Most of the country's business leaders, bankers, financial sector professionals, and economists think that investing in healthcare and employment should get the top priority in the coming budget, according to a survey conducted by The Business Standard recently.
Over two-third of the respondents said healthcare must get the top importance in the budget as the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the massive weaknesses of the country's public healthcare system.
The Business Standard conducted a quick survey early this month among top businessmen, economists, CEOs and professionals to get a feel of their expectations in the coming budget for fiscal 2020-21 as the revival of the country's economy would depend on these key stakeholders of the business and finance world.
The question was: what are your top three expectations in the coming budget?
A total of 40 respondents from big business groups, banks, non-bank financial institutions, insurance, multinational companies, stock market, readymade garments and economists were surveyed.
Over 62 percent of the respondents said the budgetary allocation for the country's healthcare system should be increased and utilised efficiently to reduce mismanagement.
They expressed their frustration over the state of the country's inadequate healthcare capacity and they said the sector needed urgent reforms.
Some 40 percent of the respondents found employment had become a big challenge amid the ongoing onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy. They said the coming budget must focus on protecting local industries so that employment was at least retained even if new ones were not created.
Expectations of corporate tax cut comes at third with 35 percent of the respondents saying doing business will become more difficult than anytime due to a decline in global demand. So businesses need support and the best one can be a reduction in their tax rates – between 35 percent and 45 percent depending on the type of business, they said.
Expanding the social safety net has come at fourth as 20 percent people surveyed said it should be given more allocation as more people have become jobless due to the Covid-19 impacts.
Some 20 percent respondents said the government should give attention to draw in investment both from home and abroad.
Economic recovery plan has also found a place of importance in the survey results as 17.5 percent of the respondents said the upcoming budget should have a detailed road to recovery plan.
The respondents also pointed out some business friendly policies which they thought should get a place in the budget.
The issues include no new VAT and tax, an increase in tax-free income limit, prioritising development programmes, a cut in advance income tax of companies, cash incentives on exports, supply chain efficiency among others.