Tech firm chiefs find Budget forward looking, growth oriented

Bengaluru: Hailing the Union Budget for 2018-19 as forward looking and growth-oriented, chiefs of major IT firms on Thursday welcomed its focus on the rural economy, healthcare for the poor, investments in infrastructure, digital skilling, education and jobs creation.

“This is a forward looking, growth-oriented budget with a focus on the rural economy, healthcare for the poor, investments in infrastructure, digital skilling, education and jobs creation.

“Several proposals in the Budget represent big strides in building a Digital India with outlay for the smart cities programme, plans to explore blockchain technology, national programme for adoption of artificial intelligence and for research, training and skilling in cyber-physical systems,” said TCS Chief Financial Officer V. Ramakrishnan in a statement.

Giving it a score of 8 out of 10 to the Budget, he said innovative use of technology to digitally reimagine agricultural markets would empower small and marginal farmers and extending broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens would bridge the digital divide.

Wipro CFO Jatin Dalal said the Budget had delivered on the socio-economic agenda of strengthening the agricultural and rural economy, healthcare, infrastructure and education in the country.

“On the tax front, while reduction in the corporate tax rate for companies with turnover less than Rs 250 crore is a step in the right direction, it has to be followed up with rationalization of MAT (Minimum Alternate Tax) and corporate tax rate,” he said in a statement here.

Terming the Budget positive and common man centric, Tech Mahindra Chief Executive C.P. Gurnani said measures like the Minimum Support Price (MSP) at 1.5 times the cost of produce and extending the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Bima Yojana to poor families would be key growth drivers.

“The proposal to reduce corporate tax to 25 per cent for MSMEs is encouraging for the economy,” he said in a statement from Mumbai.

Though the Budge has no direct benefit for larger corporations, the CEO said robustness in the economy would flow into the ecosystem.

“For the IT industry, steps to strengthen Fintech in the MSME space and plans for Smart Cities such as Smart City Command Centres, Smart Roads and Solar Power shows the country is on way of being a trillion-dollar digital economy by 2025,” he said.

Welcoming the focus on e-governance via artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital manufacturing, Internet of Things, quantum computing, big data, Gurnani said the policy drive on technology to usher in digital economy would open prospects across the sector and those allied such as education.

Intel India Managing Director, Sales & Marketing, Prakash Mallya said the Budget pivoted on a digital-first India.

“We see a huge potential in the country from the three Budget proposals like the NITI Ayog effort to institutionalise research and development in artificial intelligence, which reinforces the value that machine learning can bring to issues of national importance.

“If synergised with the work being done by the academia and industry, we can expect fast emerging use of cases that can democratise AI in the country,” said Mallya in a statement here.

“The Department of Telecom’s establishment of a 5G centre is an encouraging sign of the government’s view of collaboration with the broader technology ecosystem as the best strategy to accelerate the rollout of 5G infrastructure by 2020,” added Mallya.

German software major SAP India Managing Director Deb Deep Sengupta said the Budget had focused on driving the economy with well-structured measures and programmes, specifically for MSMEs to boost employment and economic growth.