New Delhi: As the Union Budget 2024-25 approaches against the backdrop of looming general elections, industry leaders express their expectations and insights on key sectors like agriculture and healthcare, anticipating a budget that strikes a balance between fiscal responsibility and populist measures.
Vasu Naren, Chairman and Managing Director, Sona Machinery Ltd., emphasised the significance of the proposed record-high goal for agriculture credit amounting to Rs 20 lakh crore.
According to Naren, this ambitious target aligns with the vision of empowering Indian farmers to enhance productivity through the adoption of smart machines and advanced agricultural techniques.
Naren said, “The emphasis on achieving a record-high goal for agriculture credit of Rs 20 lakh crore is noteworthy, as it is expected to enable Indian farmers to enhance their output through the adoption of smart machines and advanced agricultural techniques”.
The emphasis on agriculture credit could trigger increased demand for cutting-edge farm machinery and crop management solutions. This demand is particularly crucial as it aligns intending to meet the rising global demand for Indian grains.
The allocation of Rs 2 trillion to the agriculture ministry in the upcoming budget is expected to support government initiatives focused on farmers’ income and crop insurance.
However, Naren stressed the need for additional measures such as providing incentives and loans for acquiring agricultural machinery. He emphasised that this approach aligns with the broader vision of fostering a technologically advanced agricultural sector in India.
Naren said, “Reducing duties on raw materials for agricultural machinery is essential to ensure the affordability of such equipment. The objective is to make agricultural machinery easily accessible nationwide and promote the export of Indian agricultural machinery globally. While the Union Budget prioritises supporting farmers’ growth, it is imperative to ensure that essential support is extended to domestic agricultural machinery production companies for the accelerated advancement of the agriculture sector in the country.”
Lowering duties on raw materials for agricultural machinery is also crucial to ensure the affordability and accessibility of such equipment.
This aims to promote the export of Indian agricultural machinery globally while prioritising the growth of the domestic agricultural machinery production sector.
Aman Puri, Founder of Steadfast Nutrition, a sports nutrition and wellness brand in India, voiced concerns about India’s healthcare sector.
Despite being a pharmaceutical hub and home to a significant share of the global disease burden, India allocates only 2.1 per cent of its GDP to healthcare, well below the world average of 6 per cent.
Puri said, “In recent times, we have witnessed the spread of new or less-discovered diseases, which have proved to be fatal and require investigation, research and so funds. Building of new infrastructure is also required to prevent air and water-borne diseases, necessitating the need for increased expenditure on healthcare in Budget 2024-25”.
He added, “Apart from this, India is heading towards being the global manufacturing leader in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical segment – these sectors require immense government support and subsidiaries — especially to develop new industrial economic zones in Tier 2 and 3 cities with the help of government bodies”.
“We must also strengthen the Ayush system, helping the traditional medicine school of thought to be introduced into the school curriculum to keep the coming generations aware of the traditional school of medicine, including ayurveda, unani, Tibetan form of medicine, and others”, said Puri
Puri called for a substantial increase in healthcare allocations, suggesting a minimum of 5 per cent of the union budget be dedicated to healthcare.
With the emergence of new or less-discovered diseases, he emphasised the need for funds for research, investigation, and infrastructure development to combat air and water-borne diseases effectively.
Highlighting India’s potential as a global manufacturing leader in pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, Puri urged the government to provide substantial support and subsidies.
He specifically called for the development of new industrial economic zones in Tier 2 and 3 cities with government assistance.
In addition, Puri emphasised the importance of strengthening the Ayush system, integrating traditional forms of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, and Tibetan medicine into school curriculums. This, he believes, will contribute to keeping future generations aware of traditional schools of medicine, ensuring a holistic approach to healthcare.
As the Union Budget 2024-25 approaches, the expectations and insights from industry leaders reflect a collective call for targeted allocations and policies that address the unique challenges and opportunities in the agriculture and healthcare sectors, contributing to the overall economic growth of the nation.