By SAMEER SAMAL in Bhubaneswar, February 1, 2020: India is going through a very difficult time as it generally happens to any land / country while undergoing a developing phase of growth. Despite all shortcomings in the economic systems and process, the country has a definite aim and all the stakeholders are putting their head either to make it or to break it.

As usual, our Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting Union Budget 2020 said that the Union Government has spearheaded radical fiscal measures to ensure that India’s economy continues to tread the path of high growth. She said that to make sure India stays globally competitive and a favoured destination for investment, a bold historic decision was taken to reduce the corporate tax rates for few companies and facilitate the flow of foreign investments in India.

The Union Budget for 2020-21 has focused on agriculture, infrastructure and economic activities. The Government providing viability gap funding for PPP-based warehousing at block and district level will add to the boost for the logistics sector and attract global investors and developers.

It also places a strong emphasis on infrastructure building by faster connectivity via roads and railways with an investment of Rs 1.7 lakh crore for transport infrastructure. The Government’s firm move on National Logistics Policy will further have a positive impact on the country’s logistics industry as it will help increase warehousing capacity and also identify gaps that could be bridged to bring down the cost of logistics for traders.

Besides, the proposal of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) mapping and geotaging the warehouses and cold storages will initiate making a seamless cold storage chain available across the country.

Agriculture is a primary sector and first subject to be taken care in our country and the government has initiated the schemes like Zero Budget Natural Farming, Krishi Uddan Scheme for logistics, Solar Pumps for power boost in agriculture etc. These would no doubt boost agriculture sector but may not help in achieving income of farmers doubling by 2022. The primary reason is that these scheme can’t cater to the needs of small and marginal farmers, who account for about 85% in our country.

Increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in education is an important move as it will bring more quality education in India. Similarly, online courses by top universities will enable more students to get a quality education without being limited by institute infrastructure. As an ed-tech entrepreneur, we are happy with the government announcing digital connectivity at Gram Panchayat Level which will help more students in leveraging our products. Moreover, changes in ESOP taxation laws as well as support on raising fund would take the sector on an upward march.

Provision of about Rs 3000 crore for skill development is expected to pave the way for skilling of unemployed youths on an institutional model and would create a huge manpower base who will be fit to industries like China and other developing countries.

Significantly, the proposal to attach a medical college to each district hospital under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode and in first phase, in those aspirational districts where there are no empanelled hospitals, details of the scheme to be worked out soon. This will definitely boost the quality of health care and even poor to poor people would get the health care services at rural districts in the country. However the attachment of district hospitals with medical colleges may practically be difficult

Incidentally, in a bid to provide significant relief to the individual taxpayers and to simplify the Income-Tax law, it has been proposed to significantly reduce the income tax rates for the individual taxpayers who forego certain deductions and exemptions.

Surcharge cess shall be continued to be levied at the existing rates. By virtue of this simplification, the marginal income tax payers will get a good amount of benefit however on the other hand there would be no benefit to the upper middle class and upper class individual tax payers.

The new tax regime shall be optional for tax payers as a person can opt for either the old rate with exemptions and/or for the new tax rates without any deductions and exemptions. This indicates the flexibility offered by the authorities for the common people to opt for the best benefit.

On corporate taxation, there has been absolutely no change in income tax rate except the rate reduced to @15% for power generation companies, ten years @100% tax holidays period to Start up companies with turnover up to Rs100cr and no income tax on dividend distribution by companies. This is in addition to the tax rate reduction made in September’2019 for newly incorporated manufacturing companies starting production before 31.03.2023. This is a welcoming step for new generation, start up and upcoming companies, so that many new ventures will come in India very soon as the corporate tax rate is almost very low as compared to the corporate tax rates in other developed countries.

Overall, this a Master guiding its motorcyclists to drive as fast as possible inside the well as in the game “ Maut Ka Kua”

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