The Budget has set the right tone for the economy with a strong focus on growth and commitment to the 4Is — Investments, Industry, Inclusiveness, and Infrastructure.
The commitment to digitization was abundantly clear in almost every major development announced in the Budget. Today, digital payment transactions have increased by 76 per cent and 91 per cent in value terms. Over 7,400 crore digital payments of ₹126-lakh crore have been made through UPI in 2022. India is leading the world by example on inclusive growth at scale powered by its Digital Public Infrastructure network. Expanding DPI for agriculture will not only enable inclusive, farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services but will also and support the growth of agri-tech industry
The announcement to set up three Centres of Excellence to develop AI for India is an excellent step forward. We have to ensure that inclusion, ethics and security are built into the core design principles of AI to unlock its full potential for inclusive growth.
Finally, our talent is what enables us to leverage technology to create solutions like UPI and DigiLocker. The Budget’s commitment to skill development at scale is welcome. The focus on new-age Industry 4.0 courses skills will be critical to strengthening India’s position as a Talent Nation.
A green Budget that prioritizes sustainable development through green growth, and green infrastructure has sent a strong signal of India’s commitment towards achieving net zero goals and energy transition. It is also encouraging to see the announcement on Green Credit Programme notified under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. This will go a long way in incentivizing environmentally sustainable and responsive actions by companies, individuals, and local bodies.
The Budget’s strong commitment to growing India’s digital and physical infrastructure will only further strengthen our resilience and preference. The strong focus on infrastructure and talent development — especially in emerging technologies can boost India’s position as a hub for growing regional ecosystems to shape the global supply chain landscape.
It was indeed heartening to hear that the government has reduced over 39,000 compliances and over 3,400 legal provisions have been decriminalised. This is a highly welcome move. NASSCOM, in our Budget submission, had recommended several small changes that could be made to significantly boost ease of doing business for the tech sector.
Nasscom’s recommendation to allow new start-ups to be able to participate in the tax holiday scheme and to allow eligible start-ups to carry forward and set off losses incurred during 10 years of incorporation has been accepted, which is heartening.
However, that demands concerning ESOPs and tax parity between international and domestic investors were not considered is disappointing. Start-ups are finding it increasingly difficult to find good talent. Making the deferment of the time of payment of tax on ESOP available to the employees of more start-ups would significantly help founders not just attract good talent, but also retain them. The need for higher domestic capital in India has never been more urgent. We need it to ensure that start-ups can truly build for India. The harmonisation of tax rates for resident investors will help incentivise domestic investors to invest in Indian start-ups.
Overall, this is a Budget aimed to boost growth and India’s competitive advantage in the Techade.
The writer is President, NASSCOM