Non-resident Indians give mixed verdict

With the announcement of the Indian budget 2009-2010 on Monday, the local Indian community had a mixed reaction. While they were pleased with the cuts in personal tax and an increased total budget expenditure, some non-resident Indians (NRIs) believed there was a lack of focus on the community outside the country as well as on infrastructure. They also expressed concerns on the rising fiscal deficit.

Venu Rajamony, Consul General of India: “The budget highlights the mantra of the government. The focus will be to bring back growth of nine per cent at the earliest. If growth is sustained, there will be a huge opportunity for companies in the UAE. It will bring more investment and more tourists to the UAE. There is an unprecedented purchasing power in India’s villages. We have already seen a shift and that is also an opportunity that the UAE can target. Growth will boost the trade and relations between India and the UAE.

Krishnan Ramachandran, chief executive of Barjeel Geojit Securities: “The stock market reaction to the budget, is more on account of an over-expectation than to the budget itself. The budget, though may seem to be lacklustre, retains the overall impetus on the growth parameters that have been seen over the last five years. The medium to long term still looks quite attractive for the Indian markets.”

Yusuffali M.A., Managing Director of EMKE Group and Board Member of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “A very balanced budget given the current economic scenario. The finance minister has tried to bring in certain financial policies and procedures to rein in the global slowdown. The thrust given to private public joint ventures is a big boost to us, especially the NRIs.”

Paras Shahdadpuri, president and member of administrative board, Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC): “The budget lacked innovation and bold initiatives. The government could have come out with some bold initiatives in the field of infrastructure and reduce the fiscal deficit to three to four per cent of GDP [gross domestic product]. However, the finance minister deserves credit for giving special attention to agriculture.”

Raju Menon, chairman and group managing partner of Morison Menon Chartered Accountants: “It is a balanced and populist budget. This budget can be looked up as a startup year budget for a five-year plan to alleviate poverty by half. It appears to me that it is more of a socialistic policy budget.”

Prashant Gulati, secretary-general and member of administrative board, IBPC: This is a very lacklustre budget. People were expecting a larger exemption of personal tax. The budget seems to be peripheral. There are a few positive things that I noticed in the budget: the removal of surcharge and commodity transaction tax, which is actually very populist. One thing that would affect us is the increase in customs duty of gold and silver.

Bharatbhai Shah, businessman: “In trying to justify “Aam Aadmi” [common man] poll agenda by UPA [United Progressive Alliance], the finance minister has missed the opportunity. He has done more damage in his speech highlighting small factors and re-visiting bank nationalisation and cheering government expenditure. Privatisation of PSUs [public sector units] being ruled out, government inefficiencies will continue to rule and waste huge resources.”

Kamal Vachani, director of Al Maya Group: “Priority to infrastructure development and increased spending for farmers and the poor are the welcoming steps. Five per cent customs duty on set-top boxes will boost the local electronic industry, as well as the cut in customs duty on LCD panels from 10 per cent to five per cent, which was the demand of the industry will benefit the industry in big way.”

K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust: “The budget is very progressive. It has given emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, education, rural development and employment generation. However, Non-resident Indians are totally neglected in the budget.”

V.P. Nagarajan, senior general manager of ETA Ascon: “The announcement started off very well with a lot of objectives of reducing poverty by half by 2013 but the finance minister failed to outline what steps will be taken to achieve those objectives. This alone is not sufficient to push the economy to the much created momentum.”

Jitendra Gianchandani, Managing Partner, Jitendra Chartered Accountants: “The budget is an inclusive one, and is on expected lines. The finance minister has done a good job. It is infrastructure focused, rural oriented and common man-friendly. It has a long-term perspective and has a broad view as well.”

Farina Ahmad, chief executive of BSEL Infrastructure Realty: The budget lacks focus and direction. It is increasingly becoming clear that the CFO of the country, Pranab Mukherjee, is unable to read the minds of India Inc as well as individuals. He has not articulated how he will pep-up the economy and grow GDP from 6.7 per cent to 9 per cent. The allocation to infrastructure is shockingly low.”

This article originally appeared on Gulf News.