The Union Budget 2019, which was announced on 1 February 2019, has been lauded by industry experts. While some of the initial reactions have been reported by DataQuest, several more IT leaders expressed their gratitude towards the Indian Government for announcing a ‘visionary budget’.
Some announcements that were made and have been perceived well by Tech honchos are as follows:
- India is now leading the world in the consumption of mobile data and the cost of data and voice calls in India is now possibly the lowest in the world.
- Under Make in India, mobile and parts manufacturing companies have increased from 2 to more than 268 providing huge job opportunities.
- More than 3 lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs) employing about 12 lakh people, are digitally delivering several services to the citizens.
- The Common Service Centres are expanding their services and also creating digital infrastructure in the villages, including connectivity, to convert the villages into Digital Villages.
- The Government will make 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages over next five years.
- National Programme on ‘Artificial Intelligence’ that has been envisaged by the Government. This would be catalysed by the establishment of the National Centre on Artificial Intelligence as a hub along with Centres of Excellence. Nine priority areas have been identified. A National Artificial Intelligence portal will also be developed soon.
Here is what industry leaders and experts have to say:
“I am happy that Union Budget has lent a helping hand to the real sector and eased some of the pain points. Exemptions under Section 54 for capital gains up to Rs. 2 crore for two properties purchased will be a game changer and so will the zero taxes on notional rent on self-occupied second homes. The exemption from tax of personal income up to Rs. 5 lakh will scale up budgets of first-time homebuyers, especially of the salaried class. The extension of benefits under Section 80 (i) BA for housing projects till 31st March 2020 and extension of the period for tax levy on notional rent on the unsold inventory to two years are some of the much required measures to help the developers. However, we were expecting the government to give some kind leeway to home buyers by way of lower interest on home loans, especially for the first time and women buyers, but are disappointed on that front,” said Tanuj Shori, Co-Founder and CEO, Square Yards
“This is a pro- welfare, aam-admi budget versus economic-push budget. Government needed to announce much more benefits and perks for the economy including key industries such as manufacturing etc. Full tax rebate for individual tax payers upto 5 lakhs is a much needed good news for middle class and a welcome move by the Government. Roll-over of capital gains tax for second house purchase for individual buyers is also good news and likely to push the housing industry overall,” Shekhar Purohit, MD, First Mumbai Consulting.
“The short-term plan to make one lakh digital villages in the next five years clearly outlines that digital transformation and economic transformation have to go hand in hand for all round development. The Interim budget unfolds a vision to become a Ten Trillion Dollar economy by 2030. Digitalization is the path chosen by the government to reach every sector of the economy across the country down to every single Indian,” said Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India & SAARC, Fortinet.
“We are delighted to see the Government’s focus on setting up a National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in order to bring the benefits of AI and related technologies to the common person. In a recent research commissioned by Salesforce, 65% of Indian respondents were positive about AI and its usage. Businesses using AI have the opportunity to amplify our human intelligence, better connect to consumers and impact societies like never before. We welcome the government’s visionary step to support and democratise access to AI and related technologies. This is equally important for businesses like Salesforce is the penetration of AI skills among the workforce. Globally, all eyes will continue to be on India and we look forward to being a part of this journey,” said Sunil Jose, Senior Area Vice President and Country Leader, Salesforce India.
“This budget is providing major boost to real estate segment through fiscal incentives like extension of benefit Under Section 80 IBA, no tax on notional rent on unsold inventory for two years, no notional rent on two self-occupied properties instead of one. Additionally, direct benefit of INR 6,000 to small farmers will provide positive sentiments and will have positive cascading effect on GDP growth. We welcome the step to promote AI hubs in India which will help to build technical competence and have long lasting impact from technology point of view for the future of India. This budget has populist and election oriented flavour, Government will have to balance the spending and keep the fiscal deficit under control,” said Arun Nathani, CEO, Cybage.
“The interim budget, the government has rightly comprehended the necessity and competence of digital technologies such as AI, machine learning, big data and more. We are glad to find out the government’s plans of developing a National Artificial Intelligence portal, which will significantly boost research and development measures and thus allow businesses of all sizes and sectors to gain better data-driven and decision-making insights and advance the nation in competitive global space,” said Arun Balasubramian, Managing Director, Qlik India.
“The government has given fair impetus to the technology sector, and indicates its commitment to use technology as a platform to build a Digital India that reaches every citizen, by transforming 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages..
“Focusing on AI in two consecutive budgets, the announcement of a national centre for AI supported by Centres of Excellence in 9 priority areas conveys how important this key technology is for the government, as the country aims to become a $5 trillion economy in the next 5 years. This furthers the announcements in AI investments and institutions made in 2018 which expands the scope of research and collaboration,” said Suman Reddy Eadunuri, MD, Pegasystems India.
“The inclusive nature of Budget 2019 – with its focus on small farmers and unorganized workers is a welcome move indeed. SAP has long pursued a dream of creating more inclusive growth in the Indian economy – Code Unnati has already empowered over 700,000 Indians through digital literacy. When digital literacy joins economic support – the ability of the marginalized to enter the mainstream increases manifold. We believe this budget will further our nation’s ability to foster inclusive growth,” said Deep Sengupta, President & MD, SAP Indian Subcontinent.
“We welcome the Government’s plan to create digital infrastructure for 1 lakh villages in the country. The successful implementation of the Digital Village project will play a vital role in India’s digital transformation and vision to become a USD 5 trillion economy in the next 5 years. Cost effective and smart irrigation management system, connected gram panchayats, better education system and mobile health services which are enabled through Internet of Things, will lead to job creation, financial inclusion and provision of an economically viable village ecosystem,” said Mr. Jürgen Hase, CEO, UNLIMIT.
“The budget of 2019 has addressed key areas that will help the economy grow in the coming year. The main concerns of making India digital has been taken into consideration. The step towards converting Indian Villages to Digital Villages in next 5 years with 1 lakh digital villages seems to be promising as this would help us educating more and more learners in tier – 2 and tier – 3 cities. We are also positive with regards to India’s startup growth where India has become the 2nd largest hub for startups with our youth turning into job creators from seekers. It also has noticeably recognized the importance of technology in the growth of the country by announcing the development of National Artificial Intelligence Portal. To sum up The Budget as a whole is balanced with respect to each sector and aims to foster the growth of our economy again,” said Anil Nagar, Founder and CEO of ADDA247.
“It is heartening to see Government’s continued efforts to further the digitisation agenda aligning with the vision of creating a Digital India. While the move will help India to enable millions of jobs in the next few years, but it should also address the need of getting the current talent pool global-ready for tomorrow. This will happen through a robust skilling, reskilling and upskilling model of the current workforce by government, companies and institutes. We expected the government in today’s budget to pass on few benefits for the ed-tech and skill-tech sectors by extending tax benefits and incentives for players, corporates, education institutions or even end users by giving tax exemption. Simplilearn is committed to the cause of skilling and reskilling Indian workforce and will continue to invest and collaborate with government and public-private institutions in days to come. This step goes right in our vision to position India as a digital talent capital of the world,” said Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Simplilearn.