Hoping for Budgets with Reassuring Announcements
A few days from my writing this, the Union Budget would be presented amidst reports of the slowest economic growth in three years, thanks to demonetisation and GST. And a day later, the Kerala Budget would be presented, too. Double whammy or double delight is the big question.
The broad industry view is that Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister, has no choice but to increase spending in areas like agriculture to spur GDP growth and enhance incentives for businesses.
On February 1, the FM could reduce corporate tax rate to 25 per cent from 30 per cent, cut Minimum Alternative Tax to 15 per cent from 18.5 per cent, lower GST rates for telecom services to 12 per cent from 18 per cent, give infrastructure status to real estate to help bring down finance and project costs, and cut import tax on gold to 4 per cent from 10 per cent to prevent smuggling.
For Thomas Isaac, Kerala Finance Minister, it is a tightrope walk yet again. The State’s revenue is not increasing, yet fiscal deficit has to be brought down below 3 per cent. The FM says he will achieve it by driving financial discipline (read austerity measures) like never before. When the Government is borrowing to the tune of Rs. 50,000 cr to fund infrastructure projects, such discipline is absolutely necessary.
By the time you lay your hands on this edition of the magazine, both the budgets would have been sliced and diced, and the verdict out. Hoping that even if we may not end up jumping with joy, we are not left licking our bruises.
On the cover this time is yet another remarkable story of perseverance, hard work and eventual success in fair measure. It is also a story that can be a fitting reply to anyone who says Kerala is not conducive for the manufacturing sector. Thomas John has built Agappe into one of the world’s leading medical diagnostics equipment manufacturing companies by relying on highly skilled talent from Kerala and locating his worldclass facilities in Ernakulam.
We also look at the sports retail industry in Kerala and how it is showing immense potential for growth. However, though Malayalis are crazy about sports, they are not spending enough time or money on pursuing sports and fitness like their brethren in our neighboring states. Greater efforts are needed to build awareness and drive impetus through families, educational institutions and work places towards leading an active life with sports and games.