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Union Budget 2021 – Food, agriculture, energy & electrification expectations
Thursday, 28 January, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
As the Union Budget 2021 draws near industry experts like Ravichandran Purushothaman, President Danfoss Industries Private Limited (India Region), shares his views and expectations with regards to food, agriculture, energy and electrification. 

Food and Agriculture: In 2020, the government of India had taken a step in the right direction with provisions for a stimulus package for the agriculture, fisheries, dairy, and allied industry through the Agri Infrastructure Fund. As we approach the Union Budget for 2021, and at a time where the focus across the board is that of reviving their growth trajectories, it is crucial that adequate focus be given to the implementation of these schemes, in order to aid the beneficiaries, particularly as I believe that this sector has the potential to grow into the engine of job creation in the nation. Further, a special allocation towards research and development in the agriculture and allied sector would be a welcome step, wherein it is critical to apply a ‘platform’ approach towards industries, research institutions, and universities collaborating with stakeholders to find niche solutions for India while simultaneously enabling capacity building of the sector. 

Energy: Over the last several years, India has acquired a leadership position globally vis-à-vis its sustainability and climate change parameters. Energy efficiency is a critical enabler in this journey and MSMEs have a significant role to play in India’s endeavour to reduce its carbon footprint.

Large companies in India and MNCs have a critical role to play in the decarbonisation of MSME sectors. Here, it may be useful to look at an ‘incentive-based mechanism’ for the larger companies to drive this within their supply chain thereby working towards the larger goal of a decarbonized India. In this regard, it would be great if PLI schemes are extended beyond solar, to wind and other renewable projects as well.

Also, MSMEs must grow their appetite for new technology and for this to happen, they need to garner a greater understanding of its benefits and the processes involved in implementing technological advancements within their organisations. In this regard, I believe that large corporates can play a major role in leading by example by adopting sustainability targets and achieving the same by drawing the benefit of latest technological innovations in the field of IoT solutions, smart manufacturing, hybridisation, etc.

Overall, this year, I look forward to seeing more budgetary provisions for this bourgeoning sector, to build an institutional mechanism to implement the technological transformation process pan India and enable the industry to build skill and capacity within the sector.

Given the cash crunch faced by many in the industry currently, a faster pace of skill development and investment in sustainability can happen, if the government gives subsidies and tax breaks for companies investing in skilling and reskilling of employees to adopt and adapt faster to more energy efficient and sustainable technologies, thereby helping in creating a greener tomorrow for India.

Electrification: Over the course of the next decade, electrification will be pivotal in redefining the transportation sector. India is currently importing most of the technologies related to this sector, and to become economically viable we will need to disrupt some of the technologies that are currently in vogue. To make electrification a lucrative choice for consumers in India, we also need to get India fully connected on the grid and have proper charging and storage mechanisms spread throughout the country. More budgetary outlay is also required in the commercial vehicles sector to draw on the achievements of FAME scheme.

While reduction in taxes, incentives for electric cars and other vehicles, etc. would be welcome in this year’s Union Budget, incentives for research and development for both public and private sectors in India will also be pivotal, and an equally welcome step.

Industry/ Corporate: The Covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying safety and precautionary protocols had a significant impact on the industrial and corporate ecosystems in the Nation. Given the fully unresolved Covid situation persisting across the globe & in India, it would good to have increased investment in health care, logistics and infrastructure in this budget.

Earlier, the government had launched a slew of initiatives under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’ and ‘Make in India’ campaign, which has positioned the manufacturing industry at the forefront. While the government has taken several promising measures such as the PLI schemes, to address the challenges in the industry and enhance the ease of doing business, greater incentives for the industry are essential under the Union Budget for FY 2021-22,  to enable seamless progress for the sector.

The budget must also address issues of supply scarring and demand constraints across all industries. Easing up our fiscal, import/export and tax relief measures, would go a long way in boosting the aggregate demand & getting businesses back on track. It is also imperative that there be an increased focus on our infrastructure spend, as it is the key to our economic growth.
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