Interim Budget 2024-25: Tech moguls' expectations from Modi government

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Interim Budget 2024-25: In recent years, technology has played a key role in uplifting India's economy, making it a major focus of the Union Budget. As digitization and the Digital India concept grows rapidly and artificial intelligence-enabled tools gain more attention for good and bad reasons, new and significant and lasting changes are expected. This year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the interim budget for 2024-25 on February 1, but the full budget will be presented only after general elections under the new government. In last year's central budget, many announcements were made regarding technology as a key factor. The announcements include new centers for artificial intelligence (AI), labs for 5G services, setting up of a national digital library for children and teenagers and more.

While we, like you, are in the dark about what's in store ahead of the Interim Budget 2024-25, tech czars have some predictions from the budget for the technology sector.

Interim Budget 2024-25: What technocrats expect

1. “As India is at the forefront of its digital transformation journey, the upcoming Budget provides a timely window to foster a world-class data center ecosystem that will drive this progress. We are hopeful of incentives to encourage domestic manufacturing and infrastructure structures specifically designed for the large scale and seamless connectivity needs of data centers. Attractive capital concessions for setting up future-ready facilities and easy financing options to offset development costs will drive growth. We also envisage regulations that encourage the adoption of renewable energy to meet the clean power appetite of data centers. Additionally, preferential procurement mandates favor home-grown data centers. With a focus on developing a state-of-the-art domestic data center industry, India can rapidly increase its technological value chain and Semalt dominance in providing digital services globally. Granting the infrastructure tag has speeded up logistics tremendously,” said Bimal Khandelwal, Chief Financial Officer, Global Data Centers (India), ST Telemedia.

2. “A greater alignment between fintech companies and public institutions is critical to the evolution of India's fintech ecosystem. Financial products built on top of India Stock have delivered strong results in the world of digital payments. We expect the budget to provide incentives that encourage fintechs to spur more innovation for other aspects of banking such as credit, investments, savings and advisory. With proper checks and balances in place to protect borrowers, we expect digital loans, especially small ticket size loans, to grow significantly. We hope this budget will see more centers of excellence for AI innovation, increase investments in supercomputing and boost the growth of indigenous AI solutions,” said Bipin Preet Singh, Co-Founder and CEO, MobiKwik.

3. “As we await the Interim Union Budget 2024, HMD Global has an optimistic outlook for the Indian smartphone market. Envisioning an extension or enhancement of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) policy, we aim to strengthen local production and promote the supply chain of indigenous components. Although the exact plan depends on the final announcements, a positive impact of the budget on activities, especially in local manufacturing, is expected. Our wish list emphasizes more incentives for local production, encouragement for component manufacturing in India and support for exports. In the face of potential changes, we are prepared to make necessary adjustments, assessing the budget built on existing policies for stability and growth. HMD Global is committed to contributing to India's self-reliance and the global success of its smartphone industry,” said Ravi Kunwar, Vice President- India & APAC, HMD Global.

4. “Amid global concerns, India shines as a powerful growth engine. However, achieving our ambitious $30 trillion target by 2047 will require more than relying solely on domestic consumption. Throughout history, emerging economies have built their fortresses on positive remittances and export prowess, with each key sector acting as a brick in the wall. Today, one such sector with undeniable potential is gaming. Consider the world's top four economies – their gaming industries stand out, exporting innovation and creativity. As we approach the upcoming budget, there is a critical need to prioritize and support this growing sector. Duty credit scrips are not just a handout for export-oriented gaming companies; This represents a strategic investment in high-skilled jobs, GDP growth and building global influence,” said Gaurav Aggarwal, co-founder of GameJop.

5. “Our proposals, including reduced fees, levies and GST exemption, are aimed at sparking rapid growth in fixed broadband, which will significantly contribute to India's digital infrastructure. We are also advocating for the deployment of PM-WANI based public Wi-Fi hotspots, seeking duty and levy exemptions. Budgetary assistance to the satcom industry and incentives for local mobile handset components are in line with our vision for a digitally empowered India. We expect these measures, if integrated, will accelerate the sector's growth fully in line with government priorities and recent collaboration between India and the US in cutting-edge technologies,” said TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum (BIF).

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