Budget 2017 : Mobile Phones to get Expensive
Focus on Digitization and big reforms towards building infrastructure as well as bridging the rural gap – these are some of the key elements of the Union Budget 2017, tabled in the Parliament. The Finance Minister said that their agenda is to ‘transform, energise and clean India, that is ‘Tech India’. Here’s a complete lowdown on this year’s budget and what it means for Digital India.
Increase in Duty of Printed Circuit Boards
Mobile phones are expected to get costlier as the addition of Special Additional Duty of 2% will be enacted on PCBs or printed circuit boards which account for approximately 50% of manufacturing costs of phones. This cost may be pushed out to customers by several companies who already keep their margins extremely low.
Booking Rail Tickets Online gets cheaper
Good news for travelers with the move to withdraw service tax on digital rail bookings done through IRCTC. The government had previously withdrawn service tax on tickets booked through the portal until December 31. In a bid to push digital payments, the service taxes will now stand null.
Other initiatives include a new metro rail policy to focus on standardization and indigenisation of hardware and software which is likely to create jobs. Also, In a massive green push, 7000 railway stations are set to be powered by solar energy with 300 already in tow.
In light of the recent Demonetization, a host of announcements were made for this sector, to push India’s digital economy. The FM said that a mission will be set up to target 2500 crore digital transactions for FY 2017-18 through Aadhar Pay, IMPS, UPI, debit cards etc.
Aadahar Pay facility will be launched for those with no access to credit/debit cards. Banks have also been advised to set up 20 Lakh Aadhar based PoS terminals by September this year.
The FM also promised to better Digital Payment Infrastructure and grievance handling systems with a proposal to set up a Payment Regulatory Board, within the RBI as well as take steps to promote digital payments at petrol pumps and hospitals.
Major Push for BHIM app
The Finance Minister said that the BHIM app has been adopted by more than 125 Lakh people in the country. To further encourage the use of the app, he announced two new schemes – referral bonus scheme for individuals and cashback scheme for merchants. He added that steps would be taken to facilitate the use of the app for a wider range of payments such as at hospitals, municipalities, universities, colleges etc.
In light of the increased push towards digitization, the Government will set up a dedicated Computer Emergency Response Team that will consist of a team of experts to strengthen security of the financial sector, amid increasing incidents of cyber frauds. It will work in close coordination with financial sector regulators and stakeholders. This comes after one of the largest cyber frauds in India last year when more than 32 Lakh debit cards of various banks were compromised.
India to be a global hub for Mobile Manufacturing
Good news for Mobile manufacturers with the announcement of sops to boost policies like MSIPS and EDFs that were designed to encourage local manufacturing. This includes a record allocation of Rs 745 crore for such policies for the period of FY18. The FM also announced abolishment of FIPB which offers clearances for FDI, encouraging further liberalisation for the economy.
Bharat Net project to rollout
The Bharat Net project was set up in 2012 with an aim to provide teleco services in rural areas at subsidised rates. It has now been allocated Rs 10,000 crores and hopes to cover a total of 1 lakh gram panchayats by providing them with high-speed broadband on OFC. The FM also spoke of a new initiative called ‘DigiGaon’ to provide tele-medicine, education etc through technology.
Aimed at providing better access to education and specialised courses, the FM announced an online education platform called ‘Swayam’ which will offer up to 350 online courses via Direct-To-Home channels. This includes interactive video lectures, downloadable study materials, tests, forums etc. These courses are to be prepared by more than 1000 teachers across the country and will be available free of cost. The courses are aimed at students from Class 9 onwards.