With a couple of days to go before the finance minister announces the Union Budget for this year, speculations and expectations of IT players are getting higher day by day. A few of them shared their expectations on what they want from this year’s budget. Read on…
Designed in India for India
“The new government has brought with it a renewed focus on utilizing technology for better governance, better citizen services and smarter cities through initiatives like Digital India & Smart Cities. PM’s JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhar, Mobile numbers) vision coupled with new payment banks will drive a different level of financial inclusion in the country. For this to succeed, it is important that the government procurement policy motivates and encourages Indian IT Service providers to participate and play a role in government’s Digital India initiative. Under Make in India initiative, it is important that budget stimulates a build-up of design ecosystem on the technology side. It should help support technology products which are ‘designed in India for India’ and are thus a feeder to ‘ make in India’,” Rajesh Janey, President- India and SAARC, EMC.
Digital India and Smart Cities
“We have already seen some favorable and positive steps taken by the government over the last year in the form of inviting Foreign Direct Investment in railways and defence, insurance legislation, labor reforms and progress in infrastructure projects across the country. The rollout of Make in India and Digital India have given a tremendous boost to the IT sector and opened up several new opportunities for the development of the digital ecosystem.We hope to see continued support of the start-up ecosystem and the development of scientific research, R&D and innovation which is the foundation of future business growth, and the key to making India a global innovation hub. We also hope to see continued investment and government support in building the crucial technology infrastructure the India needs to achieve its ambitious growth, including projects like NOFN, data centres and digital highways. There is also an acute need for skilled labour accompanied with labour reforms across segments and we expect that the budget this year will address this need,” said Ravinder Rana- India – Country General Manager, Concentrix.
Adding to it, Vishal Agrawal, Managing Director, Avaya India and SAARC said, “With technology being the pivot for the country’s transformation, the upcoming budget brings upon a great array of opportunities to redefine the consumption and reinstate its pertinence by the means of increased IT budgets. To achieve the proposed hyper-connectivity as stated by Government of India’s ambitious projects such as Digital India and Smart Cities, we would anticipate an increase in public-private partnerships. Additionally, businesses in India are increasingly adopting modern technologies and we want a budget which eases the transaction processes for software-vendors like us and facilitates in boosting the adoption of technology. We see a lot of potential to grow our business in India and are looking forward to collaborating with the Government to digitally transform the nation.”
Extending SEZ schemes and Removing MAT
“Our exports are becoming more and more difficult, due to budget cuts, visa restrictions etc., all around the world. In order to make Software companies stronger, there is need for extending SEZ schemes and removing MAT. This will not only help Indian software companies but also incentivize foreign companies to set up software development facilities in Indian SEZ and provide further employment.” Diwakar Nigam, MD – Newgen Software.
Focus on Cyber/IT Security sector
“We hope that the Finance Minister will come up with game changing policies – including tax incentives, reduction of MAT rates, etc., which will further boost growth in the service sector, job creation and IT research & development. We expect special focus on Cyber/IT Security sector as it is essential to secure India from emerging Cyber threats, while we increase spend on the digital initiatives. We also look forward to reforms in tax laws and in Companies Act to simplify doing business in India, and also save the amount of paper work that Companies generate today while doing business. A break in the average income tax rates for people in the salaried class, which contributes to a significant amount of Income Tax to the Government, would be good to see as well. Overall I think this is the time for the Finance Minister and the Government to present a forward looking budget with major initiatives to spur the growth of India to the next level,” said Padmanabha Krishnamurthy, CFO, Paladion Netwroks.
Adding to same, Shrikant Shitole, Managing Director, India, Symantec said, “From a technology adoption point of view, while mobility and cloud adoption are on the rise, India continues to ranks high both as source and destination of cyber attacks. These risks can impede the potential benefits of ‘Digital India’ programme. Hence, it is imperative to allocate 10% of the IT budgets exclusively for cyber and information security to ensure that the citizens are truly empowered to use the IT infrastructure and e-governance services.”
GO – No GO decision making
“With the initiatives that the government has envisioned, like the Make In India, Digital India, Smart cities, et al, one of the most important aspects would be how do we execute these initiatives as a nation and more importantly who executes? That is where the importance of skilled manpower becomes critical. We definitely need an impetus towards skills development in the country which would have a significant impact on the success of these projects. Also the corporate world especially Technology sector would like to see a policy push towards skill development for the mid as well as long term. Also, adoption of cloud is becoming a reality in India and security of data has been one of the key aspects in the GO – No GO decision making for organisations. What is important here is that we are dealing with the critical, personal data of customers and users. We expect that we see a positive movement towards an increased budget for IT security which should lead to a policy at later date to mandate organizations to disclose breaches when end users’ data are compromised,” said Rahul Kumar,Country Manager & Director at WinMagic
Policies to increase the consolidation of the data centers
“The industry outlook remains positive with the recent Gartner report stating Indian data center infrastructure market to reach $2 billion this year – a 5.2 percent increase from previous year. The prospective discussions on tax incentives for startups, building infrastructure for large data centers and cloud services within the country to ensure data security and the target to achieve 100 smart cities in India are positive steps towards development and we are hopeful that Union budget 2016 will bring ease in doing business. Moreover, with more and more businesses going digital, we expect the budget to ease further on the policies to increase the consolidation of the data centers in the Indian market. Thereby, the right policies and actions in Union Budget 2016 could spearhead India to a top position in the global IT Infrastructure Market,” said Sanjay Motwani, Regional Director India, South East Asia, Taiwan and Hongkong, Raritan International.
Flagship initiatives and JAM
“To my mind, this budget should see the Government take further steps to accelerate its flagship initiatives which have been structured holistically in the form of JAM to reach the last mile and transform lives of every citizen. StartUp India was an excellent example of the Government proactively putting it’s might behind India’s up and coming entrepreneurs who are brimming with new ideas. Of particular interest is the further steps to make Digital India a distinct reality coupled with the pace of Infrastructure building as these will propel growth across various sectors,” said Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India & SAARC.
Benefits for emerging Indian MNCs
“The prime expectation from the upcoming budget is that we should be headed towards a progressive Indian economy. Having said that, I’ve three expectations from the budget. First – it should not have retrospective tax impacts as that hurts the business environment by creating uncertainties. Second – the budget should focus on introducing some benefits for emerging Indian MNCs. As a growing Indian MNC, we are yet to realise concrete tax benefits by the government to organisations in our league, which enables us to grow the business potential further in the country and contribute even more to the economy. And finally – the budget should include measures of ensuring education for all and healthcare for all – at least one step in that direction would be a positive as well as a welcome change,” said Snehashish Bhattacharjee, Global CEO and Co-founder of Denave.
“Circumnavigating the Government initiatives of ‘Make in India’ and “Startup India”, this budget has to be in sync with these ambitious movements by providing appropriate fiscal incentives to business and enterprises. To realize the “Digital India” aspiration, the Government needs to empower both the industries that are into creation and adoption of cutting edge digital technologies for competitive advantage. For this, the budget has to ensure smoothing of taxation barriers for new product/technology development and provide enough incentives to inspire innovation in the field of Digital technology,” said Manjunatha KG Chairman & CEO, Kenscio Digital.
Special incentives for data centres & cloud providers
“Data centre and cloud companies to be declared under a special infrastructure category of national importance. Special incentives for data centres and cloud providers which help promote and support digital india and startup india initiatives. Benefits to include Tax breaks for 10 years, special power tariffs considering that these institutions run the digital india and ecommerce backbone of India and need huge amount of power. Land at special rates. Faster clearances to data centre building proposals. Special subsidised provisions for provision of high capacity power availability to data centres. No octroi for data centre companies and such equipment of businesses which gets hosted in a third party data centre. No revenue share for internet revenue of ISPs for next 5 years. Zero duty import of IT equipment for data centre hosting and cloud companies,” said Sunil Gupta, Executive Director and President, Netmagic, an NTT Communications company.
“The government has started a revolutionary growth trend with Make in India initiative and we truly appreciate its relentless focus towards making India a global manufacturing hub. We feel that the next decade will be dominated by the electronic manufacturing services sector and it will bring about the next revolution in India. This sector has the capability to not only meet our country’s burgeoning employment needs but also make India – ‘World’s factory’. We have seen the government extend its unflinching support to the mobile handset industry by declaring it as a priority lending sector and through single window clearance mechanism, tax exemption on direct and indirect taxes for made in India products, tax holiday and incentives for startup entrepreneurs among other exemptions. Additionally, supports like deduction of CSR expenses, lowering the MAT rate can further boost the Indian economy and will accelerate investments in R&D, enable localization of electronic components and digital content’s availability in offline areas,” said Ritesh Suneja, Group CFO, Lava International.
“Continuing the growth momentum of 2015, we hope 2016 heralds a new dawn in the telecoms tax landscape. Clarity on the significant issue of spectrum is critical as it forms a significant part of operator investments.Transparency on treatment of spectrum as an intangible asset eligible for tax depreciation is needed ahead of a big ticket multiband telecoms auction this year. With spectrum sharing and trading norms unleashing a wave of consolidation in the sector, clarity on the indirect tax treatment of spectrum trading – whether it be liable for service Tax or VAT or both, as levying the VAT alone would put immense pressure on debt laden telecom sector,” said Vishal Malhotra, Tax partner, telecom practice, EY.
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