Budget 2013: Top expectations from 3 IT officials

Even as the finance minister announces Union Budget 2013 on February 28, what is that the IT industry needs?

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BANGALORE, INDIA: Last year, the IT industry weathered uncertainties in the global market, yet its aggregate revenues crossed the $100 billion mark. According to NASSCOM, export and domestic revenue stood at $69.1 billion and $31.7 billion respectively, growing by over 9 pc.

If that was something to cheer about, there was lots in general that failed to bring in positive outlook.

In December 2012, Credit Suisse lowered India’s growth forecast for the financial year ending March 2014 to 6.9 pc from 7.2 pc. That was alarming. Now, with yet another Union budget round the corner, there are hopes of a better growth graph for the country.

sam1Whether the Budget will be populist or not is anybody’s guess. Sam George, CTO, Gitanjali Gems Limited, says: “For the first time we have projected growth to the lower side of 5.4 pc and the focus is going to be on growth and infrastructure. I expect some tax sops for the industry but it would be with regards to less taxes on infrastructure under land & building or SEZ projects. There is expectation on some relief on entry norms for FDI which should ease the pressure of entry and generate some white collar jobs.”

Expectations are high if you ask IT officials attending C-Change, CIOL’s business technology forum, in Bangalore from February 21-23.

farhanFarhan Khan, AVP-IT at Radico Khaitan Ltd, doesn’t mince words when it comes to airing his priorities. And his long list includes custom duties, spectrum charges, etc. “The government needs to focus on infrastructure connectivity. Heavy duties on 2G and 3G make the services expensive. There is a need to streamline it and make it available for citizens. As we all know, 4G services are available only in few states even as other states struggle with 3G prices,” he says.

Sam George, CTO, Gitanjali Group, hopes for increased penetration of higher internet bandwidth to other parts of the country apart from the metros. “Exempt tax for software downloaded online without a media. Encourage an atmosphere of innovation for more startup incubation which does not exist or is at a non-existence level in the country,” he says

Another sector that needs attention is electronic manufacturing. “We all talk about and use Apple and Nokia phones, but why can’t we have their manufacturing units in India? Given the available skill set and infrastructure, it isn’t a big deal for them. The government must provide manufacturing facilities and create a conducive environment for the phone handset makers to set up their units in India,” he says.

Echoing Farhan’s views, Vinod Gupta, senior GM (IT), JK Lakshmi Cement, says: “It would be better if the government cuts infrastructure ownership cost so that application software procurement is made easy.”

Inflation hasn’t spared any sector. So with rising costs, it has been a difficult journey for almost all. However, that doesn’t stop anyone from making a wish list.

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