Union Budget 2018 Focuses on Digital India, Infrastructure, Health, Employment and Education

By: DT NEWS NETWORK
February, 02, 2018

Entire excitement came to an end when Union Budget 2018-19 announced by FM last day.  Mr. Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister presented budget focused majorly on inclusive growth and   tried to push economic growth by making some good announcements.This year’s Budget focused towards Healthcare, Agriculture and growth of SMEs. The government also boosted investment on the growth of Digital India. ICT industry seems quite happy with certain announcements but smartphone and TV players are not seems to be pleased with rise on custom duty. DT has complied the mixed reaction of ICT industry leaders over Union-Budget 2018: 

"The union budget of 2018, very evidently pictures a positive growth that the government has shown towards digitalization in India. Their push towards the research efforts in Artificial Intelligence is a smart step taken by Mr. Arun Jaitley. The aim to setup 5 lakh hotspots is a great step, which also calls the need for being alert on the cybersecurity front. People need to be educated about antivirus solutions and be made aware about not falling for phishing attacks”, says Shrenik Bhayani, GM, Kaspersky Lab (South Asia). The blockchain can be an effective technology and I feel that exploring Block Chain Technology for payments is a brave step taken by the government. I am excited for the development of this remarkable and useful technology in our country, as it is in fact increasingly being implemented by a vast number of industries. At the same time, it can be an attractive target for cybercriminals. Some cyberthreats have been inherited from e-payments, such as changing the address of the destination wallet address during transactions and stealing an electronic wallet, among other things. Therefore, we should remain vigilant to stay secure.”

“The Government has taken a very balanced approach in Union Budget 2018 with a special focus on strengthening the rural economy, infrastructure development and helping small and medium businesses. Government’s vision to move from black board to digital board schools by 2022, revitalization and upgrading of education sector through increased fund allocation and focus on education related research will create a brighter future for the young. We are enthused by the government’s focus on skills development and empowering students with the right educational tools. We are also thrilled with the Government’s emphasis on promoting research and use cases for digital manufacturing and 3D printing. We believe this technology will enable speedy growth of the manufacturing industry and help India in becoming a major manufacturing hub” said Sumeer Chandra, Managing Director, HP Inc. India. 

Rajesh Rege, Managing Director, Red Hat, India and SAARC commented “It was a well-rounded budget. Emphasis on education, entrepreneurship & healthcare was much needed & is welcome. FM’s comments on AI & Blockchain are a step in the right direction & we look to an early implementation of these initiatives.” 

Sriram S, Co-Founder at iValue InfoSolutions says, "It's a pragmatic budget and not a popular one as many expected to focus on the key needs like agriculture, rural and the poor. Also, some of the senior citizen issues have been addressed. Healthcare has been given importance along with insurance sops. Great to see that the corporate tax rates are cut down to 25% for business up to 250 crore. It would have been better if it was linked to net income rather than the gross income. Most IT partners will get benefitted with this measure. The Government could have given more thrust to Digital India, Make in India and Smart City initiatives with incentives for digital payments. The Re-introduction of LTCG without removing STT was a real disappointment. Overall a good budget with money being spent judiciously where required." 

“We applaud the forward looking Union Budget 2018 where the Hon’ble Government is extensively focusing on digitalization with further support to initiatives like Digital India, Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat among others. The Union Budget laid down plans to connect additional 1.5lakh gram panchayats with fibre optic networks under the BharatNet. This will create access and affordability and will help in bridging the digital divide even further. The Union Budget 2018 will further strengthen India’s journey towards Digital Transformation and reinforces the foundation to help us in building intelligent networks and reshaping the world” added Jay Chen, CEO, Huawei Telecommunications India. 

"We will call this a pro-Industry budget from IT industry's perspective. The biggest announcement being the reduction of corporate tax for MSME's from 30% to 25% for companies with a turnover of 250 crores is a welcoming move. This will benefit around 90% of Indian firms and will help generate additional revenue. The Government's push for cybersecurity is also one of the most awaited measures. The boost to infrastructure and telecom sector with a gentle push to Digital India will incentivize the IT industry. The Government's support for the use of blockchain will open gates for many new players as well as increasing the competition in this sector. Also, its commitment to research in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, big data and machine learning will assist the IT industry further." Added Prashanth GJ, CEO at TechnoBind. 

"We welcome the Union Budget 2018-19. This budget is an actual game changer and IT & Manufacturing industry will be benefited by the announcements, says Raja Ram, Commercial Director at NetRack. The positive change in customs duty will help the manufacturing sector dearly and boost the industry. The Government has undoubtedly considered the issues of MSMEs and the extension in the reduction of corporate tax to 25% for companies with turnover up to 250 crores will definitely work in favor of corporates. The announcements for Infrastructure upgrade and incentives for enterprises are much-needed reforms we were eagerly waiting for. Overall we are happy with the announcements." 

“HMD Global continues its strong emphasis on PM Modi’s Make in India campaign. While the import duties for mobile phones increased to 20%, along with a 15% duty on key components, this will have a minimum impact on our business, as all of our current portfolio of Nokia phones are manufactured in India.” said Ajey Mehta, Vice President India, HMD Global 

ThiruVengadam, Regional Vice President India, Epicor Software Corporation says, “We welcome the governments proposals in the Union Budget 2018-19 that incentivise MSMEs. The budget proposes bringing down the corporate tax for firms that reported turnover up to Rs 250 crore , thereby reducing tax burden on MSMEs. Further the government has allocated funds for 2018-19 for credit support to MSMEs. For MSMEs technology is an enabler for business growth and technology adoption is seen as  a top priority. However, MSMEs are often unable to utilize the opportunities available through technology due to lack of working capital finance. The budget proposals of access to credit  and tax breaks to MSMEs will help reduce capital constraints  and encourage investment in IT solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) to help them work smarter, operate more efficiently and be innovative. The Budget announcements will further encourage technology vendors such as Epicor to continue adding value to medium sized businesses through technology offerings that help them grow now and positions them for success in the future.” 

"The 2018 budget has a strong focus on Agriculture, Healthcare, and Rural Development. I believe this will contribute to the holistic growth of India" says Padmanabha Krishnamurthy, CFO at Paladion Networks. The reduced corporate tax rates to the MSME sector is welcome, but I hope it is in the books to extend this benefit to all companies soon. I am happy to see doubling in the allocation of funds on Digital India initiatives with more emphasis on emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Big Data, IOT, etc., and a special focus on Cyber Security with the launch of Centre of Excellence. Finance Minister has tried to keep the fiscal deficit within the target limits. Overall it is a prudent and growth-oriented budget."

Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India & SAARC says, “The last few years have seen large initiatives designed to bring about substantive change. The FY18 budget marks time, with its particular focus on agriculture, healthcare and infrastructure and the continued thrust on the MSME segment. The focus on wide scale broadband access, on Machine learning, AI and robotics, on R&D as well as skilling, and on Smart Cities will keep pushing India’s Digital agenda, well supported by the additional fund allocation. It is a quietly progressive budget, and timed well to focus on readying all cross sections of Indian society to reap the benefits of the future.” 

According to Vivek Agarwal, Co-founder, M-tech Informatics Ltd. “We welcome the Budget 2018 by the Honorable Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The Union Budget 2018 is a growth oriented budget with enormous push for health, agriculture, education and infrastructure, which we believe will usher in healthy economic growth in the years to come. Speaking specifically of mobile phone industry, we are glad that our demand of increasing customs duty on mobile phone CBU [completely built units] imports to 20 % from the existing 15 % has been met. This will prevent dumping of phones in the Indian market,  boost domestic manufacturing and provide a level playing field to home grown brands. The announcement is in line with the objectives of the Make in India initiative.” 

“The Union Budget-2018 is a positive step towards India’s growing smartphone market. The increased custom duty on mobiles will further boost local manufacturing and will be the essential push to create a manufacturing eco-system in India. Smartphones play a crucial role in today’s times and this budget is an extension to the ‘Digital India’ initiative.  With focus on development, it is a progressive budget and is a stepping stone to India’s growth story.” Added Sanjay Kumar Kalirona, CEO & Director, COMIO  

The budget has a clear push towards socio-economic growth of the country with aggressive focus on agriculture, education, rural economy, healthcare and infrastructure. The allocations aimed towards rural India will increase consumption which boost industries and help in nation building.  Focus on digital solution and new age technologies is a big push in terms of creating the right environment for the next level of development in India. The increase in customs duty will further boost 'Make in India” says Arvind Bali, Videocon Telecom and Videocon WallCam. 

Speaking about the highlights related to Information Technology sector, KK Mookhey, CEO & Founder of Network Intelligencesaid “The move to make cryptocurrencies illegal is a major announcement; it is likely to create a negative impact on the price of these currencies, especially Bitcoin. A better idea may have been to come out with some sort of a regulatory framework around cryptocurrencies. On the other hand, the point raised by the Finance Minister about exploring the usage of blockchain technology for payments is a very good initiative. It will support homegrown technologies who have already invested in the technology and will attract new investments in this technology. It is a positive sign to see that 5 lakh wifi-hotspots will be set up covering 5 crore rural citizens. This falls in place with the country’s Digital vision. We would have liked to see more substantial movement on setting up the CERT-Fin for the financial sector.” 

Aniketh Jain, CEO & Co-Founder of Solutions Infini Pvt. Ltd. Says,Cryptocurrency is not a legal proposition and the usage of the same is discontinued by the government. However, the usage and need of block chain technologies is not discouraged and will be looked upon case by case, which is a positive sign. cryptocurrency which is powered by Bitcoin is the digital currency that has raised quite a buzz in the investment market. According to reports, several banks posses frozen account cryptocurrencies in India while ROC (Registrar of Companies) has stopped companies to act in such exchanges. The underlying assets of cryptocurrencies have been volatile with heavy price fluctuations. The roots of the cryptocurrencies and the related transactions are not extravagantly transparent making them more questionable. Hackers are gaining most out of this scenario as the difficulty of tracing the roots of accounts and transactions are very high. There have been several instances where the accounts of the investors have been prone to hacker attacks and there's no established mechanism to revive the accounts from the hackers. The vulnerabilities of losing the money invested in these accounts is extremely high as there are no pre conceived notions to revive the hacker's attack, paving them ways to swag the wealth." 

Rohit Kulkarni, Country Manager at Payoneer India – “It was heartening to see our Finance Minister recognizing India’s MSME enterprises as a major element for growth and the fastest growing sector post demonetization and GST. The FM in the 2018 budget has reduced the tax for MSME’s by 5%. The deduction of tax has come down to 25% from 30%. This gives MSME’s and other traders an opportunity to expand their services globally and venture their businesses into various global marketplaces.  Another major highlight of the budget is, government encouraging fintech companies on the usage of blockchain technology in India which has the potential to positively impact the payment sector, leading towards a more digital India. Adoption of these newer technologies can help to improve real-time data analytics, and have a positive impact on risk identification and fraud analysis, which can be an important tool in securing   India’s dream of becoming a digital economy.” 

Manav Jeet, MD & CEO, Rubique concluded, “Today’s budget announcements are certainly creating a headway for India to become the largest digital economies in the world. Right from ploughing the seed of digital in education, creating the infrastructure to connect villages to encouraging establishment of advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence including research and development through NitiAyog’s national programme will certainly help the existing market move towards digital.” 

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