Muscat: As India navigates a period of global economic shocks, the country’s economic resilience has managed to hold steady. Youth and MSMEs, two foundational strengths of the country have been part of this growth story.
The Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has checked several boxes, and Adeeb Ahamed, Managing Director of Lulu Financial Holdings termed it a balanced budget, with equal focus on traditional and emerging sectors, agreeing that, “the way forward is to build a technology and knowledge-based economy.”
With the UN declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, Adeeb applauded the efforts of the government to raise global awareness about India’s millet farmers, as well as provision schemes in the budget to make India a hub for millet production and research.
Touching upon the matter of financial inclusion, Adeeb, who has significant investments in India’s financial services sector in the form of Lulu Forex and Lulu Finserv – an NBFC providing microloans, said that the move to ramp up the credit guarantee scheme for MSMEs will give a fillip to enabling faster access to financial services.
He added that the decision to expand the scope of services in DigiLocker to include MSMEs and make PAN a common identifier will give a big boost to user documentation, supporting the onboarding efforts of NBFCs and fintech driving financial inclusion among such companies.
Adeeb, who also has investments in the travel and luxury hospitality sector felt that the proposal to adopt an integrated and innovative approach to develop destinations augurs well for the tourism sector.
“It is encouraging to note that under the Swadesh Darshan and Dekho Apna Desh schemes, the government will be rolling out physical initiatives such as the Unity Mall to raise the global profile of GI products as well as virtual assets to enhance the experience of domestic and international travellers in some of the top destinations.”
“The proposal to develop the tourism sector through the converge of public and private stakeholders will surely help generate adequate employment opportunities. The proposal to open 50 new airports will further drive more inbound traffic and add to the overall economic prospects of the sector,” he added.
Tourism is already one of the highest generators of employment in the country but suffers from high operating expenses and low margins, and Adeeb admitted that it would have been beneficial to also relook at the existing GST rates, apart from rolling out sector-specific schemes to encourage domestic and foreign investment into the sector.
He also acknowledged the Budget’s focus on skill development under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0 and the setting up of 30 Skill India international centres, many of which can add immense value in service-based sectors. LuLu Financial Holdings has been an active participant in the upskilling of India’s youth, having partnered last year with NSDC International, a newly formed subsidiary of the National Skill Development Corporation of India, for the latter’s Project Tejas to train, certify and place 10,000 Indian workers and professionals internationally.