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    What women bosses want this Budget: Menstrual hygiene awareness, opportunities for shepreneurs, hassle-free tax compliance


    What women business leaders share this year's Budget wishlist.

    Styl.Inc Image Management Consultants CEO Meha Bhargava hopes Budget helps in creating more opportunities for the potential business women in India.
    NEW DELHI: With just a week left for the Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is getting ready to pull Indian economy out of the slump.

    Women Inc believe that the Government could use this year's Budget to give a long-term strategic direction and trigger key reforms that are crucial for a sustainable economic growth.

    From boosting the start-up ecosystem to providing tax relief on raw material used to make menstrual products, women business leaders have some suggestions for the Government to consider this Budget season.

    Anika Parashar, CEO of RockVentures, and Chairperson & Founder of Organ India
    "The primary focus of the Union Budget is to promote inclusive growth in the country. However, women wellness - especially menstrual hygiene - is an area that needs to be emphasised.

    Anika ParasharAgencies
    Anika Parashar emphasised on the need of women wellness for this year's Budget.

    "To go green in the future, the government should encourage the use of biodegradable menstrual products. This one initiative could bring down the number of disposable sanitary napkins adding to the landfill, which currently stands at 12.3 billion annually. The government could support start-ups who are endeavouring to offer biodegradable products at affordable prices, keeping in mind the current condition of the environment.

    "Although the sanitary napkins are tax-free, the expenditure incurred in their production is still taxable. Decreasing import duty for raw materials could help such start-ups to stretch themselves in the market, meeting the public demand.

    "The government should also take measures on educating and teaching women the importance of hygiene during periods, pregnancy, menopause, post-partum depression, polycystic ovary syndrome, mental health issues and other general health-related issues."

    Daksha Baxi, Head - International Tax, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas
    "Measures are needed to spur export activities rather than reduce any taxes. There are a number of reasons why exports are not happening. These need to be urgently identified and the difficulties should be removed. Provide incentives by way of cost reductions for export inputs. Ground level compliance and regulatory difficulties are a major reason for lack of small industries not being set up.

    ​Daksha Baxi​ demands for cost reductions in export inputs.​Agencies
    Daksha Baxi demands for cost reductions in export inputs.

    "The areas and sectors need to be identified and processes streamlined, made transparent for activities to take place. Tax is not the only incentive. As soon as tax incentives are introduced, there would be litigation since people would be creative to seek the incentives and tax officers will deny them.

    "Most important is to make tax and regulatory compliance hassle free and transparent. Land acquisition, leases, licenses need to be made easy, and stamp duties need to be reduced. AOP tax needs to be dismantled as it renders itself to huge litigation, especially for EPC.

    "Agro-based industries need to be given infra status to get more benefits. Farmers who travel abroad and have expensive cars and financial investment above a certain threshold should be taxed on their agricultural income at the lowest tax rate.

    "All tax provisions should be drafted such that no substantive change is made for at least three years. The only changes should be made is clarificatory for removing difficulties in implementation."

    Meha Bhargava, CEO & Founder, Styl.Inc Image Management Consultants
    "The Government has been focusing on the empowerment of women right from its first tenure. The Government has introduced various innovative yet essential schemes for women such as ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojana’ (for protection and safety of the girl child), ‘Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme’ (to build corpus for the girl child), and ‘Mahila-e-Haat’ (for facilitating the online showcase of their products and providing a direct contact between the vendors and the buyers.

    ​Meha Bhargava hopes that the Budget helps in creating more opportunities for the potential business women in India. ​Agencies
    Meha Bhargava hopes that the Budget helps in creating more opportunities for the potential business women in India.

    "I hope that the Budget helps in creating more opportunities for the potential business women in India.

    "In her maiden Budget speech last year, Sitharaman had said that ‘The role of women is a very sweet story in India’s growth, particularly in the rural economy. The government wishes to encourage and facilitate the role of women in India’s growth story’. Considering the woman steered focus, I think the FM may allocate funds in new schemes and committees to overlook the existing ones as the Government announces initiatives for women empowerment in every Budget. This year, it is essential that the Government should focus more on proper implementation of existing schemes than introducing new schemes.

    "In the interim budget, there was an increase in the gender budget allocation to Rs 1,31,700 crore as against Rs 1,21,961 crore in 2018-19. Last year's interim FM Piyush Goyal had emphasised on formation of women specific schemes making 100 per cent allocation for women only. The government may increase the allocation for women-focus schemes."

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    The Countdown Begins

    It's that time of the year when all eyes are on the Finance Minister. Dalal Street, India Inc, tax-paying individuals, consumers, traders - almost everyone is looking at Nirmala Sitharaman with hope. This Budget, that comes in the wake of a slowdown, and muted consumer spending, is the first one that's being presented by the Narendra Modi government after storming back to power in the Lok Sabha elections last year.

    As the countdown begins, here's a look at what India Inc has on their wishlist from Ms Sitharaman this time.

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