Top Techaways from Budget 2022-23
The announcements of the Union Budget 2022-23 presented by the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, left a bittersweet taste on the pallets of the tech realm of the nation. It delighted some, especially those seeking huge long-term infrastructure investments, while some were let down expecting some relief for individual taxpayers. Regardless, the Budget spoke of centrality regarding digital technology across governance and government plans.
With that said, here are top announcements from Budget 2022 for the technology industry.
Battery Swapping Policy
The government has promised to introduce a battery swapping policy poised to build special mobility zones for electric vehicles (EV). the policy will not only push the use of driving more EVs, but plough positive outcomes around decarbonization goals. While the same, a similar policy will be passed for clean public transportation as well. Therefore, the plan will start by forming a high-level committee on urban planning by naming five academic institutions as centres of excellence with each receiving $ 250 million. Additionally, states will also be assisted in increasing urban capability.
Analysts at ICICI responded as, “to further promote electrification, government to come out with Battery Swapping Policy which also includes the concept of energy/battery as a service. This will help in developing requisite charging station ecosystem and is positive for the domestic EV space. Government plans to promote private sector to incur required capex in this domain”.
“To promote a shift to the use of public transport in urban areas...special mobility zones with zero fossil fuel policy to be introduced...Considering space constraints in urban areas, a 'Battery Swapping Policy' will be brought in”, claims the Finance Minister.
e-Passports for Citizens
The e-Passports will be issued in hopes of enhancing convenience for citizens. The passport jacket of the e-Passport will house an electronic chip encoded with security related data to help systems identify the chip in case of loss or damage of chips. Meaning, the personal particulars of the applicant will be digitally signed and stored in the chip embedded on the booklet. The e-passport will improve passport security, remove duplications, and prevent data loss, and will be utilized by border control authorities to monitor passenger admission and exit. Additionally it is said to come with advanced security features.
Own Digital Currency
India will now join with a number of other countries to launch its own blockchain currency. According to the FM, “India will have a digital rupee this year, yet the government has not listed the Cryptocurrency Bill has not been listed in the tentative list of 15 proposed legislations that may come up before Parliament during the Budget Session.” details on how the digital currency would work or what it would like remain unknown. However, India has the potential to be one of the world’s largest economies to introduce a central bank digital currency (CBDC) given it sticks to its plans.
“RBI is working out a phased implementation strategy for introduction of Central Bank Digital Currency with little or no disruption,” says Pankaj Chaudhary, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance.
“Introduction of CBDC has the potential to provide significant benefits, such as reduced dependency on cash, higher seigniorage due to lower transaction costs, reduced settlement risk. Introduction of CBDC would also possibly lead to a more robust, efficient, trusted, regulated and legal tender-based payments option. There are also associated risks which need to be carefully evaluated against the potential benefits," adds Chaudhary.
25 Percent Allocated to Defense R&D Budget
With a 25 percent defence R&D budget, the defence sector, entrepreneurs, and universities can now access defence research and development. The Union Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 pushed for the modernization of defence services as well as the development of defence security infrastructure such as border road infrastructure and coastline security infrastructure. Private industry will be encouraged to engage with DRDO and other entities to design and manufacture military platforms and equipment under the SPV model. It went on to say that an independent nodal umbrella organization would be set up to meet a range of testing and certification requirements.
Digital and High-Tech Services for Farmers in PPP Mode
The government will launch a public private partnership (PPP) scheme for “delivery of digital and hi-tech services” to farmers. “The use of 'Kisan Drones' for crop analysis, digitization of land data, insecticide and nutrient spraying would be increased." The FM stated that states will also be “encouraged to alter agricultural university courses and to make organic farming and modern agriculture easier”. The minister also announced the provision of a fund that will be administered by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) and will be used to assist startups and ‘rural enterprise’ in the agricultural value chain.
DESH-Stack e-portal to Skill, Re-skill or Up-Skill Citizens
Finance Minister emphasised the relevance of regional languages in higher education institutions and schools, as well as the necessity for rapid adoption of digital learning. The DESH-Stack e-portal, a digital ecosystem for skilling and livelihood, would be launched to enable residents to skill, re-skill, or up-skill through online training.
“One class, one TV channel of the PM E-Vidya will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels. This will allow states to provide education to students of Classes I to XII in regional languages,” the FM added.
Moreover, the budget includes funding for a digital university to deliver a customized learning experience to students around the country. The university will be based on a hub-spoke network, with the hub "developing cutting-edge ICT competence" and the top public universities and institutes as collaborators.
New Open Platform for National Digital Health Ecosystem
The National Digital Health Ecosystem will be built on an open platform that includes digital health provider and facility registries, a unique health identity, a consent framework, and universal access to health facilities.
On the other hand, the FM stated that the pandemic has aggravated people of all ages' mental health difficulties.
"To better access to quality mental health counselling and care services. A national telly mental health programme will be launched which will include a network of 23 telly mental health centres of excellence with the National Institute of Mental health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) being the nodal centre," she said.
5G Spectrum Auctions to Rollout This Year
This year, the government will hold a spectrum auction, which would let private telecom carriers bring out 5G services in the fiscal year 2022-23. "A scheme for design-led manufacturing will be launched to build a strong ecosystem for 5G as part of the production-linked incentive scheme," said the FM.
"Completion is expected in 2025. Measures will be taken to enable better and more efficient use of the optical fibre," adds the FM.
Among the few designated rising sectors, FM Sitharaman promised government funds to assist research in AI, geospatial technology and drones, and semiconductors.
The standardized list of infrastructure now includes data centres. This will make credit easier to get by for this industry.