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Budget 2022: From more access to capital to reduction in GST, startups share their wishlist

FPJ Web Desk | Updated on: Monday, January 31, 2022, 06:12 PM IST

Startups and their new ideas to contribute to the economy and localization need proper funding and budget too, say entrepreneurs / Representative Image |
Startups and their new ideas to contribute to the economy and localization need proper funding and budget too, say entrepreneurs / Representative Image |
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India houses the third-largest cluster of startups in the world, which means nurturing them back to their feet can ensure an untold boost to employment rates, drawing maximum FDI channels to the country again. Startups want Nirmala Sitharaman to provide the ecosystem a more focused approach in terms of access to capital, allocation of more funds by the government, policy reforms for ease of doing business and creating a more supportive ecosystem in view of the pandemic’s impact.

Here's the wishlist of startups:

Abhijit Shanbhag, President and CEO, Graymatics, a cognitive multimedia processing company

The Government of India must focus on technology-driven transformation of the country in the years ahead, and the Union Budget is a great starting point. Supporting research and software development, and manufacturing of technology-driven products through funding and infrastructure is a key need today. We hope that through higher budgetary allocation for smart city projects and supporting innovative tech such as video AI, the government will move forward to the goal of digital India.

Abhishek Goenka, Head and CIO, RPSG Capital Ventures, an early-stage consumer venture capital fund

We have had a fantastic 2021 from the startup ecosystem perspective, and with further Government support this growth could reach new heights. This could include simplification of GST rules with respect to availing of credits and monthly procedural requirements. Also, an offset of capital gains by investing in other startups could help boost investments and contribute to the growth of the overall startup ecosystem.

Amit Relan, Director & Co-Founder, mFilterIt - tech startup

The government should subject digital advertising expenditures to auditing in the same way that it subjects other expenditures, which goes beyond determining if procedural regulations were followed and include auditing for results as well.The government, with a vision of a $1 trillion digital economy and the massive shift to digitalization in recent years, should also pay attention to the ad-tech industry and take financial steps to help India's existing ecosystem chart progress that will not only make India Atmanirbhar in the domain but also globally. Moreover, launching unique output-linked initiatives for the sector is crucial for India to position itself as a worldwide leader.

Amit Nigam, COO & Executive Director, BANKIT

Nowadays, people are looking for more convenient banking services. With a huge investment on IT infrastructure and manpower, we are expecting tax relaxations on these investments.

Anshuman Khanna, Director, ValPro-boutique banking and financial services institution, while Enablers, an extension of ValPro, is a futuristic fundraising advisory platform.

Budget 2022 would be a focussed less on tweaks to tax rates and slabs and have a greater focus on serving as a platform for major economic announcements. We expect announcements aimed at spurring the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with capex outlays in areas such as infrastructure, healthcare, education and agriculture. We also expect the divestment target for FY22-23 to be revised to Rs 2 trillion with the rollover of divestment of BPCL, LIC and Concor. The tax revenues for FY'21-22 should exceed the Budget target of Rs 15.45 trillion on the back of higher GST collections and higher corporate earnings boosting direct tax collections. This will aid the government in meeting its fiscal deficit target of 6.8 percemt for the current year. We expect the tax revenues target to be set at about Rs 20 trillion for the next year.

Appalla Saikiran, Founder & CEO, SCOPE

We expect the government will insist on the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme to promote startups that registered a remarkable feat despite the adverse impact of the pandemic. The Budget should also introduce a way forward to develop an easy regulatory system, policies, and norms for startups so that it smoothens their job to run the business without obstacles at the administrative level. The government can also think about formulating policies and mechanisms to assist startups in domestic capital participation and the creation of a favorable investment climate.

Archit Garg, Co-founder of Glamyo Health-Elective surgery startup

The pandemic has unravelled the gaps in the Indian healthcare system. However, with the startups coming into the picture, new and innovative solutions have come up. The way RBI treated NBFCs and fintech as its extended arms to penetrate deeper into the system, Indian government can consider healthcare startups as its aide to serve the common people in tier 2 and tier 3, thus strengthening the healthcare ecosystem in India. Besides, new programs like Unified Health Interface shall further help in transparency and affordability in Health Treatments. We expect a continued allocation towards healthcare startups, and financial support for better customer adoption

Arun Bagaria, Co-Founder, TravClan, a disruptive B2B startup travel tech startup

Waiver of GST on travel services and financial support to hotels/transportation providers can be a major boost to the travel sector in India. Startups can be incentivized for tech adoption and provided with financial support to develop travel technologies and innovative service platforms. The government also needs to make allocations towards promoting India as a post-pandemic global travel destination.

Ashwini Jain, CEO & Co-Founder, ForeignAdmits--edtech startup

With the idea of creating a huge impact of 'Make in India', it is important to understand the role of startups too. The startups and their new ideas to contribute to the economy and localization need proper funding and budget too. Many of the economy-related issues would be solved with better startup conditions in the country. Not only would we be able to boost localization at its best, we would also be able to create jobs, more career opportunities, and customize the production according to the needs of our citizens. In this Budget, the government should consider reducing the GST, giving more funding to startups, and making the public data accessible to us. Startups should also get equity and interest-free loans in the growth stage so that they can help in contributing to the country’s economy.

Amit Anand, Founding Partner, Jungle Ventures

The pandemic has underscored the importance of startups in the Indian economy. In the upcoming Budget, the government has an opportunity to relax the tax burden on the sector which is already grappling with the onslaught of the COVID-19 crisis. Along with this, it is the need of the hour to simplify the overall tax structure for startups, that will ensure that more India startups are headquartered in India instead of tax-friendly foreign countries. We are looking forward to the 2022-23 Budget to bring clarity on the foreign listing process and implications for Indian startups and investors.

Amit Damanl, Co- Founder and Head Sales & Marketing, Vista Rooms-hospitality startup

If we look at the homestay villa segment especially, it's always in the grey area, and we'd need more clarification at the national level on rules and tax systems that apply to the segment. Currently, it's fairly fragmented, and each state may have its own set of laws surrounding what constitutes a homestay or bnb, and that's more of a recognition than a policy. We're trying to simplify and get each and every property registered as a BNB nationally. Travellers have recognized homestays in the last two years, and they have become an extremely integral and significant component of domestic tourism, employment-generating pathways, and the subsequent prosperity of local communities. As a result, sufficient legislation and policy recognition are critical, and we expect to see suggestions in this year's budget.

Ankit Kedia, Founder and Lead Investor, Capital A, a venture fund for Seed to early-stage startups

The government needs to play a much bigger role in supporting investments from foreign countries. One of the major obstacles today is the lack of ease-of-doing-business. India is still not in the top 50 countries of the world on the global list. Our aspiration to be one of the top 3 economies has to be complemented by being one of the best business destinations in the world. We expect the government to take steps to boost technology driven startups and simplify the FDI processes across the sectors.

Anuj Kumbhat, Founder & CEO, Weather Risk Management Services (WRMS)-agritech startup

As agriculture remains the backbone of the rural economy in India, the sector is always the key spotlight in the Union Budget. In the current scenario, where the country is making all the possible ways to deal with another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect the government to allocate a significant amount of budget that paves the way for economic revival for the farmers. We would like the government to put policies in place that allows farmers to be better aware of technology-enabled smart approaches in farming. This can be done as an offshoot of the much-publicised “Digital India” where there was added impetus on the adoption of digital technology.

Anup Patil, CEO of Intangles Lab Pvt. Ltd, a digital twin startup

2022 Budget is very critical for startups, considering that many have struggled to survive during the pandemic. Startups are looking forward to support from the government this year. The startup ecosystem's expectations are for some tax relaxations and startup-friendly measures for making it easier to incorporate a company, streamlining compliance mechanisms, and avenues for easier capital access for budding startups. Also, we are keen on hearing some initiatives to promote startups in tier 2 and tier 3 towns, making the whole ecosystem more inclusive.

Ashish Chandra, Co-founder, COO & CFO, GlobalFair

We need to put more impetus on a trade deal with the UK, EU, US and other like-minded countries in the Asia-Pacific region. While India has passed on the opportunity to join regional networks like RECEP, more focus on bilateral deals could bring increased trade activity in these corridors. Lower trade barriers, special treatment for Indian merchandise, synchronization of product specifications and certifications can open demand floodgates. India needs to give a renewed focus on promotion of industrial clusters. More manufacturing capacity needs to come up and fast. Promoters need support around land, labour and capital to execute planned projects at great speed. Number of industrial corridors along Delhi-Mumbai, Chennai-Bangalore, Vizag-Chennai etc were planned but the execution is lagging behind. It is also time to revamp SEZ zones policy and provide more focussed export incentives and remove inverted tax structures in import of raw materials.

Ashivini Jakhar, Founder and CEO, Prozo, an e-commerce enabler & accelerator startup

A host of direct and indirect measures are needed to reduce logistics cost, which in turn will fuel the growth of both domestic consumption and exports. Interventions like further easing out norms (e.g. warehouses still need factory license) and processes for setting up warehouses (a streamlined, single-window clearance systems) within the main cities, especially for setting up last-mile hubs and dark stores, as well as outside city premises for setting up fulfillment centers, has a huge potential to boost the economy. Establishing logistics hubs that facilitate on-demand warehousing for small operators and startups, especially in the non-metro city regions should be provided with funding and easy approvals. Simplifying the land acquisition process and digitizing land records will help in setting up Grade A warehouses. Finalization and effective implementation of the National Logistics Policy, along with focus on creating a skilled workforce for the supply chain industry is important.

Amit Relan, Director & Co-Founder, mFilterIt-fraud detection & prevention company

One of our key recommendations for the upcoming Budget would be that the government should subject digital advertising expenditures to auditing in the same way that it subjects other expenditures, which goes beyond determining if procedural regulations were followed and include auditing for results as well. The government, with a vision of a $1 trillion digital economy and the massive shift to digitalization in recent years, should also pay attention to the ad-tech industry and take financial steps to help India's existing ecosystem chart progress that will not only make India Atmanirbhar in the domain but also globally. Moreover, launching unique output-linked initiatives for the sector is crucial for India to position itself as a worldwide leader.

Bala Sarda, CEO & Founder, VAHDAM India-wellness startup

As an entrepreneur, we have great hopes for this year's Union Budget, given the increased government support for the startup business. Reducing Long term Capital Gains Tax on Private Equity and making it at par with the public market. ‘You pay 10 percent tax on investments in stock markets but an entrepreneur pays ~27-28 percent tax on a business he has built from scratch’. Stronger subsidies on import of Capital Goods used for core manufacturing and value addition for exports.

Darpan Saini, CEO, Phyt.health--physiotherapy startup

A special focus on making health insurance affordable by reducing GST on premiums from 18 percent to 5 percent is a viable option. The government should make health insurance applicable for telehealth services such as doctor consultations or online physiotherapy to help patients recover from the comfort of their home. This is crucial for patients who can't visit a doctor due to COVID restrictions. Moreover, the FM could also look to increase the limit of deduction under Section 80D from Rs. 50 lakhs to Rs 1 lakh as this could help the common man combat the rising healthcare costs.

Deepak Nair, Co-Founder and COO at 10club, e-commerce aggregator

India has seen a phenomenal digital transformation in the last couple of years. In 2022, we foresee continued growth in categories such as home, fitness and sport, which we are excited to see unfold. Accelerating the “Make in India” initiative and investments in ramping up the nation's supply chain capabilities along with credit support for MSMEs will stimulate the economy at multiple levels.

Deepthi Ravula, CEO of WE HUB-incubator aimed to promote Women Entrepreneurship

We believe that along with loan moratorium relaxations which were beneficial to an extent, more upfront financial support for Nano, SME entities would be helpful. Any provision for supporting the immediate short-term working capital needs of businesses would be helpful. Many sectors which were previously overlooked but now are ramping up such as Health & Wellness, Services Industry, Tourism which usually have a large concentration of women, would need to be provided with support mechanisms and additional investment opportunities which would lead to formalisation, upskilling and rise in job opportunities on the whole.

Gautam Madhavan, Founder and CEO, Mad Influence-Influencer marketing platform

We are hoping for the reduction of taxes or tax rebates to increase this year - this would help startups to grow exponentially thereby boosting the economy significantly. The idea of reduction would be directly proportional to the establishment of new startups taking the industry to new heights. Our expectations from the government are to reduce taxes on digital spends done by the companies in order to make smooth and steep growth in the digital world. The marketing sector is liable to contribute more to the economy provided that they are given fair chances of involvement which is only possible by the attractive and aggressive norms of taxes”

Himanshu Periwal, Co-Founder, unlu, celebrity driven learning platform

With regards to learning amongst college students and young professionals, we expect the government to 1) encourage universities to integrate new-age skills in their curriculum and 2) allow startups to become part of the Skill Development governing bodies, such as NSDC (national skill development corporation), MSDE (Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship), etc. This will ensure the innovations of new age startups are able to impact the learning ecosystem in India at scale.

Kapil Bhatia, Founder & CEO, UNIREC--retail startup

Startups are expecting the government to improve the disposable income of the consumers as well as the reduction in GST rates of readymade clothings. Current GST rates of readymade clothes that cost above Rs 1000 fall under the category of 12 percent and the government should bring it down to 5 percent. The government, with its Budget, should focus on improving the infrastructure and remove any kind of inconveniences in the supply chain for a smoother functioning of the fashion retail industry. In addition to tax rate reduction, easier compliance and simplification of taxes are two of the major expectations of the functional fashion startups in the market. The prime motive of the government should be to empower both skilled and unskilled employees.

Karan Shaha, Co-Founder and CEO, Vahak, online transport marketplace

The Indian logistics sector requires major investment from the government in infrastructure building. Expressways, warehousing hubs, inland waterways as well as dedicated freight corridors are some of the major and urgent infrastructural needs that will support the manufacturing and retail sectors. Greater funding has to be provided for rural connectivity, and setting up of technology-driven logistics operations across the country. Automation of various paper-based processes, funding support for adoption of EVs by transporters and simplification of business processes are some of the other major improvements that we expect the government to pay attention to, in the upcoming Budget.

Kazim Rizvi, Founding Director, The Dialogue-

Startups are looking for ease and simplification in sector-specific regulations and compliances to give them certainty and cost saving opportunities. The sector is also hoping for much-needed impetus in form of tax exemptions and incentives along with resolution of issues relating to GST credits. The Budget should give importance to the healthcare startups and may provide certain relief in the form of reduction of GST and investing in the R&D for this already stressed sector.

Krishna J. Jasti, CEO & Co-Founder, EVRE, EV charging infratech startup

There has to be more support to enable creation of charging infrastructure by private companies, which will in turn enable large scale adoption of EVs. As EV charging infrastructure is a capital heavy business, with very little revenues as of now, it is very important to keep the capital costs as low as possible. One major way the Government could help achieve this is by subsidizing the cost of new electrical connections and fixed load charges for EV charging point operators (CPO) as most of the locations at which these charging stations are installed are not owned by the CPO and the responsibility of taking up the electrical load is always debated. If the government can provide for the electrical load infrastructure costs in the budget, the number of charging stations we will have in our country will grow multifold.

Krishna Veer Singh Co-Founder and CEO, Lissun, tech-enabled mental health startup

Fair and impartial digital focus on healthcare is need of the hour. We hope the government allocates more funds to health-tech, enabling even the rural population to fall under its ambit. Owing to India's young population, SaaS is maturing, and health-tech would help stabilize the shortage of medical manpower in the country. More budget in health-tech would also make it a lucrative space for investments and startups, in turn helping the government to achieve its aim of 1:1000 doctor/patient ratio by 2024, which is a WHO recommended norm. Insurers in India seldom offer policies that cover non-hospitalization treatments or OPD reimbursements. This means that unless mentally ailing patients get hospitalized, they won't be eligible for coverage. Insurance covers, thus, naturally exclude therapy and psychiatric counselling coverages. IRDA should push for OPD reimbursements for psychology therapy and counselling.

Kunal Sarkar, Vice President, PredictiVu-analytics firm

We expect the Government to provide provisions that will strengthen the startup ecosystem and encourage an entrepreneurial culture in the country. We also expect lowering of the compliance burden, improving access to capital, fostering better internet connectivity infrastructure, and facilitating mass data literacy programs to accelerate the digitalization of the nation. With the advent of such huge data which may include sensitive data as well, policies should be developed around data security and governance backed by incentives that encourage Indian investors to back home-grown advanced startups. Implementing these measures can reinforce India’s positioning as a global hub for AI empowering Indian companies, the outlook needs due diligence to promote local innovations under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Laksh Yadav, CEO, Cocoberry

We are expecting an ease of transaction on GST, reforms and a lot of government statutory things for the food sector. Consider giving subsidies. Some initiatives should be taken from the government, to motivate and promote us as much as they can. They should follow European model of policies and relaxations which would result in encouragement of opening new outlets and ventures, thus contributing to the GDP.

Layak Singh, Founder & CEO- Artivatic.AI --insurertech startup

Since 2020, an atmosphere of uncertainties and challenges has plagued startups. And while startups have stepped up their game even during the pandemic, they could do with a helping hand from the Budget. Less cumbersome, liberal IPO policy guidelines, a revised compliance policy that’s easy especially for taxation purposes, and relaxation of tax obligations will lift a huge burden off our shoulders. Extending necessary exemptions to all companies that qualify as ‘startups’ such as the easing of angel tax and gift tax regulations will further incentivize Indian and overseas investors to engage with our sector—a heaven-sent opportunity for the industry.

Madhu Agrawal, Co-founder, Clever Harvey - a career exploration and acceleration startup

One of the key areas of concern for all edtech companies is the disparity in the GST treatment of print educational solutions vs digital educational solutions. For example, a textbook is charged 5 percent GST whereas the same book in an online format is charged 18 percent GST. We've seen the potential of online educational material increasing access to education and the quality of education. We are expecting this GST should be reduced so that more people can invest in digital education. We hope that the Government of India reconsiders this in the upcoming Budget announcement and build a fair and equivalent system for offline as well as online education provider.

MSR, CEO, T-Hub, innovation ecosystem

We are hoping that budget 2022 will bring more startup-friendly policies, relaxed taxation policies and simplified GST returns especially for the startups in the healthcare sector. With rising cases due to the new variant Omicron, it is essential that India is prepared with better surveillance, testing, vaccine distribution, therapeutics and healthcare infrastructure. The startups are quite poised to help government enhance these processes and also spur the economic recovery if the Budget provides initiatives like -reducing GST rates for Make in India products, special incentives for healthcare, education, agriculture and renewable sectors, and further investment in creating innovation hubs in tier 2 and tier 3 cities to promote entrepreneurship.

Mugdha Pradhan, CEO and Founder of iThrive-healthcare startup

The FDI investment process should be simplified, and taxation-related compliances should be kept to a minimum. As the medical industry does not pay GST and wellness being a part of it, the GST rate for wellness services should be 5 percent rather than the current 18 percent. In terms of GST, the wellness industry should be on par with the business industry.

Nandini Mansinghka, Co-founder & CEO, Mumbai Angels Network

In the last few years, the government has launched multiple policies and schemes for the welfare and growth of the startup community. With young entrepreneurs entering this ecosystem at a steady pace, we hope that resources, funds and capital provided by the government are easy to access. We further expect from the government to create an easy regulatory system, policies, and norms for startups so that organisations can run business without any administrative obstacles.

Neha Indoria, Co-Founder, Boingg!-D2C children's furniture brand

The expectation from the Budget is that it would augment a push towards the organised sector of India's furniture market, especially the children's furniture market (online and offline). We expect policies that level the playing field for the largely unorganised sector in India and also help augment the export market which at this point can be capitalised on given the global tendency to shift away from the Chinese market.

Nikhil Agrawal, Co-Founder and Chief Corporate Development Officer, Powerhouse91-eCommerce roll-up platform

From a startup ecosystem perspective, relaxation in taxation laws and further simplification of compliances would help founders focus on other aspects of the business. This year’s budget expectations are primarily focused on strengthening infrastructure, enabling end-to-end digitization, and supporting local brands. It would be helpful for the e-commerce sector if the government increases its focus on improving digital infrastructure in Tier II, III cities, and rural regions. This will inherently stimulate demand for e-commerce in these regions, and dramatically increase the geographical presence of D2C companies. We expect a strong push from the government’s side to increase the penetration of ‘Make in India' mission and invest heavily in the manufacturing sector reducing dependency on China. Hence, the ease of doing business and making Indian business competitive on a global scale should be the priority.

Niraj Singh, Founder & CEO, Spinny-used car trading platform

Uncertain economic conditions make used cars a better value proposition and with online used car platforms making search, discovery and purchase of second-hand cars more seamless and trustworthy than ever with use of technology and focus on customer satisfaction. To further support this, the Government should introduce more incentives to buyers and sellers to boost the penetration of this segment by incorporating tech advancements and modern solutions with contactless home deliveries, thereby ensuring safety and convenience to customers at every point possible. A uniform GST rate of 5 percent on the margin for all used vehicles could be a great move and make this segment organized. The government should also look at empowering the EV sector by making electric vehicles more affordable to the common masses and strengthening the existing charging infrastructure to boost customer confidence. Owing to the rapid increase in vehicular pollution, pushing for a shift to EVs would be the step in the right direction. And for this, the government should evaluate less taxes on EVs and vehicles in general, and consider expanding the possibility of tax deductions on EV loans as well as on other vehicles, too.

Nupur Khandelwal, Co-Founder, Navia Life Care-digital health startup

The Centre’s Budgetary allocation to the healthcare sector should be increased to at least 2.5 percent of the GDP to bridge several gaps that currently exist in the system. Further, tech driven-innovative healthcare solutions have played a pivotal role in fighting mankind’s biggest health crisis and healthcare providers have embraced these solutions to solve for accessibility. This year’s budget should focus on encouraging these solutions by way of tax benefits/ tax holidays and even establishing a healthcare innovation fund. The government should consider increasing funding to ABDM to accelerate the nationwide rollout and to ensure its long-term success.

Pallavi Agarwal, Founder & CEO, goSTOPS-hospitality startup

My top expectations from Budget 2022 for the hospitality sector are - a) increased investment towards boosting the tourism infrastructure, and b) provision of better accessibility and connectivity to remote and mini tourist locations for a large cross-section of the population. Attention must also be given to providing tax breaks and interest-free subsidy options, thereby increasing investment in the sector. We must also focus on setting up more entrepreneurial cells and upskilling centres to build a skilled workforce that enhances customer experience, and supports the overall ecosystem, at large. 

Pankit Desai, Co-Founder and CEO, Sequretek-cybersecurity startup

For startups the fundamental issue continues to be ease of doing business and helping ease cash flow challenges. Some of the specific areas where we could use some better support would be around Employee stock options, especially around the taxation impact when the stocks vest (but not exercised) and provision for founders to receive ESOPs.

There is no difference in the regulatory compliances like ROC, GST, IT, RBI whether you are a startup or a large company. The amount of paperwork that is needed to run the company remains the same. By default for the period that you are a registered startup, one needs to be in a lower TDS bracket as the cash flow issues are quite severe.

Prasanna Rao, MD, Arya.ag-agritech startup

With the Union Budget for FY 22-23 on its way, we are hopeful that the Ministry will take steps that would resolve the disruptions in the agrichain ecosystem caused due to COVID-19. As a growing agritech player, we request the Ministry to exempt agritech startups from the payment of TDS for five years since their inception. In the initial years of a startup, the management of cash-flows become important. Exemption from TDS payment in the founding years will indeed help the start-ups in managing the cash- flows better. Agritech start-ups could also benefit from a graded tax structure allowing them to be at par with mature organisations over a window of 4-5 years. 

With the Government facilitated credit guarantee schemes intended to provide liquidity to small farmers, entrepreneurs and businesses, as an embedded agfintech platform, we would urge the Ministry to cover our lending to the FPOs under these schemes.

Prateek Ruhail, CEO and Co-founder, Vanity Wagon- clean beauty marketplace

The indirect tax burden is shifting from supplier to e-commerce operators which is increasing the cost of services. We are hoping for simplification of Indirect Tax compliance requirements for such platforms and streamlined mechanisms and avenues for access to capital for startups. We are hoping for tax exemptions in foreign direct investments and we are optimistic that the government will announce new initiative to strengthen the digital infrastructure of the country. Further, e-commerce policies that promote and support Indian startups in the space would be a welcome change.

Pratik Kamdar, Co-Founder, Neuron Energy

While the EV industry is gradually gaining momentum in the country and the breakneck developments spurring growth, companies providing auxiliary support to the segment like batteries should also be considered in the upcoming Union Budget. Owing to the uncertainties associated with the global contagion, many of these SMEs and MSMEs dominantly start-ups have faced the brunt resulting in financial and manpower losses and in some cases even closure of business. The Budget should focus on introducing startup friendly policies and tax relaxation thus encouraging more capital infusion, innovation and ease of doing business. A grass-root level approach to accelerate adoption of EV through easy financing and purchase triggers through means of incentivization will holistically cover the company-to-consumer cycle and shift the gears of the industry.

Prashant Kumar, CEO & Co-Founder, zingbus-travel startup

As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is set to present the Budget for FY 2022-23 to boost the current economy, we are looking forward to the shift in focus towards Electric Vehicles. Strategic planning and robust execution are required on many aspects to ensure the travel sector gets benefited in the long run. Clarification and transparency in the GST rulings for the sector are much sought after, implementation of which will help operators as well as travellers.The outlook of the travel and tourism industry needs proper execution through a grounded plan for better performance.

Prodipto Roy, Co-Founder, QuickShift-D2C tech-fulfilment startup

For a growing economy like India, it is vital to reduce logistics costs. This is one of key cost component in E-Commerce, has been growing because of fuel price inflation. Any reduction in this direction, or alternately to get fuel under GST would significantly reduce the burden. While GST has been a largely positive implementation, the process needs to be eased up. E-commerce industry provides services across India, thus multiple GST registrations (APOB’s) are needed. These are time-consuming process with multiple time rejections delaying the process. We expect this process to be eased up. On the indirect tax front, one of the biggest areas of concern has been the growing list of services on which the tax burden has been shifted from the actual supplier to the e-commerce operator. This provision saddles e-commerce facilitators with additional tax compliances (in almost every state of India), and ultimately increases the cost of services, bringing disparity.

Poshak Agrawal, Co-founder & CEO, Florence Capital (an Ethical Lending platform designed exclusively only for women)

The Budget needs to create the ground for better formal sector job opportunities for women. This requires work from the ground-up, including higher capital expenditure on education and health – issues that are key for women. We hope that the Budget for 2022-23 will prioritize spending on gender budgeting to help reduce inequalities.

Punit Sindhwani, CEO, Paxcom-e-commerce solutions

The last two years have been challenging, especially for SMB, but have also provided opportunities for businesses that were able to successfully embrace eCommerce and Digital Payments. For SMB to survive and thrive, a greater impetus is needed to provide digital tools, training and guidance. Our expectation from the Budget is financial support/incentives, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, to help accelerate the Digital India vision.

Raj Das, Global Co-Founder & India CEO, Hirect-hiring startup

Since startups are the backbone of job creation, the Budget should consider giving the sector lucrative incentives and tax relaxations. Any initiative which works out for a hiring platform to help first-time job seekers get into work without hefty tax liability or even a reduction of 18 percent GST slab will encourage the startup sectors to leverage professional services for business growth and get back on track with their operations efficiently. It is expected that the government will focus more on skill development, which will further boost employment in the country.

Rajesh Khosla, President & CEO of AGI glaspac--largest container glass bottle manufacture

India has the potential to become a global manufacturing hub and as per data, by 2030 it can add to the tune of $500 billion annually to the global level. We hope Budget 2022 will have some announcements towards a supporting framework in this direction. Initiatives are needed to increase the demand for the industry through special incentives, as it would lead to the creation of additional jobs. The companies are now looking forward to receiving direct fiscal support instead of the loan guarantee scheme from the Government in this budget that will help the manufacturing industry to tide over the third wave of COVID.

Rakesh Saraf - Founder and Director, Windsor Digital

Our suggestion to the finance Mminister is based on the imposition of indirect taxes, specifically GST. The Government has been fortunate, as has the country in general with the huge increase (circa 25 percent, we are given to understand) in the collections of GST during this fiscal. Many MSME businesses, like ours, do suffer from high rates of GST and its impact on our earnings is huge. In order to boost the performance of MSMEs, our government should focus on sector specific reduction in GST rates for a few months, in order for MSME businesses to be able to invest the additional funds they are left with, in further growth. It will help both the MSME segment as well as, eventually, the country at large. Our specific ask is for our GST rates to be cut from 18 percent ad valorem to 12 percent ad valorem for a period of just 6 months. It will give impetus to our growth and allow us to re-invest the additional resources in growth.

Rohan Verma, Co-founder and CEO, Breathe Well-being-Health-tech

Indian tech-driven enterprises in the healthcare field are constantly developing and curating solutions to support India's healthcare infrastructure, the government should consider tax exemptions on funds received and a GST reduction to 3% from the existing 18 percent. The government should support digital health startups who are investing heavily in infrastructure by relaxing regulations and providing assistance or exemptions from some mandated compliance requirements.

Sachin Chopra, Co-Founder and CEO, Ninety One Cycles

In times like this when geopolitics will define global supply chains, India should seize the initiative and truly become a world class manufacturing base in line with PM Modi's initiative of Make in India, Make for the World. Simplification at all levels - tariffs, duties, permissions, compliances etc. - is the need of the hour. With Climate becoming a major factor for humanity, it is time India starts investing in green initiatives like cycling infrastructure. Sustainable mobility is not just electric scooters and cars but also e-bikes and regular cycles. E-bikes need to be brought under the definition of EVs so that consumers can benefit from the subsidy and tax breaks given to EVs. Cycles need to be moved from the 12 percent GST slab to 0 percent to promote cycling, which is not only environment friendly but also immensely healthy for the population at large.

Sakshi Vij, Founder, Myles Cars - car rental & subscription platform

The finance minister should look at aggravating the domestic demand by further incentivizing individual and commercial consumption of EV, pan India. The global pandemic has shown that the world wants an alternative for China in the processed goods industry. India must cash in on this opportunity by creating an EV-manufacturing hub. In Budget 2022, we expect the government to boost EV financing and introduce viable options for customers to use them. More EVs should be available in India through preferential taxation for imports. Moreover, there is a need for a simpler access window for startups that can easily solve sustainability and climate change goals with government and policy-making bodies.

Sanjay Kaul, Founder and CEO, Xpand

The government should consider 5 percent GST on health insurance to improve coverage, especially in rural areas. Additionally, the government should provide better allocation towards social security schemes-especially MNREGA and improve the digital literacy of women in rural areas. Salaries paid to people working in rural areas are to be deducted from the taxable income of a company. We are expecting an increase in credit for agriculture to ensure farmers' interest. To encourage more rural citizens to build their own houses in rural areas, interest on the loan taken by them should be completely exempted from taxation.

Sharad Bansal, Co- Founder, Tinkerly-edutech startup

Relaxation on GST for online classes and STEM toys will encourage increased enrollments of interested students. Due to COVID, we saw the demand-supply gap and it is crucial to bridge the gap by providing internet connectivity, better infrastructure in tier 3 and tier 4 cities, and running schemes like One student One laptop, scholarships should be provided for outstanding performances. Technical and soft skills training should be made mandatory for teachers. They should be trained to teach and maintain the engagement of the students in online classes. A provision of budget can be made under SSA for the same. Funds and disbursements to Atal tinkering Labs should be speeded up to improve the quality of education.

Saumya Shah, Founder, Tarrakki-digital wealth management platform

No taxation in switching from Regular to Direct plans: Income tax (LTCG or STCG) is being applied if an investor switches from a regular plan to direct plans or switches from Growth to Divided or vice versa. Given the underlying assets of all the schemes are the same, I would hope in this year's Budget we see taxation only being applied when the units are sold and not when the user switches the plan.

Shivam Dutta, CEO and Co-Founder, AlmaBetter-edtech startup

The government is expected to invest in creating a robust digital infrastructure for startups coming up with innovative ideas and offerings. Hence, it is the need of the hour from the government to invest and provide funds to EdTech companies to bring forth affordable and easily accessible education to the masses including students from Tier II and Tier III cities.

Shivjeet Ghatge, CEO and Co-founder, StepSetGo

Lowering tax slabs will help boost encouraging investor sentiments and will contribute to the overall start-up boom. It will also allow existing players to access increased capital flow, underscoring the emphasis on increased R&D. Simplification of GST compliance and easy accessibility to resources and funds will also help young entrepreneurs from getting bogged down by the exhaustive administrative rigmarole. Focusing on building digital infrastructures will allow us to widen our penetration into smaller markets, leading to a sort of unification of India and Bharat i.e. tier 2 and tier 3 market areas.

Sujeet Mishra, Co-Founder & CEO, Winni

The government has to play the role of an 'ecosystem enabler' to create an encouraging startup environment in the country. It should offer a favourable regulatory framework, easy taxation, subsidy support on machines & technology, a friendlier investment process, and taxation relief at multiple levels. The startups can use easier funding support from govt angel funds, which can be set up by engaging the state governments, banks and private equity funds. The easier shutdown processes without a hassle would enable more and more young minds to think of exploring entrepreneurship as a career. It is the only way forward to offer employment in a country like ours.

Tapan Barman, Co-Founder and CEO, Mihiup, a leading conversational AI platform

It is time to further simplify the process of taxation and investment. Indian tech startups did very well in the year gone by, and now the need is for incentive and financial support for developing innovative technologies, software and solutions that can be beneficial for different sectors in capacity building and efficiency. Governmental support to startups will generate more revenue and employment across the country. The government must also make budgetary considerations for infrastructure and talent development for the IT industry alongside financial and regulatory support.

Varun Goenka, CEO and Co-Founder, Chargeup-battery swapping network

Sustainable transportation needs have seen a lot of developments in the EV sector in India. However, the pace of growth is not adequate and it is expected that the government will declare the EV industry to be a priority sector in the Union Budget. With the growth of business and commercial activities, there has to be a greater emphasis on last-mile delivery. This year, we anticipate a significant growth in the B2C as well as B2B segments. We expect the government to take policy measures to build more EV zones that will drive the adoption towards such vehicles. Further, strengthening of initiatives such as infrastructure and financial support to EV manufacturing, charging and battery swapping service providers to augment operations are also anticipated in the upcoming Budget.

Vicky Jain, Founder, uknowva-HR tech startup

Given the role of the technology sector in the growth of Digital India, it is expected that the government may implement effective and favorable policies, in creating the digital infrastructure and the ecosystem to support innovation. Similarly, incentivizing research and development of next-generation technologies like AI, ML, robotics, etc. could help leverage India’s cost-effective science and engineering talent to develop strategic capabilities in scientific and industrial research. Special provisions and schemes need to be introduced to increase Digital Education and relevant Digitization to foster employment generation as well as re-employment. Another important area to focus on is the upskilling and reskilling of the existing workforce.

Vijender Reddy Muthyala, Co-Founder, CEO DrinkPrime--water purification startup

While we have made great strides in building out access especially in rural areas, accessibility to drinking water remains a challenge. The government needs to provide incentives to inspire startups to tackle this issue. Only through a cohesive public and private partnership will we be able to solve this basic human right. One area the Government should investigate is the GST and other taxes levied on providers of drinking water. Water is an essential basic human necessity and should be taxed accordingly. DrinkPrime would like to work with the government to make drinking water more accessible and affordable to all Indians.

Victor Senapaty, CO-Founder, Propelld

'The Budget is expected to bring policies for startups to promote leadership and entrepreneurship in India. Newbie startups would expect new incentives and simplified compliances since the economy has been majorly impacted worldwide due to the pandemic. Fintech startups are looking for the Finance Ministry to bring innovative reforms, policies, and regulations to offer relief and tax sops to the overall startup ecosystem.

Vijender Reddy Muthyala, Co-founder & CEO, DrinkPrime

Given the current COVID-19 situation, it is normal to anticipate that the Government increases its health and wellness spending in the Budget. Safe drinking water is one of the most basic requirements to maintain the health and wellness of an individual. Presently, about 70 percent of the surface water in India is unfit for consumption and only 5 percent of the Indian population has access to a water purifier. This is primarily because of the purchase and maintenance costs of water purifiers. Given the poor quality of the surface water, the Government can consider filters and water purifiers a basic necessity in every household and attract a lower GST rate. This will help more people access safe drinking water at an affordable cost. The basic issue of safe drinking water access in India can be efficiently tackled through a cohesive public-private partnership (PPP). The Government should consult the local communities and initiate collaborations with private entities that are ready to complete projects on time. They can also provide incentives to inspire startups to tackle this issue. If implemented correctly, this could be successful like initiatives from the National Highway Authority of India and other power and port projects.

Vikram Khurana, Chairman, TBDC

The Government of India recognizes that startups are potentially significant economic drivers, and job creators through innovation or disruption. Helping the third largest startup ecosystem in the world, that is India, a Budget that reduces hurdles to raising capital - both domestic and foreign, will benefit the entrepreneurs and the country. Further tax credits for research and development by startups in solving real-life challenges in vital sectors such as agriculture, defense pollution control will create new opportunities for entrepreneurs and their promoters.

Vikram Singh, CEO & Founder, TechEagle, a leading Drone delivery company

A dedicated budget for Drones in the Healthcare Sector by the Government of India in the 2022 Budget is required to improve the sector and save lives. Drone delivery and air taxis require infrastructure policy in the urban landscape. Also, import duty exemptions or reductions shall be imposed on certain electrical and raw materials used in drone manufacturing. This might be done for a set number of years, with decisions being reviewed each year. As a result, corresponding items can be pushed to begin manufacturing during this time, creating an eco-system for India's Drone Manufacturing Hub. A distinct department (not a ministry) shall be formed for emerging Technology, possibly within the Ministry of IT, that would focus on the demands of UAVs as well, resulting in a more focused approach to UAVs.

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Published on: Saturday, January 22, 2022, 09:49 PM IST