Corporate File

MSME ‘growth stars’ need support

B Santhanam | Updated on: Jan 30, 2022
B Santhanam, CEO, Asia Pacific and India Region, Saint-Gobain

B Santhanam, CEO, Asia Pacific and India Region, Saint-Gobain

B Santhanam on his wishlist for the Union Budget

The home at the centre of the Budget: The pandemic has shifted focus to homes and all of us are spending more time at home. Whatever surveys we’ve done show that more than a third are talking of three-bedroom homes and we are seeing a big shift in the median size of homes. Globally, the construction industry, with a high employment potential, has been the backbone of economic revival. We need to incentivise housing and raise the low-cost housing limit. This will be important for building materials, construction real estate companies that will drive rapid and broad-based economic revival. 

Direct benefit transfers for consumption too: Perhaps DBTs can also include vouchers that cover services as well as consumer durables. If targeted well, this could lead to a broad recovery. .

Growth stars in MSMEs: Can we identify growth stars in MSMEs; companies that can grow non-linearly, and accelerate their growth? They can become medium-scale enterprises from small, if we can give them access to technology, schemes and funds 

A ‘green’ procurement policy: India has made a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2070. This year, perhaps, we should walk the talk with a green and sustainable procurement policy. Give a higher weightage if a product is made with less energy or is less material intensive. This will spark off a lot of innovation. 

Forecast

The last Budget was a path-breaking one. We are in a similar situation, with the third wave subsiding. The government has two more years before the general election. Perhaps they can be bold, make rapid decisions on PSU disinvestments, invest much more in infrastructure especially as the GST collections are robust and take concrete measures to boost competitiveness by accelerating electricity reforms . It’s a good time for a bold, disruptive budget. 

Flashback

GST measures were originally part of a Budget. The GST introduction, notwithstanding the snafus with its implementation, is the single biggest thing to happen in many industries. For us, in construction, it has formalised the industry and made practices more transparent. There are still a lot of gaps in the implementation but no fundamental flaws. GST made the single biggest impact for us. We are a very large company dealing with 10,000 dealers, many small, and every one of them are in the GST network. In the coming decade you will find tax evasion will come down because the GST network gives the data and analytics to be able to spot it. 

B Santhanam is CEO, Asia Pacific and India Region, Saint-Gobain

Published on January 30, 2022
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