All eyes are on the Union Budget 2023, which is going to be presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1.
Industry captains are awaiting a “favourable budget” for their business growth amid the economic slowdown. Apart from income tax relief, industry bigwigs are hoping for a gig economy-centric policy. They also want a focus on investments in digital and automation technologies, among others.
According to a recent NITI Aayog report, 7.7 million workers were engaged in the gig economy during 2020-2021, constituting 2.6% of the non-agricultural workforce and 1.5% of the total workforce in India. With the gig economy projected to continue its explosive growth, industry leaders are calling on the government to provide support through incentives and legislation in order to ensure the livelihoods of the workers and the growth of the businesses.
At present, about 47% of gig workers are involved in medium skilled jobs, nearly 22% in high jobs, and close to 31% in low skilled jobs. Trends show that the concentration of workers with medium skills is gradually declining, while the demand for low skilled and high skilled workers is increasing.
Support and legislation for the gig economy
"We want to see the government tap into the potential of the gig economy by partnering with the industry on its growth. As a gamification company, we believe in incentivization and positive ways to drive the enablement of this workforce,” said Kamalika Bhattacharya, CEO and Co-founder, QuoDeck.
Attributing the NITI Aayog report on the expected growth of the gig economy in India, Sumit Sabharwal, CEO of TeamLease HRtech, said, "While the new wage codes have some clauses for the welfare of the gig workers, we need a lot more attention to this emerging workforce."
According to Sabharwal, there is a need for capital resources to spread awareness about the existing support facilities available to gig workers like NPS, e-shram, PMSBY, etc.
He further said the simplification of labour laws, taxation and compliance processes will make it easier for gig workers to operate and flourish with fewer impediments.
Yeshasvini Ramaswamy, serial entrepreneur and CEO, Great Place to Work, said India needs some new legislation that may promote equitable practices.
In addition to focusing on the gig economy, industry people also want the government to focus on the digital transformation of India.
Sourabh Deorah, Co-Founder and CEO, Advantage Club, said, "Amid the global economic slowdown, India can prosper with the right budget moves. The industry is hoping to get a balanced budget which while uplifting the lower classes while also taking into account the middle class,” Deorah said.
Speaking on the issue, Navneet Singh, founder and CEO, Avsar, said, “Across India, salaried individuals are among the key contributors to the nation’s tax revenue.” The annual budget has a significant impact on the salaried class as it directly impacts their finances and expenses.
Just ahead of the Modi government's last budget before the 2024 elections, the salaried class is looking forward to receiving various long-term benefits related to maternity, retirement, superannuation, and healthcare. Moreover, there might be a rise in 80C deductions due to a rise in volatility, incentive savings, and investments.
Focus on job creation
Lohit Bhatia, President, Workforce Management, Quess Corp., wants this year’s budget to focus on formal job creation for the next 10 years.
“Skilling, job-oriented support measures, and coverage for nearly 115 million working personnel employed without social security coverage in SMEs must be considered,” said Bhatia.
Investments in digital and automation technologies
In view of the unprecedented growth across industries, especially in emerging technologies like AI, ML, IoT, robotics, and most importantly, 5G, investments are needed. According to a recent report by Gartner, the Indian information technology industry is expected to grow at a rate of 2.6% in 2023.
“To provide more advanced and innovative solutions for bringing in sustainable business models, start-up and technology investments should be prioritised,” said Sangeet Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Addverb Technologies.
Incentivise financial and non-financial services to help MSMEs
"The growth of SMEs and MSMEs will propel India to become a $5 trillion economy by 2025. The growth will come on the back of the increasing digitisation of our economy and expanding the reach of financial services to the masses. We will have to work on bridging the financial divide,” Amit Tyagi, CEO, Payworld, said.
Vipul Verma, Executive Vice President, Wadhwani Advantage at Wadhwani Foundation, said, “There is an increasing demand for various financial and non-financial services that will help MSMEs in their growth journey…”
Arjun Gulati, co-founder of Easydesq, wants a reduction in the GST rate for start-ups, as it will have a significant impact on their finances.