As the Union Budget 2023 is to be announced on February 1st by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, we at SmartStateIndia share with you the budget expectations from leaders across the industries.
Rajendra Chitale, CFO, Crayon Software Experts India
“The tech industry worldwide has seen many ups and downs in 2022 with a recession looming over the industry. Thankfully, India’s tech industry has not been significantly impacted by what is happening overseas. So right now, all the eyes are set on the upcoming Union Budget 2023-24 to be presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. We, on behalf of the tech industry, have our own expectations from this year’s budget. The growth of the IT and ITeS industry in India has been stupendous and we are happy with the Union government’s push in ensuring that the country is taking the digital leap. It is because of such a leap that since 2016, the number of startups in India has grown 90 times. From increased adoption of digital services and surging demand in new-age technologies like AI to the launch of 5G services, the Indian tech sector has been riding the wave.
I believe that currently, the tech industry’s #1 struggle is a lack of skilled workforce, especially with emerging technologies. The government needs to focus on skill development at the school and university levels so that the new batch of students joining the workforce can be prepared and updated to the technologies and standards of the industry. While the government is focusing on empowering the country with digitalization it should also look into the security measures. The recent demonstration of a cyberattack against AIIMS Delhi and its struggle to come out of it is one example of where the cybersecurity measures stand, as we make digital progress. Therefore, the government should, in the budget not just announce schemes, policies and set aside an amount for digital development, but also for cybercrimes. The digital infrastructure, especially with 5G being made available for Enterprises and individuals in certain tier 1 cities is receiving the attention of everyone. But there is an utmost need to improve and even standardize the digital infrastructure that will help SMEs/SMBs. The infrastructure should now just be limited to tier 1 cities but must be expanded to tier 2 and tier 3 cities where there is a majority of the workforce available. These are currently the pain points that need to be addressed in the budget which will boost India’s tech vertical and those depending on it positively.”
Hemant Tiwari, Managing Director, India, Hitachi Vantara
“The Indian economy is amongst the best performing economies in the world, we see huge potential for the technology sector in India to exhibit continuous growth. This is an opportunity for the government to incentivize the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud Computing across industries which will aid technological development at scale along with providing increased employment opportunities.
According to Mordor Intelligence, the Indian data center market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8% over the period 2021 to 2026. A revived focus on the Make in India and Digital India movements will accelerate the investments towards data centers in India. In the Union Budget 2023, we expect to see strong steps being taken to boost the digitalisation of infrastructure in industries such as the BFSI and manufacturing sectors.
Apart from economic and technological growth, sustainability is critical to the country’s long-term development. The Budget should create a roadmap for the country’s greener future. Automated solutions and data-driven processes will play a prime role in achieving sustainability goals. Hitachi Vantara offers digital solutions, eco-friendly data infrastructure and sustainable smart city solutions to reduce carbon footprint.”
Harshil Doshi, Country Director, Securonix
“2022 was a tough year for India with high profile cyberattacks, especially on govt agencies. The recent AIIMS ransomware attack sent shockwaves across the country and made everyone realise that having a traditional cyber security strategy will just not work anymore. I hope the Union Budget makes significant allocations to innovation and skill development. With the attacks getting sophisticated, we need AI/ML backed technologies that can preempt and prevent frauds. At the same time, the public needs to be sensitised about the various social engineering techniques that attackers use. Appropriate training programs and workshops can avoid such instances. It is not surprising to know that some of the data breaches that SMEs or common people suffer don’t even make it to the public domain. If only basic cybersecurity hygiene is followed, we can protect our systems in a better way. In short, India’s techade needs an innovative & modern cyber security strategy to flourish.”
Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India and SAARC
“From increased adoption of digital services and surging demand in new-age technologies like AI, analytics, to the launch of 5G services, the Indian tech sector has been readily serving the tech evolution. With the budget just around the corner, the government must empower the enhancement and innovation capabilities of the nation with increased allocation to research and development ecosystem. Additionally, digital public infrastructure investments need to be amplified for the success of smart cities in India. With the current impetus on expanding the railway and roadways, more concentration must be relied on next-gen surveillance to not only monitor the traffic violations but to also ensure public safety and gather real-time actionable insights during exigencies. With the nation coming back to the “new normal” post COVID, safety of child and women, and surveillance must be a high priority. The growing need for security and surveillance is a driving force for the connected digital world and hence clearer representation of Make in India policy and framework can substantially aid our growth and development. India’s digital economy is still evolving and to achieve its true potential, customs duty and tax relaxations will be a welcome move amid the global economic downturn.”
Rajiv Srivastava, MD, Redington Ltd.
“In the upcoming Union Budget 2023, we look forward to policy initiatives which will accelerate our journey to a $10 T economy in the near term. Economic growth is now increasingly driven by digital transformation and therefore investment initiatives that lead to the build-out of a quality digital infrastructure – data centres and high-speed internet – will be crucial.
India is a global leader in technology services, and we expect incentives for investments in new innovative technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Metaverse, 5G, Internet of Things, and Data Sciences to ensure we maintain our leadership. We have to encourage people to participate in the digital economy and towards this, the budget should also address the need for talent and skilling in digital technologies. This has the potential of creating a range of sustainable jobs.
We must aspire to become the global hub for innovation and our capabilities in technology can make that possible. The budget should provide an incentive structure for creating intellectual property in the country. Sectors like Healthcare, Green Energy, Retail, Fintech, Research and Development and others can benefit immensely, help improve the quality of life for all citizens and make us a real powerhouse.”
Maheswaran Shamugasundaram, Country Manager – India, Varonis
“As the Digital India mission is on fast track, cybersecurity has become critical. We need a robust cyber security policy to protect the most prized asset, which is data. As the work and the geopolitical environment is quickly changing, the attack surface has increased enormously with sophisticated cyberattacks. Therefore, the government must increase spending on creating an atmosphere of trust, online safety and accountability. We have to develop a sound ecosystem for the future of work and skill development in order to strengthen our position globally. This also augurs well with the G20 mission of facilitating technological transformation & digital public infrastructure. Such novel goals require significant investments on preemptive technologies and cyber awareness programs. Lastly, from a reform perspective, we are looking forward to an effective & gradual implementation of the newly drafted data protection bill, giving ample time to businesses to make necessary changes.”
Prashanth GJ, CEO at TechnoBind Solutions
“The Union Budget presentation is the most anticipated activity to take place right before the end of the financial year. The tech vertical has been thriving in India, especially over the last three years. Digital transformation has been taking place at warp speed due to the circumstances that cropped up post-pandemic. We are looking forward to this year’s Union Budget being presented by Union Finance Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2023. The government aims of achieving a $5 trillion GDP by 2025 considering that India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and I believe that the Indian tech sector will be a valuable contributor to this growth momentum. There are, naturally, expectations by the tech industry too from the budget.
There is a dire need for the government to form the right industry-friendly policies concerning data sharing, privacy and security. Fighting cybercriminals and formulating the right law against them is of dire need today as there is a looming threat against data privacy and security. Apart from policies, there needs to be expertise and think tanks set up and funds dedicated for the training of the staff in every major government department from the union to the states, to strengthen the cyber cells. The 5G will advance technology by multifold and its tools by multifold, but unfortunately, our infrastructure is not capable of handling a full-fledged advancement including tier-1 cities. The government needs to ensure that the budget needs are set aside, and estimated deadlines need to be set to ensure that the overall infrastructure matches the current tech advancement and the future. But a better focus needs to be given to ensure that Tier 2 & 3 cities, towns and even rural areas have better infrastructure that will support the tech advancement and help them match the growth as that of a Tier 1 city. Smart city projects need to be finished and newer cities need to be added to the list that will help us revolutionize the tech industry and the associated verticals. Hopefully, this budget will help us formulate and reach a new milestone.”
Manikanth Challa, CEO & Founder, Workruit
“In the upcoming Budget 2023-24, there is an expectation for increased funding for schools, colleges, and universities to improve infrastructure, resources, and technology. Investing in digital classrooms, e-learning platforms, and teacher training programs could all fall under this category. Furthermore, the government needs to invest in programs that promote educational equity, such as initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide and providing education to underserved and marginalized communities.
The government should consider investing in research and development for edtech products and services. Tax breaks for companies that develop and implement innovative edtech solutions could be included. Furthermore, we need investment in programs that promote the use of edtech in schools and other educational settings, such as providing teachers with training and support on how to effectively use edtech tools. Overall, the education and edtech industries expect the government to invest in initiatives that will help to improve the quality of education and make it more accessible to all.”
Ramanujam Komanduri, Country Manager, Pure Storage India
“2022 was a difficult yet extraordinary year in many ways. Digital has taken center stage as the effects of the pandemic continue to recede. India is already one of the fastest growing digital economies, and we will continue to strive towards becoming the global digital capability hub. The budget should focus on three pertinent aspects. Firstly, hasten infrastructure expenditures in digital technologies, since technological investments are thought to have a multiplier effect on the economy. Secondly, increase spending on R&D to foster innovation and tap into the amazing engineering talent that we have in the country. Finally, enhance the focus on sustainability as climate change requires urgent attention and action and requires all of us, as individuals, organizations, and the government to pull together, utilizing environmentally sustainable technology.”
Vipul Singh, CEO & Cofounder, Aereo
“Over the past year, the Indian drone manufacturing industry has flourished due to various policy reforms and schemes like the INR 120 crore PLI scheme for drones and drone components. This year, we expect dedicated incentives for drone service startups. For B2B drone operations to reach their maximum potential in 2023, restructuring the PLI scheme is the need of the hour. The 2023 union budget must introduce MSME-focussed incentives as they constitute around 90% of companies in this sector. Apart from drone manufacturing, benefits to the drone services sector are necessary for the success of Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS) under Drone Shakti. Incentivizing the drone service sector impacts high-skilled employment in the country. We are seeing surging demand for drone services in the country. Thus, we need a technically proficient workforce to fulfil this demand. Additionally, with this year’s budget, we are expecting benefits towards indigenization and native R&D. This is of paramount importance to reduce our dependency on foreign OEMs. An additional 10% PLI benefit for companies with more than 50% indigenous Intellectual Property will encourage the innovative companies to innovate more and OEMs to indigenize further to reduce the dependency on imports. It will help propel Make-in-India and put the Indian drone industry on a self-sustaining trajectory.”
Mahesh Krishnamoorthy, Managing Director at Core Integra
“Budget 2023 is the “Budget of Hope” because it comes after three years of pandemic impact on corporations and individuals, and it is also the final full budget before national elections.
From a corporate standpoint, I look forward to steps toward simplifying labour law, digitalization of labour compliances, and enhancing transparency in licensing and registration processes. Individuals would appreciate it if the budget significantly increases sec. 80C limits, eliminate surcharges and cess, increase the tax benefit on housing loan interest u/s 24, and move housing loan principal, stamp duty, and registration cost from sec. 80C to an independent benefit section.”
Nikhil Mathur, Managing Director India & Head Data Partnership & Innovation-APAC, GfK
“The consumer tech & durables market has seen significant growth in two years despite various economic headwinds. For 2023 to continue riding high on this positive momentum, the industry expects reduced tax slabs and a production-linked incentive scheme for more affordable product manufacturing. Indian manufacturers are also anticipating a lower GST and relaxation on Custom duty on the import of electronic supplies. In my view, the Make in India initiative coupled with the Government’s commitment to make India a global manufacturing hub will further accelerate the growth of the tech & durables market.”
Nikhil Goyal, CEO & Founder, Beyond Imagination Technologies
“Blockchain technology can have a profound impact on several sectors as it has the potential to create cutting-edge solutions and serve as the foundation of India’s digital economy. It can play a vital role in India’s growth story by solving real-world problems. So, we hope that our country will see more adoption of blockchain technology in times to come and bring real impact, improve efficiency and make India a productive nation. Thus, we hope that the upcoming budget will provide an impetus to technological advancements, which can unlock significant opportunities for growth and economic development, and an opportunity for India to become the tech hub of the world.
In the budget 2023-24, we hope the government to provide a fair share towards technological advancement, focus on incentivizing or promoting tech to make India the talent hub of web3 for the world, a push to R&D to develop “Make in India” blockchain products for the world and position India as the epicenter of the tech developments.”
Debashis Chatterjee, CEO and Managing Director, LTIMindtree
“The Union Budget 2023 is forward-looking and offers something to every section of the society without compromising on fiscal consolidation. It underscores the growing significance of cloud, data, artificial intelligence, and other new-age technologies in governance, while also taking a big step forward in simplifying processes and improving the ease of doing business. The budget’s emphasis on digitalization and trust-based governance will open new opportunities for the IT sector to leverage its globally acknowledged technology strengths to make a difference here.
One of the salient aspects of the budget is its continued emphasis on skilling, employability, and industry-academia collaboration, which are critical to India’s competitiveness as a global hub of digital and Industry 4.0 skills. Unveiling avenues for leading industry players to partner with educational institutions in driving interdisciplinary research and cutting-edge AI and 5G applications will create a win-win proposition for both — a rich training ground for students involving real-world challenges and use-cases, and greater opportunities for the industry to further strengthen the digital ecosystem in India. By building upon the earlier vision of a more structured development of Tier 2 and 3 cities, the budget will further enhance our ability to capitalize on an expanded talent pool, vital to the long-term sustainability and scalability of the IT services industry in India. Overall, the budget speaks to India’s potential to become a global benchmark in technology-led transformation.
Spurring consumption through a slew of measures — taxation benefits, an exclusive savings scheme for women, and enhanced investment limits for senior citizens, to name a few — will provide impetus to higher capital expenditure in the private sector as well.”
Amit Chadha, CEO & MD, L&T Technology Services
“The Union Budget 2023 has shown a strong focus on boosting digital infrastructure and adoption, which is a positive sign for the technology industry. It was also encouraging to see Hon’ble Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman share her vision of “making AI in India and making AI work for India”, further highlighting the importance of building a strong AI ecosystem in India. We welcome the government’s move towards developing three AI excellence centres and 100 5G labs, as well as introducing the National Data Governance Bill, which will open up a wide range of opportunities for business growth and employment generation. As a pure-play ER&D services provider, our belief is that such a mass scale enablement of digital transformation and innovation will unlock the full potential of the Indian engineering and technology sector. It will also result in complementing uptake of digital engineering capabilities resulting in the country maintaining its strong hold as a global preferred destination for engineering services.”
Venkatraman Narayanan, MD & CFO, Happiest Minds Technologies
“Digital has emerged as the hallmark of Union Budget announced today. Be it setting up of AI-focused CoEs, or Unified Digital Skilling platform, the role of digital technologies is empathetically at the forefront of India’s economic rise. It will be interesting to see how the paperless digital locker based documentation storage and management for citizens shapes up, as accordingly it promises to open up a wave of opportunities in the domestic market related to cyber security, cloud, AI and ML. While tax exceptions on exports are a welcome step, certain breather on corporate tax would have complemented it well.
Overall, it is a sound and holistic budget devised to ensure upliftment, empowerment and inclusivity to all.”
Manish Mimani, Founder & CEO, Protectt.ai
“It is encouraging to see the government focus on building a digitally-driven nation in the Union Budget. By expanding innovative services in the fintech space, along with announcing the vision of Make AI in India and Make AI Work for India, we have a lot to look forward. Though not explicitly highlighted in the Budget, we can also expect to see the cybersecurity landscape evolve and benefit from increased use of AI in operations, products, and services. In addition, the government’s relief measures for startups in areas of tax benefits and setting off losses comes as a welcome move, and will go a long way in encouraging the Indian startup ecosystem to continue to innovate.”