Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget for FY23 is well balanced with fiscal prudence and ‘ease of doing business’ as the main themes. I believe the 35 per cent increase in capital expenditure for FY23 is positive and will drive the creation of much-needed infrastructure and jobs. The FM must also be commended for maintaining the fiscal deficit at 6.9 per cent of the GDP in FY22. The budget’s focus on ensuring regulatory ease by promoting digital trust and digital compliance are steps in the right direction.
We were expecting some incentives for pharma R&D in the budget as public investment is very low in this critical area of research and innovation, which are key for spurring exponential economic growth. The FM has assured the government’s support for R&D expenditure in sunrise areas such as drones, AI, genomics, space, clean energy, etc. We will need to see the fine print if there is anything on pharma. The only concern I have is the absence of any fiscal stimulus for the MSME and services sector that have borne the brunt of the pandemic with large layoffs and job losses reflected in a sharp drop in rural and semi-urban consumption. The government will need to address this urgently. Overall, it was a positive budget without any negative surprises.