Addressing a rally of unemployed youths, people with high hopes and farmers with huge expectations, on November 2013, in Uttar Pradesh then Prime Ministerial candidate of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) Narendra Modi said, “If BJP comes to power, it will provide one crore jobs which the UPA ( Congress) government couldn’t do despite announcing it before the last Lok Sabha polls.”
The people of India chose Narendra Modi in 2014 as their Prime Minister. Once again the Modi government came to power with more significant mandate this year. Tomorrow, the newly formed BJP government is going to present their first budget of the financial year 2019-20. Since jobs and employment were the key elements of the manifesto, it will be interesting to see what is locked in the red briefcase of the finance minister.
Senior HR leaders of the industry have high hopes from the newly appointed Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. Tax benefits will be the primary element that Adhir Mane, CHRO of Raymond’s Lifestyle Business is looking for. He has high expectations from the government to jump-start the perceived slow-down in the economy with some friendly announcements that will help in employment creation.
Though there are no specific demands, there are certain issues that HR leaders want to address in the Budget. These include job creation, skilling, and labor law, among others.
What's needed? Jobs, skilling and talent
Talking to People Matters, Anshul Bhargava, Chief People Officer, PNB Housing Finance, said, “To consolidate the job environment the government should infuse liquidity in the market which will accelerate the credit growth also lead to tremendous job opportunities. The government should also come up with policies which can help in ease of doing business and consolidate the labor law.”
Since the last few years, the government was criticized for not creating enough jobs in the country. Issues such as GST, Demonetisation were termed as the main reason behind job losses across sectors. It can be recalled that last year, a World Bank report said, “To maintain its employment rate, India has to create 8.1 million jobs a year.”
Anil Misra, CHRO, Magicbricks believes that the government should focus on the existing talent and to enhance their competencies.
He said, “The current government should pump in more money in the HRD ministry and it will look after the current economic scenario. I also feel that creating more jobs in the organized sector should be a priority and at the same time skilling the existence talent shouldn’t be left out.”
According to him, if the government can create a specific cell or ministry which will only look after the startups that will be a game-changer.
Shikha Rai, Vice-President, HR, Canon India said, Revamp of the education system and skill development for the jobs of tomorrow. Improvement of infrastructure and connectivity (both physical & digital) to enable businesses to expand and generate employment.”
Rai bats for women employees, she said, “Government should focus on security, so that woman candidate is not disadvantaged for certain kinds of jobs.”
Suresh Bose, Head, Group Human Resources, Vedanta Resources, said, “The budget should take care of the taxation part because that’s what impact the most to all the employees.”
As usual, tax laws remain the priority of many HR heads.
Indrani Chatterjee, Group Chief People Officer- AllCargo Logistics Ltd & ECU Worldwide bats for, simple tax regime be it direct or indirect.
Indrani said, “Increasing slabs should revisit income tax on salary, standard deduction to be increased and increase in the limit of 80C and push for more savings.”
She highlighted that digitization across all sectors for better synergy and transparency will be a crucial factor.
Labor reforms are another area of concern for HR.
Rituparna Chakraborty, President, Indian Staffing Federation stated, "While the staffing industry has several expectations from this year’s budget – emphasis on harnessing key structural and labour reforms will be a precursor to large-scale job creation. Transforming the 3E's - Employment, Employability and Ease of Doing Business to make sure it is aligned to the market needs should be the key policy direction in the upcoming budget."
She added that continued focus on digitization and policy amendments will ensure that India will be able to add more formal jobs which will not only nurture the employment ecosystem but also aid in India’s economic progress. The government should play the role of an enabler by easing laws and regulations which removes the regulatory cholesterol and encourage skill development, apprenticeship to make our youth job-ready and tax sops for entrepreneurship to thrive and generate employment. The expectations from the new dispensation are to move quickly on the reform agenda.
Higher investment in education and skilling
HR leaders also wish for higher investment in skilling initiatives.
Sreekanth K Arimanithaya, Global Talent Leader, EY GDS stated, “To sustain our economic growth, we need investments that will help create a skilled workforce. This makes me hope for higher investment in education and related initiatives like Skill India. For one, we need to equip the next generation of youth on future-focused skills like emerging technologies to build stronger career paths. We also need to think of ways to re-skill our existing workforce beyond legacy and technical competencies.
Sreekanth believes that we should tap into micro skilling to bridge gaps with greater speed and agility. The microservice economy too is emerging strongly in the current digital and dynamic marketplace.
“The government has to create a budget that promotes ease of business, boosts consumption and revives investment (FDI or Portfolio investment). This can happen only if the household increases their spends, which can only happen if they have more money in their hands. So, I am expecting tax-breaks for the middle class, especially for the salaried class. As always, there will be a strong focus on how the budget can help the farmers and welfare policies,” said, Rohit Hasteer- Group Chief Human Resource Officer- Housing.com, PropTiger.com, Makaan.com, Fastfox.com.
The fate of the HR industry will be decided tomorrow as the Finance Minister will present her first union budget of 2019-20.