Chennai: Diverse views about the recently launched Union Budget were put on the table at the Budget Meet 2019, an annual post-budget analysis conducted by United Way Chennai, on Friday, 8th February. The event witnessed a conglomeration of around 400 top economists, investors, financial experts and the business community of Chennai, setting off discussions on the pros and cons of the Union Budget and set strong expectations for the Government which will come into power post 2019 elections. The theme for the 8th edition of United Way Chennai’s Budget Meet was ‘Election Year Budget: Are the obstacles behind us?’
Budget Meet is also United Way Chennai’s annual fundraising event and funds raised this year will be invested in 4 mega development initiatives in Tamil Nadu – holistic intervention in Schools, early education at anganwadi centres, setting up of community RO water plants & support for people with disabilities. With disability as its key focus area of impact, United Way Chennai had designed the event as an accessible and inclusive one. A sign language interpreter translated the proceedings to the differently abled segment of the audience, in sign language.
In this South India’s biggest discussion of its kind, the keynote speakers for this year were Shri.Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India and Shri. Dinesh Kumar Khara, MD(GB & S), SBI. Shri. Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, SBI who was expected to join but couldn’t, sent across a video message for the audience.
“A lot more philanthropy is needed for a market economy to flourish”, said Shri.Montek Singh Ahluwalia as he began his speech. Speaking on the recently launched budget, he pointed out that the general election is an important event and the voters must evaluate 4 key aspects, viz., slogans which capture the goal and imagination, specific targets and the programs and policies narrated to achieve them.
Speaking on growth, “Maintaining fiscal balance is fundamental to having an 8% growth.Setting up of a full-time professional fiscal stability council accountable to the Parliament would be a major institutional reform, if done by the Government which comes into power” he added. Another question raised was why the industry is not creating more jobs while the data shows that not enough good quality employment is being created. The debate of how the culture of subsidies and free give-aways will be sustained in a long run was touched upon.
Shri.Dinesh Kumar Khara, MD(GB & S), SBI presented his optimistic outlook on India’s growth, to the audience.
The ensuing panel discussion charted out the various obstacles faced by the nation’s economy in the recent times and whether the election year budget and upcoming Government will address them effectively. The discussion was led by Mr.Rakesh Singh, Group Head- HDFC Bank and the panelists included Mr.Navneet Munot, CIO, SBI Fund Management and Mr.Rahul Singh, CIO – Equities, Tata Asset Management Ltd.Shri. Montek Singh Ahluwalia joined the discussion to share his viewpoints on more issues like the handling the agrarian distress and the need for the upcoming Government to spend more time on tax structure rather than tax administration. The discussion also dwelled upon serious structural challenges in front of the Government like climate change and how it is important for business communities to acknowledge it. Lack of innovation and low investments in R & D compared to countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh was brought up as a point of concern implying that we as a country need to invest more in these aspects. Touching upon the issue of job creation, the panel also highlighted how it is a hot debate whether the country’s current growth is jobless but it is a cold reality that the growth is profitless.
This post-budget analysis event is conducted every year by United Way Chennai where leading finance stalwarts, fund managers and industry experts analyse issues such as macroeconomic policy, investment strategy and capital markets. Notable speakers at the event in the past have been Mr.P.Chidambaram, Arvind Datar, Smt. Arundhati Bhattacharya, Dr.C.Rangarajan and Parthasarathi Shome.
Using the funds raised during Budget Meet in the past years, United Way Chennai has transformed around 6 lakh lives across Tamilnadu in areas of education, health and sanitation, disability, environment, income and livelihood. Giving away the UWC Annual Awards as part of the event, Ms.Archana Raghuram, Executive Director and CEO, United Way Chennai highlighted how the 360 degree partnership approach of working in tandem with the Government, corporates, civil society and the community has strengthened the impact of the CSR projects executed by United Way Chennai.