What Budget 2018 Has For Technology Industry

Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday presented the union budget for the 2018-19. This is the first budget post India’s biggest economical reforms including demonetization and GST. As the Budget 2018 charted out monetary allocation as well as forward looking measures for various industries including the Railways, it also has multiple announcements for the IT, telecommunications and technology industry.

Below is summary of what Jaitley announced for the industry.

In the sector of Digital Infrastructure the General Budget 2018 announced a doubling of allocation on Digital India Program to Rs.3073 crore in 2018-19. Department of Science and Technology will launch a Mission on Cyber Physical Systems to support establishment of centers of excellence for research in training and skilling in robotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analysis and quantum communication.

Rs. 10000 crore have been provided in Budget 2018 for creation and augmentation of telecom infrastructure. The Government proposes to set up 5 lakh wifi hot spots which will provide broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens. The Finance Minister informed that the Phase I of Bharatnet Project has already enabled broadband access to over 20 crore rural Indians.

Shri Jaitley also announced that NITI Aayog will initiate a national program to direct efforts in the area of artificial intelligence. To harness the benefit of emerging new technologies, the Department of Telecom will support establishment of an indigenous 5G Test Bed at IIT, Chennai.

The Government will take all measures to eliminate the use of crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities. The Government will also explore the use of block chain technology for ushering in digital economy.

On the indirect taxes side, this being the first budget after the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the budget proposals are mainly on the customs side. The Finance Minister has proposed changes in customs duty to promote creation of more jobs in the country and also to incentivise domestic value addition and Make in India in sectors such as food processing, electronics, auto components, footwear and furniture. Therefore it is proposed to increase customs duty on mobile phones from 15 percent to 20 percent, on some of their parts and accessories to 15 percent and on certain parts of televisions to 15 percent.

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