Nirmala Sitharaman, the first female Finance Minister of India, presented her debut budget in the parliament on July 5, 2019. She unveiled a slew of reforms and initiatives for MSMES and startups – from reducing corporate taxes to interest subvention. Let’s take a look at 13 key takeaways for small businesses that this budget has to offer.
- Exclusive TV Channel for Startups
Mrs. Sitharaman proposed an exclusive TV channel for startups to be operated under the Doordarshan umbrella and managed by startups themselves, which will discuss everything and anything related to startups. The channel will also help in matching startups with venture funds and investors.
- Tax Reduction
The Finance Minister extended the lower rate of 25% corporate tax to smaller companies with an annual turnover of up to Rs 400 crore, from an earlier cap of 200 crore. This is expected to encourage more business and profits in the MSME sector.
- Budget Allocation Under the Interest Subvention Scheme
The Interest Subvention Scheme was introduced in 2018 by PM Narendra Modi in an attempt to improve the ease of doing business and provide MSMEs better access to market, credit and technology upgradation. The Finance Minister allocated INR 350 crore under the interest subvention scheme for the financial year 2019-20, for 2% interest subvention for all GST-registered MSMEs on fresh or incremental loans.
- Uniform Payment Platform for MSMEs
Mrs. Sitharaman announced that the government will create a payment platform for MSMEs to enable easy and secure filing of bills and payment. This is expected to eliminate delays in payment and boost the investments in MSMEs.
- Pension Benefit for Small Retailers
For retailers with an annual turnover of less than Rs. 1.5 crore, the FM has announced a pension scheme under the Pradhaan Mantri Man Dhan Yojana, which is expected to benefit more than 3 crore shop owners.
- Online Portal for Quick Clearance
The FM also announced that the government is planning to create an online portal for loan clearance for MSMEs. According to her speech, the portal will be able to clear loan of up to Rs. 1 crore in less than 59 minutes.
- Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme
More than Rs. 3.75 lakh crores has been blocked in litigations in the pre-GST regime of service tax and excise so far. The budget has proposed a dispute resolution-cum-amnesty scheme called Sabka Vishwas Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme, which will allow prompt closure of such disputes, with reliefs varying between 40% and 70% of the tax dues.
- Minimal Scrutiny of Funds Raised
For startups and investors who file all the required and relevant declarations, the budget proposes to introduce an e-verification mechanism that will not require any tax scrutiny with respect to the valuation of share premium.
- ASPIRE scheme for agro-rural industries
The budget proposes setting up of 80 Livelihood Business Incubators (LBI) and 20 Technology Business Incubators (TBI) in 2019-20 to develop up to 75,000 skilled entrepreneurs in agro-rural industry sectors under the Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE).
- Encouragement of Digital Payments
The budget proposed a 2% tax levy on cash withdrawals of over Rs. 1 crore in a year to encourage digital payments across the MSME sector.
- Elimination of MDR charges
According to the budget, businesses with an annual turnover of over Rs. 50 crore must offer low cost digital modes of payment. The customers and merchants of such businesses should not be imposed with any merchant discount rate (MDR) fees.
- Faceless IT Assessment
In an attempt to reduce harassments faced by taxpayers, the budget has proposed to launch an electronic mode of income tax assessment with zero human intervention.
- SFURTI Scheme
The budget proposes setting up of 100 new clusters during 2019-20 under the Scheme of Fund for Upgradation and Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), enabling 50,000 artisans to join the economic value chain.
Startups and MSMEs are crucial contributors to job creation and, consequently, a strong and stable national economy. The measures announced in the 2019 budget, if properly implemented, are sure to help incentivize young firms in boosting job creation and thereby bolstering the startup and MSME ecosystem in the country.