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Spending boost, ease of doing business, tax breaks part of brands’ budget wish list

By Retail4Growth Bureau | January 24, 2023

Businesses across segments are all in anticipation of the Union Budget presentation that is just round the corner. For brands having retail presence, Union Budget 2023 may have many implications. A few of them share their budget wish list with Retail4Growth.

Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director – Kalyan Jewellers

Ramesh Kalyanaraman<br>Executive Director, Kalyan JewellersAs we look forward to the Fiscal Budget 2023, we have a huge opportunity to unlock the true potential of India’s jewellery sector and develop it to become a global leader and trade centre. We believe, with the right policies and support from the Government of India, we can further encourage the industry to become more organised. As an entity built on the principles of trust and transparency, it gives us immense pride to see widespread acceptance of fair trade practices such as BIS hallmarking, which has eventually empowered consumers across markets.

With major infrastructural investments such as the launch of a new jewellery park in Navi Mumbai and expansion of manufacturing facilities in Surat, we are driven towards improving efficiency and bringing in innovation across the sector, through various pioneering initiatives. The formulation of an effective regulatory framework can further boost digitisation in the sector that will eventually increase transparency and accountability.”

Akhil Jain, Executive Director, MADAME

1. Ease of Doing Business: A few years ago, the Government proposed to formulate Akhil Jain<br>Executive Director, MADAMEa “National Retail Trade Policy". The Union Minister of Commerce & Industry informed in the Rajya Sabha on 23/09/2020 that Stakeholder consultations are being held in this regard. The Government had also set up a National Traders’ Welfare Board with the objectives of the welfare of traders and their employees, simplification of the acts and rules applicable to traders, reduction of the compliance burden and improvement in access to funds for traders. The action on formulating the “National Retail Trade Policy" should be expedited to provide the much-needed “Ease of Doing Business” to the fashion retail industry.

2. Goods and Services Tax:

(a) Consumer spending on fashion apparel falls under the ‘discretionary spending’ category. GST @ 12% on fashion apparel is causing high costs for end-consumers. Due to inflationary pressures, the discretionary spending of consumers is going down. GST on all apparel should be fixed at a standard rate of 5% to give a much-needed fillip to the fashion retail industry.

(b) Most of the inputs, services and capital goods required by the retail industry attract a higher rate of GST (mostly 18%), while the output rate of GST is lower. This results in an unutilised input tax credit of GST causing blockage of working capital and increased cost of operations. The Government should amend the formula for calculating refunds under the inverted duty structure category in order to allow unrestricted refunds of unutilised GST on services as well as on capital goods.

3. Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS): The retail industry is awaiting the re-introduction of TUFS to reduce its cost of technology upgradation.

4. Production-linked incentive scheme (PLI): PLI for the garments industry should Amit Pratihari<br>VP, De Beers Forevermarkbe announced soon in which MSMEs are also able to participate.

Amit Pratihari, Vice President, De Beers Forevermark

The Gems and Jewellery sector plays a significant role in India’s GDP and employment generation. Last year, the economy made a strong resurgence from the pandemic-induced uncertainty and the jewellery industry too made a strong bounce back with a significant growth. Several positive steps taken by the government, including reduction of customs duty on cut and polished diamonds further accelerated this upward growth trajectory. Though the rising inflation have put the market overview in a ‘wait and watch’ mode now, the positive shift in consumer buying preference will have a significant influence on the jewellery demand. Clients are now drawn to making purchases that are valuable, meaningful and that lasts forever. In this view, we are optimistic that the forthcoming budget will have a favorable outcome.

Aastha Almast, Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer, The New Shop 

Aastha Almast, Co-Founder &<br>Chief Business Officer, The New Shop The government should consider a larger stimulus to the middle class to induce spending and lift the overall economy which will further benefit multiple sectors. A strong component ecosystem will also help the industry. I also feel that logistical challenges seem to be one of the common issues that the industry is facing and that relaxation in tax to bring down logistics costs can help the sector in a big way. With the onset of the year 2023, the industry is predetermined to observe changes in consumer preferences, next-gen stores, and revenue models. Hence, lowering the tax rates will definitely help the industry to revive consumption demand.

Rahul Singh, Co-Founder, EcoSoul Home 

Financial incentives for manufacturers: Tax and GST breaks along with capital and interest subsidies for companies that manufacture green products, making them more affordable for consumers.

Export incentives: Incentives for export of green products especially that are made from Agro-Waste (ex. Bagasse, palm leaves, wheat straw, rice straw and rice husk).

Rahul Singh<br>Co-Founder, EcoSoul Home Single window clearance: All permits and licenses granted through an integrated online process for manufacturing and distribution of green products.

Enforcement of single use plastics ban: Implementation of “track and trace” technologies for (a) enforcement of plastic ban and (b) prohibit use of “greenwashed” or fake products.

Procurement policies: Governments can create procurement policies that prioritize the purchase of eco-friendly products for use in government buildings, departments, railways, and military.

Advertising and Labelling: Require companies to clearly label base materials from which products are manufactured and display certifications for eco-friendly products on packaging and products.

Research and development: Provide financial incentives to encourage companies to invest in research and development of eco-friendly products and technologies to promote their growth and innovation.

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