It is overall a good budget which is well thought out and addresses most of the areas that need focus to ensure long-term, sustainable and equitable growth of the Indian economy. It focuses on demand drivers like ‘housing for all by the year 2022’, wherein there will be 51 lakh houses built in rural areas by end of FY18-19. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), over two crore toilets will be constructed in two years for making India open defecation free. These initiatives are bound to generate sufficient demand for the sanitaryware industry and drive GDP at 7-7.5% levels in the year ahead.
The government could have looked at more concessions for corporates to encourage them to spend on capex, which is a key measure of growth. Also with the Rupee stabilising and oil prices under control, both of which have led to lower forex outgo for the government, it would have been prudent to drive down inflation by bringing down prices of essential items. Lower inflation will always lead to higher surplus funds, which will be channelised to higher consumer spending.
Water for all households in 500 cities is a big dream. This calls for linking of rivers which should be the top agenda. Also, thrust on exploiting natural resources like solar and wind power is missing in this Budget.
It is heartening to mention that most of our expectations from the Budget were well aligned and addressed. With the focus to propel the economy to 7% GDP growth in coming year, the government has once again looked at increasing consumption and growth of the industry, although the majority benefit focus has remained on rural India.
Increased spending on building infrastructure, smart toilets, affordable housing, and toilet construction as part of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) will generate employment, and also an opportunity for the bathroom products industry to grow. Having said that, the issues of ease of doing business, bringing down GST on basic amenities, and corporate taxation remain unaddressed.