With the announcement of the 2019 Union budget, it seems tech leaders are mostly pleased with the results.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman put out a budget with quite a few pushes for a higher-manufacturing and more digital India, among other things.
1. Going cashless
For one, there won’t be a charge on cashless payments anymore. This mostly applies to MDR, which was a tax on card payments. Now, the government and banks will absorb that cost. Additionally, businesses with more than Rs 50 annual turnover are now mandated to offer digital modes of payments like BHIM UPI, Aadhaar Pay, Debit cards, NEFT etc.
2. Easier on FDI
The government is also easing local sourcing norms for FDI. What that means is, if foreign companies want to set up shop in India, they have fewer hoops to jump through. And probably the biggest winner here that’s been struggling with this restriction lately is Apple with setting up local iPhone manufacturing for latest models.
3. Tax exemptions for local manufacturing
Sitharaman also announced that the government will launch a scheme that would help global companies set up “mega manufacturing plants in sunrise and advanced technology areas such as semiconductor fabrication.” Basically, they’re thinking of offering tax exemptions to companies that manufacture things like lithium-ion batteries, photovoltaic cells, and components for servers and computers.
4. One card to rule them all
Thankfully this isn’t a universal ID card, but rather a ‘Common Mobility’ card suggested. Basically, it would be a sort of universal swipe card you can use to pay for your all your public transport uses, whether road or railway. More importantly, it would be RuPay-capable, which means perhaps in future no more standing in line waiting for a ticket.
5. Consolidated research
The budget also talked about setting up a ‘National Research Foundation’, that will be funded by all the ministries. More importantly, it’ll keep track of scientific research being done by all of India’s universities, to avoid a duplication of efforts.
6. Upskilling young professionals
A surprising announcement however, was the inclusion of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) in the budget. Apparently, this is a new scheme through which the government hopes to enable 10 million youth to train in forward-thinking and future-looking tech jobs in Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics, and Virtual Reality.