Saturday, February 4, 2023
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The Expectations of the Indian ICT Industry from Union Budget 2023-24

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The upcoming union budget is expected to foster the growth of Indian IT industry. This is what we all wish before announcement of Union Budget every year. This year also industry looks towards Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman to announce some most required and effective policies that would help the stakeholders to achieve more growth in next FY. Here are the expectations from key IT players, take a look:

Genie Gan, Head of Public Affairs for APAC & META, Kaspersky

Genie Gan, Head of Public Affairs for APAC & META, Kaspersky

“The Indian government is rightly rethinking its approach to tackling technology-related issues, given the unprecedented scope and impact of cyber attacks. Investments in digital infrastructure and cybersecurity are crucial for the tech sector in the Union Budget 2023. CERT-In and Kaspersky have been striving to enhance the overall security of the Indian computing environment through our collaboration and commitment to security, privacy protection, reliability, incident response and integrity.

The Indian Critical Sector plays an important role in securing the nation from external threats and cyber-attacks and also has been an area of concern for governments. Kaspersky stands ready to help the Indian Government secure the critical sector with our state of art ICS Security and Threat Intelligence solutions. Kaspersky is committed to creating a robust, safe, secure and resilient digital economy in a vibrant digital India.

And I believe the country’s cybersecurity sector will be closely looking at the spending on digital public infrastructure, skill development, and incentives for boosting electronics manufacturing, along with measures to facilitate ease of business.”

Gaurav Mathur the director of Lexar
Mr. Gaurav Mathur, Director of Lexar

Mr. Gaurav Mathur, Director of Lexar Co. Limited.

“We believe that manufacturing companies should be rewarded for developing new technologies and implementing environmentally friendly business practices in the budget for 2023. The budget for this year could have a positive impact on infrastructure; with tax reforms and ease of doing business at the forefront. We anticipate that the upcoming budget will include measures to improve the entire system. Government should focus on improving the condition of the flash memory industry because everyone can see how rapidly the flash memory market has expanded over the past three to four years. The only field in which young India is also contributing is the obviously expanding flash memory market.”

Mr. Ketan Patel, Chairman & Managing Director- Creative Newtech

Mr. Ketan Patel, Chairman & Managing Director- Creative Newtech

As we are gearing up for the announcement of this Union Budget 2023, there is a multitude of expectations from the government says, Ketan Patel, Chairman & Managing Director- Creative Newtech (NSE: Listed). The budget is likely to be growth- oriented with a focus on certain industries manufacturing being one of them under the Make in India initiative, we firmly believe that government should consider the inclusion of some more categories such as Consumer Electronics Space which will give the required boost to the industries operating in the fast-moving electronics good. Also, as taxpayers, we believe the GST on electronic goods should be rationalized as well the refund process should be eased.

Vishal Shah, Co-Founder and CEO of Synersoft Technologies
Mr. Vishal Shah, Co-Founder and CEO of Synersoft Technologies

Vishal Prakash Shah, CEO & Co-founder, Synersoft Technologies Private Limited

Synersoft Technologies expects the union budget 2023 to be MSME friendly. MSMEs are the key sector of the Indian economy to creating jobs, boosting exports, and realizing “Atma Nirbhar Bharat.”

I hope that the Budget 2023 focuses on encouraging MSMEs to adopt technology to upgrade to Smart Manufacturing and enhance Cybersecurity. It is the right time for Indian MSMEs to adopt technology to sharpen their competitive edge.

The expectation for the upcoming union budget is to ease the procurement of technology infrastructure for MSMEs. It could be in the form of increased depreciation on technology infrastructure products, availability of low-interest loans to procure IT equipment, and subsidy on adopting cloud services.

Such incentives will motivate MSMEs to invest in and spend on technology for Operational Efficiency, Compliance, Business Continuity Maintenance, and Cybersecurity. It will strengthen the Indian MSMEs in our pursuit to realize the dream of becoming the world’s manufacturing hub.

Mr. Alok Dubey, CFO, Acer India

Mr. Alok Dubey, CFO, Acer India

“Budget 2023-24 would probably be the most challenging one that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would be tabling on February 1, 2023. I think that this year’s budget should give digital infrastructure and skills a high priority. Although India may have a positive view of “digital” and technology, more needs to be done to support the country’s digital-first strategy as it aspires to become a USD 5 trillion economy. The government’s commitment to digital skill development and its alignment with the IT Tech sector, and the PLI scheme targeted at helping manufacturers of IT hardware and computer servers need to receive equal weight in this year’s budget. Government policy could be changed to promote the development of talent and skills. The tech industry requires a talented and skilled workforce. The government may provide funding for programmes to modernise educational buildings with state-of-the-art R&D capabilities.”

Mr. Prabhakar Iyer, ED and CFO, Ingram Micro India Pvt Ltd

Mr. Prabhakar Iyer, ED and CFO, Ingram Micro India Pvt Ltd

“Our expectations for the upcoming Union budget for the IT market is to boost consumption and drive growth. So the income tax limits may be raised to INR 5 lakhs per annum. It is suggested that section 72 of the Income Tax Act needs to allow an extension of carry forward of loss by another 3 years. Relax TDS u/s. 194Q on Sale and Purchase of Goods – by introducing a minimum threshold limit and covering only transactions which are not covered under GST. For ease of doing business viz. Tourism / Gifting / Travel industry section 194R be relaxed by restricting its applicability only to foreign travel and events outside India. Duplication of E-Waste liability needs to be removed by clarifying that EPR Authorization does not apply to the importer when goods are sold to manufacturers, system Integrators and assemblers who have their independent obligation as manufacturers under E-Waste Rules for the goods produced/manufactured by them. Simplify procedures for filing Appeals before Commissioner Appeals & CESTAT by allowing to file combined of appeals on the same matters instead of making trade appeal for each BOE separately. Amend the law so that without a seizure, goods cannot be detained for more than a week.” 

Mr. Rajendra Chitale, CFO, Crayon Software Experts India

Mr. Rajendra Chitale, CFO, Crayon Software Experts India

“The tech industry worldwide has seen many ups and downs in 2022 with a recession looming over the industry. Thankfully, India’s tech industry has not been significantly impacted by what is happening overseas. So right now, all eyes are set on the upcoming Union Budget 2023-24 to be presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. We, on behalf of the tech industry, have our own expectations from this year’s budget. The growth of the IT and ITeS industry in India has been stupendous and we are happy with the Union government’s push in ensuring that the country is taking the digital leap. It is because of such a leap that since 2016, the number of startups in India has grown 90 times. From increased adoption of digital services and surging demand in new-age technologies like AI to the launch of 5G services, the Indian tech sector has been riding the wave. I believe that currently, the tech industry’s #1 struggle is a lack of skilled workforce, especially with emerging technologies. The government needs to focus on skill development at the school and university levels so that the new batch of students joining the workforce can be prepared and updated to the technologies and standards of the industry. While the government is focusing on empowering the country with digitalization it should also look into the security measures. The recent demonstration of a cyberattack against AIIMS Delhi and its struggle to come out of it is one example of where the cybersecurity measures stand, as we make digital progress. Therefore, the government should, in the budget, not just announce schemes, policies and set aside an amount for digital development, but also for cybercrimes. The digital infrastructure, especially with 5G being made available for Enterprises and individuals in certain tier 1 cities is receiving the attention of everyone. But there is an utmost need to improve and even standardize the digital infrastructure that will help SMEs/SMBs. The infrastructure should now just be limited to tier 1 cities but must be expanded to tier 2 and tier 3 cities where there is a majority of the workforce available. These are currently the pain points that need to be addressed in the budget which will boost India’s tech vertical and those depending on it positively,”

Mr. Prashanth GJ, CEO at TechnoBind Solutions

Mr. Prashanth GJ, CEO at TechnoBind Solutions

“The Union Budget presentation is the most anticipated activity to take place right before the end of the financial year. The tech vertical has been thriving in India, especially over the last three years. Digital transformation has been taking place at warp speed due to the circumstances that cropped up post-pandemic. We are looking forward to this year’s Union Budget being presented by Union Finance Minister Mrs Niramala Sitharaman on February 1, 2023. The government aims of achieving a $5 trillion GDP by 2025 considering that India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and I believe that the Indian tech sector will be a valuable contributor to this growth momentum. There are, naturally, expectations by the tech industry too from the budget. There is a dire need for the government to form the right industry-friendly policies concerning data sharing, privacy and security. Fighting cybercriminals and formulating the right law against them is of dire need today as there is a looming threat against data privacy and security. Apart from policies, there needs to be expertise and think tanks set up and funds dedicated for the training of the staff in every major government department from the union to the states, to strengthen the cyber cells. The 5G will advance technology by multifold and its tools by multifold, but unfortunately, our infrastructure is not capable of handling a full-fledged advancement including tier-1 cities. The government needs to ensure that the budget needs are set aside and estimated deadlines need to be set to ensure that the overall infrastructure matches the current tech advancement and the future. But a better focus needs to be given to ensure that Tier 2 & 3 cities, towns and even rural areas have better infrastructure that will support the tech advancement and help them match the growth as that of a Tier 1 city. Smart city projects need to be finished and newer cities need to be added to the list that will help us revolutionize the tech industry and the associated verticals. Hopefully, this budget will help us formulate and reach a new milestone,”

Mr. Gautam Nimmagadda, Founder & CEO, Quixy

Mr. Gautam Nimmagadda, Founder & CEO, Quixy

“The past union budget focused copiously on amplifying the digital ecosystem in the country. But to explore a comprehensive digital India, the private and government sectors must be incentivized to adopt indigenous digital solutions developed particularly in the MSME sector. Currently, startups can avail of a tax holiday for 3 years since incorporation. However, the ideal exemption should be 10 years, in view of the high cost of solution development. As positive employment drivers, startups also require government intervention in the expensive affair of hiring and retaining the right talent to drive growth.

Furthermore, despite having several means of financial backing like PMRY, Credit Guarantee Fund for MSMEs, Start-up India, etc., MSMEs face tremendous challenges in gaining the right window of financial support. This discourages them from becoming an intrinsic part of the Digital India program. Hence, to lead the startups onwards and upwards, a single-window process to enable the right financial support from government would be incentivizing for MSMEs. This will catalyze and leverage the full inherent potential of the Indian technology industry to become champions of digitization”.

Mr Muneer Ahmad, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, ViewSonic India

Mr Muneer Ahmad, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, ViewSonic India

“The audio-visual industry is embarking a steady growth in recent years due to technological advancements, industry trends and consumer preferences. Projectors, monitors, interactive displays, and LED video walls are gaining significant momentum and are becoming an integral part of corporates and industries. In this upcoming budget, we expect the Government to reduce the duty on raw materials, electronic parts and components of sub-assemblies. Additionally, the Government should also consider relaxation on the GST rates. For instance, the projection category falls under 28% and IFPs under 18%.

In recent years the EdTech industry is witnessing an unprecedented shift due to the evolution of newer trends and technologies and improved accessibility of education. Moreover, the Central Government has been promoting and focusing on growing the education sector and giving education for all a high priority. As a result, this industry has received a sizable allocation, and we are grateful for this approach. In the upcoming budget, we further hope that the Government will encourage the use of cutting-edge technology and boost education accessible for all. We anticipate seeing a more successful strategy in the future.”

Mr. Balaji Rao, Area VP for India & SAARC, Commvault

Balaji Rao, Area VP for India & SAARC, Commvault

Data privacy has always been a hot topic, but in today’s world of data sprawl, data security threats, and increasing data regulations, the stakes have never been higher. Bad actors, human error, ransomware and other security threats pose risks to data every minute of every day, while a more stringent regulatory environment is forcing organizations to enforce compliance – or risk fines. As data continues to increase in volume and sprawl across applications and storage, following evolving regulatory norms is becoming increasingly complicated.

One of the primary challenges with data privacy is an enterprise’s assumption on ‘how ready are they!”. While most companies have data protection strategies, they are often legacy solutions that must be modernized to fit today’s threat landscape. A recent IDC-Commvault study revealed that 71% of Indian organizations, data backup/data recovery is the number one priority for cloud investments for the next two years. But without investing in sufficient budgets to bring in new-age data protection solutions, organizations would fail to attain a future-ready state. The premise of ‘work anywhere, anytime’ has further increased the threat landscape and the potential entry points for an attacker to access files. Companies must implement an effective data protection solution to manage the data sprawl with multi layered protection and multiple tests to deny unauthorized access and ensure fast recovery.

Although we are moving in the right direction, a lot still needs to be addressed. Implementing a more comprehensive Intelligent Data Management platform will enable IT and security leaders to look across their entire ecosystem and identify data sources, and simplify data organization, regardless of where it is located and how it is managed.

Sunil Sharma, managing director, sales, India and SAARC, Sophos
Mr. Sunil Sharma, MD – Sales, India and SAARC, Sophos

Mr. Sunil Sharma, MD – Sales, Sophos India and SAARC

“Cyberattacks are increasing in terms of scale and complexity, making it one of the biggest threats enterprises face today. Amidst this, there is an urgent need to build a talent pool that is equipped to handle new-age sophisticated attacks. It would be welcome if the Union Budget places a focus on bridging the cybersecurity skills gap and increasing awareness around the same. We are hopeful that the government will take cognizance of this, and increase spending on skilling and training initiatives. In the long run, this will help create employment opportunities, as well as build defenses against threat attackers.” 

Mr. Pramod Sharda, CEO, IceWarp India and Middle East

Mr. Pramod Sharda, CEO, IceWarp India and Middle East

“The Union Budget for 2023-24 is being proposed at a critical moment marked by geopolitical uncertainty, rising inflation, and plummeting global economic development. At this point, targeted actions to boost domestic sources of growth are critical to maintaining the stable economic growth track. In a continuous pursuit of widening the tax base, the government has introduced a wide gamut of withholding tax provisions over the years, with varied rates and thresholds and overlaps in scope. Thus, there is an urgent need to simplify the withholding tax structure. Further simplification, rationalisation, ease of paying taxes, and reducing tax litigation should be key priorities. Currently, people across industries are working from home. Employees are likely to incur additional “work from home”-related expenses, such as internet charges, rent, power, furniture, and so on, and companies will need to give allowances to cover these costs.  Employees who work from home should be granted exemptions under “work from home” allowance. Given that the Indian economy has begun to recover from the fiscal consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the present administration is expected to focus on measures to accelerate job creation and broaden the tax base by rationalising GST and personal income tax slabs to boost consumption. The external environment is expected to remain unfavourable for some time. As a result, we must broaden our home economy by developing new growth sectors and pushing job creation in order to enhance domestic demand, inclusion, and growth.”

Mr. Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO, SPPL (a Kodak Brand Licensee)

Mr. Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO, SPPL (a Kodak Brand Licensee)

“We expect the government to come up with an updated tax regime and change the GST rate from 28 percent to 18 per cent at least for TVs up to 40-inches. We suggest the government to withdraw the decision to charge the custom duty of 5% on the open cell imports. Additionally, there is a dire need to include LED TVs in the PLI Scheme. The industry has undertaken huge efforts during the pandemic to support the economy. The entrepreneurs and the industry should feel secure while they plan to make more investments. The introduction of the 5G technology is a welcome move but there is a need to really expedite the process. The economy is very much dependent on high speed of the internet and its time to take it to the next level as soon as possible. The development of better infrastructure should also be taken into consideration. It is very important to expand the road connectivity to semi-rural and rural areas which will enable the industry to make the last mile deliveries.”

Mr Sanjeev Chabbra, MD&CEO, Beetel 
Mr. Sanjeev Chhabra, MD & CEO, Beetel Teletech

Mr. Sanjeev Chhabra, MD & CEO, Beetel Teletech

“Investment in infrastructure is crucial for the growth and advancement of any sector, and we are grateful for the government’s efforts in supporting the telecom industry. Last year, the government recognized the importance of reliable and sustainable power sources by allocating an additional 19,500 crores for the solar PLI scheme. However, with the rollout of 5G networks, the trend of solarizing telecom towers is gaining momentum. We hope that the budget for 2023 will continue to prioritize the needs of the telecom industry and provide the necessary support and incentives for developing telecommunications infrastructure in India. At Beetel we are dedicated to doing our part to make a change and work towards a sustainable future. With one of our partners, we have already started the rollout of solarisation of existing towers for a Telecom Service Provider, wherein Solar solutions are being installed at sites. Going forward we would also be offering an end-to-end, comprehensive solution, wherein Solution Design, Installation and Commissioning, solarisation, integrated software-based management, and reporting of the health of the infra and energy analytics along with operations and maintenance would be provided. The technology sector in India has been growing rapidly over the last few years, driven by a number of factors such as increasing digital adoption, the growth of e-commerce, launch of 5G services and the rising demand for cloud services. Ahead of Union Budget 2023, here’s what the technology sector expects: “Despite recent global headwinds, we have seen consistent growth in the technology sector. With the rapid technology adoption across sectors, we are well poised to becoming a USD 5 trillion economy soon. With cloud and data technologies becoming the de-facto standard for businesses to operate, Gartner estimates that public cloud spending in India will grow 27% YoY in 2023. Amidst this, there is a need for the government to focus on incentivising the use of cloud services and deep tech like AI, blockchain etc., across industries. In 2023 and beyond, upskilling of talent in an environment driven by technology will be mission critical. The government has made great strides towards this, through the Skill India program. In this year’s Union Budget, it would be good to see more investments and programs in upskilling, as this is an important factor towards achieving the collective Digital India dream of our nation.” 

Mr. Ramanujam Komanduri, Country Manager, Pure Storage India

Mr. Ramanujam Komanduri, Country Manager, Pure Storage India

“2022 was a difficult yet extraordinary year in many ways. Digital has taken center stage as the effects of the pandemic continue to recede. India is already one of the fastest growing digital economies, and we will continue to strive towards becoming the global digital capability hub. The budget should focus on three pertinent aspects. Firstly, hasten infrastructure expenditures in digital technologies, since technological investments are thought to have a multiplier effect on the economy. Secondly, increase spending on R&D to foster innovation and tap into the amazing engineering talent that we have in the country. Finally, enhance the focus on sustainability as climate change requires urgent attention and action and requires all of us, as individuals, organizations, and the government to pull together, utilizing environmentally sustainable technology.”

Mr. Rajeev Sharma, Chief Strategy Officer, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd

Mr. Rajeev Sharma, Chief Strategy Officer, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd

“Mitsubishi Electric India is looking forward to encourage Infrastructural development and bring technological innovation through our products and solutions for the Indian market. I hope that Budget 2023 scales a path towards India’s growth story, especially in the infrastructure and technology sectors. The expectation for the upcoming union budget is to continue and provide the right policy and budgetary framework to ensure economic growth of the country and a budget design that can stand as per the GDP growth rate expectations. Considering that the Indian economy has begun to recover from the fiscal repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the manufacturing sector is expected to experience solid growth, which can further strengthen by providing fiscal incentives and specific schemes in the upcoming union budget 2023-24. I strongly believe that Indian government will prioritize the policies that can benefit infrastructure, manufacturing sector and promote renewable energy allowing the country to realize its potential on a global scale. Manufacturing investments must be encouraged among technology providers to bring self-reliant solutions in the country. Development of new-age manufacturing skills across the top and bottom of the pyramid must be enlightened which can be a game changer for further skill development. The overall expectation from the union budget is that it brings a steady growth for the present and future of the country.” 

Mr. Arun Kumar Gupta, CFO, Newgen Software Technologies Ltd

Mr. Arun Kumar Gupta, CFO, Newgen Software Technologies Ltd

“Investments and initiatives toward digital transformation have significantly accelerated in the post-pandemic world. With Union Budget 2022-23, the government should bring policies and reforms to support enterprises in their digital journeys and facilitate their growth. Initiatives like long-term work-from-home policies, simplification of the GST regime, and streamlining labour laws can facilitate a less-ambiguous and conducive business environment. Also, there is an urgent need to simplify the foreign withholding tax structure to ensure that full set-off is available to IT companies operating in multiple countries. Special Economic Zones (SEZ) play an instrumental role in driving the Indian IT sector’s growth. Improvements in SEZ-related policies and their extension will help strengthen the sector further. The IT sector is indisputably an integral part of India’s growth story. However, the government should stay mindful of the recent disruptions in the sector caused by the pandemic and ongoing global business uncertainty. The upcoming Union Budget is expected to bring conducive policy initiatives to incentivize the IT sector and accelerate its growth.” 

Mr. Parvinder Walia, President for Asia Pacific and Japan, ESET

Mr. Parvinder Walia, President for Asia Pacific and Japan, ESET

“India has made significant strides in its digital transformation in recent years. However, as the adoption of technologies such as cloud and digital payments grows, this has also increased our vulnerability to cyberattacks, such as ransomware and data breaches. Strengthening the country’s cybersecurity capabilities will be especially critical as India continues to progress in its digital transformation journey. We look forward to seeing a stronger emphasis on cybersecurity in this year’s Budget – from both an infrastructure and skills perspective. For starters, ensuring that critical infrastructure such as utilities and healthcare institutions have adequate safeguards to deter and mitigate the threat of cyberattacks will be vital. Investing in the development of cybersecurity technologies, for instance, to combat online scams targeting consumers, can also help to boost confidence in adopting digital payments. Promoting the development of cybersecurity skills and talent will also be essential in ensuring India’s digital readiness. This could include subsidised training for specialised cybersecurity talent and the introduction of cyber wellness into the primary and secondary school curriculum to boost awareness of good cyber hygiene. By investing in the cybersecurity ecosystem, businesses and consumers will be better-equipped to leverage the opportunities in a digital economy.”    

Mr. Lalit Arora, Co-Founder, VingaJoy

Mr. Lalit Arora, Co-Founder, VingaJoy

“Considering that the manufacturing sector is a significant contributor in supporting employment and economic growth, amplifying its growth has long been on the agenda of the Indian government.  Budget 2022-2023 Consumer electronics manufacturers were left disappointed as there was no concession or GST rationalisation given on products. From the Union Budget 2023-2024 we expect reforms in the Budget that would accelerate growth channelised by consumer demand. Given that hearable devices are a new rage, it is high time that hearables are also incentivized under consumer device categories. As of now, hearables don’t get augmented by any specific government encouragement policy or subsidy. Also encouraging R&D/Designing in India & Promoting new supply methods: The government can acknowledge and encourage manufacturers by providing subsidies to Completely Knocked Down (CKD) and Semi Knock Down (SKD) production. It increases the probability of getting better returns and extends companies’ footprint in mature markets. We are also expecting additional tax benefits and lower tax rates & extending the scope of employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) taxation reforms to startups. This year the Indian economy is on the road to recovery and the Union Budget 2023-2024 will be crucial for the Consumer Electronics sector as it can facilitate the industry’s effective revival. The manufacturing giants, MSMEs, and SMEs alike are looking forward to the upcoming Budget 2022 which can effectively give a flight to their growth path.” 

Mr. Kunal Nagarkatti, Chief Executive Officer, Clover Infotech

Mr. Kunal Nagarkatti, Chief Executive Officer, Clover Infotech

“With the rise of new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence and the proliferation of internet access all across India, it is an opportune time for India to invest in new-age digital technology. The best companies are leveraging technology to scale and grow. The budget must focus on investing in Tech R&D, product innovation, and technology solutions and services and ensuring 5G services all over the country. The budget must consider investments in state-of-the-art incubation centers which can digitally transform ideas from all over India into sustainable businesses of today and giant corporations of tomorrow. A simultaneous investment in skilling human capital to use these technologies is paramount. The budget must include measures that can help better industry-academia connect to make ‘India’ a hotbed of technology innovation and digital transformation services for the world.” 

Mr. S. Mukundhan, Group CFO, Fulcrum Digital

Mr. S. Mukundhan, Group CFO, Fulcrum Digital

“At a recent event organized by FICCI, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari stated that India is the world’s fastest-growing major economy and is set to achieve its $5 trillion GDP goal by 2024–25. The IT sector will play a pivotal role in helping the country achieve this objective; given the rapid digital and emerging technology adoption we are seeing across sectors. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have played an important part in the country’s rapid economic development over the last two decades. However, there are some changes to SEZ rules that could be looked at to ensure technology businesses can reap these benefits – including smoother processes for the movement of goods between two SEZ units, scrapping of old computers and laptops after paying the residual duties in the open market, and simplifying the permissions process to facilitate remote working. From a CSR standpoint, it would be welcome if the government relaxed the mandatory spend on CSR activities for companies with 5 crore net profit by increasing the threshold to companies with 50 crore net profit. Additionally, while calculating net profits, the remuneration paid to professional employees should not be added back. This would ease some of the burden on MSMEs. In terms of the personal income tax threshold, it would be beneficial for businesses if the ministry revised the existing limits. In order to do away with the numerous tax exemptions, an alternate method of income tax computation without exemptions could be looked at, but with lower rates and higher basic exemption limits.” 

Mr. Vipul Singh, CEO & Cofounder, AEREO

Mr. Vipul Singh, CEO & Cofounder, AEREO

“over the past year, the Indian drone manufacturing industry has flourished due to various policy reforms and schemes like the INR 120 crore PLI scheme for drones and drone components. This year, we expect dedicated incentives for drone service startups. For B2B drone operations to reach their maximum potential in 2023, restructuring the PLI scheme is the need of the hour. The 2023 union budget must introduce MSME-focussed incentives as they constitute around 90% of companies in this sector. Apart from drone manufacturing, benefits to the drone services sector are necessary for the success of Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS) under Drone Shakti. Incentivizing the drone service sector impacts high-skilled employment in the country. We are seeing surging demand for drone services in the country. Thus, we need a technically proficient workforce to fulfil this demand. Additionally, with this year’s budget, we are expecting benefits towards indigenization and native R&D. This is of paramount importance to reduce our dependency on foreign OEMs. An additional 10% PLI benefit for companies with more than 50% indigenous Intellectual Property will encourage the innovative companies to innovate more and OEMs to indigenize further to reduce the dependency on imports. It will help propel Make-in-India and put the Indian drone industry on a self-sustaining trajectory.”

Ms. Chandrika Behl, MD, Exhibitions India Group

Ms. Chandrika Behl, MD, Exhibitions India Group

“The Indian government has charted a sound roadmap for India’s ascent to its centenary year, which will require moving India’s economy toward sustainability and resilience – rooted in social progress and shared prosperity. While the creation of new technologies is paramount, it is equally important to showcase and demonstrate where and how these innovations fit into a smart and sustainable ecosystem. As organisers of the 30th Convergence India expo, which has played an integral role in developing the telecom infrastructure of the country, and the 8th Smart Cities India Expo, India’s largest technology and infrastructure expo, we will continue our legacy of curating platforms that foster growth and accelerate nation building. Our aim remains to contribute to India’s growth story and provide a platform to showcase ‘Brand India.’ I look forward to the 2023 Union Budget with optimism. I’m certain that the Government will present a growth-oriented Budget that will accelerate the country’s ascent towards a $5 trillion economy.” 

Mr. Subodh Gupta, CMD, Microtek International Pvt Ltd

Mr. Subodh Gupta, CMD, Microtek International Pvt Ltd

“Considering the global economic uncertainties, India is better placed to attract foreign investment. The role that the IT sector will play to drive economic growth is going to be critical in the financial year 2023-2024. As per a forecast by Gartner, IT spending in the country is projected to grow at 2.6% in 2023 and will reach to the level of $112.42 billion. The growth of IT sector has a multiplier effect on other sectors also. The government has been emphasizing on digital India as the country moves ahead to become USD 5 trillion economy. At Microtek, our Line Interactive UPS & Online UPS product categories cater to IT companies for their backup requirements. So, the demand of these products increases manifolds as the IT sector expands. I just hope that a key economic vertical like the IT industry gets the importance that it deserves in this year’s Union Budget. I hope that the government announces next round of measures to strengthen digital infrastructure in small Indian cities and towns. We also need talent that can help to bring innovations in the digital space. So, more universities with focus on enhancing digital skills have to come in tier-2 and tier-3 markets of the country. A large number of start-ups have come in various technology segments including FinTech, HealthTech and EdTech among others. I hope that government continues to support such start-ups in this year’s Union Budget as well.” 

Mr. Swapnil Jambhale, Co-founder, SafexPay

Swapnil Jambhale, Co-founder, SafexPay

There have been significant developments pertaining to digital payments in the last one year. Most of these initiatives were announced in the last year’s budget, including the introduction of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and promotion of Unified Payments Interface (UPI). While the much-needed impetus to financial innovations is in process, it is crucial to strengthen the penetration of digital payments infrastructure, especially in the semi-urban and rural parts of the country. Therefore, we would expect the Government to allot funds in the Union Budget 2023-24 towards setting up of digital infrastructures focused on building citizen centric facilities and address various issues pertaining to digital payments. These could include MDR compensations for large ticket transactions, digitisation of Central and State related citizens’ services such as 7/12 extract, birth certificate, property/water tax and others.

We would recommend tax incentives that would effectively pass on to the end consumer to encourage them to contribute towards automation and digitisation. In the current GST framework, fintech companies usually suffer a loss of input credit. With the Government ensuring that the input credit is fully provided for, revenue leakages can be avoided and eventually the benefits can be passed on to the end (retail) consumer.

In December 2021, the Union Cabinet had cleared INR 1,300-cr incentive scheme to promote digital payments digital transactions using UPI and RuPay debit cards. A similar incentive scheme may be extended to RuPay credit cards in the upcoming Budget. This will encourage greater adoption of RuPay credit cards in the country. Awareness campaigns by the Government and the industry are the key pillars for encouraging digital payment initiatives in the country. While the Government has been consistently allocating funds for promotion of cashless payments in the last 2-3 years, it can be expected that a marginal share of 5–10% of the Government’s expenditure on promotional measures may be allocated for awareness campaigns.”

Mr. Mandar Agashe, Founder MD & VC of Sarvatra Technologies

Mr. Mandar Agashe, Founder MD & VC of Sarvatra Technologies

“There have been several incentive schemes announced by the Government in the last few Budgets which has helped promote digital payments, especially the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) based payments. This in line with the Government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative aimed at financial inclusion. We are expecting the momentum to continue in the upcoming Budget. Serving the unserved and underserved is the mission that should continue with UPI 2.0’s recent products, such as UPI 123 and UPI Lite, the two most crucial products that will help penetrate the semi-urban and rural regions of India because of easy accessibility it offers to those who can’t afford smartphones but are using feature phones and want to transact digitally. At gram panchayat level or at the village level, Self-Help Groups (SHGs) can also promote the usage of offline payments through UPI. This will help the UPI to grow really fast. When SHGs start using the offline mode of payment through UPI, the confidence of the general public will start building up. If such SHGs are provided with incentives for doing digital payments, that will be a huge game changer for the last-mile village.

The Government may consider enhancing the payments acceptance infrastructure in the underserved regions of the country. This can be done by providing an impetus to Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) terminals, which will take payments to pockets where customers may not have a smart phone and debit cards as yet.

The upcoming Budget should also focus on expanding digital payments footprint across the world. We laud the recent initiative of NPCI to extend UPI payment facility to NRIs using their international mobile numbers. Currently, NRIs residing in 10 countries, including Singapore, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, will be able to avail this facility. We are hopeful that by the end of this year, almost all countries with good NRI populations will join UPI. The Union Budget 2023-24 can accelerate the pace of UPI going global as well as making it interoperable with global payment networks. Initiatives to take BBPS platform to other nations may also be considered.”

Mr. Ashok Rajpal, Managing Director, Ambrane

Mr. Ashok Rajpal, Managing Director, Ambrane

“The central theme of Budget 2023 will be to boost Indian manufacturing. Increasing manufacturing is the best way for the country to attract investment and increase its forex reserves. To encourage manufacturing, aka. Make in India; the government must provide subsidies and fiscal stimulus to the private sector. The reduction of corporate taxes and implementation of various PLI programs have boosted domestic manufacturing; however, the industry now needs a boost with additional Make in India plans and incentives for electronics manufacturers. PLI initiatives will be expanded to attract more private investment and participation in the industry. For indigenous production to continue perpetually, self-reliance on the required state-of-the-art technologies must be a key focus area. Being self-sufficient would imply manufacturing complete platforms, expanding in-house R&D capabilities, and so on. Increased budgetary allocations for R&D are required. Furthermore, some weighted deductions on R&D expenditure and tax breaks for industry players may prove to be drivers of the Indian manufacturing ecosystem. The industrial sector requires tax breaks and simplified legal procedures. Unnecessary legislation should be phased out, and compliance should be simplified. This will boost trust and confidence between the private and public sectors.”

Mr. Vineet Nayar, Founder and Chairman, Sampark Foundation

Mr. Vineet Nayar, Founder and Chairman, Sampark Foundation

The cascading effects of covid can be seen in significant drop in learning levels but an increase in enrolment in government schools. Unless we substantially increase allocation to education  in the upcoming budget we will see this negative trend continue. Education builds the future of our country and we need 30% increase in number of teachers and their capabilities to teach in the right way. If we miss this opportunity we would have millions of children who will miss benefiting from  the focus on foundational numeracy and literacy skills and next year will be too late. 

The challenge of balancing the budget is huge and I hope government sets the right priorities for the future of the children of this country. Today not only the allocation to education is much lower than what it needs to be, a substantial part of that budget goes into teachers doing non-teaching activities . Thus, what actually reaches the classroom is much lower than what is allocated in the budget. I hope we will not just have a substantial increase in education budget this year to fulfil the FLN mission but also draw a red line on using teaching time for non-academic activities, investing in frugal ideas instead of expensive technology solutions that are easy to buy but difficult to use and investment in increasing number of teachers at the cost of everything else because technology is not a replacement of teachers.

Mr. Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India and SAARC

Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India and SAARC

“From increased adoption of digital services and surging demand in new-age technologies like AI, analytics, to the launch of 5G services, the Indian tech sector has been readily serving the tech evolution. With the budget just around the corner, the government must empower the enhancement and innovation capabilities of the nation with increased allocation to research and development ecosystem. Additionally, digital public infrastructure investments need to be amplified for the success of smart cities in India. With the current impetus on expanding the railway and roadways, more concentration must be relied on next-gen surveillance to not only monitor the traffic violations but to also ensure public safety and gather real-time actionable insights during exigencies. With the nation coming back to the “new normal” post COVID, safety of child and women, and surveillance must be a high priority. The growing need for security and surveillance is a driving force for the connected digital world and hence clearer representation of Make in India policy and framework can substantially aid our growth and development. India’s digital economy is still evolving and to achieve its true potential, customs duty and tax relaxations will be a welcome move amid the global economic downturn.”

Mr. Hitesh Garg, India Country Manager, NXP Semiconductors

Mr. Hitesh Garg, India Country Manager, NXP Semiconductors

“In line with the government’s view for sustainable mobility, India’s EV ecosystem is growing rapidly. The EV market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 49 percent during 2022-2030 and hit 10 million-unit annual sales by 2030. With its exceptional growth, the EV industry is expected to create millions of direct and indirect jobs over the course of the next few years.

The faster adoption and manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME)-II is currently slated to expire on March 31, 2024. We expect the government to continue with the effective measures to encourage the faster adoption and manufacturing of electric vehicles in India.”

Mr. Kodeeswaran Natarajan, Vice President – Healthcare Practice

Kodeeswaran Natarajan, Vice President – Healthcare Practice

“Data privacy is crucial when it comes to the healthcare sector. As per the HIPAA Healthcare Data Breach Statistics, the global healthcare industry has reported 5150 “breaches” to the HHS Office of Civil Rights since October 2009. The average cost is estimated at $4.35 million per breach. At Indium, we consider every data as HUMAN, meaning as if we handle Patients and not just their Data. In line with this we ensure the data is end-to-end encrypted and patients records are accessed through use of a VPN connection. We have built an automated ML solution for PII/PHI data redaction and deidentification. We ensure our healthcare engagements follow HIPAA and GDPR control measures. As part of our best practices, we have mandated healthcare data privacy and HIPAA training for all associates. We maintain a “Zero Tolerance” policy on handling any patient record outside the client-secured environment”.

To Sum Up

Industry players believe, although India making progress towards digitisation, more needs to be done to support the country’s digital-first strategy as it aspires to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025. I think that this year’s budget should give digital infrastructure and skills a high priority. Further simplification, rationalisation, ease of paying taxes, and reducing tax litigation should be key priorities. We are seeing surging demand for drone services in the country. Thus, we need a technically proficient workforce to fulfil this demand. Additionally, with this year’s budget, we are expecting benefits towards indigenization and native R&D. A large number of start-ups have come in various technology segments including FinTech, HealthTech and EdTech among others. The government continues to support such start-ups in this year’s Union Budget as well. With the rise of new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence and the proliferation of internet access all across India, it is an opportune time for India to invest in new-age digital technology. The best companies are leveraging technology to scale and grow. The budget must focus on investing in Tech R&D, product innovation, and technology solutions and services and ensuring 5G services all over the country.

 

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