Union Budget 2019 Expectations & Reactions of different tech industries

Lots of expectations are from this Union Budget 2019, let’s see what our Technology veterans hope or think about it…

Pre-budget Reactions

Mr Sriram S, Co-Founder, iValue InfoSolutions Pvt Ltd

Indians have re-elected the same party with a higher majority to form the government recently. It is a golden opportunity to continue reforms which are bolder and at a faster pace addressing basic needs of a larger set of people in the area of the home, education, health, employment for inclusive growth. During the last stint, progress was made in some of the areas. MNREGA with DBT along with electrification progress was good. It is time now to focus on health, education and employment for the larger masses. Infrastructure continues to lag in larger cities and needs focused attention and drive. Water is becoming a national issue across states which require sustainable solutions on a larger scale such as desalination plants around coastal areas, inter-linking of rivers, enriching groundwater through RWH, leveraging on monsoon season to collect and store rainwater, rejuvenating lakes etc.

Long-term fundraising for infrastructure development from countries like Japan with tenures of 25 to 50 years should be pursued to provide employment. Affordable public transport in cities is needed to bring traffic growth to manageable levels. Startup, SME and SMB need to be efficiently addressed so that they grow and provide employment in a sustained way. Most incentives are being enjoyed today by large companies which are not growing and not providing incremental employment, whereas emerging companies do not get any of the benefits and they are the ones with the scope to grow and provide employment. This needs to be addressed from a holistic perspective covering tax reforms, easing debt and equity fundraising, simpler GSTN regime and scopes for growth in employment generation.

Share of revenue from indirect taxes should be reduced while increasing the share from direct taxes as the former impacts all classes of people regardless of their earnings. Currently close to 50% revenues still come out of indirect taxes which need to be reduced to 20% levels urgently. Tax rates need to be reduced to promote spending and revival of economy and business on an immediate basis.

IT will continue to drive success of all types of business with innovations around AI, ML, social media, Cloud, IoT, Cybersecurity, Blockchain etc. Success of IT innovation will determine overall success of other industries including government’s digital drive and hence IT industry, as the enabler for success of all other government and private business, should be accorded special status. Policy and framework to promote home grown IT innovations is the urgent need of the hour to promote growth and provide large scale employment opportunities. Local manufacturing needs special promotion to reduce dependence on imports of basic electronic goods such as mobile and other house hold items there by promoting employment and reducing dollar outflow for low tech mass volume goods.


Nikhil Morey, Founder Tono Systems

After the success of Swachh Bharat, Cooking Gas and Electrification of villages – the next big thing is piped water to every house. I think major budget should be allocated to water problems. Chennai is going through major water problems and the global media has addressed the issue. There may also be an allocation for MSME development budget like earlier NDA government did in the past term. Skill development of micro SME is extremely important for boosting local manufacturing.
Policy reforms/expectations on behalf of Indian AV industry
Local manufacturing for displays will grow as government continues to boost incentives for exports and fulfil local demand. Samsung has already planned for a 1500 cr plant in Uttar Pradesh, which is expected to be operational by April 2020. With the likes of the rest will follow. GST could come down to 18% from 28% for projectors and larger televisions; this could possibly add more money in customers pocket to spend on bigger displays.
Beyond AV industry
The automobile industry is struggling to get back on track. Maruti Suzuki, the market leader reported drop in sales consecutively. Maruti sells volumes in the entry level segment and the sales majorly come from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. The reason for drop in sales could be due to less disposable income left over due to inflation and other factors. There should be a major booster for spending to put confidence in consumers mind to get the ball rolling for 9% GDP growth plus in coming years.

Prashanth G J, CEO, TechnoBind

Budget 2019 would be a crucial session for the Indian government to push their initiatives stronger. We expect the budget to address the dip in GDP growth rates and take constructive steps to boost the economy. 2019 Budgetary support should take the Farm sector crisis on priority which is the backbone of the Indian system and would clearly impact on the overall country. It should also focus on fixing the financial sector issues and help in bringing back the cash liquidity on track. Special funds and innovative programs should be allotted to fix the unemployment issues which would help in designing the future of India.
 
As an entrepreneur, I would also expect support for bringing back the credit availability and liquidity back on track which is critical to boosting growth. Steps towards widening the tax base are absolute must. I would personally like the agricultural income to come under the tax bracket. Both governmental, as well as private investments, should be supported to see traction in all the verticals. Reviving private investments will be a good expectation from this budget as this will spend government spend which is only limited given the fiscal prudence that the current government wants to maintain. Overall, a clear roadmap for tax reforms, especially corporate tax must be planned which will help enterprises plan their investments. Well planned strategies must be laid out and executed to bring back stuck capital to the banks will again uplift the Indian banking sector.

Shibu Paul, Vice President – International Sales, Array Networks

Reduce Custom Duties for Advanced Networking and Security Products from 20% to 5%, Roll Out 5G in line with Global Markets

From this budget, we would require the government to create policy frameworks that will incentivise investments from big players in manufacturing locally in India. Creating transparency in governance and reducing regulatory compliances should be taken into consideration with special focus on reduction of customs duties for advanced networking and security products which is currently at 20% to 5%. We expect the import/export process to be made digital and transparent so as to have an efficient RMA system for customers. There should be clear actions, policy and reforms to promote latest technologies like AI, IoT, Zero Trust, Machine learning, 3D printing, blockchain and simultaneously ensuring training facilities for all the mentioned technologies as part of skill development. Declare IT as a special focus sector for the country and roll out 5G in line with global markets.

If we look beyond IT, we would want this year’s budget to focus more on energy and water conservation with greater importance to sustainable development and pollution control. India is facing a critical water shortage and therefore we would require the government to take serious actions including penalties for wastage and incentives for water conservation. This can include water conservation strategies like reviving lost lakes, rivers ponds as well as maintaining optimal availability of water in all regions. Energy conservation can be taken one step further by mandated phasing out of fossil fuel driven vehicles and promoting electric, gas based lower pollution vehicles. Demarking areas in public places for charging can promote the use of electric vehicles in cities. Improving quality of the government medical facilities to prevent deaths of infants and less privileged people as well as significantly improving the quality of government schools and providing them quality education are few other expectations we have from this year’s budget.


Ravi Vishvanathan, Director, PayMate –

Tweaking the Angel Tax has not helped in resolving the matter. The tax just needs to go, and the entire section needs to be deleted altogether.

RBI’s Vision 2021 needs to be backed by bold measures in the Budget: –

  1. Reduced Tax Rate for businesses spending less in cash than the threshold level.
  2. Lower stamp duty on contracts and agreements.
  3. Start-up Entrepreneurs in Fintech sector arrange for finance from family and friends and the restrictions on loan from friends and relations need to be relaxed to a great extent.

NEFT/RTGS should become a 24/7 facility (with a half hour window for settlement if required).

Fintechs operate on a low margin and Tax Deduction on Gross Revenue results in negative cash flow for these entities. Either Fintechs should be exempted from TDS or alternatively, Zero/Lower Tax Deduction Certificates should be issued by default based on self-declaration.


Devendra Parulekar, Co-Founder, SaffronStays

“We hope to see Budget 2019 focusing on rationalizing the GST rates for the domestic travel industry, as the top end customer segments are choosing to holiday abroad, with the current GST bracket ultimately impacting the domestic travel economy. This, in turn, creates a ripple effect on the employment rates. The hospitality industry is a big contributor when it comes to providing employment and it needs to be actively encouraged. One of the ways of doing so is ensuring that domestic travel becomes an affordable option for the Indian traveller.

Also, the focus needs to be on National Skill Development Corporation to train our youth in hospitality operations, housekeeping, front office, cooking and other skills related to the industry, as it creates a ready pool of employable resources for the industry.

Another important aspect that takes away from the domestic travel industry’s growth is the lack of adequate infrastructure. The focus should be on developing amenities like building good quality roads, constructing public restrooms on highways and petrol stations that makes road trip safe and women-friendly. Just taking a few mindful steps can go a long way in nudging the domestic travel industry upward on the growth trajectory. Lastly, I want a budget to encourage more eco-friendly and sustainable solutions to reduce energy consumption as it can contribute positively towards boosting the economy.

Even simple steps such as investing in solar panels and building further awareness on using alternative energy sources of power generation can go a long way in making our country more sustainability-focused while still pushing for economic growth. We can’t have a singular lens towards growth anymore; the onus lies with the government as much as it does with the population of the country to imbibe an empathetic lens and work towards building economies that are flourishing that don’t cost us the environment we want to flourish within.”


Mr Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO of Super Plastronics Pvt. Ltd, a Kodak brand Licensee

1.Taxation (Custom Duty, GST and Make in India)

“As a part of the television manufacturing industry, we request FM to reduce the GST to 18% on all the TV panels as 28 % is the highest tax charged on televisions in the world.

Additionally, there has been more than Rs 2500crs worth of import of TVs in the past UNDER FTA (Free Trade Agreement) under zero percent duty. This doesn’t favour the companies who support Make in India Campaign of the government. This agreement must be cancelled or it should be confined to import of selective goods.”

2. Infrastructure

“In the last 5 years, there have been positive developments in the infrastructure sector. Our ranking in the global infrastructure has improved. Our expectation from the Union Budget 2019 is that the government should lay more focus on building express corridors to connect Tier 1 cities with Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. This will help many companies in reaching out to these cities without any hassle.”


Mr Sanjit Chatterjee CEO of REVE Antivirus on the forthcoming Budget

The government had taken some good measures in the interim budget earlier. Given that this will be the first set of policies to be rolled out by the new government that has been elected into power, a lot of hopes and expectations are set on the budget for 2019. This year, we expect the government to rationalize the GST to 15% to boost the software industry. It is imperative that they strengthen the startup quality norms, in order to ensure that authentic and good-quality products by genuine players are available in the market. We hope to also see more encouraging reforms that will reinforce the start-up ecosystem in India. It gained rapid momentum with the launch of ‘Start-up India’ and Make in India campaigns. We look towards the introduction of more such programmes which can further be taken to the global level as well. Last but not least, we expect more preference to be given to software developed in India. With an increased threat of data pilferage and other issues today, it is also time that more emphasis and focus are given to budget allocation for cybersecurity.


Mr. Arjun Bajaj – CEO and Founder – Daiwa, on the upcoming Budget 2019- 2020.

Government should not consider TV as a luxury good. It is not luxury but a need in today’s world. We hope the government will reduce the GST for bigger sizer to 18% from 28%. Secondly, the government should make the open cell duty to zero which is 5% today. Opencell is not made locally in india and is imported. The 5% duty on a product which is not made locally is too heavy and this part accounts for 70% of the product value.


Rakesh Soni, CEO & Co-founder, LoginRadius

We would like to congratulate the Modi govt 2.0 on Budget 2019. It captures the Government’s vision of New India accurately, promoting ease of business & living. As a startup ourselves, we welcome the move to organise a Global Investors’ Meet in India to ensure equal opportunities for startups with growth potential. It will put India on the global map as a land of business opportunities. The initiatives to train the Indian youth in technologies of the future – AI, IoT and Big Data is another welcome move by the Government. With more than 50% of population below 25, India has a significant advantage compared to the developed nations and these skills will serve as doorways to help contribute to the global workforces of the future.

Mr Kumar Abhishek, CEO & Co-founder, ToneTag

The growth of a rapidly developing economy like India definitely lies in developing a more robust and frictionless cashless payment system. The proposed initiatives by the Government to promote digital modes of payment will help in reducing the infrastructural cost of cash management and contribute towards a transparent economy.


[Update]

Final thoughts/reaction on Union budget 2019

Vikram Kumar, CEO – Letstrack

Union budget has created a supportive ecosystem for startups as they are planning to make a channel where startups will be promoted, they can discuss their problems and also the Venture Capital Investor will get a platform for investment. We are really encouraged that the digital track taken by the govt. is surely matching the 3 trillion view. Also, other measures announced such as ease of angel tax will make it easy for investors to invest in startups.


Mr Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO of Super Plastronics Pvt. Ltd, a Kodak brand Licensee

As expected, this was a historical budget by the government covering almost all sectors, from education, infrastructure to manufacturing. One of the highlights of this budget for the industry is – the corporate tax bracket, which is expanded to bring companies under its umbrella with a turnover of up to 400 crores. It will cover almost 98% of the companies in India. Ease of doing business and filing of tax returns will save a lot of time and costs for companies. Also, an e-assessment procedure which has been proposed will be a game changer for the tax assessment structure in India.

We were also expecting a reduction of customs duties on Open cells, as TV’s under FTA have generated revenue of more than 4500 crores, which in turn is impacting the growth of ‘Make in India’ initiative. Secondly, an expectant cut in the GST rate for televisions of 32 inches and above was not announced. The government has also mentioned strict policies and legal action are to be taken against unorganized trade in India, which is now 15% of the market share and a revenue loss of $1 billion. This is also going to help in boosting our industry immensely.


Ms Sudeshna Datta, Co-founder & Executive Vice President -Absolutdata- Research & Data Analytics

“We are happy with the government’s vision for a technology-driven economy that prioritizes emerging technologies as the prerequisite for future growth. From promoting digital payments to training millions of youngsters in emerging technologies such as AI, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, and soft skill such as foreign language training, the initiatives are focused on empowering the future workforce with a ‘global-first’ perspective. This will significantly strengthen India Inc.’s capabilities for the future. Moreover, the allocation of INR 400 crores to develop world-class institutions focused on research and innovation is a huge step towards transitioning India from a service-focused economy to an innovation-driven one.

Additionally, the Hon’ble Finance Minister’s focus on women empowerment, by adding not just women-centric policies but propagating women-led initiatives, both in rural and urban areas, is a huge positive. Along with its proposal to form a dedicated committee to encourage their participation, the extension of the Stand Up India programme for another 5 years will be a key factor in enabling women entrepreneurs.”


Swati Deshpande Director (Operations), Datar Cancer Genetics Limited

Surprisingly in the budget there was no mention of any benefits and plans for healthcare! However certain positives are the proposals to set up the National Research Centre and Annual Global Investors Meet, both the initiatives that will help give an impetus and attract research proposals and funding to India’s potential. Easing of Angel tax and relief from IT scrutiny for start-ups are great encouragement for the sector.

While announcing large scale projects for electric cars, the government has completely ignored the bio-medical sector which has the potential to be a global research hub for fields like genetic research, bio-informatics and AI in healthcare.


Mr Sriram S, Co-Founder, iValue InfoSolutions Pvt Ltd

“India joining the big league with $3Trillion economy during the year is heart-warming. With the potential for the next couple of decades in front of us, it is going to be exciting times for all based out of and focused on Bharat”, says Sriram S.
 
Interim budget stole the limelight on popular front being just before the elections. Hence the scope for more SOPs were limited with challenges to lower tax collections and lower growth issues. With limited options the government did try to send positive signals for reviving business growth and enhance consumer spending.
 
Good to see focus and thrust on basic needs like water, electricity, clean cooking medium in rural areas. 25% corporate tax for business up to INR 400 Cr is a great relief to all growing entities providing employment.  INR 70,000 Cr capital infusion into government owned banks this year to boost credit along with boosting capex on Digital initiatives Pension benefits to INR 3 Cr retail traders and shopkeepers whose annual turnover is upto Rs. 1.5 Cr is a good move.
 
The MSMEs, an integral part of India’s economy, has witnessed a better allotment of funds. Loans up to INR 1 Cr for GST registered MSMEs on fresh or incremental loans @2% interest will help in growing business at affordable costs. 1.5L deduction on affordable homes and EV should help in boosting domestic real estate sentiments along with promoting green commute.

Kartik Walia, Head of Operations (India) at Amplify.ai

We see multiple positive takeaways from this year’s budget. The government, while adding greater impetus on digital adoption and infrastructure enhancement, has a positive outlook towards promising technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. It has recently announced the launch of National Artificial Intelligence Center and National AI Portal and now, in the Union Budget, has promised to build skillsets in ultramodern technologies such as AI, Big Data, and Robotics. The Government’s technology-centric strategy is highly appreciable and we believe that favourable results will be visible in the near future.


Atul Rai, CEO and Co-Founder of Staqu

The new Government’s first Union Budget has perfectly balanced all essential parameters of our economic dynamics including infrastructure enhancement, skill development, job creation, and technological advancement. This has been done while also creating a favourable environment for businesses and especially, tech-centric startup. We would specifically like to highlight the Government’s strong focus on the Indigenous Research and Development with the establishment of National Research Foundation will promote indigenous technological development, particularly around globally scalable technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Robotics. We believe that this will pave the way for cutting-edge indigenous solutions and make India a technological epicentre in the international grandstand.


Siddharth Kukatlapalli, Co-founder and CBO, Syntizen.  

“We believe that this year’s Union Budget has been perfectly balanced by our new Finance Minister. The Government has promised hassle-free experience to foreign portfolio investors and is planning to streamline KYC to make it more investor-friendly. Innovative Aadhaar-based solutions can prove to be a game changer in this development and can introduce robust security while also ensuring seamless processes. The Government is also considering to grant Aadhaar Cards to NRIs via their Indian passports, preventing them from needlessly waiting for 180 days as is the case at present. Another positive takeaway from this year’s Union Budget is the interchangeability of PAN and Aadhaar for the filing of ITR, which directly augments the usability of Aadhaar system and its wide-ranging solutions.

Mr Vivek Tiwari, MD & CEO, Satya MicroCapital.    

Today, as India is leaving no stone unturned in terms of digital adoption, the Government is taking all the right measures to further catalyze this development. It is enhancing the rural infrastructure while also making it easier for Indian MSMEs to increase their digital footprint. The creation of a single-window platform for end-to-end bill payments of MSMEs is one of these steps and will augment digital adoption of Indian MSMEs. The Government has also promised to extend loans of up to Rs. 1 crore to MSMEs, perfectly in line with the vision of financial inclusion. Both of these developments, i.e. digital enablement and financial inclusion, will make it considerably easier to lend to the segment and unlock the true potential of this growth engine.

Anuj Golecha,Co-Founder Venture Catalysts

There have been several key takeaways from this year’s Union Budget vis-a-vis the startup community. Primarily, the Government has resolved the raging issue of Angel Tax by eliminating scrutiny around valuation of share premium. It will also put in place a mechanism for e-verification to eliminate tax scrutiny around funds raised by startups as well. This will act as a catalyst in driving investment towards our startup segment and promote cutting-edge technological solutions. It has also proposed measures to carry forward and set off losses for startups while increasing the period of exemption for capital gains through sale of residential houe for startup-centric investment up to March 2021.
Moreover, the Indian startup community will soon be witnessing another wave of startup boom  from rural geographies  as the Government will be launching a dedicated startup programme on DD National, 80 Liveliood Business Incubators and 20 Technology Business Incubators for rural artisans. As a cherry on the top, a slew of reforms have also been introduced for Indian NBFCs including foreign investment, government guarantee for PSB loans, one-time six month partial credit guarantee to buy pooled assets, and quick loans of up to Rs. 1 crore for Indian MSMEs. This is being done while also promoting research and development around avant-garde technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. Perhaps, all of these measures were the need of the hour for our startup community and will create conducive environment for futuristic and globally scalable businesses in India.

Sanjay Gupta (India Head), NXP Vice President and India country manager

We welcome the government’s move to lower the GST rate from 12% to 5% for purchase of Electric Vehicles and the vision to make India as the global manufacturing hub. The push for FAME II by providing the right incentives can encourage a faster conversion rate. Semi-conductors and host of other components will be vital in developing the EV Ecosystem in the country and as NXP, we will play a vital role to foster this goal. Initiatives such as complete elimination of customs duty on some EV components could prove to be a gamechanger for the auto-industry. Currently, over 80% of the cars in India use NXP chip for RFID key”

“Research and Development is crucial for an advanced ecosystem of infrastructure to exist. The government’s focus on incentivizing research by forming a National Research Foundation and encouraging foreign engineers and researchers to come and collaborate is a landmark announcement for India’s electronic industry. For NXP, India is majorly the innovation hub. We run three design/ R&D centres in India which innovate technologies for the world. There are more than 2000 people in Design Centers (Noida, Bangalore and Hyderabad) who are involved in development of semiconductor hardware and software designs across various verticals – Automotive (connected cars), digital payments (NFC enabled), 5G (RF solutions) and many more.

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