Varun Duggirala – Content Creator, Podcaster, Entrepreneur and Author of Everything is Out Of Syllabus
We’ve seen over the last two years that how we create, transact and consume is now digital first and with this budget I’m hopeful that there is further simplification of process and boosters for growth added to the digital economy especially to enable us to build digital first businesses. I also feel there needs to be a start to recognising the needs of the influencer/ creator economy and simplify the process of how individuals and companies in this space can manage the business end of their work. It’s something that will help build an entirely new form of growth.
Malini Agarwal- Founder & Creative Director MissMalini Entertainment, Girl Tribe & Co-Founder of Good Creator Co
As always, it is my hope to see this year’s budget provide support to areas having a direct impact on women’s health, safety and empowerment. As we already know, COVID has had a disproportionate consequence on women, whether in terms of historic declines in labour force participation or reduced access to critical healthcare resources. I hope Budget 2022 takes steps to reverse these declines, with support for women’s healthcare, education, job skilling, and family-friendly tax policies that ensure a woman never has to choose between her health, career or family. Particularly close to my heart would be initiatives to ensure that women are safe and empowered in the digital world—so that they may fully participate in the new Creator economy without rampant sexual harassment and intimidation that currently inhibits their full potential.
Shilpa Gandhi – ISC Section Head and Coordinator, Jasudben ML School
People have displayed remarkable resilience and adaptability in these uncertain times. It is urgent now to focus on school education. The Central Government along with stakeholders of the Education Sector must work to restore a sense of normalcy and build resilience into this sector.
Normalcy will come once efforts are directed towards returning students to the classrooms. Technology alone cannot bridge the gap. The Central Government should appoint more teachers, train them to create classrooms with fewer students like ‘Study Bubbles’ to restore and sustain live interactions in a safe environment.
Resilience needs an appropriate support system. Children’s education has been compromised due to financial uncertainty and constraints. Government should create avenues for educational financing to support parents and schools. Insurance designed to mitigate risks that disrupt a child’s education should be provided. This will ensure continuity and improve accountability of the Education Sector.
Gopal Upadhayay, Co-founder of Teabox
The Union Budget will be presented against the backdrop of the country’s third coronavirus wave—vastly significant for a prime agricultural sector like Tea, one of the largest employment-generating sectors in India. Last year, the government had emphasized the health and well-being of the workforce, especially women and children working in the estates, alongside focusing on reinvigorating human capital.
We expect the reinforcement of these policies in the sector with a clear roadmap on infrastructure development—particularly in terms of roadways, developing integrated cold chains and an integrated strategy to maximize productivity. Additionally, doubling farmers’ income will also help boost the tea industry.
Faster refund of GST input to start-ups and taxation process simplification for e-commerce companies will encourage investments in the sector. Moreover, specific measures to improve the ease of doing business in the country will help attract more FDI and stimulate production and employment generation. Focus on simplifying rules for B2C exports from India and relooking at the guidelines for FDI in the sector will also attract potential investors to this industry.
Ankita Riva, Co-founder & COO, Zymrat:
Zymrat is a D2C performance wear brand, based out of Bangalore, India, with some of the world’s most innovative products, and we are set to have one of our best years in 2022 in terms of growth. To make products which compete with brands at global level, our supply chain touch points are spread across 4 countries including India. I am hoping that for young and growing startups like ours, Govt brings incentives and relaxations on custom duties. Global supply chain and global transport has been hit due to the pandemic in the last 2 years, and it is already adding to the cost of manufacturing significantly and continues to add. There is a 35-40% duty that Govt levies on top of that. While this is a great idea for promoting the Make in India initiative, for certain high end products we still have to get technology, raw materials and goods from outside. In such times a duty waiver for startups which are working on cutting edge technology from across the world would be a boon for all businesses. This can be limited to companies under certain annual turnover, but it is a need of the hour.
Ujjawal Asthana, Co-founder & CEO, Zymrat:
We are currently in a very exciting phase for Zymrat. We have back to back launches and campaigns coming in the next 3 months. What can change the game for growing startups like ours is the access to our GST input. Cash and liquidity are the kings for any growing startup, but with rules related to GST/RCM/Equalization Levy etc, we have to add a significant amount of money into the Govt’s treasury which can get blocked for days. If there was a way for companies to utilize the GST input amount, either in form of loan or cash, it’d be a game changer. Other than this I hope that more ease is brought into running a digital first business in India. When RBI E-Mandate with regards to online payments came into picture in September 2021, many digital first startups suffered heavy losses, including us. This happened because the payments for all the digital services that we use, such as email, digital ads, ecommerce platforms started failing, and in some cases it continues to fail. The auto debit transaction limit must be increased beyond Rs 5000 so that businesses like us can run more smoothly, and can continue to build on the dream of truly digital India.
Pradeep Krishnakumar, Co-Founder and COO, Zouk:
The last two years have been a roller coaster for businesses – small and large, owing to the CoVid situation. Online has been a blessing in this situation – both for consumers and for business owners. In the past, online retail has faced a lot of backlash from physical retail owners. This year I hope that all retailers adopt online as a new way of selling instead of seeing it as competition. In this regard, I am hoping the budget focuses on policies that will recognize online retail more. Personally, I await more clarity on the new eCommerce policy, that will help in this regard. And, India is a hub for handmade skilled products, across textiles, bags, footwear etc. This space overall has taken a big hit due to CoVid. I hope some relief packages are offered in this budget for the sector. At Zouk, we see tremendous potential for Proudly Indian products globally. So, ground-level policy support will help brands like us take our India-inspired designs to the world. That can also become a game-changer for the country, in terms of driving the export economy. In terms of business and economic outlook in 2022, our government has done a phenomenal job in delivering over 100 crore vaccines. With newer variants of CoVid coming, vaccination seems to be the only way economies will operate normally. Therefore, I see 2022 as the year of the resurgence in retail activity. I expect sectors like travel, hospitality to bounce back strongly. That will result in lifestyle brands like us, who sell bags, wallets and travel accessories currently getting a big boost. I also expect online to become a mainstay in how consumers buy products now. 2022 will set the foundation for the coming years in terms of GDP growth and I see India going back to becoming one of the fastest-growing and most exciting markets globally.
Disha Singh, Founder and CEO, Zouk:
Our honorable Prime Minister kickstarted a movement last year for an Atmanirbhar Bharat. As a Proudly Indian brand, we felt great when the same message came from him. We also saw a lot of support from consumers for Vocal for Local brands like us at Zouk. I expect some budgetary boost and subsidy for brands taking Proudly Indian brands to a global market. The recent rollback of the GST rates for the textile sector was the right move. I think the government really understood the concerns of the sector and it showed great maturity in making quick amends. I am sure the government now understands the issues of the sector better and will act to help the sector further. In 2022, we will see us coming out of the shadows of COVID and living life freely despite the pandemic. This will have a tremendously positive impact on the economy. I expect higher GDP growth rates and we will build the base to move towards consistent double-digit GDP growth rates in the coming years.
Nowshad Rizwanullah – Co-Founder & CEO at MissMalini Entertainment Pvt. Ltd
One of the few bright spots in the last two years has been the thriving startup sector, both in India and around the world. Historic levels of funding, innovation, employment and wealth creation put into sharp relief the benefits of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, whether through tax and financial incentives or the development of critical infrastructure. As digital becomes the dominant medium, policies that facilitate the rapid rollout and adoption of technologies like 5G and improved broadband penetration would be welcome. Continuing relief from the impact of COVID on both employers and employees would also help support economic recovery.
Saajan R. Thakkar – Chief Financial Officer, Kulfi Collective
With regards to ESOP tax deferment for startups, in the last decade or so, the Indian Startup ecosystem has become a key force that will lead India’s future growth. Currently, tax on such ESOP gets levied at the time of exercise at the fair value of ESOPs. This will save the employee from the tax burden on the notional amount and the tax payout will occur only on the actual realization of cash against such securities.
For clarity on Crypto transactions and tax, there has been a significant surge in crypto investors within India and also new players are emerging within the industry to cater to investors’ needs. Also framing taxation laws around it would clear the ambiguity at the investor’s end and thus avoid any potential conflicts with the taxation authorities. If at all the ban is announced on the existing set of cryptocurrencies as an asset class, what will be the implication of it for the existing set of investors? With the relief for individual and salaried taxpayers, It has been a long time since the current threshold limit of income was set on which there is no tax. For a certain corporation, the current maximum tax rate is 25% and thus it will be the right time to revisit the 30% maximum tax rate of individuals.
Sneh Jain, Managing Director and Co-Founder, The Baker’s Dozen :
Year 2021 has been a dynamic and challenging year for all businesses, especially for online-first brands. And, with the budget positively inclined on policies like health and nutrition as well agriculture and allied sector, it helped the F&B industry in channelizing the importance of healthy and local produce in our consumption pattern. Similarly, I expect budget 2022 to be mindful this year too along with a significant focus on the Hospitality Industry. Besides, looking at the consistent endeavors by the government to ensure vaccination and booster shots for the fellow citizens, I am also hoping the country will collectively bring an end to the third wave which will further bring us closer to a post-Covid world, where brands are given a chance to grow geographically and strengthen the current communication gap with their consumers. Furthermore, I also foresee 2022 to be a powerful year for homegrown brands to shine globally leveraging our Prime Minister’s ‘Made in India’ campaign.
Aditi Handa, Head Baker and Co-Founder, The Baker’s Dozen :
2021 has been a year of resilience. I think every industry, be it F&B or Health, has tried rowing their boats hard enough to not just to recover from the loss of 2020 or see a periodical significant growth but to work on being contingent for the near future too, and this learning curve has helped Indian businesses especially start-up brands to witness a massive surge in their consumer base. Hence, we expect the budget 2022 to be positive for all sectors to celebrate the power of resilience. Also, a supporting nudge for the hospitality industry and the SME sector is anticipated.