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Indian tech & fintech industry hails AI initiatives in budget

Bangalore, February 2 2019:  Here is our second and concluding  set of tech industry reactions to the Indian Interim Budget 2019:
Industry associations
Rajesh Ram Mishra, President, India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA).

We feel this  interim  budget by Finance Minister is progressive and inclusive. It focuses on leveraging new technologies to build countrywide digital infrastructure, skill building, driving growth of MSME segment.
1. We applaud the vision to make India a USD 5Trillion economy in the next 5years. We feel a vibrant ESDM sector will play a key role in realizing this vision.
2. The focus on National program on AI will unleash large opportunity in intelligent electronics and automation and will create new business opportunity in nine focus areas.
3. Making 100,000 villages digital and 10,000 Crore investment in Telecom  infrastructure will make  universal broadband communication  a reality and will lead to pan India deployment of
4. Participation of private sector in building products in strategic  electronics will get a big boost
5. Allocation for National Education Mission of INR 37,752Cr, coupled with the emphasis on
6. The tax relief for people with income less than INR 5L and interest rate subvention of 2 percent will help start-ups, MSMEs in ESDM sector as it will relieve the pressure on working
7. 25% Government procurement from MSMEs, announcement to bring PSUs procurement under Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is a welcome change.  We would like to see more domestically designed, indigenously manufactured ESDM products to come under this and benefit from PMA.
8. While intelligent electronics is bringing new opportunities, to enable large number of successful product companies in India,   we hope to see Angel Tax abolished for ESDM start-ups and we also suggest creation of a dedicated fund to incentive R&D.
9. This being an interim budget, some of the large scale investments needed in semiconductor and electronics for building a digitally secured India should be taken up post-election.
Rajan S Mathews, DG, COAI
The Interim Budget 2019-20 is truly pragmatic and we laud the government’s vision and commitment towards Digital India and the Digital economy. Amongst many welcome steps, Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal expressed the Government’s intent to create 1 lakh digital villages over the next 5 years, under the ambitious Digital India initiative. The Government also stated its commitment to deploy three lakh common service centres which will be delivering digital services, especially to the rural areas.
Additionally, to take the benefits of Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies to the people, a comprehensive National Programme on 'Artificial Intelligence' has been envisaged by the Government. A National Centre on Artificial Intelligence is to be established, along with other Centres of Excellence. A total of nine priority areas have also been identified and plans for building a National Artificial Intelligence portal has also been put forth.
Though several significant reforms were articulated, touching multiple industries, considering the given financial position the telecom sector is reeling under and the economic backbone that the sector provides to the economy and almost all industries, we expected concrete targeted initiatives to revitalise this sector.While the Interim Finance Minister spoke extensively about investing in infrastructure such as road, railway, highways, electricity amongst others, geared to target a 10 trillion dollar economy; the telecom sector, which is the backbone of the country’s economy, did not receive significant support.
Industry voices
Kushal Nahata, the CEO & Co-founder of FarEye
We have to wait and watch how this budget ultimately impacts the country. It was a great move by the Customs authorities to introduce comprehensive digitalisation of export and import transactions. Using RFID to enhance export logistics was a much-needed initiative. This will ensure seamless movement of goods, drastically improve visibility and reduce transportation costs. Digitizing core logistics processes is a key when it comes to building a sustainable supply chain.
Developing 27 kilometres of highways every day is a great feat to achieve. It will surely enable faster long-haul deliveries and will reduce the burden on existing roadways. The aim to digitize one lakh villages and speed up road development in rural areas will go a long way when it comes to driving financial inclusion and expanding and monitoring logistics activities.
Abolishment of duties on 36 capital goods and single point of approval under section 65 of the Customs Act will definitely help manufacturers.
Ramathreya Krishnamurthi, Business Head, TIMESJOBS AND TECHGIG
India’s massive young working population are sure to get a boost in the arm with the tax rebates announced for those having an income of up to 5 lakhs rupees. Although these are populist measures, it provides more disposable income available for people to spend and that is a good sign for the economy overall. It is also heartening to note how the Budget has merged employment and technology in its future plans. Digitisation is the only way to move forward. The future of India’s job market will be on the peripheries of new skill sets such as data scientists, data mining, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, etc. Therefore the Vision 2030 which pushes rural industries to digitise is a welcome step. The Vision 2030’s Digital India plan too holds a promise of creating more new-age relevant jobs, high on acquiring skills. By 2020, around 600 million people are expected to get deployed in newer job roles that do not exist today.
Sanjay Goyal, Vice President and Head (PRODUCT AND TECHNOLOGY),TECHGIG
The Interim Budget has made some cheer-worthy announcements with respect to income tax rebates for individuals with income of up to 5 lakh and increasing the standard tax deduction cap for salaried class and pensioners. This move, keeping the election in mind, shows that the government is trying to bring some relief to the middle class.
The Budget holds immense promise for the IT sector. It is reassuring to note that the government recognizes the digitisation wave sweeping through the world and envisions a ‘Digital India’ as per its Vision 2030 and the National Programme on Artificial Intelligence. The government adopting technology itself speaks volumes about its resolve; be it digitisation of export-import transactions, or indigenously-developed technology in Indian Railways, or an increasingly tech-savvy Income Tax department.  
The employment scenario in the IT sector holds potential because of the rising demand in digital infrastructure likely in the next few years. The Make in India programme is already transforming the IT sector slowly and we can see several start-ups that have mushroomed in the country. In addition, the government’s plans for an artificial intelligence portal to harness AI in various sectors is something to look forward to.
Vinay Singhal, Co-Founder & CEO, Vatsana Technologies (Parent Company of WittyFeed)
Today's budget has proved that the government is poised to build middle-class, farmers and women development in the country, the government is laying out the vision for the most important dimensions for the next 10 years to make India a $10 trillion economy and enhance ease of living including development of roads, railways, seaports, health, among other things. Removing the tax slab till 500,000 is certainly going to help middle-class to save more money. Though 6,000 is a small amount but its a welcoming step for farmers. I would call it a poll-targeted budget, however. IT Return processing in 24hrs and tax assessment electronically is going to increase participation of all classes for sure.
 Chiranjiv Patel, Managing Director, PC Snehal Group
The interim budget 2019-20 was totally a populist budget; all the eyes were on tax and farming. Job creation, adoption of technology, relief in tax burden to entrepreneur, focus on unrecognized work force and farmers were the highlights. As expected the boost in technology and innovation will help in generating numerous start-ups creating millions of jobs in this eco-system. This gives us a hope that India is slowly and steadily marching towards the development.
Government’s PM-KISAN scheme is a greater relief for the farming community, providing them with a guaranteed income hold up to the small and marginal farmers.
Abhishek Dubey, Founder & CEO, Muskaan Dreams
The government has presented a well-balanced budget with a focus on addressing the fundamental needs of education in India. The government has raised the bar, by introducing schemes that will help bridge the rural-urban gap, both in the economic and educational sector. A budget of 38,572 crores in BE (Budget Estimate) is allocated for National Education Mission. 10% reservation in educational institutes and government services for the poor has been implemented, to ensure that there is no shortfall of available seats for any class, and uplift the backward classes.
The government has also planned upon developing one lakh digital schools around the country in the next 5 years, I think digital villages will become a great move for this govt, it will enhance skills of rural youth also help them to get a better job. Most of the startups are working in Tech based solutions and it helps youth to get the job. It will help them to learn about digital technology or skills-based programme. India is amongst the most youthful nations in the world, and through policies focused on the youth of the nation, likePradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, great economic development can take place. I am glad that the concept of employment is changing in India with job-seekers becoming job-creators. The interim budget is expected to offer a big revolution to the nation’s economy.
Nakkyun Chong (CEO & Founder ) Avenue11.
 This year's budget has by far been the friendliest budget that the Indian middle class has witnessed in a long time. While the 5% GST restriction on daily use items is a respite for consumers, it also spells good news for retail businesses when it comes to increasing revenues and sales. The continued focus on developing digital infrastructure and digitizing transactions will encourage the masses to adapt to online shopping. The rising popularity of UPI aided by dirt cheap data packs and smartphones will propel a new wave of Indians to transact online. As an entrepreneur, I was hoping for a cut back on angel tax, but the new budget maintains the status quo
Amit More, Founder and CEO- Finzy, a peer to peer lending platform
Interim Budget 2019 is a power packed show by a government that would be subject to the test of re-election in 3 months from now. This interim budget has something for everyone – it has direct bank transfer for farmers, redemption for salaried tax payers for being honest, pension for unorganised sector, boost for housing and social security, rationalisation of IT assessment process and promotion of interest bearing investments. Theme has been disintermediation and digitisation. And this is the path that would lead to India becoming a USD 5 trillion economy in 5 years, sans red tapism and free from leakages and corruption. 
Dr. Keshab Pand, CEO & MD, L&T Technology Services
 
We welcome the provisions announced in the interim budget 2019. The government’s focus on clean and green India enabled by a growing market for electric vehicles will provide much-needed impetus to the rapidly maturing ER&D sector leading to more disruption and jobs. The vision to position India as the global renewable energy hub will enable enterprises and smart city developers to build energy efficient infrastructure. ER&D will also help provide affordability in healthcare and medical devices using promising new technologies such as 3D printing. We believe that engineering will be the cornerstone for India’s rise to become a $5 trillion economy in the next 5 years.
Ranjeet S Mudholkar, Vice Chairman and CEO,  Financial Planning Standards Board India FPSB
The Budget proposals are good and shall benefit the tax payers across all income slabs by putting more disposable income in their hands. By having given this option to spend the said amount to the taxpayers, it is upto him to choose to spend and pay indirect taxes, viz. Goods and Services Tax (GST) or to save. From Financial Planning perspective the savings can be channelized by the assessee into his long term investing for which various options are available in the market.
Carl Ngo Co-founder and CEO of Mobiistar, India and Global
The Budget 2019 is certainly pro-growth and will increase the purchasing power of the Indian Middle Class. It is heartening to see that the government recognizes the poignant role of digital technology in India’s evolution to a five-trillion dollar economy over the next five years. Announcement around national scheme on Artificial intelligence is a welcome move and will give an impetus to the technology ecosystem in India. With focus on development, it is a progressive budget and will be a next big leap in India’s growth story.  The delivery however will be contingent on effective implementation of these policies.
Anand Vilayannur, CEO & Co-founder, Tattva Mittal Group
 
The Budget 2019 has brought good news for almost everyone. A lot was expected from this budget and most of it has been covered. While representing the Budget 2019 Piyush Goyal mentioned in the beginning that RERA and Benami Transaction Act 1900 are helping to bring transparency in the sector. Total number of 1.53 cr houses have been built under PMAY scheme which shows that the sector has fared well in providing homes for the middle and lower class along with the govt. The Budget has proposed to provide the benefit of rolling over capital gains if the investment is made in not just one, but two residential houses. This benefit would be offered for an amount of upto Rs 2 crore which is a once in a lifetime benefit for any individual. With the recent GST meeting announcement and the newly announced budget we truly hope the year sees a positive uptick for the real estate sector.
Vinu Cheriyan, CFO & Director Operations, Sennheiser India
For this year’s budget, the government has made some significant announcements that are aimed towards strengthening Digital India. The creation of 1 lakh Digital Villages in the next 5 years will truly set the tone for a digitally empowered country. We applaud the government’s focus on digital infrastructure and the digital economy. With India leading the consumption of mobile data usage in the world and the cost of voice and data calls being one of the lowest, there is immense potential for the growth of the entertainment industry, further giving an impetus to the audio accessories industry. The government’s Make in India initiative has also resulted in positive impact, with the mobile and parts manufacturing companies increasing from 2 to more than 268, creating huge job opportunities across. Taking that further, the aim is to expand rural industrialization using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment. Further, A National Programme on 'Artificial Intelligence' envisaged by our government is a welcome initiative towards putting futuristic technologies like AI in the hands of the Indian consumer. With India poised to become $5 trillion economy in the next 5 years, the government’s proposal of giving a full tax rebate to individual taxpayers with an income of up to 5 lakh will empower the Indian consumer.
Arvind Mediratta, Managing Director & CEO, METRO Cash & Carry India
The last budget before the general elections is prudent and people focused budget. Direct benefit transfer of Rs 6,000 per year to farmers with less than two hectares land holdings and the outlay of Rs75,000 crore under the PM Kisaan Samman Nidhi will benefit the farming community and will give a major boost to rural disposable income. The big announcement of tax rebate to individuals with income up to Rs 5 lakhs will bring in huge relief to the individual taxpayers. The twin step is likely to push discretionary spending in both rural and urban class.Interest subvention to farmers engaged in animal husbandry and fisheries, and the mega pension plan for unorganised sector workers is a great announcement. The 2 percent interest subvention announced for MSMEs is a positive development that will strengthen the micro, small and medium sector.
Anurag Bhatia, CEO, Head of Investments, Minance
On the whole, the interim budget was exactly that, an 'interim' budget. In line with election-year needs, the government has announced sops for the poor, farmers, and the middle class. However, these sops may not be enough to satisfy everyone. The government has leaned on the populist side and as a result, the fiscal deficit is higher than planned but it is manageable and you can't blame the government for trying to remain in power. Rural distress was a major issue last year and the budget was expected to address that and while a direct deposit of Rs. 6000 for small farmers will go a long way (and help the rural economy) it was lesser than expected. 
Prashanth G J, CEO at TechnoBind
The one thing that stood out in the Budget is the putting up of the Vision 2030. While there are no details available as yet in terms of the implementation of this vision the fact that the government is thinking long term is well appreciated.|
The focus on the Digitisation will go a long way in improving the social and economic fabric of the country - be it creation of jobs, uplifting the lower end of the society reducing the income gap and many more. The announcing of the 5 Lakh Digital Villages is really welcome. It will go a long way to leverage the benefits of technology right up to the grass root level. Especially in a country like India which has always been challenged from a penetration of technology this will be a big boost.
Krishna Raj Sharma, Director & CEO at iValue InfoSolutions
Despite being an election year, it's good to see Government allocating money where its required - farmers, middle class families, pension scheme for unorganized sector, more allocation to health, education and defense.
Despite missing out on Fiscal deficit target for current as well as next fiscal, the FM took rating agency and investors in to confidence by explaining the need for supporting farmers which was well received as seen by the market reaction.
With GDP growth being upgraded, 0.1% to 0.2% slip of Fiscal deficit should be manageable. Good to see FM recognizing and rewarding honest tax paying middle class citizens with tax exemption up to 5L salary along with higher TD
Rajendra Chitale, CFO at Crayon Software Experts India Pvt Ltd
 It's a budget with many sections of the society being the beneficiaries. It is specially a poor and middle class centric budget as it increases the money in these households. This can trigger consumption and lead to further growth. Phasing out human intervention in tax returns, verification and scrutiny is a good initiative which can help reduce corruption. Overall, it is a good budget.
Rajesh Agarwal, Co-Founder, Micromax
We, at Micromax, respect and welcome the government's budget reforms. This year's Budget has brought significant changes, focusing on various key aspects which are largely stressed upon our overall economic growth – Rural, Agriculture, job creation, healthcare, housing, Structural reforms and infrastructure development, which will help stimulate and strengthen the Indian economy. The emphasis on establishing a programme to bring in direct efforts towards building a holistic ecosystem for Artificial Intelligence is an impressive development. The government’s proposal of giving a full tax rebate to individual taxpayers with an income of up to 5 lakh will empower the Indian consumer. Moreover, the government’s announcement around expanding Common Service Centres and creating digital infrastructure in the villages will be a significant step in the Digital India mission and growth of the Make in India initiative. With India leading the consumption of voice calls and mobile data usage, it is fascinating to note our constant progression towards becoming a global hub for manufacturing.
Deepak Maheshwari, Director - Government Affairs, India, Symantec
The Budget acknowledges the pivotal role of digital technology in India’s evolution to a five-trillion dollar economy over the next five years. Budget proposals such as those on artificial intelligence, one lakh digital villages and the thrust on RFID usage will not only fuel entrepreneurship, but also unleash enormous job opportunities.
In addition, with the continued momentum on digitizing transactions using Aadhaar and the need for real-time monitoring and evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency of various government schemes, the critical role of cyber security resilience and data protection towards fostering and inculcating trust cannot be over-emphasized.
It would be desirable that the forthcoming full budget later this year mandates setting aside 10 percent of the technology layout of every government project exclusively towards cyber security, as per the recommendations of the NASSCOM Task Force. The ensuing consultations on data protection legislation should result in a comprehensive, forward-looking, world-class enactment that enables and empowers people and businesses to use technology with confidence.
Rajnish Kumar, CTO & co-founder, travel tech platform ixigo
The new national scheme announced by the government on Artificial intelligence is a futuristic scheme which will promote the use of technology and digitisation. The government’s efforts in providing the necessary AI support required by startups, further emphasises the role that new technologies will play in the development of the economy. Efforts to establish 1 lakh digital villages is also a positive step towards strengthening digital penetration in rural India and will  significantly increase the adoption of digital platforms across the masses.
Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group
The interim budget threw light on the Government’s dedication to a healthy India with a distress-free healthcare system. The budget mentioned the Government’s aim to bridge the urban rural divide and provide benefits that people in a city have to those staying in villages. Healthcare should be a critical component of these efforts. We must not lose this opportunity to address the urban-rural imbalance in health infrastructure and ensure specific policies to encourage private sector to invest in the same. The announcement of a National Centre on Artificial Intelligence is also a big positive. AI today has great potential in transforming and designing new tools which will equip doctors in the fight against non-communicable diseases. At Apollo, we have already taken the first step with an Intelligent Platform designed to predict cardiovascular disease risk score for Indians
Souma Das, Managing Director, Teradata India
The finance Minister today once again underscored the ‘Digital India’ impacting lives of every Indian. The investment proposed by the government in the field of Artificial intelligence and allied technologies will pave a strong foundation for making revolutionary transformation in the scope of governance and the opportunity to provide seamless and improved citizen services experience.  We welcome the government’s decision to establish National Centre for Artificial Intelligence.




    


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