Emerging tech industries left wanting for more as Budget 2024 keeps it low-key
The complete Budget is scheduled for presentation in July. However, today's vote-on-account left some industries looking for more.
As expected, the interim Union Budget 2024 wasn't flashy, with the government making no major policy announcements ahead of the general elections. No grand proclamations took centre stage as the government opted for restraint over a pre-election spending frenzy.
"In an election year, the Budget adeptly strikes a balance, prioritising sensibility over populism. It showcases India's unwavering commitment to infrastructure development, coupled with a steadfast adherence to fiscal prudence," said Trideep Bhattacharya, President and Chief Investment Officer-Equities, Edelweiss MF.
Announcements such as the corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore 50-year loans at no or low interest to encourage innovation in sunrise sectors, and the renewed commitment to develop the deep-tech sector, were widely regarded by the industry leaders.
"Strengthening the collective vision for an inclusive digital India, the Interim Budget 2024 has set the tone for a technology-oriented and knowledge-driven nation by 2047. The government’s sharp focus on deep-tech, technology-enabled development to benefit the last mile, innovation R&D and transformational reforms to skill, reskill and upskill India’s youth reflects the country’s commitment towards inclusive and sustained development for all," startup industry body NASSCOM noted.
However, with the complete Budget scheduled to be presented in July, today's vote-on-account Budget left some industries looking for more.
"Today's Honorable FM Budget speech left me wanting more for the forthcoming year. While there was a comprehensive recap of past achievements, there was a noticeable absence of concrete measures for startups, founders, and investors," Yagnesh Sanghrajka, Founder and CFO of 100X.VC, said.
"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," Mahankali Srinivas Rao, CEO, T-Hub, said.
The Interim Budget may have missed a chance to build on the recent momentum gained in the crypto industry. During her Union Budget speech for FY23, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented three key policy decisions that shook the crypto sector. This year, the industry found no such mention in the Budget speech.
"While the Virtual Digital Assets (VDA) industry had hoped for tax and TDS relief, we remain optimistic that the full budget will bring positive developments, including reduced taxation and a supportive policy framework," Sumit Gupta, Co-founder, CoinDCX, said.
"Crypto is experiencing a resurgence this year. The markets are showing positive growth, retail activity is increasing, and there is clear regulatory progress happening worldwide. However, due to it being an election year in India, the Interim Budget had limitations that prevented the necessary tax adjustments for the sector," Ashish Singhal, Co-founder and Group CEO, PeepalCo, said.
The gaming industry too was also looking for a mention. Against the backdrop of legal and regulatory hurdles, the industry did not find the pending clarity it was seeking.
“Today's interim budget announcement may not have directly addressed the needs of the gaming industry, however the clear focus on technology and the youth is one that we deeply appreciate," said Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation.
"We urge progressive budgeting to empower responsible online gaming, aligning with AVGC (Animation, Visual Effect, Gaming, and Comic) policies and fostering self-regulation, as recommended by the I&B Ministry's AVGC Task Force. This will unlock industry potential and benefit the economy, players, and creators," he added.
The Budget featured key announcements to support electric vehicles (EVs) and e-buses, along with funding commitments targeted at renewable energy, particularly in the realm of offshore wind. However, the looming threat of climate change requires more effort on the part of the government.
"The emphasis lies in establishing interoperable, shared infrastructure adaptable across OEMs and diverse vehicle configurations and hardware. The government can continue to support a green fund facility to support innovation and indigenous technology solutions for climate action, particularly in adaptation and resilience building," Anjali Bansal, Founding Partner, Avaana Capital, said.
Edited by Kanishk Singh