Is the Union Budget 2020 short on drama?

The much expected Union Budget 2020 was supposed to fix the economy. But, according to Vishwanath Shetty of PrintWorks, Mumbai, it was short on drama.

03 Feb 2020 | By Noel D'Cunha

Shetty added, “There was no big take home for anyone, except the change in the tax bracket. Even there, people are complaining that certain exemptions are removed with the increased tax bracket.”

From the look of it, there isn’t a single bold step to revive the economy, except perhaps disinvestment.

Disinvestment is in principle a good objective. Governments have no business being in business. For a moment ignore the companies involved. Disinvestment in this scenario is like selling the family silver - a sign of desperation. The markets have reacted appropriately.

But LIC is a money-making machine. It is providing good dividends to the govt. Despite the private competition it is lording over the market. But, the questions to be asked is, should it be sold? Will LIC get HDFC valuations?

The other scheme where the budget has overlooked is MNREGA. It has reduced outlay. This is probably the only scheme which puts significant cash in the hands of a poor rural adult. They are now cutting off the legs of a poor person and preaching him to stand on his feet.

Meanwhile three print service providers have had this to say.

Nitin Shah, Awards Offset Printers & Packaging, Mumbai
2020 Union Budget has not fulfiled any expectation of any industry  and our print industry is no exception. The scorecard of the budget can be seen from the scorecard of Sensex. Never ever in last decade Sensex has reacted so adversely.

India is known in the world as a country of people surviving on the concept of saving for the future and not spending. The most general form of saving is LIC premium and PPF which forcibly made you save for tax brackets. But the new budget disincentivises the basic concept. How can this appeal to the common man in these unsecured days of life and earnings? There is nothing to fall back upon without saving. The government is adopting small-time measure at the cost of long term.

The shape of the economy today can revive through spending and not saving. But certainly it will harm the future.

Should one take chance to improve present with the certainty of paying the cost in future. It is food for thought.

If the government wanted to revive the economy by spending they should have done it on infrastructure themselves but not asking citizens to change a good culture of the country.

Coming back to the print industry, one particular sector which is the newspaper society was facing severe financial crisis, they have grown by a mere 0.7% according to FICCI-EY media and entertainment industry report. Due to this, the budget has helped them by slashing the custom duty on uncoated and lightweight coated papers to 5% from 10%.

Vishwanath Shetty, PrintWorks, Mumbai
The budget was short of any drama. There was no big take home for anyone, except the change in the tax bracket. Even there, people are complaining that certain exemptions are removed with the increased tax bracket. HRA as a part of the salary was a strategy employed by employers for tax planning. I am sure now there will be enough tax experts will find new ways of structuring the pay packet.

One thing is sure. Based on the reviews by celebrities, journalists and industrialists we get to know their followings. Most often they are subjective and not objective.

With an emphasis on techno-based Indian infrastructure, there is a push for 'made in India'

From the figures quoted you see enough provisions on developing infrastructures. How much of employment it generates is to be seen in the times to come?

Newsprint getting cheaper is a positive sign for the publishing houses, though there is nothing else specific to print industry.

The general complaint is 'in the times of economic slowdown, there is not enough done for immediate recovery'. The only limited answer that's available is 'with the tax saving, there will some extra income to increase purchasing power or savings/ investments'.

We should be able to see the result in the first six months of the new fiscal.

Ankit Tanna, Printmann Group, Mumbai
The reforms mentioned in the budget are in continuation to the other reforms already announced two-three months back. So we must consider these measures in totality rather than the budget as a standalone event.

Overall it’s been a good effort by the government for long term structural growth. For the printing and packaging industry, it’s been neutral.