The logistics industry which has been impacted by the pandemic expects the upcoming Union Budget to announce a working capital package for the sector.
The industry also expects major investment announcements for infrastructure to boost the sector.
Ambrish Kumar, Founder of Zipaworld and Group CEO, AAA 2 Innovate Private Ltd said the government should increase the working capital package for the logistics sector multi-fold, which is currently "very minimal".
"Logistics sector has suffered phenomenal losses during the pandemic and the working capital share from the government to this sector needs to be improved," he said.
Kumar also noted that the implementation of National Logistics Policy rolled out in the previous year's Budget needs to pick up pace, more so, considering the hit that the logistics sector has endured during the pandemic.
Lancy Barboza, MD of Flomic Global Logistics Pvt Ltd said: "We would expect this year's Budget should allocate more towards improving the infrastructure in and around the airports and seaports and better road connectivity with all major ports which indirectly help to create a solid backbone of India's logistics infrastructure."
Besides, creating infrastructure, Barboza said, the Finance Minister should consider announcing tax holidays and incentives for those setting up cold chain logistics of warehousing and temperature-controlled vehicles.
"This will also give a big boost to emergency vaccine and pharma movements and also in reducing wastage in agro, horticulture and dairy industry," he said.
CEO and MD of Shift Freight Avinash Raghav said that the Budget will focus on the digital transformation of logistics industry and adoption of international standards.
"Another demand of our industry is increased investment in transportation modes, such as high-speed road, periodical vehicle passing system to carry heavy load, single-window documentation to avoid inter-state border issues among other," Raghav said.
Such steps will also help in reducing the level of air pollution caused due to transportation, he said.
Emphasising on the need to push the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) in the sector, Narayan Ramamoorthy, Chief Revenue Officer, Global PayEX was of the view that AI can digitise business-to-business (B2B) processes at scale, speed, costs, and productivity.
"Companies doing business in India have a tremendous opportunity to leverage AI across the B2B process flows right from purchase order (PO) to payments and reconciliation. Today, a lot of these processes are manual, hence inefficient both from a cost and time perspective. E-invoicing is a great first step by the Government of India," Ramamoorthy said.
Such a move will enable AI-led digitisation of invoice acceptance and reconciliation processes for buyers, he added.
"The next step is to enable tracking payments. If payment data becomes available, AI can help track key metrics, such as Days Payments Outstanding (DPO) and Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) across receivables and payables and start providing actionable insights for companies and the economy as a whole," he said, adding that it will also help address the issue of delayed payment for MSMEs, besides enabling digital lending through cash flow, payment, and invoice data.
Kumar of Zipaworld also noted that the need of the hour calls for an initiative to pump funds for research and implementation of AI for working towards blockchain technology in logistics, encouraging companies and start-ups to assist in the initiation of the same.