It’s not enough
There is nothing for us in this Budget. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee should have seized the day to safeguard the decade. But he has not. Nothing has been done to incentivise biotechnology or to ensure actual inclusive growth. For how long will we take incremental steps and avoid taking exponential steps?
This Budget presented a platform to be strong not only in views but also on reforms.
Hardly anything has been done on the previously announced intentions of allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail and insurance. The proposal to levy minimum alternate tax (MAT) on developers of special economic zones (SEZs) and units operating in them is a prime example of how we are fast becoming non-believers of our own rhetoric. It is very disappointing and absolutely wrong. You cannot announce certain rules once and then go back on them a few years down the line.
Neither the biotech nor the pharma industry has been given anything in this Budget. I have always said that the biotechnology industry holds immense promise — with respect to medical, agricultural and environmental benefits that accrue from it, as well as economic contribution. I expected the government to demonstrate through the Budget that it sees India emerging as a global biotech leader. Talk of innovation means very little when the government has not tried to nurture an enabling policy environment through regulations that support innovation. Global as well as local businesses were looking for reforms and actions that will positively impact them, but that has not happened. In hindsight, our decision to invest in Malaysia was right.
People who are complacent about the growth of the economy are likely to view this Budget as a great balancing act. Yes, the Budget has something to cheer the stock markets, but that’s not enough. India has been announcing to the world that it has arrived. But this Budget has done nothing to show the “rest of the world” that we believe in our own words.
Budget 2011 also does very little for the country’s manufacturing sector. The government has been talking about job-creation. Job-creation does not mean the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). MGNREGA is not the only way to attain inclusive growth. The right policies enable job-creation, and this is another area where the Budget failed to do anything — to have policies that incentivise job creation. In a sense, this Budget is a disappointment for those who expected the finance minister to show leadership. This Budget can be viewed as one which shows that instead of leading the way, we are still adopting the agonising wait-and-watch policy.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is chairman & MD, Biocon