Budget 2018 offers technology boost

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The Union Budget 2018 presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley offered enough support for India’s technology sector to grow further and contribute more towards e-governance.

The Budget strengthens the opportunity for India to gain from digital economy through initiatives around Artificial Intelligence, Cyberspace, Fintech, etc, said Rakesh Kaul, partner, Government and Public Sector, PwC India.

V Ramakrishnan, CFO of TCS, said several programs announced in the budget represent big strides in building a Digital India.

NASSCOM said the budget proposals include additional criteria for taxation, that would be applicable to companies who may not have physical presence in India. This could be particularly relevant to the technology sector, as internet driven businesses and cloud based platforms blur geographical boundaries.

The announcement of the Aysuhman Bharat program, envisaged as the world’s biggest healthcare scheme will be a key differentiator for the healthcare sector as it will benefit more than 10 crore families across the country. This will also create immense opportunities for the technology Industry and startups  to build solutions that will enable the transformation.

Sumeer Chandra, Managing Director, HP Inc. India, said the Government has taken a very balanced approach in Union Budget 2018 with a special focus on strengthening the rural economy, infrastructure development and helping small and medium businesses. We are also thrilled with the Government’s emphasis on promoting research and use cases for digital manufacturing and 3D printing. We believe this technology will enable speedy growth of the manufacturing industry.

L&T Technology Services CEO Keshab Panda said R&D focus in the areas of AI, machine learning, robotics and edge analytics will further leapfrog the innovations in this space and will place the country at the centre of global digital transformation focus.

Sapan Gupta, national practice head – Banking & Finance, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, said capitalising on the block chain technology could open new ways of securing peer-to-peer lending transactions, boosting trade finance, fintech and information repository sectors.

COAI director general Rajan Mathews said the government has recognised the importance of a resilient cyberspace and doubled the allocation for Centres of Excellence across the country to be championed by the DST.

The allocation of Digital India has been doubled and the government proposes to set up 5 lakh WiFi hotspots.

Doubling allocations towards Digital India and enhancing National Mission on Cyberspace Security sets the tone to protect the data of India businesses and its citizens. Unique IDs for companies will go a long way in contributing towards interest of the nation and increasing transparency by corporates, said Ramesh Mamgain, area vice president, India and SAARC Region, Commvault.

Sudhindra Holla, country manager – Axis Communications, India & SAARC, said the focus given to safety measures in the railways, tracks & metros, equipped with CCTVs and WiFis will boost demand. Emphasis on the Smart City program with an estimated Rs 2.09 lakh crore outlay and improved connectivity across interiors, the national corridors and borders will involve use of higher end surveillance solutions.

This budget has recognized the importance of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics as tools to further growth at national level. Niti Aayog’s plan to establish a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence is a welcome move,” said Arun Gupta, founder and CEO of MoMagic Technologies.

Bipin Preet Singh, co-founder of MobiKwik, said cash payment at toll plaza will be removed and the government will introduce a toll system based on Pay as You Use module. The Department of Science will launch a national program for cyberspace.

India government proposes to revamp the system of sanctioning of loans to SMEs. The information required for sanctioning the loan will be linked with GSTN and all required information can be fetched from GSTN Portal. It will help to grant the loans quickly and will help in reducing processing time.

Keith Martin, head, Asia Pacific, Corporate Business, F-Secure, said the Budget 2018-19 focuses on cyberspace. The establishment of centres of excellence and the allocation to the Digital India programme is a huge step by the government with financial backing to make India a cyber-secure nation.

Sanjay Jalona, CEO and MD, LTI (L&T Infotech), said the use of technology in delivering education and focused research in technologies like blockchain, AI, big data, IoT and robotic are great initiatives and will create opportunities for IT sector.

Sachin Seth, partner, Financial Advisory Services, EY, said payments at toll booths becoming completely cashless will benefit the transportation industry. Furthermore, focus on integrating data sources like GSTN, Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS), Corporate Aadhar no. among others will help businesses significantly.

Arvind Chandrasekhar, WW Government Affairs Lead, AMD, said the Ekalavya Residential Schools should be modelled around technology strongly as it can play a significant role in leap-frogging the tribal children to bridge the gap they face today. The proposal to roll out e-assessment is a welcome technology move and shows that we are truly moving towards a Digital India.

Vishal Jain, partner, Deloitte India, said the focus on Smart Cities needs to continue whilst ensuring a secure environment. Digitalization of citizen services using new technologies and the announcement of setting up the 5G test bed shall position India as a front runner in embracing new technologies.

While not specifically outlined in the current budget, the government needs to increase focus on security and privacy of personal data. We have seen some concerns being highlighted in the recent past and the time is now ripe to have a strong framework around this for the future.

Prakash Mallya, managing director, Sales & Marketing Group, Intel India, said the Budget clearly pivots on a digital-first India, and recommendations on artificial intelligence, blockchain and 5G relate directly to the potential we see in the country.

Shrenik Bhayani, GM, Kaspersky Lab (South Asia), said the push towards research efforts in Artificial Intelligence is a smart step taken by Arun Jaitley. The aim to setup 5 lakh hotspots is a great step, which also calls the need for being alert on the cyber security front. People need to be educated about antivirus solutions and be made aware about not falling for phishing attacks.

Souma Das, managing director, Teradata India, said emphasis on adoption of technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and machine learning will drive new insights from data to enable better policy implementation and fast-track reforms leading to improvement
in citizen services and accelerating economic growth.

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