1. Malini Agarwal – Founder Miss Malini and Creative Director Malini’s Girl Tribe
It’s impossible to think about next year’s budget without considering the devastating toll of Covid-19. The government’s first priority must be to consider society’s most vulnerable and ensuring their stabilization and recovery, otherwise the existing disparities will only be exacerbated in the years ahead.Extending loan moratoriums, debt forgiveness, targeted tax breaks, and increased credit facilities at accessible rates are just some common-sense measures that can help. However, these need to be designed smartly beyond the short term so they don’t just pile up crippling debts for another day.
We must also be better prepared for future catastrophes. Investing in our digital infrastructure and accessibility is a clear imperative for 2021. My budget wishlist always includes programs specifically designed to empower women, and this year is no exception. Considering women are among the most vulnerable in our society and were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic’s economic fallout, I hope to see strong measures to support women’s labour force participation, savings schemes and progressive employment and tax policies that ensure women can weather future economic disruptions.
2. Mrs. Damayanti Bhattacharya – Principal of Jasudben M L School
Post budget 2020, life changed dramatically due to the pandemic and we experienced an unprecedented situation not seen in 100 years. Education was completely disrupted across the world. Internet, digital connection and, the technology of working remotely taught us how to handle extremely difficult situations. As we all know the digital push trained us across India at an incredible speed and teachers, students and parents adapted to the NEW Normal admirably well.
Budget 2020-21 introduced the New Education Policy (NEP) with a few key deliverables like Universal access to education from ECCE to secondary, ensuring equity & inclusion, bringing back 2 crore children to school, and focusing on 21st-century skills in teaching, learning and assessment. According to me, the 2021-22 Union Budget should focus on the digital mode of education as it has become entrenched. Our first focus should be the teachers in Pan India ( Tier I II III cities and in the rural sector) who would need extensive Teacher Training programmes. Improving the infrastructure of the school with an adequate budget and fund allocation should be done in this budget particularly for the rural sector. My suggestion is to create a fund through the public-private partnership to help meritorious and bright students, particularly from the EWS category. The idea is to spot talent, nurture them and ensure that they are not missed out.
3. Chef Aditi Handa – Co-Founder and Head Baker, The Baker’s Dozen
On a professional front, we have observed a great change in the F&B sector, as many establishments struggled to keep up their work during the pandemic while the others had to shut their doors for their consumers. It is very necessary to provide the F&B sector with a dedicated stimulus package in the budget that can ease their pandemic journey. Also, as the lockdown has observed a growth in the home growth brands who wish to do something big in the upcoming future, it would be great if the government can provide them with access to easy credits to start their businesses on a larger scale.
Personally, I foresee 2021 as a great opportunity to start the business once again, as the country lifts restrictions and as the new vaccine rollout is in process. Though the major beneficial sector remains the essential service providers as they meet the needs of the consumers. The other sector will observe growth eventually as people start to ease in their old routine and settle back into their old lifestyle
4. Ms. Aakanksha Gupta – Founder and CEO of The Other Circle PR And Marketing Pvt. Ltd.
The calendar year of 2020 has been quite a revealing one. It has truly made us realise that the best wealth is health and the most valuable asset is family! Apart from these learnings, the most important takeaway has been the rapid digitization of the entire work-culture and the way one and all have adopted the same has been heart-warming and inspiring.
From Budget 2021-22, the expectation would be to now ride this digital wave and embrace it full-on. Would like to see the government announce special incentives for the information and technology industry. Giving a boost to this industry with the mantra of “Local for Vocal” will see India being at the fore-front of technological advancements.
Another point of focus should be the brick-and-mortar establishments. Digitization is of course here to stay, but these establishments are still the backbone of the Indian economy. The year gone by has been a hard-hitting one for them and with the world learning to thrive in the new normal, these businesses have geared up and are raring to go. The FM should look at creating a conducive launchpad for them which will increase the morale of the economy and will aid in moving forward on a path of recovery.
5. Mr. Kausshal Dugarr – Founder and CEO of Teabox, India’s luxury premium tea brand
With the entire tea industry looking to pivot online in a post-pandemic world, the government should focus on increasing the pace of digitisation in semi-urban, non-urban or Tier 2 & 3 cities across the country by a faster roll-out of 5G services this year. This shall enable direct-to-consumer companies like us gain faster access to these untapped markets, expand the distribution channels and build on our customer base. This, of course will be possible if backed by initiatives to revive demand in the country by boosting job creation opportunities and accelerate growth of manufacturing and industrial activities. A reduction in personal income tax should help put more money in consumers’ hands and improve overall consumer sentiment.
To attract foreign investments in the sector, facilitating ease of doing business is important so that the industry becomes attractive and there are new funding opportunities for upcoming tea brands in the country. The taxation structure needs a relook wherein the government must ensure the start-ups in the sector can be provided bigger tax breaks so that they can invest in creating a vibrant online ecosystem; whereby more value and efficiency is created. More clarity on e-commerce policies and a budget that addresses regularisation of the digital economy & an adequate information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure to support the robust growth of start-up economy will set the pace for the year ahead.
6. Mr. Rahul Aggarwal, Founder, and CEO of Coffeeza
The one thing, that we hope to see in the new budget, is a lower GST on small home appliances category which is currently at 18%. In our country, majority of the population aspires to own small household appliances to make their lives better and easier. With changing lifestyles, that demands a lot of time from the working populace, many of these appliances have become a necessity. Furthermore, with the coronavirus pandemic that hit in 2020, consumers are now increasingly wanting to move towards more comfortable, convenient, and smart home appliance options. The 18% GST levied becomes a deterrent for consumers to make this move. If the GST rate gets lowered (to say 12%), such appliances will be easier to buy, and more consumers will be able to afford these products, making their quality of life better.
7. Mr. Sneh Jain – Co-founder and Managing Director, The Baker’s Dozen
The year 2020 has been a tough one for all the industries and especially for the F&B sector; many enterprises observed a complete shutdown or were forced to downsize. According to me, a dedicated stimulus package in the Budget for the sector, predominantly targeted to individual restaurant owners would definitely help. Further, the government should also focus on easing access to credit for small and medium businesses.
From a bakery industry point of view and looking at the current scenario, the bakery establishments cannot claim a complete input tax credit. While this led to the increase in the price pre-Covid, with increased costs of hygiene and manufacturing due to strict adherence to protocols, there is an urgent need to reinstate 100% input tax credit for the sector.
Personally, I believe there is definitely optimism for 2021, as the country opens up post lockdown and with the impending vaccine rollout. While most sectors will show growth, all business owners will still have to adhere to strict hygiene and sanitization protocols. Essential purchases will continue to dominate the family spend compared to luxury goods as the consumers will still calculate the difference between the need and want before purchasing any products. All the sectors will definitely observe an increase in discretionary spending once the jobs scenario starts to ease out and people start gradually setting back into their old lifestyle.”