Budget 2017 expectations from telecom and IT industry

India money
The Indian IT and telecom industry is expecting substantial support during the Union Budget 2017.

Debjani Ghosh, vice president, Sales and Marketing Group and managing director for South Asia at Intel

The India government has implemented several policy reforms aimed at improving the overall ease of doing business, increasing the adoption of technology in the startup and innovation ecosystem, and delivering government services to non-urban India. While these are right steps in the direction of accomplishing a knowledge economy, the expected benefits of government programs have not been effective because there is a gap between the initiatives and the actual intended outcome. For instance, in the area of skill building, which is a significant focus area of the PM, access to mobile phones, largely a consumption device, has been made easier, whereas the same incentives have not been extended to the other screen devices that actually enable skill building.

As recommended by MAIT, the extension of concessional Excise and Customs Duty benefits should be extended to all ITA goods, including locally manufactured devices such as laptops and PCs will not only trigger innovations in design and manufacturing to address local needs, but also enable citizens to create productive content.

Similarly, while there has been significant focus on ease of starting of a new venture and related support, the areas where significant hurdles still remain for startups and established companies are the regulations around latest technologies such as 5G, autonomous driving and drone deployment.

Today, it takes a little less than one year for large companies to source an experimental license from DoT to work on new emerging communication technologies, so imagine the plight of startups. The hard truth is that we are running out of time, and the government has to look at implementing policies that are not just great ideas but also have great impact – whether it’s for boosting local R&D in the country, or for unifying the country through standard GST.

Finally, while manufacturing is encouraged under Make in India, we should also look at encouraging Electronics Design through incentives, driven by public private partnerships.

Akshay Dhoot, head, Technology & Innovation, Videocon 

The smartphone sector is awaiting for a consumer friendly budget which will promote positive sentiment among the people and will help to further strengthen the economy. We believe that upcoming budget should address and encourage alternative ways for payments especially cashless transactions and offer additional benefits on digital payments. Further, we expect differential duty on mobiles to continue as it has helped the Make in India. Videocon believes that the government will announce a budget that will favor local manufacturing and support Government’s Make in India and Startup India campaigns.

Vivekanand Venugopal, VP and GM of Hitachi Data Systems India

As we advance towards an economy under the Digital India initiative, we are optimistic the upcoming budget will create opportunities keeping innovation in the heart of every policy. To efficiently drive the journey of Digital India, the focus should be to modernize infrastructure as this will boost growth across sectors, especially technology. In the wake of large scale Digital Transformation, Data is becoming increasingly valuable.

India Government’s efforts such as GST are a definitive step towards accelerating digitalization. The policies and measures taken by the Government should help bring in economic stability, investment-friendly policies, increase ease-of-doing-business, improve long-term tax incentives, along with timely deal-closures and project clearances. Additionally, corporates and enterprises are expecting a cut in tax rates at various levels to grow more business opportunities in India to further allow the Make in India dream come true.

Anant Maheshwari, president of Microsoft India 

India has committed to the Digital India vision. Digital technologies will have a long-term impact in all the key sectors that are looking to transform – manufacturing, retail, education, health and even in agriculture.  India has a tremendous opportunity to push the boundaries of technology usage to leap frog to the fourth industrial revolution where data defines processes, products and interactions. Therein lies the opportunity for, what I call, Make Digital in India. It is about taking world’s best technologies and creating solutions that work for India and other markets like India.

Snehashish Bhattacharjee, global CEO and co-founder at Denave

With demonetization altering the dynamics of the entire national economy, expectations are high from the upcoming budget. Alongside countering black money practices, this move has helped the government in expanding the bracket of tax-paying population. This in-turn, equips the government to offer considerable tax rebates and SOPs focused towards societal development and growth. The ambiguities present in the modern-day service sector operations can be lessened with apt reform provisions in the budget.

In line with the gradual industrial revamp, we are at interesting junctures wherein artificial intelligence and machine learning are steadily changing the long-established industrial norms and challenging the cheap-labor tag which our country has borne for long now. This technological disruption has created the need for R&D support in the ITES/ BPO industry. The industry needs more government support to build state-of-the-art R&D to eventually create alternate solutions and get back into the game.

Lastly, for a holistic growth and development, focus on building a world-class infrastructure and real-estate industry is also critical. Both these sectors require better regularization and standardization support in order to foster an efficient business environment. I expect the upcoming budget to cater to this as well, through incentivized SOPs and other measures.

Rajeev Jain, CFO of Intex Technologies 

The mobile handset industry is the fast growing Industry and has become an imperative part of our everyday life. India is moving towards a digital economy and mobile banking. Smartphones will play a crucial role in supporting this vision. The recent demonetisation reform by the Government has further laid the ground for setting a cashless economy.  The entire country is looking forward towards mobile banking which shall create a new user base and fuel the growth in mobile Industry.

As an industry, we expect a long-term and stable policy on mobile manufacturing in India. The industry has huge potential and can supplement government initiatives of ‘Make in India’ with highly technical product if focused. Incentives to create sufficient technical manpower will lay the foundation of a strong and robust manufacturing base in India.

Further, a clearly laid out research and development policy is necessary to succeed in a highly technical industry like ours and will help bring component manufacturing base in India to save precious foreign exchange.  In the end, to create a truly inclusive digital economy, affordable mobile handset or consumer durable items up to certain value should be given a concessional duty treatment.

Alok Dubey, CFO of ACER

The Budget for the year 2017-18 is likely to be unique as many prime factors like demonetisation, GST, cashless economy measures, will play a key role this year. We are expecting favourable  change in the Income Tax slabs and rates, as customer spending is still anticipated to decline for short term due to demonetisation.

We also expect the budget to focus on shaping the IT infrastructure and urge the government to provide tax deductions on purchase of PC for consumers as well providing easy short-term loans for retailers for working capital requirement. This is required to accompaniment India’s emergent IT sector and further help the industry make improved technology more accessible to Indian market to fulfil government’s push for a digital economy.