The Union Budget 2018 has given a boost to Digital India with initiatives like expansion of broadband connectivity, WiFi, e-portals, smart cities, smart classrooms and proposal to undergo research in AI and block-chain. The allocation in this regard has been doubled to Rs 3073 crores.
While the Budget has given importance to the Rural Livelihood with benefits for farmers and healthcare benefits for the poor. On the other hand,Startup India will also get a fillip with the proposed rationalisation of policies to ease business for VC firms and angel investors promised by the government.
With no specific or Direct benefits being announced for Media and Entertainment Sector, the Budget has received a Mixed reaction from the Industry as section of the industry professionals are elated by the boost of rural economy and Digital India that in turn will support the industry in-directly. However, few others were skeptical as the government failed to provide a relief for complexities involved in taxation with out any reduction in GST percentage.
Here comes the voice of differing opinions on the union budget 2018:
Sounding on a Positive Note – Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia – Dentsu Aegis Network said, “The budget has focused on the right areas, particularly the rural and agricultural sector, which is definitely going to spur rural demand in the coming months and years. The rural economy needed a boost. I also like the fact that the Finance Minister has focused on Ease of Living rather than just Ease of Doing Business and has introduced Healthcare benefits which will benefit nearly 50 crore Indians. It is a landmark step.
The emphasis on Digital, particularly higher-end digital areas like Artificial Intelligence and usage of Block Chain shows that the government is committed to providing a further digital thrust. The steps being taken, like provision of free Wifi and other forms of internet to all parts of the country will be extremely beneficial in the long run for the digital sector. It will help agencies like ours who are partnering clients for Digital Transformation.
The introduction of the Long Term Capital Gains tax on equities will soon be digested by the industry I’m sure, but in some ways I see a missed opportunity because the simplification of GST processes for the services sector would have gone a long way to help the advertising industry. The advertising industry doesn’t mind paying the taxes but abhors non-productive, complex procedures including filing of hundreds of returns every year.
Over all I think the right sectors have got the incentives and therefore it should be good for the country. If it is good for the country, it will be good for the economy and once the economy grows, the advertising sector will benefit from it”.
Terming it as a Budget with Mixed opportunities Isobar India’s Executive Vice-President Gopa Kumar said, “This year’s budget reaction is Mixed, I think there could have been more done. Some Positives which I see is an increased focus on digital India initiatives and the allocation increasing to around 3000 crore. Broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens and setting up pf Wi-Fi hotspots is also encouraging and will give a huge boost to digital economy. While Government has said they would explore usage of block chain technology, Cryptocurrency still not becoming mainstream is a disappointment. Feel there should definitely have been some roadmap for the same, if not immediate. Focus on Digital & technology in the education sector is also a step in right direction. No Change in Personal taxes is a dampener as it was expected that there would be some change in that regard, while Standard Deduction of 40k is some relief.”
Reacted positively towards the Union budget 2018 – VivekBhargava, CEO of DAN Performance Group said, “FM Jaitley’s budget this year focuses on investments to be placed in artificial intelligence, machine learning and The Internet of Things with the NITI Aayog establishing a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence. The government has committed itself to the development of technology along with concentrating on AI and its applications which is a revolutionary move for the digital industry. Initiatives on infrastructure growth and education expansion have been looked at from a digital perspective, which reflects the significance of the ‘Blackboard to digital board’ movement. Decisions benefiting rural citizens – such as 5 lakh WiFi spots, give it a further impetus. Another game changer mentioned in this budget was the government’s will to proactively explore the use of blockchain technology. The allocation of Digital India has been doubled which indicates the government’s emphasis on digital, heralding a stronger digital economy. I believe this was a great budget for the digital ecosystem.”
Reacting Neutrally by terming it as an expected Budget, Rahul Puri, Managing Director, Mukta Arts said, It was an expected budget. I think that it was widely believed the Government would focus on the rural economy and so it came to pass. There was not much expected for the media and entertainment industry and there was nothing specific announced. Corporate India would be slightly disappointed though as corporate taxation was not reduced except for small enterprises. Aviation and farming the big winners.
Pankaj Krishna, Founder & CEO: Chrome Data Analytics & Media said, “Despite having among the most intelligent of men working on the budget, we have the highest levels of tax evasion. The ideation is great but I just hope that it is implemented with as much urgency and vigor. On a selfish note, the raising of cap from Rs 50 cr to 250 cr for reduced corporate tax is quite welcome for a small business such as ours. Also, the focus on rural economy should have spin-off benefits for broadcasting and the larger media & entertainment industry.”
Sahil Chopra, CEO and Founder, iCubesWire said, “The much-awaited announcement of Union Budget prompted a gust of anticipation & higher expectations. While Mr. Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister touts the Union Budget as primarily focused on the agricultural sector, it sure reeks of reforms beneficial for numerous other sectors as well.
The government has always encouraged the digital sector to flourish & the budget rightfully justifies their farsighted approach. This year the allocation to Digital India Scheme has been doubled to INR 3073Cr which is a worthwhile move for the industry as a whole. Not only that, with the onset of fast-paced technology & Artificial Intelligence shaping the new segment of digital World, NITI Aayog will establish a national programme for Artificial intelligence. This is a clap-worthy reform which will help organizations diversifying with AI to have a wider scope with vast awareness among everyone. For a higher internet penetration, 5 Lakh wi-fi hotspots will be set up in rural areas, which again is beneficial for the rural dwellers. The need to eliminate cryptocurrencies which are funding illegitimate transactions was also mentioned. The government has proposed to revamp the system of sanctioning loans to SMEs. As per the budget reforms now the information will be linked with GSTN & will be fetched from the same. This comes across as a welcome move as not only will it streamline the process but will enable people to get accustomed to the digital ingress. Corporate companies with a turnover of up to INR 250 cr. will also be highly benefitted from the budget as the corporate tax has been further reduced to 25%.
As per my opinion, the Union Budget has surely set a benchmark & the year looks promising with excellent reforms leading to growth & development of the economy.”
Mukesh Kumar, SVP, Infiniti Malls said, “Good to see the push on Health, Education and Infrastructure spending. It was very much needed. I would have liked better deals for honest middle class Income Tax payers. Agriculture sector also has been given more sops which I hope will make life easier for distressed farmers”.
SubratKar, CEO and co-founder Vidooly said, “Changes in the corporate tax regulations are a welcome move as this will provide a breather to more startups and MSME’s who are not covered under the current policy. It’s also extremely encouraging to see the government recognize the need for research in cutting-edge technologies around AI, ML and blockchain. NitiAayog’s involvement in the same will allow us to indigenously develop technologies on par with our silicon valley counterparts and reduce dependancy on them.Rural connectivity schemes like public wifi is a welcome move not just for telcos but also content players like us as digital consumption will rise and provide more monetization opportunities for content creators.”
NidheeshTyagi, Editor, Languages, News18.com said, “I think Budget 2018 is very much in line with the last “big bang” before the all important LokSabha elections next year. I wish there was more action around generating jobs, attracting youth and first time voters through schemes for career oriented education. Keeping the focus on agriculture and poverty alleviation, especially with an eye on the upcoming election, was an obvious move. Whether the government will be able to execute all that they have promised through this Budget is the key.”
VinaySarwagi, Desk Head, News18.com said, “Like every year, Budget 2018 presented us with a great opportunity to explain economy and policy to the masses. While News18.com‘s live blog and explainers focused on breaking the stories first and decoding the budget numbers for the readers, in-depth analysis and opinion were the key differentiators going beyond the obvious. We are heartened to see the massive reader interest, which broke all our past reader engagement records. Clearly, on big news days News18.com has become the most preferred destination.”
Amit Shukla, CEO, Pursuite.com said, “Budget 2018 is heavily inclined towards reducing rural stress that has been steadily building up due to low crop prices, high input costs and crop losses due to unforeseen events. Introducing assured MSP of 1.5x of cost of production for all Kharif crops will help farmers get decent remunerations for their efforts. It may however have inflationary effect in food prices in retail and may correspondingly affect food affordability and nutritional access. Rs 3 lac Cr allocation to Mudra Scheme, though less than Rs 4.6 lac Cr loan disbursement in FY17 and reduction of corporate tax for firms with less than 250 Cr turnover in FY17 is a welcome step. Rural livelihood and skill development has been accorded importance.
Digital India has been given a fillip with initiatives like expansion of broadband connectivity, WiFi, e-portals, smart cities, smart classrooms and proposal to undergo research in AI and block-chain. Startup India will get a boost with the proposed rationalisation of policies to ease business for VC firms and angel investors promised by the government.
Hospitality has not been accorded long awaited infrastructure status which is a dampener. Nothing was discussed about GST issues either. Hopefully, GST council will take the call for easing taxation policies on travel, stay and dining. Additionally 13 thematic circuits, 10 pilgrimage cities and 110 ASI maintained monuments will be developed as tourism destinations. Air and road connectivity is expected to improve with connectivity provision for 56 unserved airports and 31 heliports, 5 fold increase in capacity handling of 124 airports under AAI and road connectivity expansion under Bharat Mala programme. Hospitality industry stands to benefit from such improvements.”
Dushyant Jani, Founder & CEO – Mobclixs Technologies said, “The Budget 2018 announcement leans slightly more favourable to agriculture and the other related sectors in comparison to Telecom this year. However, we do welcome the Finance Minister’s decision of allocating Rs 3794 crores to the MSME sector. This will largely fuel financial aid and innovation among enterprises for their day-to-day functioning. Additionally, setting up of an aspirational skill centre in every district of the country is a well thought of decision towards the current employment scenario.
Speaking of the Telecom industry specifically, increase on customs duty on the import of mobile phones may lead to an unwelcomed impact keeping in mind the Digital India initiative. On the flip side, amends to increase the broadband access among rural citizens well help boost on-the-go content usage. The Budget 2018 also announces the focus of technology in digital education. This will now pave way for telecom content operators to explore and tap more educational content; a genre that has not seen maximum mileage up until now.”
Amin Rozani, MD and Co-founder, The Spartan Poker, “The government’s Union Budget 2018 gives the ‘Digital India’ program a stronger push, as the FM doubled the allocation on the program to Rs 3073 crore for 2018-19. The 372 point reform plan for improving the ‘ease of doing business’ which would be carried out in “mission mode”, will create a positive investment sentiment in the business community. However, no specific announcements were made towards the Start-up sector, which is a tad bit disappointing. Another positive of this Budget has been the emphasis on the rural digital economy, as 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots have been proposed to be set up in rural areas. Overall, I would rate this as a digital friendly Budget”.
Siddhartha Roy, CEO of Hungama.com said, “The latest budget announcements on the ‘Digital India’ initiative focus on their plan to create a robust infrastructure and facilitate extensive rural penetration which will lead to a sizeable boost in the digital consumption economy in the country. We expect entertainment to be big driver in this consumption journey.”
Mr. Prashant Puri, Co-Founder & CEO, AdLift said, “Rs. 3073cr allocation to Digital India programme is a huge win. India currently has the second largest internet population – this investment might see us getting to the first spot sooner than predicted which is sooner than 2022.”
Ms. Megha Tata, COO, BTVI said, ‘’Budget announcements signal a stronger eco system for media and broadcast industry. In continuation with my pre-budget expectations, I am happy that FM has kept his promise by reducing corporate tax rate to 25 %.’’