"It is a progressive budget with a clear push towards socio-economic growth of the country," said Akshat Saxena, co-founder, ePayLater.

National Program in AI will be a game-changer Startups give thumbs up to Budget 2019
Atom Budget 2019 Friday, February 01, 2019 - 17:27

‘The concept of employment is changing all over the world, now the employment generation is not confined merely to Government services or factories. With job seekers becoming job creators, India has become the world’s second largest start-up hub. We are proud of the hard work and innovative ideas of our youth,” said Minister Piyush Goyal while presenting the Budget for 2019.

Startups would have been watching keenly what Goyal had to say when it comes to specifics, and it seems they have come away impressed with the overall tone and tenor of the budget.

Here are a few reactions from startups across the board:

Sushil Kanugolu, MD and CEO, Fipola

We welcome the Government’s proposal to create a separate department for Fisheries. Also, the move to provide 2% interest subvention to farmers pursuing animal husbandry and fisheries will boost skill development, provide employment opportunities and aid growth of farmers in this sector.

We are proud to be part of second largest startup hub ecosystem in the world and the government’s aim to push the use of Artificial Intelligence in the startup ecosystem coupled with Centre of Excellence and National Program for AI is going to be a game-changer for the startup community.

Anant Goel, CEO and Co-founder, Milkbasket

A progressive budget! Taking into account the issues being faced by small enterprises and addressing these, will definitely have a positive impact on the startups, thereby leading to more jobs for youth. The restriction of GST at upto 5% for daily use items is a relief for consumers at large, and shall help in increasing revenues and sales for retail businesses.

Ajit Kumar, Founder & CEO, RupeeCircle

The proposal to digitize one lakh villages over the course of the next five years will benefit the Fintech companies to further drive financial inclusion to the Indian masses. The FM’s announcement to provide full tax rebate to individuals with income up to Rs 5 lakhs will benefit over 3 crore middle class families including the employees of many startups. We look forward to the National Artificial Intelligence Portal because now the innovative Fintech segment can tap into new and emerging technologies and use AI for the betterment of society.

Akshat Saxena, co-founder, ePayLater

It is a progressive budget with a clear push towards socio-economic growth of the country and with a focus on agriculture, SMEs, and the working class. We also welcome the government’s proposals that incentivise MSMEs. The budget proposes to bring down the corporate tax for firms that reported a turnover up to Rs 250 crore, from 30% to 25%, thereby reducing the tax burden on MSMEs.

There is visible thrust on digital solutions and new age technologies as the budget specifically mentioned the envisaging of a National programme on Artificial Intelligence and Digital India being an integral part of the long-term vision.

Kumar Abhishek, CEO & Co-founder, ToneTag

It is a very refreshing budget, particularly for the mid salary segment and for farmers. With the central government giving Rs 6000 assured income, it will be a great relief for farmers if the state government also contributes Rs 6000 against farm loan waivers.

India will soon be at the global forefront of digitalization with the mission to convert one lakh villages into digital villages. The country will also see a significant technological advancement with the introduction of the new national programme on AI. The ease of obtaining loans will largely benefit entrepreneurs to expand their business and generate more job opportunities.

Bhavin Patel, Co-Founder & CEO, LenDenClub

This budget reflects coverage of all segments of the society. It looks populist as expected. However, the three moves, related to middle class salaried people, farmers and unorganised sector workers, looks like well thought out and a calculated one. They comprise approximately 80% of the population. Though the slipping fiscal deficit target could be a bit of a concern, overall the budget is good for all sections of the people. I feel that the salaried people are the best beneficiaries with benefits in three facets across tax slab, tax benefit in purchase of second house and increase in untaxed income earned through bank/post deposits.

Rohit Manglik, CEO, EduGorilla

This year’s Budget lays down progressive measures, which if implemented, will certainly take the economy onto a higher trajectory. The Budget is notable for its roadmap for 2030 focussing on 10 dimensions which are key growth drivers of the Indian economy.  Various tax benefits and thrust on ‘Make in India’ is a testimony to the government’s intent of encouraging entrepreneurship; enabling India to emerge as the startup hub where “Job Seeker is now the Job Creator”. The move to source at least 3% material from women-owned SMEs by government enterprises will provide an impetus to women entrepreneurship.

In the education sector, the move to launch the National Artificial Intelligence Portal is a commendable one. The education sector will receive a boost with the focus on strengthening the digital infrastructure. It can be a game-changer in making education affordable and facilitate access to education among youth in every nook and corner of the country.

Jitender Singh, Founder & CEO, MiniDukan

It is great news for companies which deal with customers in Tier 4 to Tier 6 towns, that the Government will introduce one lakh digital villages in the next five years. Digitization of rural areas has increasingly become a necessity, as a large section of our consumers are based there. In addition, the GST provisions given where SMEs earning less than Rs 5 crore will have to file GST only once in 3 months is sure to relieve some of the load faced in recent years. The greatest benefit for us will be the reduction of taxes on salaried individuals which will result in greater buying power, which is exactly what we have been hoping to achieve. This Budget is sure to provide a great boost to the overall performance of SMEs.

Anil Joshi, Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures

The Budget 2019 made some bold announcements which are targeted towards making India a global power by 2030. Ambitious announcements like sending an Indian to space by 2022 or reiterating commitment to electric vehicles showed that technology will continue to remain an important governance pillar for this government. For startups, one of the key announcements was setting up of one lakh digital villages. This initiative when rolled out will have multiplier effect on startups in segments like edtech, content based companies, media tech and of course fintech and e-commerce. This will ensure faster financial inclusion of people who still continue to be outside of the formal banking system and have no credit history. Jan Dhan accounts and Aadhaar based identification will also accelerate government initiatives designed for poor. Startups working in fin tech and edutech should see this as a promising opportunity to tap the unaddressed and underserved rural population. 

Sushanto Mitra, Founder & CEO, Lead Angels

"India has become the 2nd largest start up hub in the world. The Indian govt. is launching a national program to develop artificial intelligence and has identified nine priority areas that the AI program will focus on. However, tax reliefs for startup investments has not been addressed in this budget. Startups generate the highest number of new jobs per unit of invested capital compared to private or government investments. In most western economies, individuals are encouraged to invest in startups by providing 33%-100% write-offs of the amount invested every year. The government could encourage investments into startups by considering such investments being included in the list of investments covered under 80C.

Neha Bagaria, CEO & Founder, JobsForHer

The Government mandates 26 weeks maternity leave with a Rs 400 crore proposal from last year to reimburse employers for seven of the 26 weeks of extended maternity leave. Amendments to the Maternity Act, 1961 are significant, but what about balancing paternity leave directives? Men should be incentivised to take longer periods of paternity leave as well. Paid paternity leave can have positive effects for gender equality at home and at work, disrupting prevailing stereotypes.

The Government’s announcement of tax exemptions for income up to Rs 5 lakhs, although gender-neutral, is optimistic for women returning to work. But is this enough of an incentive for women leaving the workplace by the millions? We need to see a stronger focus on hiring and retaining more women in the workforce. We need to see impactful women-specific employment policies that can absorb and support women in at the workplace.

Sudeep Singh, Chief Evangelist and CEO, GoWork

“The complexities in acquiring spaces have been eliminated to a considerable extent due to RERA, safeguarding the interests of the investors. Also, India being world’s second largest startup hub and with the push of the Digital India initiative, we will witness a tremendous increase in job creation. With more ventures coming in action, there will be an extensive need of modern offices and co-working spaces which will create endless opportunities for blue-collar workers as well.”

Ashish Gupta, CEO, Docprime.com 

The interim budget presents some encouraging possibilities for the social and healthcare sector. While the details are still to be studied, it is reassuring to see the official recognition of Artificial Intelligence with the announcement of the National Artificial Intelligence Centre and National AI Portal. AI is critical for the Healthcare sector to mitigate the unfavourable doctor-patient ratio in India, which is further compounded by the rich-poor and urban-rural divide. 

This combined with 2030 vision of one lakh digital villages could help transform the way healthcare is delivered in the country. We do hope these initiatives will be rolled out effectively and fuel a spurt in healthcare innovation across the country.

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