On the 1st of February 2024, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Interim Budget for the year 2024. From new housing schemes to steering focus on women. This budget has been received well by the industry. Reduction in corporate taxes, offering interest-free loans, empowering the 'Atmanirbharta Vision', and much more.
Here DQ Channels received reactions from the IT industry on how they perceive this Interim Budget and what more can the government offer in the final budget this year to boost the MSMEs, Startups, AI, and more.
Arundhati Bhattacharya Chairperson & CEO, Salesforce India, on Interim Budget 2024 -
"India has showcased a robust and resilient growth story driven by perseverance, ingenuity, and vision. The 2024 interim budget is an action-oriented one, with the mantra of reforming, performing, and transforming India. It is a budget of confidence. It promises to continue to empower the four vulnerable sections of society- the poor, the youth, farmers, and women folk to realize India's potential.
The continued focus on increased capital investments will result in the generation of employment opportunities and thereby growth of the economy. Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) are an integral part of our economy - locally and globally. As of October 2023, 1.14 lakh startups were recognized by the government under the Startup India initiative and reported the creation of more than 12 lakh jobs.
The next-generation reforms focused on timely and adequate finances, relevant technologies, and appropriate training for the MSMEs to grow and also compete globally will facilitate sustaining high and more resource-efficient economic growth creating opportunities for all.
India is the talent basket of the world and has one of the youngest populations globally; we have a humongous opportunity to unlock the potential of the country’s young workforce. I am personally pleased with the 43% increase in enrolment of women in STEM courses, the highest in the world.
What’s more, our country’s population is massive and tremendously diverse – which gives us access to some of the richest data sets for AI and innovation. India is showcasing multiple solutions through the innovation and entrepreneurship of its people. Technology, youth, and innovation continue to be the cornerstone of the Government's strategy. The creation of a corpus of rupees one lakh crore with a fifty-year interest-free loan is a welcome move combining the power of our youth and technology to drive more innovation.
Promoting sustainable growth is an opportunity for India to lead and has been a top-of-mind initiative for all leaders. Bold action towards climate change for realizing our commitment to becoming ‘net-zero’ by 2070 is much needed. We are on a high growth path with all-around development and it is encouraging to see the focus on environment-friendly alternatives 9 roof solar, offshore wind power generation, mixing of biofuels with CNG, etc)to ensure that such growth is sustainable.
We need more women in the workforce and women-led initiatives are imperative. Achieving high resilient growth while ensuring sustainable and inclusive livelihood options for all remains a priority for the country. There is an emphasis on programs for this segment as well including their health and nutrition. The budget shuns unnecessary populist measures and focuses instead on ensuring that India continues on its high-growth trajectory."
From the Startup-Sector, Mahankali Srinivas Rao (MSR), CEO, of T-Hub, shared -
"We applaud the Indian Government for its visionary Interim Budget 2024, a pivotal step towards fostering innovation and growth within the dynamic Indian startup ecosystem. The reduction in corporate tax rates is a commendable move, providing a conducive environment for existing and new companies. The decision to retract outstanding direct tax demands is a welcome relief, aligning seamlessly with the broader vision of facilitating ease in daily living and conducting business.
Another significant milestone is the allocation of a substantial one lakh crore corpus for research and innovation signifies a transformative leap, ushering in a new era for our tech-savvy youth. Furthermore, the introduction of a scheme dedicated to deep-tech technologies in defense resonates with the overarching aspiration of achieving 'Atmanirbharta.'
While the proposed amendments offer encouragement, the startup community eagerly awaits more definitive measures. We anticipate a heightened ease in ESOP taxation, a simplified tax regime, extended benefits for carrying forward losses, and a reduction in Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT). Trusting in the proactive stance of the government, we look forward to continued policy evolution, fostering a conducive ecosystem for startups."
From the Tech/AI perspective Rahul Paith, CEO of MATH (Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Technology Hub by DST) stated his views -
"The Interim Budget presented by the finance minister is a clear signal of India's continued commitment to technological transformation. Notably, the announced measures such as the one lakh crore rupee corpus with its 50-year interest-free loans are game-changers.
This visionary initiative unlocks sustained funding, empowering startups to transcend boundaries and contribute substantially to the 'Atmanirbharta' vision. However, our expectations included a stronger emphasis on AI research funding, particularly through initiatives like the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS), to bolster the Generative AI domain.
This investment not only nurtures our talent pool but also positions India for global leadership in artificial intelligence. Additionally, the focus on improving policies for AI startups in tier-2 and 3 cities is a strategic move that promises enhanced profitability through favorable cost structures. While the budget sets a positive trajectory, we look forward to further strides in advancing technological innovation and empowering startups to thrive on the global stage."
In summary, the Interim Budget 2024, unveiled by the Finance Minister emphasizes reform, performance, and transformation, aiming to empower marginalized sections of society while fostering economic development.
Industry leaders have lauded the budget's initiatives, recognizing its potential to spur growth across sectors. They commend the budget's focus on capital investments and youth empowerment, while startup and tech leaders applaud measures to support entrepreneurship and technological advancement.
As India strides towards self-reliance and sustainability, stakeholders anticipate further reforms in taxation, research funding, and policy frameworks to foster a conducive ecosystem for innovation and growth.