Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hailed his government’s last pre-poll budget as a “big step” towards achieving Ease of Business. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has presented his fifth and last Union Budget for 2018-19 in Parliament today. The Budget was perceived to favor the rural populace but did not turn out to be very well for the electronics industry.
Read the highlights from Budget 2018 below to find out what is there for the electronics industry for the FY 2018 – 19.
- Announcement was made to enhance research in disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotics. Niti Aayog will establish a national programme to direct research efforts in new-age technologies for which the government has allocated an amount of Rs 3073 crore. The Department of Science will also launch a Mission for Cyberspace space worth Rs 373 crore in this year
- Jaitley announced that the next financial year will see major advancements in the e-citizen services that will be driven by artificial intelligence. A sum of Rs 10,000 crore will be allocated for the telecom industry to make them ready for the 5G adoption as early as possible. With this amount the government targets 5 lakh Wi-Fi hot spots to provide broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens. Apart from this an indigenous 5G test bed is to be set up at IIT Chennai
- The Budget 2018 announcement also included connecting 1 lakh gram panchayats via internet cables. Government will also explore the possible usage of blockchain technology
- To boost local manufacturing, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the customs duty on mobile phones has been increased from 15 percent to 20 percent. In December 2017, it was increased to 15 percent
- WiFi internet services and CCTVs cameras will be progressively provided in all trains. Talking about the Railways, Jaitley said the focus in the next fiscal would be on safety, maintenance of railway tracks, increase in use of technology and fog safety devices
- As many as 99 cities were selected under the ambitious Smart city mission at an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore.
- Indian manufacturing sector back on growth track at 8% plus growth rate
- Rs 16,000 crores being spent to provide free electricity to 4 crore families
- Online loan sanction for MSME’s to be revamped
- System of toll payment by cash being replaced by electronic payments which is likely to increase the sale of POS machines
What experts think
With the declaration of the Indian Budget FY18, industry opinion has started to flood in. Overall the Indian Electronics Industry welcomes this year’s budget and sees this as a positive change for the upcoming days. Let’s look at what the industry has to say:
“We welcome the government’s thrust on encouraging R&D pursuits in the areas of AI, machine learning, robotics and edge analytics. This move will further leapfrog the innovations in this space that is significantly driven by Indian companies and will place the country at the center of global digital transformation focus”, said Dr. Keshab Panda, CEO & MD, L&T Technology Services
“We welcome the budget! It is a people focus budget. When our honourable finance minister Arun Jaitley announced the series of measures in Budget 2018-19 to promote clean energy, access to power and energy security, we as a company are looking forward about its future scope”, Shekhar Singal, Managing Director, Eastman Auto & Power Ltd.
“The last few years have seen large initiatives designed to bring about substantive change. The FY18 budget marks time, with its particular focus on agriculture, healthcare and infrastructure and the continued thrust on the MSME segment. The focus on wide scale broadband access, on Machine learning, AI and robotics, on R&D as well as skilling, and on Smart Cities will keep pushing India’s Digital agenda, well supported by the additional fund allocation. It is a quietly progressive budget and timed well to focus on readying all cross sections of Indian society to reap the benefits of the future”, said Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India & SAARC.
“This budget has recognized the importance of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics as tools to further growth at national level. Niti Aayog’s plan to establish a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence is a welcome move which will push investments and research in this space and will put India on the right path tech for innovation,” Mr. Arun Gupta, Founder & CEO, MoMagic Technologies”, said Arun Gupta, CEO and Founder of MoMagic Technologies.
“We applaud the Government on the successful presentation of the Union Budget 2018. We are very optimistic with the focus given to safety measures in the railways, tracks & metros, equipped with CCTVs and Wi-Fi’s. Vandal resistant cameras, light finder technology and thermal cameras will help in curbing crimes, give fog alerts and provide more timely action. Additionally, emphasis on the Smart City programme with an estimated ₹2.09 lakh crore outlay and improved connectivity across interiors, the national corridors and borders will involve use of higher end surveillance solutions going forward, making citizens more upbeat on such critical safety measures”, Sudhindra Holla, Country Manager, Axis Communications, India & SAARC.
“The 2018 budget brings us one step closer towards the realisation of Digital India with allocated budgets for R&D, training and skilling in AI, machine learning, Robotics, and Data sciences. We welcome the government’s focus on e-governance through blockchain, digital manufacturing, IoT, quantum computing, big data and the monumental focus on digital transformation. The national program designed by Niti Aayog to boost R&D would ace India’s positioning as the centre of innovation”, said Suman Reddy, MD Pegasystems India.
“TEAMA appreciates and complements the government on the provision of allotment 10K crore for telecom infrastructure. This will go a long way and will give a new life to the sector. TEAMA also complements the government on increase of custom duty of mobile phones from 15% to 20%. However, TEAMA, was expecting the increase of custom duty also on other telecom equipment. We still hope that to promote ‘Make in India’ government should consider increasing import duty on finished telecom and finished wireless telecom equipment up to 35%”, said N K Goyal, Chairman, TEAMA.
“It was expected to announce measures to protect domestic solar water heating industry with a higher import duty announcement but it did not happen. Even the 10% social tax on imported goods will benefit the government rather than encourage “Make in India”. The only shining ray was the doubling of allotment for food processing industry & process heating can find business for Solar thermal markets with more industries coming up. Feeding excess power from solar irrigation pump sets is a market driver for solar energy business but it needs to be seen how electric utilities give anticipation”, said Jaideep Malaviya, Secretary General, Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI).
“Although government is pioneering solar programme and wind energy programme and other key renewable energy resources from a very long. Now we have entered the peak time when we have to achieve what we have commited in Paris agreement and our clean energy target of 175 GW by 2022. We need to allocate necessary resources to formulate necessary policy to make this happen. We are standing at a point where we need to accelerate our energy generation capability at a much faster rate to attract investment in the sector. The budget was not upto the expectations as per the industry professionals because like mobile and LED TVs government should have announced some kind of anti-dumping measures for the solar sector as well to encourage our indigenous solar manufacturers”, said Dr Srikant K Panigrahi, Director General, Carbon Minus India
“We are pleased to see the government’s continual focus on the Smart Cities mission and its development through advanced infrastructure as announced in the Budget 2018. Technology spending on public areas and deliveries like surveillance for citizen safety, automated and transparent emergency services, intelligent and shared parking systems, electrification of public transport, public internet access and management of health and sanitation services online will certainly bring down the cost of governance and the national healthcare bill . It will strongly enhance the public’s compliance to the law, with a feeling of confidence and safety.
We note that the budget also specially focused on overall rural development, which will support and prop up the creation of smaller smart cities in India, driving technology, public services and healthcare to the masses. The Government must however continue to look at our logistics infrastructure with specific development and investment targets, like the plan for 101 new projects in the cold chain, truck terminals and stops, and better facilities for safer road transport operations. Big data, integrated services, transparency of government deliveries will truly ensure that the Smart Cities mission will deliver results”, said Vikram Puri, CEO, Transworld Technologies.
“MSMEs have been a pillar of major emerging economies like India. MSMEs being a focus for Universal Robots, the government investment and tax reliefs will encourage the growth of this sector and lead to further employment generation. The allocation of the investments announced in the budget 2018-19 will help research and development in areas of Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics & Automation. The Digital India program, a key to Industry 4.0 wherein cobots play an integral part as one of the key levers to supplement labour in terms of productivity, quality and ergonomics allowing India Manufacturing to climb up the value chain. Lastly, the government’s outlook on the automation in major manufacturing industries with the advent and adoption of newer technologies which will lead to increase in the efficiency of the business processes, operations and productivity”, said Pradeep David, General Manager, Universal Robots – South Asia