Anticipating Union Budget 2024: Key Sector Expectations

As the nation eagerly awaits the unveiling of Union Budget 2024, various sectors express their expectations and hopes for key budgetary allocations that could shape the trajectory of their industries. Here’s a glimpse of the pre-budget expectations from prominent sectors:

India’s Ambitious Healthcare Growth Trajectory: Envisioning a USD 50 Billion Industry by 2033 Through Strategic Investments in Life Sciences Infrastructure

‘The Indian healthcare system, one of the largest in the world, is likely to grow to USD 50 billion by 2033, with contributions from both public and private sectors. The government expenditure for health has been a steady increase from 1.4% of GDP in FY19 to 2.1% of GDP in FY23. However, in view of the healthcare needs from within and outside of India, there is an urgent need to infuse more investments to upgrade the life sciences infrastructure. Doing so is important to aid the R&D capability of pharma majors as well as Indian startups in the life sciences research, which will further boost India’s rise as an innovation hub and help go beyond the ‘pharmacy of the world’ tag. We have witnessed encouraging steps of 35% on-year increase in budgetary support to capital expenditure in the budget of 2022. Continuing a similarly robust budgetary allocation for healthcare infrastructure will not only improve the state of life sciences R&D in India but will also augur well for the country’s capability to offer quality but cost-effective medical services,’ says Vishal Goel, Managing Director, RX Propellant.

Dr. RV Asokan, President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), emphasizes the dire need to improve funding for India’s healthcare sector, urging for an increase in the core health budget, separate from allocations for drinking water and sanitation

‘Our health investment has stagnated at 1.1% of the GDP for many years. This underfunding is a reason for poor infrastructure and lack of human resources. So we feel without including the budget for drinking water, and sanitation, which we call health determinants, the core health budget should be at least 2.5% from all the governments. One-third of the money comes from the central government. That means it’s around 68 or 70 crores of money, which is too little to provide health care across the country over so many health burdens, and disease burdens. So the government sector, we would want that the public sector should be strengthened. Public hospitals and public human resources should be increased,’ said Asokan.

As healthcare leaders stress the need for sustained investments in life sciences infrastructure and highlights the urgent need to boost the core health budget, it becomes clear that a robust financial commitment is essential for India’s healthcare sector. With the government’s expenditure on health witnessing a positive trajectory, continued and increased budgetary support is crucial to elevate India’s position as an innovation hub and ensure the delivery of quality yet cost-effective medical services nationwide.

Empowering India’s Future: Urgent Call for Strategic Investments in AI Integration Across Education, Innovation, and Socioeconomic Sectors in Union Budget 2024

Vineet Nayar Former CEO of HCL Technologies and Founder, Chairman of Sampark Foundation, ‘In the Union Budget 2024, the Indian government must prioritize AI integration in education to align with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. NEP’s goal of 6% GDP allocation to education is a step towards educational revolution, but true transformation lies in embracing AI. AI can personalize learning, making it inclusive and effective. Strategic funding should support AI-driven educational models, digital infrastructure, and AI literacy. Such initiatives must extend beyond conventional classrooms, ensuring equitable access across socio-economic strata.’

Investments in AI research, especially in educational applications, are vital. Collaboration between educational institutions and industry can accelerate AI solutions for educational needs. Teacher training in AI, developing AI-enabled learning tools, and democratizing technology access are essential for an AI-ready generation, he added.

The Union Budget 2024 should not only increase allocation but strategically channel resources for AI embedding in education. This step will realize NEP’s vision and prepare India for an AI-dominated future, balancing technological advancement with social sector imperatives.

Prof P J Narayanan, Director, IIIT Hyderabad highlighting said, ‘A country’s socioeconomic landscape is greatly influenced by its academic and innovation environment, and India will be no exception. I urge the Government to allocate significant funding for this sector in the upcoming Union Budget, 2024–2025.

AI-based technology has been a major driver in recent months and the trend will only accelerate. A call for heavy investments, a progressive policy framework, and increased R&D expenditure is clearly needed for India to catch up with the world in these areas. The government’s role is pivotal in fostering an ecosystem that fuels AI innovation, bringing academia, industry, NGOs, and government departments together. As we envision a future powered by AI, India’s investment must not only be monetary but also strategic, facilitating collaborative synergies for a thriving ecosystem.

While the nation is working to improve the ecosystem, but given the current state of global politics and technology, the Government needs to be cognizant of these roadblocks and quicken the pace. The wealthiest internet-rich firms have invested billions of dollars in the most successful AI startups, like ChatGPT, Gemini, LLaMA, and others. Regretfully, there isn’t an Indian business with a comparable scale or emphasis to support our ecosystem. In India, the government’s involvement and framing of relevant policies are therefore becoming increasingly crucial in Make AI in India. To make it happen, the government should invest heavily, establish enabling mechanisms for rapid growth, and step aside to bring in the required agility to the process.

The potential impact of AI on key sectors in India is profound. From revitalizing primary education with predictive analytics to addressing skill-building challenges through personalized, on-demand learning, AI can be a catalyst for positive change. Public health, agriculture, MSMEs, government, and transportation are sectors for efficiency gains through AI, contributing to broader societal benefits.

In this pivotal moment, bold investments in education, healthcare, and technology sectors in the upcoming budget can propel India to a leadership position in AI.’

As the world embraces the transformative power of artificial intelligence, India stands at a crucial juncture where strategic decisions in the Union Budget 2024 can shape its trajectory in the global AI landscape. The collective voice from industry leaders, educators, and visionaries echoes the urgent need for substantial investments, collaborative synergies, and progressive policies. By prioritizing AI integration in education, fostering innovation, and addressing roadblocks head-on, the government has the opportunity to propel India into a leadership position in AI. As we navigate the dynamic intersection of technology and societal imperatives, the upcoming budget holds the key to unlocking India’s potential for a future powered by inclusive, innovative, and AI-driven solutions across various sectors.

Anil Nagar, Founder & CEO of Adda247, anticipates a strong focus on supporting the edtech sector in Union Budget 2024. He hopes for a reduction in the 18% Goods and Service Tax (GST) on online learning resources, making educational services more affordable and accessible. With the rise of hybrid and online education, Nagar expects increased investments in technology infrastructure at schools and colleges, along with government-backed accelerator programs and innovation hubs fostering research and development.

Anup Sashidhraran, Managing Director of MBA_ESG India, underscores the need for budgetary initiatives that strengthen the synergy between education and industry. He expects an increased budget percentage for the education sector, aligning with NEP recommendations. Emphasizing the importance of industry-aligned curricula and advanced technology enablement, Sashidhraran anticipates measures that bridge academia and industry, creating a skilled and job-ready workforce.

As India stands on the cusp of a transformative era, the expectations from Union Budget 2024 reflect the collective vision of sectors striving for growth, innovation, and sustainability. The government’s role in allocating resources strategically to bolster these sectors will play a pivotal role in steering India towards a brighter and more resilient future. The nation keenly awaits the budgetary decisions that will shape its economic landscape in the years to come.

Policybazaar.com Urges Enhanced Tax Benefits to Accelerate Insurance Adoption and Penetration

Policybazaar.com’s Chief Business Officer, Santosh Agarwal, anticipates positive developments for the insurance sector in the upcoming Budget 2024. The industry eagerly awaits an increase in tax benefits limits, a move historically proven to drive insurance adoption. Proposals include establishing a dedicated exemption for term insurance, addressing exhaustion of Section 80C limits, and reevaluating the 18% GST rate for pricing benefits. Agarwal emphasizes equal tax treatment for pension products and advocates for tax-free status for annuity income to boost retirement planning. In response to post-pandemic realities, calls for innovative tax structures for health insurance, including increased deduction limits and exemptions for Health Savings Accounts, highlight the sector’s evolving needs. The industry looks to the budget as a catalyst for fostering increased life insurance investments and overall growth.

As India awaits Budget 2024, the insurance sector anticipates a transformative shift through enhanced tax benefits. Experts emphasize the crucial role of tax incentives in driving insurance penetration. The proposed measures not only seek a fair balance in taxation but also address evolving needs, from term insurance exemptions to innovative health insurance structures. The industry sees the budget as a strategic opportunity to encourage retirement planning, boost life insurance investments, and propel India towards achieving IRDAI’s vision of comprehensive insurance coverage by 2047.

Fintech Sector Urges Inclusive Financial Growth Through Expanded Access and Digital Transformation

Saurabh Birari, CFO of Switch My Loan, emphasizes the significance of the upcoming budget in shaping India’s financial landscape. The key focus lies on inclusive and sustainable growth, with a call for comprehensive initiatives to expand access to credit and banking services, particularly in underserved markets. Addressing infrastructure gaps in these areas is crucial for overall development. Additionally, the budget is urged to take a stance on digital transformation in lending, promoting technological innovations to enhance efficiency and empower businesses in the digital era.

As India looks towards the upcoming budget, expert from Fintech highlights the pivotal role it can play in fostering inclusive financial growth. The call for expanding access to credit and banking services, especially in underserved markets, aligns with the vision of comprehensive development. Embracing digital transformation in lending is deemed paramount, offering not just efficiency but also empowerment in a rapidly advancing technological landscape. The budget, if crafted with these considerations, can set the stage for a more inclusive and digitally empowered financial future for India.

Seizing India’s Manufacturing Moment: Need for a Bold 25-Year Vision

Amrit Acharya, CEO & Co-founder of Zetwerk, emphasizes the opportune moment for Indian manufacturing, marked by unprecedented support from the Government and favorable policy winds. Beyond the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Acharya advocates for a visionary approach, involving substantial R&D investments, adoption of cutting-edge clean technologies, and robust skilling programs to foster a self-reliant ecosystem. The call is to seize the current momentum and shape a bold 25-year vision for the future of Indian manufacturing.

At this pivotal juncture, Amrit Acharya’s call to action resonates strongly: India’s manufacturing moment is now. The CEO urges a transformative vision beyond ‘Make in India,’ emphasizing the need for R&D, clean technologies, and skill development. With unprecedented support and favorable policies, the time is ripe to shape a self-reliant ecosystem that can propel Indian manufacturing to new heights over the next 25 years.

Budget 2024 Aims for 10.5% Growth in Direct Tax Collections Despite Global Economic Concerns

The upcoming Budget 2024 is anticipated to target a substantial 10.5 percent growth in direct tax collections, even amidst global economic uncertainties and a high base of revenue in the current fiscal. Government officials express confidence in maintaining this growth rate, surpassing the GDP growth, with projections placing net direct tax collections at Rs 18.2 lakh crore in 2023-24. Factors such as the China+1 strategy, a stable government, and robust economic conditions are cited as contributors to the optimistic outlook, despite ongoing concerns about inflation in the US.

In the face of a challenging global economic landscape, the government’s ambitious target of 10.5% growth in direct tax collections for Budget 2024 reflects a confident stance. The officials highlight key factors like the China+1 strategy and economic stability as catalysts for sustaining this growth. As the budget unfolds, its success in achieving and maintaining this ambitious target will be closely watched, providing insights into India’s fiscal resilience in the years ahead.

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