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Expectations Budget '22: Fuel prices, medical expenses remain major concerns shows Kantar survey

Consumers expect healthcare to see an increased focus in the upcoming budget.

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Mumbai: With the third wave of pandemic raging on, the majority of consumers expect the government to increase focus on strengthening the healthcare infrastructure, showed the latest pre-budget survey conducted by data insights company Kantar.

According to the survey conducted across 12 cities, healthcare tops consumers’ concerns, followed by mounting medical expenses, and fuel prices. In a telling indicator of the increased health care expenses over the last two years, 53 per cent of consumers, especially those from non-metro cities, said they expect an increase in deductions for their medical/health insurance.

The rising fuel prices too have also taken a toll. At least 72 per cent of the people surveyed expect the government to bring petrol and diesel under the ambit of GST to bring down the fuel costs. With increased focus on climate change and sustainable living, 60 per cent of consumers expect the government to prioritise subsidies on electric vehicles in the coming year.

Tax Deductions

With respect to consumer expectations in terms of tax deductions, investments under 80C covering multiple investment options emerged at the first rank with 60 per cent claiming they want an increase in deductions from the same. The younger, affluent salaried class consumers seemed to have a higher desire (65 per cent) for this, as compared to mass consumers (57 per cent), according to the survey.

Home Loan EMI emerged third with 39 per cent of consumers seeking an increase in tax deduction on their Home Loan EMI’s. A higher skew for this increase was seen in metros at 41 per cent.

“As we step into the third year of the pandemic, the public wants the government to further invest in public health infrastructure and other favourable policies like tax deductions for insurance, which help alleviate the burden of medical expenses. Concerns about fuel prices come through, as does a desire that the government should help us wean ourselves off dependency on dirty and ever more expensive fossil fuels, through e-vehicle subsidies,” said Kantar executive managing director- South Asia, Insights Division Deepender Rana.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency as an investment avenue is expected to continue making noise this year as well. Intention to invest in cryptocurrency also showed a jump to 32 per cent, as against 19 per cent in July 2021, possibly driven by awareness and exposure that advertising and celebrity endorsements have generated over the last few months. Millennials seem to be keener on trying this new investment avenue as their intention to invest is higher at 32 per cent as compared to those in the age group of 36-55 years which is at 26 per cent.

“As cryptocurrencies take off and the government mulls a tax on crypto transactions, investors want the government to play a role in encouraging yet regulating these innovative finance instruments through India’s own cryptocurrency,” added Rana.

Majority expect India to launch its own official cryptocurrency in 2022. There is an overwhelming preference towards investing in India’s cryptocurrency with 79 per cent claiming to invest in that over existing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin etc. This is driven by the perceptions of it being more secure due to clear regulations laid down by RBI.

Interestingly, the survey also indicates that consumers are leaning towards adopting the new tax regime since it came into existence on 1 April 2020. At least 55 per cent said that they intend to choose the new tax regime in 2022.

The survey mapped consumer sentiments and expectations from the union budget, scheduled to be unveiled on 1 February. As many as 1419 consumers aged between 21-55 years including a mix of salaried and business owners as well as mass and affluent class from the metro & non-metro cities were interviewed from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Indore, Patna, Jaipur, and Lucknow.

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