"It is time to go with big and bold reforms. Raising taxes and plugging tax loopholes are, and will remain, a critical budgetary tool; however, I hope the Budget finds creative ways to deploy government assets and to raise revenues," Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman of Hero Enterprise, told NDTV in an interview. Policies and steps should be taken to support the private sector so that it can play a bigger role in capital formation and job creation, Mr Munjal added.
Here are the edited excerpts from Sunil Kant Munjal's interview to NDTV:
What are your expectations from Budget 2019?
This budget will also be an intent statement of the government in establishing the priorities over the next five years and beyond. It is time to go with big and bold reforms. Raising taxes, and plugging tax loopholes are, and will remain, a critical budgetary tool. However, I hope the Budget finds creative ways to deploy government assets and to raise revenues.
Countries around the world are lowering taxes to spur investments and to trigger growth. I hope the budget begins a definitive and epochal journey to make India quickly tax competitive in line with peers around the world.
We have also seen in the past years that the government's ability to drive investments is somewhat limited. So, the private sector must be supported so it can play a bigger role in capital formation and job creation. This can happen through lower taxes, easily available land at competitive prices and a flexible environment for hiring and a streamlined system of permissions.
I also hope a mindset change is triggered in the government whereby the agriculture sector is viewed as an engine of growth (given freedom to operate with appropriate infrastructure, access to funds, technology, systems and a safety net provided for failures) and not treated as a perennial patient in need of resuscitation.
What will be your message to the new Finance Minister?
Use this incredible mandate. Make growth India's biggest priority over the next five years; if there are global uncertainties, find newer and more robust sources of growth internally.
In a country like India with its diversity, disparity, geographical spread and extremes of economic development, growing faster is the only tried and time tested way of pulling the poor out of poverty and helping them join the mainstream.
What is your view on the weak growth in the auto sector and how can the finance minister offer a practical solution to the sector?
In the short term, reduced GST rates in the auto sector would definitely spur consumer demand. For the middle to long term, the government needs to align its electric mobility vision with the short to medium term challenges that automakers face in terms of technology and scalability.
It's very important for both the government and the industry to be on the same page; in a fossil fuel-starved nation, electric is doubtless the only viable way to go; yet the multi-decade legacy of the internal combustion engine cannot be wished away overnight or in a short span; there are too many stakeholders involved. The infrastructure challenge-in terms of setting up a charging network nationwide is quite formidable, as is the issue of used battery disposal as the China's experience has shown. Therefore, it is only sensible to have a calibrated and collaborative approach, and both the government and industry must have an open mind.
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