Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday presented his fourth Union Budget. Coming on the heels of the government’s demonetisation drive, much on the digital economy, e-commerce, internet infrastructure, electronics manufacturing, skilling for jobs of the future, etc. was expected. Here’s a cheatsheet to all the tech related announcements made in Budget 2017:
Politics, government, public policy:
- Political parties will be entitled to receive donations by cheque or digital mode from donors. Cash donations to be be capped at Rs 2,000.
- No transaction above Rs 3 lakh to be allowed in cash, as per the suggestion of the Special Investigations Team (SIT) set up by the government to look into black money.
- Proposal to make electronic all government spending beyond a certain limit as part of suggestions made by the Chief Ministers’ Panel on Digital Payments, whose final report is expected.
- Creation of the IT system for GST (Goods and Services Tax) on schedule.
- Plan to mine tax data to ensure greater tax collection.
Digital backbone, rural connectivity
- Under the Bharat Net project, OFC (Optical Fibre Cable) has been laid in 1.55 lakh km. Allocation has been stepped up to Rs 10,000 crore.
- High-speed broadband proposed to reach 1,50,000 villages by 2017-18, with hotspots and access to digital services at low tariffs. An initiative called DigiGaon to provide tele-medicine, education, and skills, through digital technology.
- Support to NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture And Rural Development) to digitise 63,000 primary agri co-ops.
- Aadhaar Pay to be launched shortly for those with no debit cards and mobile phones. Banks will launch 10 lakh new POS (Point of Sale) terminals by March 2017 and 20 lakh Aadhaar POS by Sep 2017.
- The BHIM app has been used by 125 lakh people so far. Targeting 2,500 crore digital transactions across platforms such as BHIM, UPI. Two new schemes to encourage BHIM app adoption — referral bonus scheme for individuals, and cashback scheme for merchants.
- Support for digital payment methods, including the BHIM app in petrol pumps, fertiliser depots, municipalities, block offices, road transport offices, hospitals, universities, colleges and other institutions.
- Proposal to exempt taxes on devices like POS machines, Iris scanners, that contribute to the digital economy. Over 250 proposals to make electronics in India received in the last two years totalling investment of Rs 1.26 lakh crore.
- New rules regarding medical devices will be formulated to attract investments and reduce cost of devices.
- Innovation fund for secondary education to encourage local innovation, universal access and gender parity.
- Swayam platform to be launched with at least 350 online courses. To tie up with DTH (direct-to-home) channels for access.
Digital security, e-commerce
- A computer emergency response team will be established to ensure cyber security in the financial sector.
- Services charges on railway tickets booked through IRCTC to be withdrawn.
- Soldiers can now rail book tickets online. Defence pensioners will have centralised systems.
- For senior citizens, Aadhaar based smart cards with health details to be introduced on a pilot basis.
- Metro rail policy will change to include standardisation and indigenisation of hardware and software.
- Geo tagging, space technology to track MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) work.
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