I am looking forward to this budget for several reasons - but mostly because the global economic environment is calling for important initiatives in India that will lead us to continued growth.
To begin with, the government must continue the good work begun last year, where we moved to a negative list taxation regime for service tax purposes. This has led to overlap of VAT (Value Added Tax) and service tax in certain situations. The finance minister can look at alleviating this hardship and higher costs for customers as this is against the spirit of GST (Goods and Services Tax). Industry has been waiting for the GST regime, and perhaps it is time for some provisions that advance the structure and spirit of GST to be brought into this budget.
Furthermore, the precarious global fiscal situation and adverse forex movement for Indian importers make it imperative that the government supports industry with regulatory, tax and trade incentives. We can ill afford to lose the momentum gained in earlier years by not addressing bottlenecks in our trade ecosystem, thereby allowing other economies to capitalise on global opportunities.
Lastly, a conducive environment is imperative today, where companies come together to promote citizen benefits in sectors such as healthcare, education, IT and telecommunications, power and infrastructure. Budgetary allocations and policy reforms promoting local innovation, greater collaboration between companies and the government, and creation of an environment for new investments in key development sectors is the need of the hour.
The budget is an indicator of government sentiment and investments in enabling what I believe should be inclusive growth - social as well as economic - in this vast nation. The time for action is now.
(Rajat Jain is MD of Xerox India)