watching latest plans for key economic sectors like real estate, business, securities, IT and healthcare, taxation among others.
“I believe new budget of 2017 will definitely revamp the economic structure of the nation. The government should have a special focus on the infrastructure projects, including transport, connectivity, public services, among others,” said Anis Sajan, managing director of Danube Group.
He said the budget should be directed to making better healthcare available as well as affordable home sfor mid and low income level individuals. “Through new tax structures and policy reforms, the Indian market can serve as an investor-friendly place drawing investments from all over the world,” he said.
Close to realty second is healthcare, which is a prime concern among NRIs who keep travelling back and forth with extended families rooted in India. The percentage of the GDP allocated for healthcare traditionally has been very low in the range of two to three per cent.
Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director, Aster DM Healthcare, said the Union Budget last year signalled some steps by the government on the path to ‘Right to Health’.
“Health insurance and public-private partnerships for dialysis programmes and generic medical stores formed the focus areas last year. Looking at the meagre developments since the last budget, it is required that a booster dose is required to be given in this budget if the momentum of healthcare reform is to be maintained and the goal of universal health coverage is to become a reality for all Indians. The exisitng allocation must moved up by additional two per cent from current levels.”
Lot of NRIs purchase gold in form of jewellery and in form of investment tools too.
Karim Merchant, CEO and managing director of Pure Gold Jeweller, said the upcoming budget is expected to unify the overly complicated taxation system of India.
“This in the long term will positively impact our jewellery industry and businesses will become more mainstream and organised. Like any change, short to medium term pain is expected but overall I expect GST to positively impact our industry should the implementation of the policy be seamless.”
However analysts like Raghu Mandagolathur, senior vice-president-research, Markaz stronlgy recommends that few measures are still required for India to be a favourable investment destination.
“India has been pushing for a ratings upgrade, however the rating agencies citing higher deficit have retained their stand so far. Thus, we could expect the government to exercise fiscal discipline this year and target a fiscal deficit of around three per cent of GDP.”
Unikai Foods, the largest and most diversified FMCG companies in the Middle East and North Africa, voices out that there is a need to bolster investor confidence. Neeraj Vohra, chief executive officer, Unikai, said: “As an expatriate, I see India’s current economy both as an opportunity and a challenge. The government’s focus on key reforms like digitisation, clamping down tax evasions and setting up GST create a good investment climate.”
This year the women in UAE are closely watching measures to invest in India. Sandi Saksena, Empowerment Officer, Echelon advisors and management consultants, said: “Assuming Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of incentives which included women in his special New Year’s address as a precursor to the government’s 2017 annual budget I am looking forward to the expansion of the Rs500 crore under the ‘Stand-Up India’ 2016.