The first Budget of the newly elected government carries forward the reform-oriented measures that were introduced in the last five years. There has been a concerted effort to bring to fruition the Prime Minister’s vision of $5-trillion economy over the next five years. The Budget announcements have clearly focused on enhancing investments and growth of the economy.

The explicit recognition of contribution of private sector in economy’s growth by Finance Minister reinforces the trust between the government and industry.

It was heartening to note the government’s commitment towards continuing the structural reforms. The government has proposed to liberalise foreign direct investment in sectors like aviation, media and insurance sectors and relax local sourcing norms in Single Brand Retail sector. Several measures have also been announced to attract foreign portfolio investments into the country. On the domestic front too, the government is likely to consider a regulatory roadmap for making India a hub for various activities related to aircraft financing and leasing, and also implement suitable policy measures for development of the MRO industry.

The Finance Minister re-iterated the government’s intention to implement labour reforms by streamlining all labour laws into four labour codes. Likewise, the government has committed to bringing reforms in the power sector by working together with States.

Another important structural reform indicated by the Finance Minister in the Budget was with respect to the education sector. FICCI has been advocating the need for a new National Education Policy that is aligned with higher education, vocational education and skill education with a contemporary outlook. We have also emphasised on need for an autonomous regulatory body for higher education through setting up of Higher Education Commission of India. We are happy to note that the Budget proposes action in both these areas.

Though the government has expanded the eligibility of corporates for such reduced rates from the existing ₹250 crore turnover to ₹400 crore turnover, we hope that this will be extended to all companies going forward. On the taxation front, there has been a discerning move towards simplification and enhancing ease of doing business. We welcome specific announcements in this regard.

The proposal to introduce a scheme for inviting global companies to set up mega-manufacturing plants in sunrise and advanced technology areas by providing them with investment linked tax exemptions is a welcome initiative.

Several incentives have also been offered for promoting electric vehicles in the country, which will not only facilitate Make-in-India objective but also contribute towards the clean energy goals. Additionally, tax incentives provided to start-ups in the current Budget will also enable entry of new start-ups and scaling up of existing start-ups as well as create greater opportunities for employment.

In line with the 10-point vision laid out by the Finance Minister, special emphasis has been laid on strengthening the connectivity through improved infrastructure.

Given the huge capital requirement for infrastructure financing, emphasis has been laid on utilising the PPP mode for various projects across sub-sectors. The Budget has been guided by the principle of “reform, perform and transform” and we look forward to successful implementation of these reform and policy measures in the year ahead.

The writer is President, FICCI