Piyush Goyal, who has been appointed as the interim finance ministerpresentedhis maiden Union Budget in the Lok Sabha. While a full-fledged budget will be presented once the new Central government is formed after the general elections due in March-April, this interim budget, as has been the custom, will seek the Parliament’s nod for meeting the expenditure for the next few months of the new fiscal.
In his speech, while taking the opportunity to throw some light on the various schemes introduced by the Modi Government in the past years, Goyal claimed that India is poised to become a 5 trillion dollar economy in the next five years, and a 10 trillion dollar economy in the next eight years.
On inflation, Goyal commented that India has controlled double-digit inflation. “From 10.1% during 2009-14, inflation in December 2018 was just 2.1%. We have broken the back of back-breaking inflation.”
On GST, Goyal remarked that the implementation of GST has brought arelief of 80,000 crore rupees to the Indian consumers and most items of daily use now brought in the 0-5% tax bracket. Further India has become one common market through tax consolidation, inter-state movements have become faster through e-way bills and Ease of Doing Business has improved.
Highlights from Goyal's budget speech –
• No income tax for earnings up to ₨5 lakh
• Individuals with gross income of up to ₨6.5 lakh need not pay any tax if they make investments in provident funds and prescribed equities
• Standard tax deduction for salaried persons raised from ₨40,000 to ₨50,000
• TDS threshold on interest on bank and post office deposits raised from ₨10,000 to ₨40,000
• TDS threshold on rental income increased from ₨1.8 lakh to ₨2.4 lakh
• I-T processing of returns to be done in 24 hours
• Within the next 2 years, all verification of tax returns to be done electronically without any interface with the taxpayer
• Package of ₨6000 per annum for farmers with less than 2 hectares of land. Scheme to be called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi.
• Vande Bharat Express, an indigenously developed semi high-speed train, to be launched
• One lakh digital villages planned in the next five years
• Fund allocation for the Northeast region increased to ₨ 58,166 crore, a 21% rise over last year for infrastructure development
• Anti-camcord regulations to be introduced in the Indian Cinematograph Act to prevent piracy and contact theft of Bollywood films.
• Single window clearance for Indian filmmakers.
• 25 per cent of sourcing for government projects will be from the MSMEs, of which three per cent will be from women entrepreneurs.
• National Artificial Intelligence portal to be developed soon
• ESI cover limit increased to ₨ 21,000. Minimum pension also increased to ₨ 1000.
• Mega pension scheme for workers in the organised sector with an income of less than ₨15,000. They will be able to earn ₨ 3000 after the age of 60. The scheme will be called Pradhan Mantri Shramyogi Maan Dhan Yojana.
• 2% interest subvention for farmers pursuing animal husbandry.
• All farmers affected by severe natural calamities to get 2% interest subvention and additional 3% interest subvention upon timely repayment
• Decision taken to increase MSP (minimum support price) by 1.5 times the production cost for all 22 crops
• The 22nd AIIMS to come up in Haryana
Fiscal deficit pegged at 3.4 per cent in the Interim Budget, while Capital expenditure is pegged at 3.36,292 lakh crore. Expenditure is expected to rise by 13% from revised estimate 2018-19 to budget estimate 2019-20, Goyal said.
Anil Valluri, President, India & SAARC Operations, NetApp comments, “The Government, in its Budget 2019 has articulated a compelling vision for India, both for the medium and long term. It has provided direction, and a finite and ambitious goal for India, of becoming a USD 10 trillion economy by 2030. I look forward to the details and to the Government marking progress against it.”
The budget has something or the other for everyone, but more particularly the middle class, the agricultural community and marginalized sections of society. The sense of inclusion, financial as well as welfare is much needed to build the force for a stronger nation that can march towards Vision 2030.
Says Dr. Jaijit Bhattacharya, President, Centre for Digital Economy Policy Research, “The Union Budget appears to be a full budget and not an interim budget. The budgetary provision clearly points towards a social focus and building up of the social safety net with significant provisions for the Labour in unorganized sector, for small farmers and for rural industries such as fisheries and animal husbandry.”
Agrees Rajesh Agarwal, Co-Founder, Micromax, “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.”
According to Rahul Agarwal, CEO and Managing Director - Lenovo India the Government’s balanced focus on various sections of society, such as farmers, middle class and corporate houses as opposed to a sector focussed approach is a refreshing change. “The increase in tax rebate for smaller income group as well as hiking the gratuity limit means the consumer will be left with more disposable income. This is very likely to drive up demand for consumer goods and services across several industries, which is heartening for the growth of our economy,” he says.
“The Interim Budget proposals should augur well for the Indian economy by providing a growth impetus through a boost in consumption as well as an inclusive framework designed to benefit agri and rural communities, unorganised sector workers as well the middle class,” says Sanjiv Puri, Managing Director - ITC Limited, echoing similar sentiments. “The PM Kisan Samman Nidhi programme and the increase in allocation to rural infrastructural development will indeed go a long way in enabling empowerment of rural communities.”
Says Sridhar Pinnapureddy, Founder and CEO - CtrlS Datacenters Ltd, “Financial Inclusion and e-filing of income tax returns where 99.54% of income tax returns have been filed and accepted online, while GST filing is fully online, while 34 crore Jan Dhan bank accounts help direct and the plan to converting 1 lakh villages into digital villages to ensure technology is leveraged at the grass roots including telemedicine, distance education etc, this will help encourage start-ups and foster growth. Glad to note that the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) has helped MSMEs transact over 17,500 crores.”
IMPETUS TO AI, DIGITAL INDIA
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 announcing initiatives like the National Center for AI and a National AI Portal, is a step in the right direction to drive technology adoption in the country. 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.
Comments Rajiv Kapoor, Vice President, India & SAARC - Cambium Networks, “The government’s planning to set-up 100,000 digital villages in the next five years is a huge step towards leapfrogging India’s march on critical initiatives such as Digital India. By placing wireless connectivity at the heart of India’s development particularly in rural areas, the country is poised to further consolidate its position as the global hub for disruptive innovations."
Says Sumeer Chandra, Managing Director, HP Inc. India, “The focus on leveraging emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence to enable a positive impact on the lives of people is an encouraging step. Further, the expansion of rural industrialization using digital technologies, development of clusters encompassing the MSMEs, village industries and start-ups, will boost rural manufacturing, job creation and strengthen the overall economy.”
Prakash Mallya, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Group, Inteltooopines, "The Budget clearly showcases the importance of a digital-first India and the government’s commitment to drive innovation and technology advancement in the country. With the government setting a target to become a $5 Trillion economy in the next 5 years, Intel believes that emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G will play a crucial part in this vision. The Budget also pointed out the growth in the telecom sector; this definitely provides impetus towards building a strong 5G ready ecosystem in the country. Additionally, the government has set a goal to create 1 lakh digital villages in the next 5 years taking technology penetration to a new level that can help build a truly digital India.”
Deepak Maheshwari, Director - Government Affairs, India, Symantechopes that the 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,” he says.
Souma Das, Managing Director, Teradata India says, “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.”
“Expanding rural industrialisation using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment is the Fourth Dimension of the vision,” says Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco India.“This will be built upon the Make in India approach to developing grass-roots level clusters, structures and mechanisms encompassing the MSMEs, village industries and start-ups spread in every nook and corner of the country. India is now on the way to becoming a global manufacturing hub in various sectors including automobiles and electronics, defence and medical devices.”
Says Rajan S Mathews, DG – COAI, “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.”
Even Sunil Jose, Senior Area Vice President and Country Leader - Salesforce India feels the same. He supports it by citinga recent research commissioned by Salesforce, in which 65% of Indian respondents were positive about AI and its usage. “Businesses using AI have the opportunity to amplify our human intelligence, better connect to consumers and impact societies like never before. We are delighted and welcome the government’s visionary step to support and democratise access to AI and related technologies.”
FOCUS ON GREEN INDIA, DIGITALISATION IN LOGISTICS
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.
Says J K Gupta, CFO - Tata Technologies, “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.”
“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,” says Dr. Keshab Panda, CEO & MD - L&T Technology Services. He further added that engineering will be the cornerstone for India’s rise to become a $5 trillion economy in the next 5 years.
According to Kushal Nahata, CEO & Co-founder – FarEye, 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.”
However there are many like Suresh Pansari, Director, RP tech Indiawho feel that from the IT hardware industry perspective, there are not any major announcements in terms of present taxation policies and ease of doing business. He however commended the Govt.’s efforts to boost Digital India and Make in India initiatives, which he feels will indirectly benefit the industry by generating demand for hardware.
Again, according to Varun Rathi, COO and Co-Founder, Happay, currently there is a lack of structured data availability in India. “This doesn't look infeasible at all and timing couldn't be better than this to launch a nationwide AI center. UIDAI, NPCI and GST council has laid the foundation of the most important piece of the puzzle - getting the identity, demographic, financial and skills data recorded in a structured manner. An AI council can now start laying some ground rules and create a regulated and open platform for anyone to innovate and create value for India.”
Country Manager India and SAARC - F-Secure
“Leading the world in mobile data consumption is a big milestone for India and promises a great opportunity for development. The lower rates of 4G data are pushing the opportunities for digital growth, even in the hinterlands of India.
We believe that the next crucial step will be addressing cyber security concerns, as a number for first-time users; and users with a lack of nuanced understanding of cyber security are expected to on-board the digital bandwagon. Hence, educating the new internet users about data privacy and online safety should be highly prioritized. As the world moves towards digitization and IoT connected devices, personal data is the most vulnerable commodity and must be carefully safeguarded.”
Global CEO - Denave
“The budget gives much awaited technology push for the fast paced Indian economy. The CoE of Artificial Intelligence (AI) reaffirms government’s intention and interest in pushing India to develop as hub of emerging technologies. It shall also prove to play a pivotal role in massification of ground-breaking technologies as well as providing headwind to the ongoing skill development and job creation agenda. It is a huge opportunity for the tech start-ups, and the contribution of India Inc. in the initial stages of implementation shall prove to be significant.”
Dr. Rishi Bhatnagar
President-Aeris Communications & Chairman
IET IoT Panel India
“Companies are deploying considerable investments in emerging technologies to match customer expectations. To support the deployment of these emerging technologies, skill development and enhancement is imperative amidst the current digital disruption scenario. According to MDSE’s annual report, 2017-18, the demand for skilled labour in 34 sectors across industries has been estimated to be over 12.8 Cr between 2017 and 2018.
Interim FM in this Interim Budget has announced the decision of making the National centre for Artificial Intelligence and building Centre of Excellence. The Government of India has opened the path for the youth in India to leverage the new state-of-the-art developments and upskill themselves to widen the jobs pool for themselves. We appreciate the GOI’s perspective of making India digitally enhanced and look forward to add value by providing the Indian talent with opportunities to grow in the IT industry.”
MD and VP - GoDaddy India
“We welcome the Union Interim budget 2019-20 and the government’s focus towards helping small businesses, start-ups and women-owned MSMEs. With impetus on strengthening the digital infrastructure, e-marketplace, initiatives supporting rural India and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, government has reiterated its commitment to bring a holistic and sustainable technology-led development for the country. Moves to allow tax payers with income upto Rs. 5 lakh to get full tax rebate and abolish custom duty from 36 capital good are consumer friendly steps that will help put the money back in the consumers’ pocket and encourage ease of doing business. In this year’s budget, we were hoping for a solution for the current credit issue troubling MSMEs.”
Krishna Raj Sharma
Director & CEO - 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 TDS.”
Dr. Deepak Kumar Sahu
President & CEO- VARINDIA
“The Interim Union budget unveiled by Piyush Goyal on 1st February, 2019 in Lok Sabha brings various reliefs as expected by general public in Income tax to increase their disposal income such as increase in basic exemption threshold limit, increase in maximum limit of deduction u/s 80C, increase in standard deduction for salaried class persons etc. Every sections of the society had been looking forward to the changes that the government has brought in.”
Country Head - SUSE
"We see the interim budget addresses 3Ps i.e., People, Progress and Propensity of the country. When the government has a long- term vision that supports tech-related initiatives such as Make In India, Digital India, these are going to help improve the social and economic fabric of the country - whether it is job creation, bridging the digital divide, uplifting the lower class, reducing taxes for middle class and much more.
The aim of converting one lakh villages into digital villages, having a national program on artificial intelligence and even making India into a global manufacturing hub, all these are going to provide further opportunities for open source technology providers like us as we help organizations drive innovation through flexibility, freedom and openness. As such, we welcome what's been announced in the interim budget and look forward to supporting the latest digitalization project opportunities in India."
Regional VP, India &
SAARC - Fortinet
“The short-term plan to make one lakh digital villages in the next five years clearly outlines that digital transformation and economic transformation have to go hand in hand for all round development. The Interim budget unfolds a vision to become a Ten Trillion Dollar economy by 2030. Digitalization is the path chosen by the government to reach every sector of the economy across the country down to every single Indian. Addressing the security concerns of Economic Digitalization, the government has already introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill 2018, IT Act, Right to Information Act, Right to Privacy, Aadhaar Act as the laying ground for data protection and cyber security.
Fortinet firmly believes in the importance of collaboration and threat information-sharing to secure Digitalization. Multi-stakeholder collaboration is the way forward with leaders from the private and public sectors coming together with a shared commitment to secure the digital attack surface and related vulnerabilities that represent a very real threat to governments and growing digital economies.”