Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who was handed the additional portfolio of Finance recently owing to Arun Jaitely’s ill health, will present the interim budget on Friday. There is speculation that the BJP-led Union government will go on a populist drive and present a full-fledged budget instead of a ‘vote-on-account’. A day ahead of the last Union budget of the Narendra Modi government, TNM spoke to various stakeholders in Karnataka about their expectations.
Karnataka’s Rural Development Minister Krishna Byre Gowda who continues to represent the state in the GST council, told TNM, “I do not have any additional expectations. I will be overjoyed if the current Central government delivers on its minimum obligations.”
“To illustrate, mandatory payments of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) workers to the tune of Rs 1800 crore is pending in Karnataka. It is a violation of law and it is a burden that most vulnerable people cannot bear. Karnataka has been allocated about Rs 949 crore for drought relief compared to Rs 4700 crore for Maharashtra. Central funds for drinking water have been drastically cut from 75% to 12-13% in reality. So, if the Central government keeps up to its basic obligations, I will be a relieved man. I am in no delusion to expect achhe din or any bonanza from the current dispensation,” he added.
Mayank Bidawataka, co-founder of Vokal, said, “Startups are looking forward to the so called ‘angel tax’ to be abolished forever. It’s been a problem for both investors and startups. I am both a startup founder as well as an investor in startups. For most angels, investing is a way of paying it forward. However, you don’t want the hassle of going through some scrutiny just for investing a small amount in a startup.”
He added, “Startups are employment generators. Startup investments need to be incentivized. There should be no ambiguity / subjectivity when looking at funds raised by startups. The onus is on the government to find ways to separate the few questionable transactions from the thousands of genuine startups.”
Given Bengaluru is the epicenter of Indian startup culture, Chairman of Aarin Capital and the ex-Chief Financial Officer of Infosys, TVS Mohandas Pai, also opined that the angel tax is the biggest issue in Karnataka.
Speaking to TNM, he said, “Please remember this is an interim budget so expectations are very low.”
He suggested that the government promise a minimum guaranteed income for farmers, increasing the tax slab and investment in infrastructure in smaller towns and cities.
“We need a national level income support plan for farmers so that it can counter the constant farmer distress we hear about,” he said.
“The government should also think of increasing the tax slab to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 2.5 lakh as middle class has not got much from the last four years despite what the Finance Minister says. We need in a big way is infrastructural spend on India’s small towns. There are around 5,000 small towns, the money has to go there,” he added.
He explained, “If there is better infrastructure in these small towns, then labour-intensive industries can go there instead of coming into big cities. We (the government) have not looked into this aspect instead have gone for the Smart City project which will take a lot of time to build capacities.”
Vinay Kooragayala Sreenivasa, a lawyer and rights activist, said, “One common but neglected need of urban residents across India is accessible and affordable public transport. While governments are spending thousands of crores on metros, public bus utilities which carry many more people and are used by the poorest of the poor remain neglected. For instance in Bengaluru the bus service clocks 51 lakh trips whereas the metro clocks under 5 lakh trips. Even then the bus utility barely gets any funding.”
He added, “Increasing the fleet of buses and reducing the fares will ensure that the most utilised of public commons, the streets will be under lesser pressure and can be cleaner greener and healthier. Additionally, environmentally destructive projects like road-widening and flyovers can be avoided, tree-felling for the same can be avoided.”
Unorganised job sector
Vinay also pointed out that big policy decisions like demonetisation and the GST rollout made the lives of those in the unorganized sector even more precarious.
“We expect that the budget will be honest and upfront about the impact on the economy, especially in the unorganized sector due to demonetization and GST. There has been a complete neglect of the workers in these sectors. A change in the prioritisation of public investment is required to secure the lives and livelihoods of the workers. We need to for instance spend money on rehabilitation of workers included in manual scavenging and less on publicity of Swacch Bharath, he said.
He added, “The GST rollout further impacted artisans and rural economy. The budget should announce a complete loan waiver for these artisans and also provide subsidised inputs to these workers.”
Dr Pramod Nittur, leader of All India Democratic Students Organisation, said, “We demand that the government spends at least 10% of the budget on education. At a time when big corporates are getting loan write offs and bail outs, fellowships for researchers should be hiked.”
He added, “Government should open more institutions instead of encouraging private businesses entering the education sector. Teaching staff is very less across India and this is the basic duty of any democratically elected government to invest in education.”
Kurubara Shantakumara, farmer leader and former president of Rajya Raitha Sangha in Mysuru
insisted that farmers should get their due in this budget. “We want a thorough implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report for pricing of crops, complete farm loan waiver and the crop insurance scheme by the government.”
Article source: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/what-karnataka-govt-startups-farmer-leaders-and-others-expect-union-budget-2019-96008