Outlook Business presents its second roundtable on managing growth in 2017. Editor N Mahalakshmi moderated an insightful discussion with CEOs from diverse sectors to gauge their views on the after-effects of demonetisation, their assessment of the Union Budget and growth expectations in the coming fiscal.
It’s been a tumultuous start to the New Year, coming on the back of the surprise demonetisation move at the fag end of 2016. Though the jury is still out on what will be the impact of demonetisation, do you feel the Budget has done enough to spur a recovery?
Novartis India vice-chairman & MD Ranjit Shahani: It was a nuts and bolts Budget; which was good for one or two sectors. But the one that I was most interested in was education and healthcare, because an educated and a healthy society play a crucial role economically. In fact, the manifesto of BJP had stated that they will increase the healthcare budget from 1% of GDP to 2 ½%, which is still minimal compared with 4-6% for other developing countries. But this Budget did not have a roadmap on how to get there. Eradication of leprosy by 2018 and eradication of tuberculosis by 2025 are highly aspirational targets, but there’s no supporting infrastructure to make that happen. The government had spoken of 150,000 wellness centers; 3,000 Jan Aushadhi Stores for generic low price medicines; and recapitalisation of banks — there’s nothing effectively on that.
Otis India president Sebi Joseph: I have a slightly contradictory view. I would say the transformation has already started with demonetisation, which will prove to be beneficial in the long term. The Budget is a second milestone. The finance minister has done a very good job, balancing deficit and growth. I think when the global economy is in a sluggish mode with an all-pervasive protectionist environment, it’s important to give a thrust to create inclusive growth in the country. I think this Budget has at least moved in that direction, be it investment in the rural sector, poverty eradication, electrification of villages, supporting the farmers, infrastructure and affordable housing. I think all of these measures