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: 

Ajeet Khurana, Head, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Committee of India says, 'Hearing the Finance Minister talk about Cryptocurrency on Budget day is clear indication of how important and widespread this technological innovation has become in India. BACC welcomes the statement, and reaffirms our unstinting assistance to the Government, and all regulators, in helping evolve a robust ecosystem for Cryptocurrencies.'

Mitesh Shah, Head of Finance, BookMyShow said, “The Union Budget 2018 is both populist as well as pragmatic. It focuses on growing the promising rural economy and extending digitalization to rural citizens which can yield great results in the form of increased household rural consumption, and thereby providing internet driven businesses with a great potential market opportunity to tap. Increasing allocation for digital India and the overall strong thrust on digitalization is a welcome step. Initiatives such as High speed connectivity and Wi-Fi access to 5 Cr rural citizens and tax disallowance on cash expenditures above Rs. 10,000 for all entities now also give digital movement a great push and will benefit internet businesses.  However, some more direct incentives for promoting digital ecosystem in form of lower MDR or cashbacks would have been welcomed by online platforms as well as merchants.   

Sudhindra Holla, Country Manager – Axis Communications, India & SAARC said, “We applaud the Government on the successful presentation of the Union Budget 2018. We are very optimistic with the focus given to safety measures in the railways, tracks & metros, equipped with CCTVs and WiFis. Vandal resistant cameras, light finder technology and thermal cameras will help in curbing crimes, give fog alerts and provide more timely action. Additionally, emphasis on the Smart City programme with an estimated ₹2.09 lakh crore outlay and improved connectivity across interiors, the national corridors and borders will involve use of higher end surveillance solutions going forward, making citizens more upbeat on such critical safety measures.” 

GB Kumar, Vice President – India and APAC at Prysm Inc comments, “The one key takeaway from Union Budget 2018 is clearly the envisioned rise of India as a connected and technology-driven nation. There is a clear focus on creating a digital economy through sizeable strategic investments in developing the requisite infrastructure. With the government’s enhanced commit to the Digital India scheme – an allocation of INR 3,073 crore, and the successful selection of 99 cities (out of 100)  for the Smart Cities initiative – we believe we will see expedited implementation of Connected Cities. Another commendable announcement was the allocation of INR 10,000 crore to the Bharatnet project and establishment of 5 lakh Wifi hotspots in rural geographies. The government’s announcements that promote digitization through greater connectivity, will fuel uptake for collaboration and remote working solutions resulting in a more productive and connected India.  We hope Government will actively encourage emerging technologies such as block chain. This is important for Indian tech industries and start up ecosystems to flourish. Overall, it is a progressive budget, something that puts the onus on the Indian Information Technology industry and also benefit from.” 

"Allocation of 373 cr in digital India initiative is a welcome step in the direction of reducing cost of operations for all businesses sytemically while greatly aiding the ecosystem for FinTech enterprises. Further, MSME corporate tax for 2018-19 has been cut to 25% up to revenue of Rs 250 cr. This is likely to encourage larger tax compliance from MSME sector," said Rohit Lohia- CO-Founder and COO, CoinTribe Technologies Pvt. Ltd.


"We are happy that Finance Minister has acknowledged voice from Fintech Industry seeking soft touch approach to regulation and making a strong case for fintech participation in supporting SME/ MSME growth. Fintech as a segment has been signaled out in this budget with a very clear objective of credit push to the last mile. We see it as strong government backing for the way fintech industry is shaping in India," said Satyam Kumar- CEO and CO-Founder, Loantap.

“Digitisation and formalisation seems to be the mantra, with the Finance Minister stressing on the growing digital economy and increased allocation to aid digital transformation. The government initiating a new plan on NPAs also shows the importance of rising bad loans with India currently ranking 5th in the world. We hope that this plan would help shift focus on the importance of good credit as a countermeasure. By setting the target of disbursing Rs.3 lakh crore through the MUDRA Yojana for the next fiscal is a commendable step towards inclusive funding,” said Ranjit Punja- CEO & Co-Founder, Creditmantri.com 

According to Ravindra Agrawal, M.D and Promoter, KisanKraft, “We are very happy that the government has kept fiscal discipline intact and continued structural reforms for long term benefits. We welcome the overall budget 2018-19 and appreciate the efforts of the government for refactoring MSP, idea of gramin rural market agencies, extenstion of Kisan credit to fisheries and for animal husbandry etc. Its definetly a pro-agriculture Budget this time. The move of encouraging organizations engaged in farm produce business is very positive, and will in turn aide farmers. 

Commenting on the budget, Suman Reddy, MD Pegasystems India said, “The 2018 budget brings us one step closer towards the realisation of Digital India with allocated budgets for R&D, training and skilling in AI, machine learning, Robotics, and Data sciences. We welcome the government’s focus on e-governance through blockchain, digital manufacturing, IoT, quantum computing, big data and the monumental focus on digital transformation. The national program designed by Niti Aayog to boost R&D would ace India’s positioning as the centre of innovation. Broadband coverage for rural areas would certainly help reduce the digital divide. Such government initiatives would help democratize AI for citizens. Necessitating skilling of IT employees as they have been lately burdened with the pressure of feeling redundant, will go a long way in curbing job loss by creating and defining new roles for employees. Government’s proposal to invest INR 1 trillion to develop premium education infrastructure over the next four years is a welcome move towards ensuring quality education. Growth of fintech companies and recent policies of ease of doing business will boost entrepreneurship. India is at the cusp of digital transformation and establishment of centres of excellence will augment its positioning globally.” 

“Union budget 2018-19 has been positive and common man centric. Various government schemes in the past year have delivered on the Government's promise of 'Less Government and More Governance' and the budget announcements have not been any different. The Economic Survey 2017-18 highlighted that out of a total outstanding credit of Rs 26,041 billion as in November 2017, 82.6% of the amount was lent to large enterprises and MSMEs got only 17.4 % of total credit and this situation needs attention. Terming MSMEs as the major engine of growth for the Indian economy, the finance minister allocated a sum of Rs. 3794 crore for credit support, capital & interest subsidy on innovation which would improve credit flow in this segment and solidify its position within the economy. Policies like demonetisation and GST have already initiated the process of formalisation of the MSMe sector, which helps in collection of financial information database thereby improving financing for the sector. Reduction of paper work, smoother loan sanctioning cycle and prompt decision making by banks would encourage more and more businesses to walk the straight path of transparency and governance. Additionally, rewarding good behaviour has been a consistent strategy of the current Government and unfailingly they set examples of the same. Reduction of the corporate tax rate for companies with an annual turnover of up to Rs 250 crore to 25% is a move which positively impacts the small, medium and micro enterprise segment. ” Ankit Agarwal, MD at Alankit. 

Anshuman Panwar, Co-Founder, Creditas Solutions Pvt Limited said, "The budget focuses on inclusive growth with significant thrust on empowering women, poor and farmers. I believe this will contribute to the holistic growth of India. Doubling the allocation for digital investments is a good move too and will help the country's vision to be a digital-first economy. The reduction in corporate tax for midsize companies will boost investments. Furthermore, the recapitalisation of Public Sector Banks to provide credit availability is also significant but its success will depend on the execution and implementation of the policy. Quite significantly, the Finance Minister has acknowledged the role of Fintech companies in shoring up the credit market in India and his unequivocal support is a great news for all Fintech companies.” 

Sameet Gupte, CEO, Servion Global Solutions comments, “The key highlights of Budget 2018 have indicated that the India government’s vision for the country’s future is in line with economic, societal and technological changes that are happening across the globe. Having doubled its allocation to the Digital India scheme, the government is looking to heavily invest in R&D of new areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics. With the push for more focused and relevant higher education, these are exciting times for young Indians as consumers and enterprises alike get ready to ride the automation wave.” 

"We welcome the government’s move to provide healthcare cover to 10Cr families as part of the National Health Protection Scheme. This is a big step forward and will help millions of people afford healthcare for themselves and their loved ones. Implementation of the scheme would be central to its success. I believe successful implementation will depend on optimal use of private healthcare providers and technology to make it seamless, convenient & transparent for the consumers. This is a great opportunity for the government to push for Digital Healthcare in a Digital India” - Shashank ND, Founder and CEO, Practo. 

Samay Kohli, Group CEO, GreyOrange added, “We are glad to see the government’s increased focus on Digital India. With the budgets for the initiative doubled this year, it is set to be one of the key drivers of India’s economic growth. The Union Budget for 2018-19 has laid a strong emphasis on emerging technologies, such as Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data and IoT, which we believe, is an important step towards fostering innovation in the country. This would also help in creating jobs, improving the quality of education and healthcare. 

According to Diwakar Nigam, MD & Chairman, Newgen Software, “Reduction of corporate tax rate to 25% for companies with reported revenues of upto Rs. 250 crores is a step in the right direction. However, we do hope that reduction in corporate tax rate across the board would be adopted soon. 10% Tax on LTCG On listed equity shares and equity oriented mutual funds can have negative impact on the market. Impetus to technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning etc. will offer greater transparency and scalability to businesses and usher in a digital economy in a phased manner. Doubling the funds allocated to Digital India initiative will boost India’s growth into a digital innovation hub.” 

Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Jetsynthesys (Jetline Group) said “Budget 2018 demonstrated the commitment of the government on Digital India by doubling allocation, developing an increased focus on new technologies including artificial Intelligence and blockchain. The contribution of new age businesses and technologies over the next decade to GDP will be significant as will be the ability of Indian companies to be part of global supply chains through value added technologies. All of this will result in more entrepreneurs and additional jobs that will drive the future of a New India. 

GB Kumar, Vice President – India and APAC at Prysm Inc concluded “The one key takeaway from Union Budget 2018 is clearly the envisioned rise of India as a connected and technology-driven nation. There is a clear focus on creating a digital economy through sizeable strategic investments in developing the requisite infrastructure. With the government’s enhanced commit to the Digital India scheme – an allocation of INR 3,073 crore, and the successful selection of 99 cities (out of 100)  for the Smart Cities initiative – we believe we will see expedited implementation of Connected Cities. Another commendable announcement was the allocation of INR 10,000 crore to the Bharatnet project and establishment of 5 lakh Wifi hotspots in rural geographies. The government’s announcements that promote digitization through greater connectivity, will fuel uptake for collaboration and remote working solutions resulting in a more productive and connected India. We hope Government will actively encourage emerging technologies such as block chain. This is important for Indian tech industries and start up ecosystems to flourish. Overall, it is a progressive budget, something that puts the onus on the Indian Information Technology industry and also benefit from.” 

Abhesh Verma, COO nexGTv said, "The Finance Minister has doubled the budget for the Digital India Scheme, emerging as a major move towards assisting the nation to progress further. The second development of investment of Rs 10,000 crore for rural Wi-Fi hotspots, giving 5 crore citizens access to broadband speed internet by the deployment of 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots should help bring more consumers online, increasing digital consumption of services like OTT, entertainment, banking, and e-commerce. We at nexGTv feel that all these steps are a definite plus for the significant growth of the digital businesses in the country." 

"The latest budget announcement holds great promise. I am particularly enthused by doubling the allocation to Digital India to Rs 3073 cr for the 2018-19 fiscal and. This move will empower the society in areas like broadband and mobile connectivity and government services on demand and will help the country's vision to be a digital-first economy. Furthermore, the allocation of INR 10,000 crore for the 5 lakh WiFi HotSpots to provide Broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens is also promising. With nearly 70% of the country’s population living in rural and semi-urban geographies, the move will give the vision of a ‘Digital India’ a big boost and provide businesses an opportunity to upscale." Commented Ambika Sharma- Founder & MD, Instappy 

Neeraj Sharma, Country Head – Spreadtrum India says, “The increase in the customs duty on imported mobile phones is a great move which will boost the ‘Make in India’ campaign by promoting local manufacturing. The government’s focus on the new digital technologies will help lead to a empowered digital society and a knowledge economy” 

V Ramakrishnan, CFO, TCS commented "This is a forward looking, growth-oriented budget with a focus on the rural economy, healthcare for the poor, investments in infrastructure, Digital skilling, education and jobs creation. Several programs announced in the budget represent big strides in building a Digital India: the outlay for the smart cities program; the plans to explore blockchain technology; the national program for adoption of artificial intelligence and for research, training and skilling in  cyber-physical systems; the innovative use of technology to digitally reimagine agricultural markets to empower small and marginal farmers; and the extending of broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens to bridge the digital divide. Lastly, having partnered the State Bank of India in their highly successful and seamless merger with six associate banks, we are excited about the planned merger of the three public sector insurance companies. I would rate this budget a score of 8 out of 10." 

While talking about Budget Anurag Avula, Co-Founder and CEO, Shopmatic says, "The government is looking to invest in high-end technologies like AI, Blockchain, and the Digital India initiative, which are welcome moves. Doing so will help create the infrastructure and build a robust economy that can help India and its nimble new-age startups and speed up the digitization of businesses."  

Archit Gupta, Founder & CEO ClearTax added, “Standard deduction has been reintroduced but at a cost, it takes away medical reimbursement and travel allowance. There were several demands to raise medical reimbursement from 15,000 and bring it up according to current prices (the amount has been same since more than a decade). However, now the clamour for raising this limit will die down. With this, for a salaried, the amount taxable under salary shall be reduced by Rs 5,800. While cess will go up by 1%. Senior citizens have much to rejoice and will face much lower burden of taxes, this is especially crucial in the falling interest rates from banks and deposits.” 

“The Union Budget 2018-19 is a balanced budget that I believe will help drive & sustain long-term growth for India. The increased focus on higher infrastructure spends, smart cities, digital India, and healthcare is a step in the right direction. With 99 smart cities being selected and an amount of over Rs. 2 lakh crore being allocated, it will give the nation a significant opportunity to upscale its Infrastructure as a growth driver. In addition, doubling the Digital India budget allocation this year is a step ahead towards becoming a digital-first economy which will assist in reshaping and empowering the country by leveraging technology” says Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director at Barco Electronic Systems. 

Nikhil Arora Vice-President & Managing Director, GoDaddy India commented on the MSME and small business sector, “The budget this year focused towards “Ease of Living” & “Ease of doing Business” to strengthen agriculture, health, education, employment, MSME and infrastructure sectors”. It is good to know that our economy is on course to achieve over 8% growth. Government is recognizing the multi-faceted role played by the MSME sector towards encouraging the generation of self-employment with these tax relief and subsidies on custom duty.  This year’s budget also saw a huge allocation of funds to the MSME sector to help them get started and continue to grow, this allocation comes as a big relief for the sector badly in need for such encouragement. More support for MSME for NPAs and troubled enterprises and funding will indeed benefit the MSME sector at large and contribute to the Indian economy in the long run. Overall, the budget focusses on making positive structural reforms to drive India’s growth story further.” 

Anshuman Panwar, Co-Founder, Creditas Solutions Pvt Limited said, "The budget focuses on inclusive growth with significant thrust on empowering women, poor and farmers. I believe this will contribute to the holistic growth of India. Doubling the allocation for digital investments is a good move too and will help the country's vision to be a digital-first economy. The reduction in corporate tax for midsize companies will boost investments. Furthermore, the recapitalisation of Public Sector Banks to provide credit availability is also significant but its success will depend on the execution and implementation of the policy. Quite significantly, the Finance Minister has acknowledged the role of Fintech companies in shoring up the credit market in India and his unequivocal support is a great news for all Fintech companies.” 

“We are glad to see the government’s increased focus on Digital India. With the budgets for the initiative doubled this year, it is set to be one of the key drivers of India’s economic growth. The Union Budget for 2018-19 has laid a strong emphasis on emerging technologies, such as Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data and IoT, which we believe, is an important step towards fostering innovation in the country. This would also help in creating jobs, improving the quality of education and healthcare. The announcement of a national program directed towards research and development of AI and Machine Learning, as well as efforts towards exploring Blockchain technology, are the testimony to the fact that India is taking significant steps to gain a rightful place on the global technology map. Along with the push on technology, the new provisions for financial support, in the form of credit, financing and tax relief for MSMEs, will further boost the growth of smaller businesses in the country and help spur the Indian economy at large. With the stage set, we look forward to a great year of growth for the robotics and automation sector.” Said, Samay Kohli, Group CEO, GreyOrange

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