Budget 2019

Govt doubles Digital India allocation to ₹3,073 crore; telecom sector disappointed

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on February 01, 2018 Published on February 01, 2018

Rajan S Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (file photo)

The Government has doubled the allocation for Digital India programme to ₹3,073 crore in 2018-19 and will launch a mission to support establishment of Centres of Excellence.

“Combining cyber and physical systems have great potential to transform not only innovation ecosystem but also our economies and the way we live,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his Budget speech.

To invest in research, training and skilling in robotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analysis, quantum communication and internet of things, Department of Science and Technology will launch a Mission on Cyber Physical Systems to support establishment of CoEs, he added.

“NITI Aayog will initiate a national programme to direct our efforts in the area of artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications,” he added.

"We applaud the Government’s vision and commitment towards Digital India and the Digital economy. The Finance Ministry has recognised the importance of a resilient cyberspace and doubled the allocation for CoEs across the country to be championed by the DST,” Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) Director-General Rajan S Mathews said.

“We are also enthused to see that NITI Aayog, will now be spearheading a national programme to direct efforts in Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Blockchain, Robotics, and Digital as a way of life. The industry welcomes these timely initiatives,” he added.

TELECOM INDUSTRY DISAPPOINTED

However, the telecom industry is deeply disappointed that none of its suggestions found mention in the budget.

“However, for realising the Prime Minister’s vision of a fully connected and empowered Digital India, we reiterate that the telecom industry is deeply disappointed that none of our key asks have found mention in the budget,” Mathews said.

The telecom industry had sought a reduction in levies and taxes, and an urgent intervention is critical for resuscitating the sector, which is currently experiencing its worst financial health and hyper competition.

The industry’s demands included reduction of levies and taxes, reduction in Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on 4G LTE Equipment, clarity on Right of Way related taxation at the State level, and clarification on lowering the tax rate to 1 per cent on discounts extended to small dealers.

“We are saddened to see that telecom which is the bedrock for moving the Digital economy forward, continues to remain an orphan,” he added.

Published on February 01, 2018
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