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Edtech sops, GST reforms on Hyderabad startups' wishlist
With the Union Budget just around the corner, Hyderabad-based startups are expecting a slew of measures from the Centre to offset Covid-induced losses and help them tread on the growth path
Hyderabad: With the Union Budget just around the corner, Hyderabad-based startups are expecting a slew of measures from the Centre to offset Covid-induced losses and help them tread on the growth path. And, at the top of the list is allocation of sufficient government funds, rationalisation of GST rates, and facilitation of NBFC loans with low interest rates, among others, which they expect could give a booster shot to their ailing businesses and turn the tides in their favour. According to Charu Noheria, Co-founder and COO of Practically, an interactive and immersive learning app, given that there has been a significant surge in e-learning, the government must extend support by allocating sufficient funds and devise strategies to make digital education accessible by ensuring availability of internet connectivity, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc, either through direct government programmes or via public-private partnership model.
"This will provide the impetus required for the upgradation of school infrastructure with state-of-art technology and will help meet the demands of jobs in the future," he says.
Echoing similar views is Jerold Chagas Pereira, Executive Director and CEO of learning platform mPowerO. "The pandemic-led lockdowns have shown the relevance and efficacy of online learning as a supplement to traditional forms of learning. Unfortunately, many could not benefit due to the digital divide," he says, adding that the Budget is a good opportunity to narrow this divide by introducing schemes that could make e-learning more widespread through incentives to schools and students who invest in smartphones and other digital learning tools. "Similarly, removal of GST on e-learning applications and courses should be on the agenda.
The Government should invest in technology enablement and programmes to digitally reskill and upskill India's workforce as it gears up for an Atmanirbhar Bharat," he opines. Expectations from the government are high on the taxation front, too. BigLeap Technologies, a city-based staffing and recruiting startup, expects the present Budget to incentivise their sector by rationalising the GST rates to the sub-15 per cent slab to increase the service income and make the sector a preferred one for industries to outsource their manpower needs.
Vinay Kotra, Co-founder of BigLeap, says manpower services should be recognised as a priority sector and that the government should instruct the banking channels to supply more working capital lines to this industry under priority lending. At present, it is considered under least priority for lending due to lack of material assets.
"Despite contributing close to 50 per cent to the GDP (by being part of gross services contribution), we have always been an under-acknowledged sector. It is high time that the government simplify the complex labour laws and ease the compliance burden on the companies for various labour, finance, operational reporting, Registrar of Companies (RoC) reporting, etc, to let companies focus on doing their actual business and not get stuck in being compliant all the time," Kotra adds.
Corporate transportation is one of the badly affected sectors due to the pandemic, and even though it is close to a year already, it sees no major recovery possible in the short-term. According to Rakesh Munnanooru, Founder and CEO of employee transportation startup WhistleDrive , tax exemption for a couple of years could help a lot of businesses like theirs.