Industry view on Budget 2019-20

Viewpoint , July 05, 2019

Rajan S Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India

We laud the government for a progressive and forward looking budget that has provided the building blocks for a $5 trillion economy. In many ways, the budget encompasses the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, particularly in the areas of Infrastructure, Rural Connectivity, Women Empowerment, Housing, Power and Cooking Gas in rural areas, and creating a robust Digital economy. The special emphasis on boosting electric vehicles in the country by reducing GST as well as incentivising their purchase is a big step towards curbing vehicular pollution. The emphasis is on domestic manufacturing is also welcome.

It is also heartening to note that the budget has focused on evolving technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Robotics etc and acknowledges their critical role in the Indian economy in the coming years. We are hopeful that the government will also roll out specific measures to harness these technologies of the future so that digital India reaches every segment of the economy.

It has been shown categorically that the Telecom industry has been a significant engine for GDP growth, rural inclusion, women empowerment and affordable communication services and ubiquitous connectivity. As such, the industry hoped the Union Budget would provide relief from the high taxes and fee on the industry. Given the importance of the industry in driving inclusive growth, we remain optimistic the government will provide the much needed financial relief and impetus to the industry in post budget review.

Tilak Raj Dua, Director General, Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association

As per the various reports, India imported optical fibre cable from 60 countries with the total value of import being 73.75 US$ million in 2017. The largest exporters of optical fibre cable to India are China, Japan, Germany, USA and Denmark.

Further, the Indian market for OFC in 2018 is estimated at 29 million fkm, projected to grow at a CAGR of 17 percent through 2023.

With 5G and other emerging technologies, fibre is the most significant component to enhance the network connectivity. Currently, less than 25% of the telecom towers are fiberised as compared to the global counterpart such as China, USA and Japan wherein more than 80% of the telecom infrastructure are fiberised.

It is time when the nation is gearing up to unfold socio-economic benefits to governments, citizens, end-users and businesses through increase in productivity and competitiveness, improvements in service delivery, and optimal use of scarce resources like Spectrum through fiberisaiton.

In a nutshell, it is a lacklustre budget as hike in the basic custom duty will result in higher capital expenditure eventually burning a hole in the pockets of telecom industry which is already facing financial turmoil. The development will seriously impede the rollout of 5G in India.

Pranav Roach, President, Hughes Network Systems India

It is encouraging to see Budget 2019 taking cognizance of the growing opportunities in the space domain and also talking about increasing India’s global footprint in this sector. This is important because the Indian satellite communications sector is perhaps the only industry still stuck in the 2G era and suffers chronic capacity shortage resulting in users continuing to pay much higher than global rates. There is a surge of investment and innovation in the space sector globally driven by private sector but in India the private sector is locked out and a huge investment and employment opportunity is being lost.

Anjali Amar, Country Manager at Verizon Enterprise Solutions

We welcome the Union Budget's focus on closing the technology skills gap in the face of disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and Robotics. The economic and societal benefits that these technologies are poised to deliver means that it is imperative to reskill India's IT workforce. This will ensure that tomorrow's IT executives will be armed with the necessary knowledge to future-proof India's digital future.

We are also pleased to note the Government's initiatives in promoting digital payments. This is a recognition that digital payments sector is no longer considered niche and is crucial for the digital transformation of India. As India strives towards a digital and cashless economy, the Government should also continue to strengthen its cyber-security framework. A robust data protection system which is technology-neutral and based on international norms with principles of transparency, accountability will be the catalyst to fuel investment and innovation in new services.


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