In a highly anticipated and crucial session, Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister, Government of India presented the Interim Union Budget for the fiscal year 2024-2025 in the Parliament, outlining the government's financial priorities and economic roadmap. Sitharaman stated that India’s real GDP is projected to grow at 7.3 percent in FY 2023-24.
Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt, Director General, Indian Space Association, said: ”We commend the government's allocation of the Rs 1 lakh crore corpus in the interim budget 2024 for long-term financing of technological research. This move will be beneficial for startups in the rapidly expanding space sector, providing them with support to innovate and conduct further research across various domains of space technology.
Additionally, the new scheme being launched for boosting deep-tech for the defense sector will be transformative. This initiative holds significant promise for DefSpace startups, which can play a substantial role in enhancing the ecosystem due to the integral relationship between space and defense industries.
However, we are sanguine that the post-election full budget will include support for a liberal FDI policy for space, inclusion of space grade components in PLI, reduction of GST for satellites, launch vehicles and ground equipment manufacturing and provide tax holidays and lower import duty for space sector firms.”
A significant portion of the budget is allocated to infrastructure development projects, focusing on sectors such as transportation, energy, and digital infrastructure. This move is expected to stimulate economic activity, create jobs, and enhance the overall quality of life for citizens. With a growing emphasis on digitalization, the budget allocates funds for the expansion of digital infrastructure and the promotion of digital literacy. This includes initiatives to enhance connectivity in rural areas, making technology more accessible to all citizens.
Dr. SP Kochhar, Director General, COAI, said: “The Interim Budget presented by the Finance Minister reemphasized the government’s economic policies and the commitment to sustained growth, improving productivity and creating opportunities with a focus on skilling and reskilling. In a significant gain for the telecom sector just before the interim budget, the current customs duty exemption granted to vessels engaged in laying submarine cables in India - which lapses on 31 March 2024 - was extended up to 30 September 2024. Telecom companies depend heavily on submarine cables for the high-speed transfer of data around the globe and this step will help in following the compliances.
The announcement of a corpus of ₹1 lakh crore for the technology sector is a positive measure as access to capital is a critical factor to support innovation and growth. The long-term, interest-free or low interest rate loans and focus on deep tech will further encourage the private sector to scale up research and innovation.
We are hopeful that in the post-election full budget, the industry’s suggestions to reduce regulatory levies like License Fee, deferring USOF contribution till the existing funds are exhausted, exemption of Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on Telecom equipment, waiving of GST on regulatory payments and refund of ITC, among others, will be considered and addressed by the Government during the course of the year.”
The Interim Union Budget for 2024-2025 is seen as a comprehensive strategy to navigate through challenging times and steer the Indian economy towards a path of sustained growth and development.
Agendra Kumar, Managing Director, Esri India: “The 2024 Interim Budget has placed a robust emphasis on fostering innovation and embracing cutting-edge technologies to realize the ambitious goal of 'Viksit Bharat by 2047.' It rightly underscores the pivotal role that technology plays in shaping our economic landscape. A notable strategic move is the allocation of a 1-lakh crore corpus through a 50-year interest-free loan, aimed at incentivizing the private sector to elevate their investments in Research and Development (R&D) and propel digital innovation. Financial backing provided to start-ups is also poised to make the ecosystem flourish and contribute significantly to the overall economic landscape. This forward-looking budget not only fuels the growth of the IT sector but also actively supports a comprehensive skills development ecosystem, ensuring the creation of a workforce that is geared for the future. As technology continues its rapid advancement, the 2024 interim budget emerges as a catalyst, steering the IT sector, including the robust geospatial sector toward sustainable excellence and global competitiveness. The visionary initiatives outlined in this budget position India on the trajectory of becoming a technological powerhouse, laying the foundation for a prosperous and globally influential nation.”