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Jaitley, stakeholders discuss broadband speed & penetration, wi-fi, digitisation, open Net & cyber security

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NEW DELHI: Finance minister Arun Jaitley has said the electronic market in India is one of the largest in the world, and is expected to reach $400 billion in 2020.

Jaitley said that India’s competence in IT-Software was recognised globally and, in recent times, software development and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITeS, including BPO & KPO) industry had emerged as one of the most dynamic and vibrant sectors in India. He said that the government recognised the potential of IT sector, hence electronic systems and IT & BPM (Business Process Management) are included among 25 sectors in the ‘Make in India’ programme.

In a pre-budget consultation with stakeholders from IT (Software / Hardware) Sector, he said that India’s external position was more robust of late, and the return to resilience to periodic global shocks was sustainable with lower trade and Current Account Deficits, stable exchange regime and the sound buffer of forex reserves.

During the meeting, various suggestions were received from the participants for boosting the IT sector. It was brought forth that Government support was required for IT sector in view of increasing trends of protectionism and anti-globalisation abroad. Also rapid changing nature of technology in IT field makes it imperative to focus on R&D in IT, hence, the Government needs to promote R&D and innovation in IT sector in a big way.

Further, there are issues about speed and penetration of broadband in India. Number of Wi-Fi hotspots is very low in the country. Hence, it was suggested that over-ground towers and underground fiber cable network need to be improved in a big way. At the consumer end, smart phone prices need to be further brought down so that broadband is more accessible to masses.

It was appreciated in the discussion that green shoots are visible in smart phone manufacturing industry in India and manufacturing of these phones is increasing rapidly. Also, the street price of these Indian-made smart phones is competitive when compared to Chinese-made phones. So, the next logical focus of Indian smart phone manufacturers should be to target the export market.

To further boost electronic manufacturing in country, suggestions were made to extend the duty differential scheme to all ITA goods, specifically for personal computers (Desktop, Laptop). A proposal requested that list of CPE goods should be make comprehensive for Duty Differential Scheme to further promote and implement ‘Make in India’ initiative. Representatives sought that this scheme must continue to exist in GST regime.

A proposal for a ‘Component Trading Hub’ was discussed to create an ecosystem for electronics and IT hardware manufacturing. It would bring down logistics costs by creating robust infrastructure for connectivity. Participants also insisted on the need to encourage populated PCBs manufacturing in the country by restricting their direct imports.

A representative from a robotic firm requested for incentives to boost the robotics sector in country which is non-existent now.

Adoption of personal computers will be a catalyst for transformation of country to a digital economy and knowledge economy. It was also proposed that easy loans (3-4% per annum) should be provided by banks for the purchase of personal computers and cost of PC should be allowed for deduction under Section 80C of Income Tax Act.

Concerns were shown in the meeting that increasing digitisation should not lead to increased digital divide in the country. So internet need to be more open, transparent and easily accessible to all. Suggestions were given to improve cyber security structure in India and establish a cyber test range. It was proposed that there should be a mechanism for reporting any vulnerability detected in a Government software System by any private person/agency.

Along with Jaitley, the Meeting with the representatives of IT (Hardware & Software) Sector was also attended by Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar, MoS (Finance &Corporate Affairs) Arjun Ram Meghwal, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa, Economic Affairs Affairs Department Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Financial Services Secretary Ms Anjuli Chib Duggal, Telecom Secretary J S Deepak, Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DEITY) Secretary Ms Aruna Sundararajan, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Dr. Arvind Subramanian, and Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman Sushil Chandra.

The representatives of the IT (Hardware & Software) Sector present during the meeting included NASSCOM President R Chandrashekhar, Broadband India Forum President T V Ramachandran, CMAI Association of India President N K Goyal, Fast Task Force & National President of Indian Cellular Association Pankaj Mahindroo, Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council Chairman Prasad Garapati, Manufactures Association for Information Technology (MAIT) Vice President Nitin Kunkolienker, Electronic Industries Association of India Prtesident Vikram Desai, Ms Jaspreet Grewal of The Centre for Internet & Society, U B Praveen of Infosys, Arvind V.S. from WIPRO, Pauroos D Karkaria fromTCS, Ms Nisha Tompson who is Founder of Datameet, Ajith Pai who is COO of Delhivery, Sunil Dutt who is President, Device Sales, Jio Mobiles, and Grey Orange India CFO Vartul Jain among others.

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