Union Budget 2019-20 : Important Announcements for the emerging Technology

Union Budget 2019-20 : Important Announcements for the emerging Technology

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Focus on changing India’s face from a SaaS provider to a tech-savvy product creator. Promote the use of sustainable energy, a programme for scaling up the use of LED bulbs at a mass scale

During presentation of the Union Budget 2019-20 in the Parliament, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman explained that India was on its way to becoming a $3 trillion economy this year, and was on its path of achieving the PM Modi’s vision of a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25.

After numerous revolutionary announcements in the field of AI, data analytics and other emerging technologies in the year 2018-19, industry insiders had many hopes from this year’s budget. However, the Union Budget 2019-20 only had a handful of important announcements for the emerging tech areas.

Plans to encourage adoption and skilling in technologies AI, IoT, Big Data, 3D printing and virtual reality. Reducing India’s over-dependence on electronics imports by encouraging “actual manufacturing” the country. New scheme to invite foreign companies through a transparent bidding process. Set up plants for manufacturing semiconductors, solar photovoltaic cells, lithium cell batteries, solar electric charging vehicles, computer servers, and laptops. Set up a National Research Foundation to fund and encourage scientific to promote indigenous technological development, particularly around globally scalable technologies such as AI, Big Data, and Robotics. Setting up of a National AI Center and National AI Portal. Focus on changing India’s face from a SaaS provider to a tech-savvy product creator. Promote the use of sustainable energy, a programme for scaling up the use of LED bulbs at a mass scale Armed with the vision to propel India into the $5-trillion economy bandwagon in the next five years, the Union Budget 2019 appears to focus largely on strengthening infrastructure, healthcare, connectivity and rural development. While ‘digitalisation’ and digital literacy at large has continued to be in focus in the policy initiatives of the government, there has been a silence on advancing any immediate redeeming policy or tax measures to the telecom industry also.

Mr. Sumeer Chandra, MD, HP Inc. India
“It is great to see the focus on making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025, through investments in infrastructure, digital economy and job creation. In the short term, the Rs. 70,000 crore capital boost for PSU banks will help improve business confidence and overall liquidity situation. The government’s intent in driving job creation across sectors by reskilling and upskilling the youth is a strong positive. Initiatives to prepare 75,000 skilled entrepreneurs in agro-rural industries through 100 new incubators under ASPIRE scheme and training 10 million youth under the Kaushal Vikas Yojana with new-age skills in areas like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, big data, 3-D printing, virtual reality and robotics, will help create a large pool of skilled manpower in India.”

Mr. Suresh Pansari, Co-founder and Director of RP tech India
“The Union Budget 2019-20, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman on July 5th is a progressive budget, which will bolster the growth of the Indian economy. In this budget, the Government has given a lot of thrust on the development of infrastructure and agriculture sectors. The Government has also prioritized the allocation of a large amount of funds for the betterment of marginalized section of the society. The current account deficit has been contended to have minimal effect on inflation. As far as the technology hardware industry is concerned, the Government has increased the import duty on networking products. We feel that the move will encourage local manufacturing and ultimately aid the Make in India initiative. While several provisions in the budget are pro-poor and pro-economic development, it is a bit hard hitting for the rich and super-rich category. The increase in the Income tax rates for individuals and HUF from 35+ per cent to 42+ per cent will discourage Indians from better tax compliance. These new tax rates are very high as compared to any other countries in Asia. Overall the budget is inclusive and very good for economic growth.”

Mr. Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco India
“We are pleased with the government’s thrust on improving infrastructure and technology as catalysts for the economy going ahead. For India to be on the path to being the 3rd largest economy by 2030 , the budget’s rightfully emphasizes that robust improvements are required in social infrastructure and education. The plan to set up 20 technology incubators to push rural development opens the stage for new initiatives that will enable India to become a $5 trillion economy in the years ahead. Additionally, the budget has emphasized on 17 ‘iconic sites’ which will be transformed into world-class destinations to provide an impetus to the tourism sector. All these initiatives, I believe, will assist in reshaping and empowering the country and will help to drive and sustain long-term growth for India.”

Mr. Rajiv Kapoor, Vice President, India & SAARC, Cambium Networks.
“The Union Budget takes forward the positive momentum set by the earlier announced Interim Budget particularly on areas involving Digital Villages and taking broadband to masses. The thrust on digital economy is a welcome move as well. With the government increasing basic customs duty on optical fibre, the focus seems to now shift to Make in India. Overall, the budget has set the right tone to enable connecting the unconnected and also scaling the country to be able to develop global best solutions for high speed wireless connectivity.”

Mr. Marthesh Nagendra, Country Manager – India & SAARC, NETGEAR
“Government’s target to make India a $3 Trillion dollar economy is a welcome move as it increases the GDP and spending power. The increased spending on high tech education and high emphasis on digital India will increase the demand for IT products. We feel extremely optimistic as the budget is quite inclusive this time.”
Mr. Sriram Srinivasan_Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer_iValue
“ India joining the big league with $3Trillion economy during the year is heart-warming. With the potential for the next couple of decades in front of us, it is going to be exciting times for all based out of and focused on Bharat.”

Mr. Rajarshi Bhattacharyya, Country Manager, SUSE India
“We welcome the Government’s move in promoting Digital India, Startup India and other initiatives which are positive steps for the economy. It is evident that with focus being put on skilling the youth in technologies such as AI, Robotics & Big Data, the Government is reinforcing the importance of digital innovation. The upcoming generation will be a driving force of the economy, knowledge of deep technologies will help make them employable and bridge the gap between demand and supply of talent. Open source companies like SUSE can be benefited from this talent pool, and be encouraged to work and support the nation and enterprises towards becoming globally competitive.”

Mr. CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra
“We completely hail the government’s vision of a New India that will thrive on the confluence of new age digital technologies, quality education and apt skilling. We look forward to partnering with the industry and academia to nurture the start-up ecosystem, and to fuel a culture of research and innovation that will help travel the road to India becoming a five trillion dollar economy.”

Dr. Ajay Data, Founder & CEO, Data Xgen Technologies
“It is overwhelming to see how this government is taking steps to realise the dream of Digital India and acknowledging its critical role in changing the lives of the people across the country. It is inspiring on the government’s part to put increased efforts to improve the skills of our youth in said areas, as it will ensure more high paying jobs for our youth both within and outside the country. “It is promising to note that the government has proposed to extend the lower rate of 25 % Corporate Tax to all companies with annual turnover up to Rs. 400 crore. Earlier, this rate was applicable to companies worth Rs 250 crore. Lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 % for 99.3% of companies in the country is a positive step. “However, contrary to the expectations, the Budget 2019-20 has disappointed the Indian IT sector yet again. There was no mention of the allocation of fund for tech start-ups or any kind of support to the software product companies. Overall the Union Budget 2019-20 generates a mixed feeling among the masses.”

Mr. Abhishek Kumar, Regional Director, South Asia, Oncam
“ The Government has earmarked Rs. 50 lakh crore for the development of railway infrastructure. A sizeable part of it will be diverted towards avant-garde surveillance solutions for smart management across railway stations as well as various nodes in railways. The Union Government’s focus is also on rural infrastructure expansion and we believe that surveillance will be an integral element in this development. Another key takeaway for the surveillance industry is that the Government also has a positive view towards the Artificial Intelligence technology and will be promoting indigenous research and development around AI, Big Data, and Robotics. Further, it has taken a slew of measures aimed at the Indian startup ecosystem, who will be looking towards the AI technology and security for development of high-end products and ensuring seamless processes. We appreciate the Finance Minister and her team for meticulously balancing all dynamics to bring about favourable market results.”

Mr. Sanjit Chatterjee CEO of REVE Antivirus
“The proposal of extending the exemptions of investment in start up’s, from capital gains in house property is a very good proposal; India needs to create a funding opportunity for IT & general entrepreneurs and this will surely give impetus to the same – and generate employment and spur innovations. Also the corporate tax reduction for companies below Rs. 400 Crs, to 25 % is a welcome move.”

Mr. Arjun Bajaj – CEO and Founder – Daiwa
“Government should not consider TV as a luxury good. It is not luxury but a need in today’s world. We hope the government will reduce the GST for bigger size to 18% from 28%. Secondly, government should make the open cell duty to zero which is 5% today. Opencell is not made locally in India and is imported. The 5% duty on a product which is not made locally is too heavy and this part accounts for 70% of the product value.”

Mr. J K Gupta, CFO, Tata Technologies
“This is a forward-thinking, growth-oriented budget with a special focus for all, bridging the rural urban divide, while embracing modern digital technologies for the holistic development of the nation. The initiative to create one lakh digital villages in the next five years shows its commitment to bridging the digital divide. The government’s recognition of the importance of clean energy to build a pollution-free India is evident through its Vision 2030 roadmap. The initiative envisions India driving on Electric Vehicles with renewables becoming a major source of energy.”

Mr. Anand Ramachandran, CFO, Ingenico ePayments India Private Limited.
“This budget is a good synthesis of continuing the Digital India mission with improving efficiency. The proposal to set up a payment platform for MSMEs for online presentation and payment of invoices will not only help cash flow but also give a huge boost to Digital Payments, as the entire supply chain will now be incentivized to go Digital. Also the platform opens up possibilities for accessing lower cost funding. The other two moves for no MDR for businesses above 50 crores turnover and 2% TDS on cash withdrawals more than 1 crore per annum are a further nudge to industry to lower the entry barrier to Digital Payments and disincentivize use of cash. Overall, a positive budget for the payments industry.”

Mr. Rostow Ravanan, CEO, Mindtree.
“The budget balances the need for fiscal discipline against the political gains required in a pre-election year. We are happy to note the Government’s interest and budget allocations to areas like Blockchain, AI, and Digital. We are also interested to learn more about the largest social insurance scheme planned by the Government – this could be a large opportunity for using technology to deliver superior outcomes.”

Dr. Keshab Panda, CEO & MD, L&T Technology Services
“The government’s focus on positioning India as the top destination for research and innovation augurs well with the interests of the ER&D industry. Moreover, the announcement on providing support to the skill development initiatives related to AI, IoT, 3D printing, VR, Robotics has the potential to establish India as a global talent hub for digital technologies. Lastly, earmarking Rs.10,000 crore over a three year period towards building a wider ecosystem of electric vehicles is a welcome move. It is now for the value chain players to come together and replicate the success achieved by Indian ER&D players for global auto majors on the EV front.”

Mr. Vartul Jain, CFO and Senior Vice-President, GreyOrange
“The Government’s continued focus on building a healthy entrepreneur ecosystem, as a key aspect for economic growth, is very encouraging. Several measures have been taken for easing FDI rules in various sectors which will have a direct impact on innovation, spurring the entrepreneurial spirt. In line with this agenda, the announcement to set up national tech incubators will promote business and economy. This is further visible in the government’s efforts towards boosting investments in MSMEs. Also, the government is actively looking to enhance skills and proliferation of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics. Overall, we believe that the Government’s thrust towards digitization to promote manufacturing and innovation are incremental steps for making India a front runner in technology, across the world.”

Mr. Geetansh Bamania, CEO & Founder, RentoMojo
“This is perhaps the most startup-friendly budget we have had in a long time. The decision to allow 100% FDI in insurance intermediation and removal of 30% local sourcing norms for retail with FDI would help specific set of start-ups in these industries/sectors. It is a huge relief that the scrutiny for share premium and valuation is being done away with. The decision to streamline and simplify labour laws is long pending and definitely helpful for the startups. We will wait to see the actual implementation on the measures related to additional incubators and an increase in allocation for stand-up India scheme.”

Mr. Sanjay Gupta, Vice President, NXP
“We welcome the government’s move to lower the GST rate from 12% to 5% for purchase of Electric Vehicles and the vision to make India as the global manufacturing hub. The push for FAME II by providing the right incentives can encourage a faster conversion rate. Semi-conductors and host of other components will be vital in developing the EV Ecosystem in the country and as NXP, we will play a vital role to foster this goal. Initiatives such as complete elimination of customs duty on some EV components could prove to be a gamechanger for the auto-industry. Currently, over 80% of the cars in India use NXP chip for RFID key.” “Research and Development is crucial for an advanced ecosystem of infrastructure to exist. The government’s focus on incentivizing research by forming a National Research Foundation and encouraging foreign engineers and researchers to come and collaborate is a landmark announcement for India’s electronic industry. For NXP, India is majorly the innovation hub. We run three design/ R&D centres in India which innovate technologies for the world. There are more than 2000 people in Design Centers (Noida, Bangalore and Hyderabad) who are involved in development of semiconductor hardware and software designs across various verticals – Automotive (connected cars), digital payments (NFC enabled), 5G (RF solutions) and many more.”

Mr. Rahul Sharma, Managing Director-India, LogMeIn
“We would like to congratulate India’s first female Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, for presenting an admirable budget. The Union Budget is a step in the right direction and strengthening the ICT infrastructure and the digital penetration in rural geographies. The Finance Minister has introduced the PPP model for BharatNet and has set up a committee to rationalize tax structure, review USOF, and the spectrum usage charges. This will considerably improve the industry dynamics as revenues continue to fade in the market. The Honourable Minister has further proposed several schemes to build skills, infrastructure, and conduct R&D around cutting-edge technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, which is another key takeaway.”

Ms. Sudeshna Datta, Co-founder & Executive Vice President, Absolutdata- Research & Data Analytics
“We are happy with the government’s vision for a technology-driven economy that prioritizes emerging technologies as the prerequisite for future growth. From promoting digital payments to training millions of youngsters in emerging technologies such as AI, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, and soft skill such as foreign language training, the initiatives are focused on empowering the future workforce with a ‘global-first’ perspective. This will significantly strengthen India Inc.’s capabilities for the future. Moreover, the allocation of INR 400 crores to develop world-class institutions focused on research and innovation is a huge step towards transitioning India from a service-focused economy to an innovation-driven one. Additionally, the Hon’ble Finance Minister’s focus on women empowerment, by adding not just women-centric policies but propagating women-led initiatives, both in rural and urban areas, is a huge positive. Along with its proposal to form a dedicated committee to encourage their participation, the extension of the Stand Up India programme for another 5 years will be a key factor in enabling women entrepreneurs.”

Mr. Harshil Mathur, CEO and Co-Founder, Razorpay
“This budget brought in some good news for Startups and FinTech. It solved one of the industry’s major concerns that going forward, the startups do not have the trouble of angel taxes. Next, the announcement about launching an e-verification portal for investors will help startups worry less about the verification of their investors. On the digital payments front, the government has demonstrated their interest in promoting digital payments in a great way – a) any business will be charged a TDS of 2% on cash withdrawal of above 1 crore in a year, b) any business which has an annual turnover of Rs 50 crore and above must opt for certain modes of payments, with no charges or merchant discount rates. I believe this will discourage businesses from making cash transactions and encourage them to make payments through digital channels. I think the budget meets expectations from the industry and seems fairly positive for FinTech and startups. I see these as welcome moves for the digital payments ecosystem, which will also certainly increase adoption of B2B digital payments.”

Mr. Akshay Singhal, Founder, Log 9 materials,
“Income tax deduction on loans for EV purchase is an extremely welcome move by the new Finance Ministry. EVs are pricier than usual vehicles as initial cost, hence this will boost adoption. Relief from angel tax is also a big thumbs up and relief for startups. However, better structuring is required for deployment of Fund of Funds to ensure benefit to high technology intensive startups which fall in the category of high risk, high reward. This is important for development indigenous core technologies like battery manufacturing, fuel cell manufacturing, etc.

Mr. Aakrit Vaish, Co-founder and CEO, Haptik.
“ The demand for specialised skillsets in niche technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has increased drastically. The government has recognized and addressed this schism by pledging to train 10 million youth in industry relevant skills like AI, IoT and Big Data. We, at Haptik are also constantly empowering the developers and enthusiastic engineers to build next-generation conversational AI on a daily basis. We are delighted to see that our government is also putting efforts to improve the skills of our youth in newer areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics.”

Mr. Sumit Agarwal- CEO and Founder – Vyapar Tech Solution
“Overall, government is trying to take steps towards the welfare of the businesses. Pension schemes and loan to Gst registered Businesses will add up in the growth of smaller businesses. Hence, getting more and more businesses under GST is definitely a positive change as it will increase the credit worthiness of the businesses to raise capital. But from MSME perspective, the current budget 2019 doesn’t really achieve the goals and meet the expectations of MSMEs. There were many positive changes that could have been done for the welfare of the MSMEs, which is one of the most important GDP contributors of the country”.