Budget 2017: `The government should boost digitization'

By Sejuti Das Jan 30th 2017
Budget 2017: `The government should boost digitization'

With the Union budget 2017 just round the corner, here's what the IT industry head honchos expect from the government.

Last year saw the central government  taking two major economic decisions—Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetization. While the IT sector is still uncertain about the impact of both decisions, their pre-budget expectations are fairly high. With a few days to go for the annual financial plan presentation by finance minister Arun Jaitley, here's what the industry honchos expect from this year’s budget:

According to Vivekanand Venugopal, Vice President & General Manager at Hitachi Data Systems, India, the upcoming budget is expected to create opportunities, keeping innovation in the heart of every policy.

“To efficiently drive the journey of Digital India, the focus should be to modernize the infrastructure. The government needs to institute industry-friendly policies to better manage data, through centralized data hubs and drive smarter decision-making with the help of data analytics,” says Venugopal, “The definitive step of GST by our government is also working towards accelerating digitization. Therefore the policies and measures should help bring in economic stability, investment-friendly policies, increase in ease-of-doing-business, and improve long-term tax incentives.”

Anil Valluri, President at NetApp India & SAARC believes that the recent move of demonetization, trying to shift our cash driven economy of 1.2 billion people, and getting them to leapfrog into the digital world is unprecedented in history.

He says, “The previous budgets have systematically created frameworks and processes to give wings to the dreams of multiple sections of the society with initiatives like Startup India, Standup India, Digital India, and Make in India. The upcoming budget now requires focusing on how digitization can become entrenched and become a way of life while continuing to focus on the growth of the economy.”

Harsh Marwah, Country Manager at Verizon Enterprise Solutions expects the upcoming Union Budget to be distinctive, as digital currency, GST, and demonetization are playing an integral role in improving the digital infrastructure of the country.

He says, “It will be important for the government to encourage technology research and development into digital infrastructure in the new budget.”

As India is becoming a force to be reckoned with, Marwah expects the government to finalize the encryption policy, which is critical to ensure the security of communication.

“To create a regulatory environment fit for the digital age, what is required is a light touch regulatory approach based on regulatory simplicity, predictability, and harmonization. By making it easy for tech companies to do business, and simplifying tech implementation, our government can foster the adoption of digital services,” says Marwah.

According to Rajiv Srivastava, Managing Director at HP Inc. India, with the upcoming Union Budget, the government should look at rolling out initiatives to boost adoption of technology for education, skilling, manufacturing, and infrastructure development, to create India’s growth story.

“For digitally empowering citizens, the government should look at making technology more affordable and should introduce initiatives to encourage PC buying in the country,” says Srivastava.

“On the business front, IT manufacturers are bracing themselves for the implementation of the much anticipated GST. It will be important to outline a roadmap for IT manufacturers for the implementation of the new policies well in time,” he adds.

Vinay Sinha, Head of Sales – India, Director - Commercial Business at AMD APJ Mega Region expects the government of India to work on initiatives such as National Digital Literacy Mission and Digital Saksharta Abhiyan, which will help people to democratize the use of technology and get familiar with digital devices, and internet usage.

“The government must continue to push programs like Digital India to proliferate digital services and digital inclusion to the common man. It is also required to balance the slowdown on cash purchases, due to demonetization move,” says Sinha, “The robustness of the digitization move and its impact will only be understood once we have enough data to measure the market movement.”

L. C. Singh, Vice Chairman & CEO (Founder) at a Pune-based midsize Indian IT company, Nihilent Technologies, says that the IT-enabled services industry expects unvarying support from the government to promote research and development practices in the country.

He says, “To maintain the leadership position, the ITeS sector looks forward to continued support from the government to not only ensure the financial viability of the sector but also to trigger a wave of innovation, particularly on the backdrop of the digital demand from global organizations.”

He further adds, “The demonetization measure has triggered a positive impact on the adoption of digital technologies and the Digital India initiative has set foot in a true and meaningful sense. Therefore, the government support in terms of tax rebates, and concessions for new-age technological innovations would serve a long way towards further enhancing India’s position in the global Intellectual Property (IP) landscape.”

Samson Khaou, Managing Director, Dassault Systemes India expects the upcoming budget to focus on improvement in technology infrastructure. The company expects the government to pursue the positive momentum for projects like Make in India, Smart Cities, and Digital India. He says, “The government should continue with the impetus on infrastructure and manufacturing sector.”

Khaou hopes to see a continued focus by the government in the realm of technological advancements. Further, the policy must offer subsidies on investments and incentives to small and medium scale manufacturers, and encourage easier imports of capital goods, industrial raw materials, tools, and components, with the objective to upgrade the quality and competitiveness of our domestic manufacturing sector.

“The budget also needs to focus on the areas of high technology skill development and should create industry ready talent,” says Khaou.

Rostow Ravanan, CEO at Mindtree strongly recommends that the upcoming budget should outline a larger three to five years fiscal roadmap for the country, which can help corporates and individuals to plan their medium and long term financial investment priorities.

He says, “We also expect simplification in tax administration to bring more people into the tax net, and reduce the disproportionate burden on salaried taxpayers.”

Rajeev Jain, CFO at Intex Technologies believes that smartphones are going to play a crucial role in supporting the digital economy vision of the country.

“We expect long-term and stable policies on mobile manufacturing in India. The industry has huge potential and can supplement government initiatives with highly technical products if focused. Incentives to create sufficient technical manpower will lay the foundation of a strong and robust manufacturing base in India,” says Jain. “Further, a clearly laid out research and development policy are necessary to succeed, and to bring component manufacturing base in India to save precious foreign exchange.”

According to Partha DeSarkar, CEO at Hinduja Global Solutions, this year’s Union Budget is expected to lead growth. The company expects the government to bring in reforms to facilitate better tax rationalization, ease-of-doing-business, and create enough jobs.

DeSarkar says, “Although the push towards a cashless or digital economy is a great move, prudent measures must be implemented for creating a conducive ecosystem that fosters growth and greater transparency.”

He further adds, “Focused skill development and creation of a vast employable pool across the country, including in tier II and III cities, has helped the IT-BPM sector in enhancing the growth potential. The upcoming budget should put more impetus on initiatives such as Skill India mission, and the Indian Skill Development Services (ISDS).”

Measures for cyber safety

With the push for digitization by the Indian government, the IT security players are expecting a budget that will try to strengthen the holistic approach to cyber security.

According to Sanjay Rohatgi, Senior Vice President, APJ at Symantec, a holistic approach to cyber security is a prerequisite to foster and sustain the trust of all the stakeholders, consumers, businesses, as well as the government.

He says, “We expect the government of India to include cyber security as a part of the design architecture itself, and not as an afterthought.”

Symantec believes that the government should consider setting aside at least eight percent of its overall IT budget specifically for cybersecurity starting with the upcoming budget.

“We need to focus on developing a world-class and competent workforce. To this effect, Symantec has partnered with NASSCOM towards building a cadre of certified cyber security skills in the country,” adds Rohatgi.

Sanjai Gangadharan, Regional Director – SAARC at A10 Networks expects Indian government to further promote cashless transactions along with a holistic security measure.

The company is also awaiting the announcements of the upcoming budget to have a better understanding of the government’s move on the additional sops for promoting cashless transactions, and the announcements around income tax and GST.

Murali Ramalingam, Country Head at Ixia Technologies considers cyber security as one of the biggest concerns of enterprises and the government. Minimal IT budgets and lack of skilled resources to combat cyber security threats can ultimately cost organizations millions.

Ramalingam believes that the government needs to allocate sufficient budget, time and focus to strengthening cyber security in parallel with the growing volume of digital transactions that are taking place in the country.

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