Panel discussion on Union Budget at first ever XIMB-XUB Budget Conclave

X-Fin, the finance association of XIMB-XUB, in collaboration with the World Trade Centre, Bhubaneswar,organized on Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, for the first time, a panel discussion designed to analyze the ‘Implications of the Union Budget 2016-17 on Direct and Indirect Taxation’. World Trade Centre (WTC) Bhubaneswar, which is a member of the World Trade Centres Association (WTCA) New York is an initiative of M. Visvesvaraya Industrial Research and Development Centre (MVIRDC),It aims to facilitate trade and investment promotion in the State, assist local business to foray in the global markets and help enhance the competitiveness of Odisha. With the presence of World Trade Centre at Bhubaneswar, Odisha is now connected to the Global Network of 327 WTC’s in 92 countries.There were four panelists, all of whom are eminent industry experts- Mr. Manish Kharbanda, Executive Director, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., CA A.K. Sabat, Partner, A.K. Sabat & Co., CA Rajiv Sahoo, Promoter, M/s SRB & Associates, and Prof. D.V. Ramana, Faculty, XIMB-XUB.

The moderator for the evening was Mr. Dilip Sathpathy, Editor, Business Standard. He joined the field of Journalism in 1985 after passing out from Ravenshaw College. He is now posted as the Deputy Resident Editor of Bhubaneswar edition of Business Standard. He figures regularly in television panel discussions on economic matters in OTV, ETV, Doordarshan, Kanak, Naxatra& MBC channels. He opened the floor for discussion and raised relevant questions throughout the evening such as “Would the desire of the Government to achieve 7.6% growth rate have been achieved if the money had been routed to the middle class rather than the poor?”. The panelists each then received 20-25 minutes to put forth their views about the budget and carry the discussion forward.

The first panelist, Professor D.V. Ramana has been a faculty at XIMB since 1989. He is a member of the editorial board, Indian Accounting Review and Journal of Accounting and Auditing, ICFAI Publication. He is also member at various other notable organizations. According to him, the rising problem of inequality should be the immediate concern. “Taxation is an important economic and fiscal tool to address inequality”, he said, adding that “Inequality continues at the cost of maintaining fiscal deficit”, because, “At the macro level, we have not addressed the issues that make inequality persist.”

The next speaker was Mr. Manish Kharbanda, who is an MBA from ICFAI, and an alumnus of Harvard Business School. Currently, he is leading the Odisha Business affairs of Jindal Steel & Power across 3 locations in 3 districts of Odisha. He is the co-chairman of the Mining panels of CII and FICCI in Odisha, and also a member of the Expert Body of Indian Chamber of Commerce. While addressing the audience, he began by saying that designing a budget is not an easy task. He said that the real issue is that of growth in demand. Unless the rural population, which constitutes 60% of the total population, is addressed, demand won’t go up. While the demand is declining in other countries, in India, it has increased by around 4-5%. He added that the “Corporate sector cannot survive without the robust rural sector”. Therefore he believes that the right issues have been addressed by the union budget. Commenting on the high investments in roads, he goes on to say that “A good road is an answer to anything” as it facilitates the movement of Goods and Services.

Panel Discussion_2

Next to address the audience was CA Rajiv Sahoo. Mr. Sahoo cleared CA in 1987 and became a Fellow member at ICAI in 1992. He is one of the promoters and the principal partner of M/s SRB and Associates, Chartered Accountants. He has audited large PSUs, PSU Banks and large private companies. He has also been a visiting faculty at various Government and management institutes. He agreed with Mr. Manish Kharbanda, saying that “The banking sector is a major catalyst in the system”. He also warned that one goes on taxing the rich, they will move to places where they find more benefits, but they are the ones that provide employment. In this regard, he says that the start-up culture is a step in the right direction. He also said that there are leakages at every step, but with the right governance and technology, they can be arrested. He closed by wishing success to the budget despite all the criticisms that are going its way.

CA Arun Kumar Sabat was next to speak. He has been a Member of the C.A. institute since 1977. He opened a firm in Bhubaneswar in 1982, initially as a Sole Proprietorship. He has handled finalization of accounts of major companies. He has also worked as Chief of Accounts & Internal Audit at Wipro, Mumbai. He started off by saying that he agreed with the part about leakages being there, and said “Black money is like a cobra in your house”. Having thoroughly analyzed the budget, he opined that the allowances are not sufficient to cover expenses, so where does the extra tax money go. The salaried people are at a disadvantage as a result of this new budget, and he said, “This thinking of politicians for the salaried class is dangerous”. In addition to this burden, salaried class also has to face inflation. “Inflation is a taxation without legislation”, he said.

The discussion ended with a brief question and answer session and a vote of thanks by Ms Nimeshika Natarajan, Manager, Trade Research WTC Bhubaneswar. The guests were then presented with mementos.

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