If there’s anything we learnt from the demonetization move its that the present government is all about digital growth. Naturally, the Union Budget 2017-2018 announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has a lot to do with digitisation of the economy. Here are a few tech highlights from the budget and how it will steer towards reaching its GDP affiliated and digital forward goals.
Development of an Aadhar-based payment system
This scheme is targeted towards people especially in the rural sector who aren’t digitally literate to use debit cards and other kinds of digital transactions. This system works via the Aadhar card and a biometrics device that directly lets you make bank transactions without the need of a debit card or smartphone-based app. This is currently under pilot in Andhra Pradesh and will soon be launched to the greater population.
Schemes to benefit UPI app
Soon after the demonetization, the government promoted Unified Payment Interface-based apps via various banks to facilitate cashless transactions. While these apps were in the pilot stage, the government was working on its own UPI app called BHIM. This app that claims to have 1.25 crore users till date will have an added benefit based on the two new schemes announced by the Finance Minister. This will benefit both the user and the merchant.
Rollout of optic-fibre based internet connectivity
The government has proposed optic-fibre internet connectivity across 1.5 lakh gram panchayats across the nation in its drive to bring more connectivity to remote regions. This is in continuation to their ongoing BharatNet phase 1 that aims to connect 10,00,000 gram panchayats by March. He’s also proposed a new initiative called DigiGaon that aims to provide telemedicine, education, and skills, through the use of digital technology.
With all its efforts to steer into a digital economy, there is a relevant cyber threat that comes too. In order to tackle this, the government proposes to set up a dedicated Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the financial sector. This team of computer experts along with computer scientists will help secure the government’s presence online.
Boosting the manufacturing sector
India remains the sixth largest manufacturing country. To further boost this the FM announced that the government will be creating an ecosystem to make India a global hub for electronics manufacturing. They have announced an increase in the budget allocation for related schemes like mSIPS and EDFs to Rs 745 crores in 2017-18.
Local manufacturing may affect mobile phone prices
In an ode to promote Make in India, the government is boosting local manufacturing. For this, it has proposed a two percent Special Additional Duty (SAD) on imports of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) an important component of mobile phones. While the government aims towards local manufacturing of the PCSBs, till they set up seamlessly, this duty fee might affect the cost of smartphones for now.
Benefit to Indian startups
The government continues to encourage startups in India. This time it has proposed to extend the time period for availing tax benefits for three years in the first seven years of the startup’s existence. The time frame used to be five years and has now increased to seven. It has also increased the period for the carry forward of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) from 10 years to 15 years. Let’s just say it’s going to be a good year for startups.
No service tax on digital rail bookings
In an ode to boost digital payments, Jaitley announced that there won’t be any service tax on digital rail bookings done through IRCTC, Indian Railway’s online ticketing portal. over Image Courtesy: Shutterstock.com