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Budget 2019: No big bang, but capex push a big plus

Shobhana Subramanian
Union Budget 2019 India, Budget 2019-20

Against the backdrop of jobless growth over the last five years, the Union Budget contained no big bang projects that could result in immediate employment opportunities. Nonetheless, the commitment to building infrastructure with a `100-lakh- crore spend over the next many years should help foster job creation for the educated, skilled and semi-skilled workers. In particular, the 11.7% jump in the government’s capital expenditure for 2019-20, to be spread across roads, railways, inter-alia, should see a near-term increase in hiring.'

Equally, the boost to the real estate sector from the tax benefits for affordable houses, under the PM Awas Yojana, and the longer term initiative Housing for All, should bring succour to workers in the construction sector, especially as they have been a casualty of the slump in the real estate sector for the last three or four years.

The proposed development of an MRO for the aviation sector is a big plus for engineers and mechanics. The renewed focus on tourism — with the thrust on 17 iconic tourist spots — will also catalyse activity in many aligned sectors such as food and transport.

The other service sector where professionals will be in demand is financial services as GIFT City –the financial services hub — is expected to get a boost from the incentives given to sectors such as aircraft leasing, reinsurance business.

The focus on education with an allocation of `400 crore for higher studies, and the government’s initiative to make India an education hub, will again, provide teachers and professors with new opportunities. Moreover, the thrust on R&D, skilling and new-age technologies — AI Big Data and robotics — will ensure those qualified will find the right jobs.

This might tempt scientists to stay back in India as also blockchain and AI specialists since there is a shortage of skills — in the machine learning and IoTspaces — currently. Most companies need to train campus recruits extensively. The push to digitisation will also drive the demand for engineers, computer scientists and data analysts. Thus, expanding Skill India to include AI and IoT is a welcome measure which will help Indians keep up with the competition.

The interest subvention of 2% for loans to MSMEs, for fresh and incremental loans, will give this category of businesses a leg up; consequently we can expect more hiring by these small firms. Further, the relaxation in the local sourcing norms for FDI in single-brand retail might encourage more global players to set up shop in India as retailing is a highly job-oriented sector.