London, Feb 1 (PTI) The Union Budget tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday has been widely welcomed in the UK business and financial circles as "very encouraging" for the bilateral partnership and also India's attractiveness as an investment destination.
The highlights flagged by many include the enhanced infrastructure spending focus, which offers great opportunities for foreign investors, and a focus on green growth. A series of measures to tackle the ease of doing business in the country is another aspect of the Budget that has received a big thumbs up.
"The hallmark of the Budget is continuity, stability and fiscally responsible growth," said Loknath Mishra, MD & CEO of ICICI Bank UK Plc and Chair of the Financial Services Committee of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) UK Council.
"The significant increase in capex allocation will set the country on a sustained growth path. India will emerge stronger as a destination for investment by non-resident Indians (NRIs) and foreign investors," he said.
Anuj Chande, Partner and Head of South Asia Group, Grant Thornton LLP in London, dubbed the Budget as "very encouraging", particularly from a foreign investor point of view.
"The message is that private investment must step in and there’s a big opportunity there for foreign investors, particularly UK investors to participate in the building of that infrastructure. The UK has some terrific expertise and talent in the area of road building, railways and airports which can help India achieve the earmarked spend,” said Chande.
The adviser for many UK corporates going into India also welcomed the ease of doing measures unveiled in the Budget, such as plans for 39,000 compliances being reduced.
"As it is, India has been creeping up on the World Bank Doing Business rankings and all these measures will help improve that ranking further,” he said.
"The 7 per cent growth rate that was announced in the Budget is remarkable by any means. UK investors, particularly in the SME and mid-market, have not necessarily focused on India and looked at the market opportunity, both in terms of market access and talent access and the ability to help India in its growth plans. My overall message would be: please do consider India as being a great destination to either trade or invest in," he added.
Steve Harvey, Director of global services provider Sannam S4 and Chair of the Education Committee of the FICCI UK Council, hailed advances in the skills development sector.
"There are many good reasons to be excited about India's economy in 2023 and beyond. This year, as India hosts and chairs the G20, there is much for India to be proud of, not least of which are the changes in the education landscape in recent years – including the National Education Policy and the implementation of increased technology-enabled learning, setting the pace for significant skills development for India’s young people,” said Harvey.
‘The Financial Times’ categorised the Budget as “business friendly”, meant to spur growth and “please key constituencies ahead of an upcoming general election”.