Budget 2019 and Digital India
Enable Digital Infrastructure – Anil Valluri, President of NetApp, India and SAARC
The re-election of this government ensures continuity of the Government’s compelling vision for India to boost the economy and put India on the technology superhighway by 2030. Through the Union Budget 2019, it would be key for the Government to put the spotlight back on its flagship initiatives like Digital India enabling digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, governance and services on demand, and digital empowerment of citizens. With the help of technology, the government should focus on catalyzing the smart city programme, to become growth engines for the country’s economy. We definitely look forward to seeing the government fortify the investments in the Artificial Intelligence sector as indicated in the interim budget, so that the benefits of AI technology can reach the masses. Priority should be laid on delivering this in the short, medium as well as long term – in order to shape the architecture of our society into a global one.
Smart City and Digital India – Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India and SAARC
We believe that with the re-election of NDA government will ensure the continuity of its vision 2030 and continue the momentum on infrastructural development of highways, ports, transportation and rural connectivity. We expect more investment in Geospatial and Defence sectors, envisioning India to become the launch pad for satellites as part of Vision 2030. We look forward to seeing the Government fortify investments in the defence and border security for protecting our soldiers who are the pride and honour of the nation. Furthermore, with its flagship initiatives of Smart City and Digital India the focus on internet penetration in rural areas would help democratize AI for citizens. Priority should be laid on delivering these to augur the economy by providing a growth impetus that lays down a vision for the next 10 years.
Exponential Growth in Adoption of Digital Platforms – Ishan Gupta, MD Udacity India
The current government’s Digital India initiative has played a pivotal role in empowering the country with digital assets. In the last few years, we have witnessed an exponential growth in the adoption of digital platforms for education, healthcare, banking and more. In the upcoming budget, I expect the Finance Minister to focus on providing equal opportunities to the readily available 500 million internet users while further expanding this base and the gamut of digital services to create a thriving knowledge economy. The Government should also focus on challenges like data security to ensure a sustainable digital transformation.
Strengthen Investments in the IoT Sector – Juergen Hase, CEO, Unlimit
We look forward for the government to strengthen investments in the IoT sector, so that the benefits of IoT technology can reach the masses. The key to the success of the Digital India initiative lies in making the necessary reforms to the tax structures including GST, and driving domestic innovation coupled with fiscal incentive schemes. With a view to accelerate the adoption of IoT services and achieving the NDCP’s goal of 5 billion connected devices by 2022?, we strongly believe that the GST rates for digital products and services should be reduced from current rate of 18%. As the government aims to build one lakh digital villages in India in the next five years, it’s imperative that the services are affordable to the end customers, hence, companies working in digital sector should be given incentives.
Digital India 2.0 – Sanjay Motwani, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Raritan
Companies in India have been benefiting immensely from government’s mission of Digital India. We hope that the budget will focus on initiatives that drive the process of digital adoption and improve existing reforms as a part of ‘Digital India 2.0’. The industry is positive that the ongoing projects like smart cities, digitalisation, state data centers will maintain its pace. New technologies like IoT, AI, ML empower most or all of these segments and we are confident that the budget for every segment is going to contribute directly or indirectly to the IT industry.
Digital-first Economy – Praveen Agrawal, Managing Director, OakNorth
We expect sustained push towards a digital-first economy, which would include support for R&D and AI, reduced regulatory restriction on use of technology in financial services sector, and simplified tax deduction at source (TDS) and repayments in online lending.
Budget 2019 and Jobs
Schemes to create jobs – Shashank Dixit, Founder and CEO, Deskera
Right on the top of my wishlist for this year’s budget are schemes to create jobs as that is integral to a lot of other systemic issues outside of unemployment such as affordable housing. More, high-quality jobs typically help address all other societal problems. I strongly feel SMEs taking to digital tools and becoming more efficient, will drive better jobs and outcomes. These initiatives will help us avoid stimuli, such as Universal Basic Income Schemes and other alternatives. The only other piece on my wishlist is to abolish the angel tax for government recognized startups and SMEs. It’s unfair in structure and policy and curbs growth within SMEs and is largely detrimental to building a world-class startup and SME ecosystem in India.
Increase Limit of Employee Tax Benefits – Bhavin Turakhia, CEO, Zeta and Flock
For the upcoming budget, two key areas to focus on are – technology and India’s salaried population. India’s online economy has made significant strides, shifting from a largely ‘cash on delivery’ model to now clocking a massive number of online digital transaction. In the upcoming budget, an increased focus on giving better sops to build an infrastructure that can continue to empower individuals digitally will further boost our economy. Also, with technological disruption being key for startups’ growth today, we would urge the government to encourage investments in technology hubs that will help strengthen technologies such as AI, ML etc. The government must also work towards bringing in some respite to GST, by reducing the tax slab for technology services and products, encouraging the early adopter market to flourish. For salaried employees, in the past few decades, we haven’t witnessed any increase in several allowances that are offered. For instance, the meal allowance is only ₹50 per day; while children education allowance has a limit of just ₹100 per month and the driver salary limit is only Rs 900 per month. It would be of great benefit for the salaried people employees if the Union Budget 2019 considers increasing the limit of such employee tax benefits.