Clockwise from left: Yousuf Ali M.A., Dr Azad Moopen and Dr B.R. Shetty. Here are some reactions from UAE NRIs and their analysis of India’s budget. Image Credit: Supplied

As India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman ditched the traditional British-era briefcase for a red cloth folder and presented her first budget to the nation and the world, closer home in the UAE, non-resident Indian businessmen, service professionals, home-makers sat glued to their television sets listening to the country’s first woman finance minister deliver a well-crafted budget. Here are some reactions from UAE NRIs and their analysis of India’s budget for the year. 

Dr. B.R. Shetty, founder and chairman, NMC healthcare

Dr. B.R. Shetty

It is the dawn of new India. I would like to congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the energetic Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitaraman for the remarkable vision. I am pretty sure this budget will take the Indian growth story to a different level.

The time has come for NRIs to easily do business in lndia. There is great opportunity in health sector, agriculture, education and technology, aviation sector, infrastructure among others.

According to me it is a well balanced budget, encouraging new start ups, the women and youth of India. 

Needless to say with modernisation of health care industry and education, these will boost sectors like kidney transplant, tissue culture, stem cell technology.

Yusuffali MA, chairman of Lulu Group

Yusuffali MA

As expected, the first budget of Modi 2.0 Govt. has efficiently covered almost all critical sectors which will boost India’s march towards becoming a US$ 5 trillion economy.

The key take-aways for me in this maiden budget by Nirmala Sitharaman are the emphasis given to rural and agricultural development, women entrepreneurship and making India the global education hub of excellence. India’s biggest asset has always been our young human resource and the measures taken in the fields of research & education will surely go a long way in boosting start-ups in various fields and across all economic segments.

On the infrastructure side, the plan to revitalise the railways, the back bone of our internal trade is highly encouraging. I have always been a big advocate of PPP model of development and investments in the infrastructure sector, so obviously it’s heartening to note that the government is promoting this model. Surely many organisations will come forward to be a part of this opportunity, to spur faster growth.

As an NRI, I am extremely happy to note that Aadhar issuing process has been simplified which will make our lives much easier. I am eagerly looking forward to the proposed ANNUAL GLOBAL INVESTORS MEET especially now that the NRI investment in the country would be made much easier by merging NRI portfolio route with foreign portfolio investment.

Dr Azad Moopen , Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare

Dr Azad Moopen

It is very good to hear that we are striving to become a $ 5 Trillion economy soon. This will place India on the world center stage. However regarding NRIs and Healthcare sector , there is not much to sing about. It is good to know that NRIs shall be allowed to take Aadhar Card. This will help them to sort out many issues that they face now for identity and transacting business while in India.

There has been no significant announcements pertaining to healthcare in union budget. While there was hope that the allocation for health sector in view of the requirement for funding the Ayushman Bharath , this has not been allocated. It is good that the focus is in education and I hope that there will be more funding for starting and upgrading medical colleges. There is also proposal for “Study in India" program which will help in setting up autonomous institutions.

Rizwan Sajan, founder and chairman, Danube

Rizwan Sajan

Aadhar card on arrival for NRIs is a game changer. The Aadhar card is pretty much the most important card for an Indian. It is a big news for us. We just need to carry our Aadhar card now instead of our passport in India. It’s great. The other big news from the budget is that there will be no more digital payment charges. This is a huge saving for corporates working. The other good news is the corporate tax reduction from 30 per cent to 25 percent for companies earning less than 400 crores which is also a game changer. For the record, 90 percent of companies in India fall under this bracket. This will encourage businessmen to pay their taxes. This should have been done before. I also think this should be brought into effect across all companies in India irrespective of their turnover as this will further encourage employment.

The first budget of the Modi government in its second term, looks very positive with overall focus to improve standard of living by providing piped water, electricity, gas, housing , toilets to all. The government is definitely focusing on transforming rural India, which is a good sign for the development of the nation.

To stimulate consumer demand and propels greater investments & higher growth for the nation, government also announced a few brilliant schemes such as waiver of charges/fees on digital transactions and reduction of corporate tax to 25 percent for companies with an annual turnover up to 400 crores. Now this is definitely a new India and I am very confident that the government will take the nation to a whole new level.

Sudhakar Tomar, managing director, Hakan Agro

Sudhakar Tomar

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's budgetary push for agriculture infrastructure especially the support of private entrepreneurship for value addition in farm sector is a game changer. This will bring 68 per cent of Indian population - dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture - into the main stream of economic activity.

Unlike other countries in India food is a socio - political - economic commodity and while consumers have a right to affordable food prices The farmer, the poorest but strongest link in food supply system, needs to be rewarded with economically equitable returns. The agriculture in India is a very high risk business where almost 70 per cent Indian directly or indirectly rely on agriculture for their survival. I personally aspire and dream to increase the farmer income by 10 times so that 7 out of 10 people become a material contributor to the engine of the national economy. The mismatch between what a farmer gets vs. what a consumer pays at the retail level is not sustainable and can’t continue forever.

Ram Buxani, Chairman, ITL-Cosmos group

Ram Buxani

India's first woman Finance Minister in her maiden budget has proved women manage money better! For years, Indian parents have spent billions of dollars educating their children abroad. Now, on Indian soil, education will be on focus and this is great development. India budget 2019 has focussed on inclusive growth. It is pro rural schemes and therefore a pro development budget. There is focus on agricultural investment which is very important. Super rich will have to share fortune more liberally with the exchequer. Indeed a well thought budget.

Dhananjay Datar, chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading

Dhananjay Datar

The maiden budget of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has paved the way for the budgetary push with regard to agriculture infrastructure. I see the budget to be a great game changer and supports private entrepreneurship with regard to the farm sector. This is a conscious effort to bring majority of the Indian population who are directly or indirectly dependent on the agricultural sector into the main stream of the country. The budget presented today is a pragmatic one and will surely boost foreign investment in India. Reduction in corporate tax, promoting digital payments, encouraging start-ups and infrastructure development are positive signs and is expected to push the economy. Custom duty hike on fuel is marginal and will not affect the growth in total.

Paras Shahdadpuri, chairman, Nikai Group of Companies and President of Business Leaders

Paras Shahdadpuri

"Modi 2.0 first budget is Politico-socio-economic budget covering the entire spectrum of NDA’s manifesto promises, bringing together woman power representing 48 per cent of the population and building foundation for US$ 5 trillion economy in next five to six years. India is a complex country, and every year, Finance Minister has to walk on tight rope balancing the spends on the economically weaker and underprivileged huge population of India to feeding the appetite of the industry for economic growth to keeping the vote bank happy.

The Finance Minister has done a good job in promoting rural India which can generate new jobs while releasing the pressures on urban cities by announcing GAON GARIB & KISHAN schemes; by promising power and gas to every single household by 2022 and by handing over 20 million rural homes; by building 100 million toilets making India free from open defecation. Pension to 35 million with turnover of Rs. 15m.

Sagarmala, national electricity grid, connecting rivers, huge spends on railway network will boost domestic and export economy. Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business is a welcome slogan. Increased digitization will not only mean Ease of Living but considerably reduce corruption and human interaction. Tax relief up to Rs. 5 lakhs, reduction in Corporate tax of 25% with turnover of Rs. 400 Crores are welcome steps.

Support to Start-Ups will encourage youth entrepreneurship. It is good that PAN/Adhaar has been made interchangeable. I think GST is now reaping benefits by better and simplified collection. One Nation One Tax system is extremely helpful. For the first time, role of NRIs was mentioned twice and I am glad they consider diaspora as an important contributor to Indian economy.

Water resource is vital and it is good that a new Jal Shakti Ministry is being set up. However, major steps to create jobs were not visible in the budget. More allocation on health and education could have been announced. 

Service professionals

Anoop Bhargava, finance professional

Anoop Bhargava

Aadhar card on arrival. As an NRI I am delighted with this budget presented by Nirmala Sitharaman.

The ability for NRIS to get their Aadhar card on arrival is a winner all the way. It is laudable and appreciate the government’s effort to integrate NRIs into the fabric of India. In addition the easing of the FDI restrictions in single brand retail, opening of FDIs in aviation, insurance, media and animation sectors will be significant as the great Indian diaspora now feels more and more integrated with an ability to financially invest and secure their interests in the ‘Great India Story.’

The ability for foreign investors to buy debt of listed real estate trusts is again an opportunity to NRIs to be part of the real estate story which is burgeoning and booming across India.

As an NRI I believe in the budget and that it will integrate all of us into a country with whom we have an engagement from the heart and mind. The distance between NRIs and resident Indians is narrowing which is great as we are as much a part of India.

Ashok Kapoor, a business consultant based in Dubai

Ashok Kapoor

As I work with start ups the support extended to this sector with the clarifications on Angel tax is huge welcome. Lowering corporate tax to under 25 percent for companies less than 400 crores is a massive welcome change. For the record, this bracket of companies covers 90 percent of overall India and I wonder why this was not done before. I also think this should be brought into effect across all companies in India irrespective of their turnover as this will further encourage employment.

I only have one issue with the budget, that not a lot of mention was made about health insurance schemes announced last year. I am disappointed with the relatively low budget allocation to the health sector. Also high taxes for incomes above two crores is, according to me going against the grain of bringing taxes down on long term. The focus should have been on more ways to increase the tax payer base instead.

Venkat Sarma, Risk Management Professional

Venkat Sarma

India budget 2019 is an overall decent budget. But I am going to play the devils advocate here. It did however, fall short of what could have been path- breaking. It touched on several pain points but in the end fell short of doing enough to be able to make a tangible difference. That would apply to the targets on disinvestment (which disappointingly left our Air India) and corporate taxes which could have covered all businesses. It would have been received much better optically as well. The measure to make Aadhar and PAN interchangeable and issuance of Aadhar cards immediately to NRI’s upon returning to India without a waiting period are welcome steps. Also the faceless assessment for taxes will enhance transparency and mitigate corruption. One area of disappointment for NRI’s relates to the tax deduction of 22% on sale value upfront and the procedures thereto which cause tremendous inconvenience and pain to NRI sellers and Indian buyers of property. This is a discriminating provision against NRI’s and should have been removed to bring parity with resident Indians particularly as housing isn’t an area where things need to be improved to enhance ease of transactions. This according to me was a missed opportunity. The angel investor tax relief for start ups is a great move but again the implementation has to be unambiguous and not discretionary.The move to encourage electric cars was encouraging but again , the steps should have been stronger.

Promoth Manghat, Group Chief Executive Officer of Finablr

Promoth Manghat

At first glance, the 2019 Union Budget lays out a host of policy initiatives seeking to drive investment-led growth - be it easing the rules for FDI inflows, divestment of State-owned enterprises or the call made out by the Finance Minister for public private participation for developmental programs.

I am particularly heartened by the strong emphasis placed on digital India and the initiatives announced around the same. Digital payments and the cashless agenda of the government gets a major stimulus with the proposed TDS levy of 2% on annual cash withdrawals exceeding INR 1 crore. This is a bold move that is duly supported by an able payments infrastructure, and with no charges or MDRs imposed on customers or merchants, the friction for adoption is bound to be minimal.

The emphasis on programs such as BharatNet that promotes universal connectivity and digital literacy will continue to facilitate grassroots level digital adoption and change. The budget also partially addresses the issue of Angel Tax - a perennial grouse for startups - and will go a long way in supporting the expansion of the startup ecosystem in the country.