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Budget 2017 | Promoting Bharat And India Leveraging Telecom And digital

The enhanced use of analytics and data mining by the Income Tax Department for detecting tax evasion will strengthen governance and transparency

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The Union Budget 2017 with its focus on future “promotes Bharat and India” on the backbone of digital technologies. All the three vision areas of Digital India viz. digital infrastructure-as-a-utility to every citizen; governance and services on demand and digital empowerment of citizens, are addressed in the budget. The budget further pushes transparency and “clean” India.

The Indian telecom sector has contributed significantly to the country’s overall growth – India is amongst the largest telecommunication market in the world with over 1 billion subscribers (as on March 2016) and ~ 80 per cent mobile penetration. While India represents ~ 13 per cent of global telephony subscriptions, they account for only ~2.7 per cent of global revenues. Rise in broadband penetration to 60 per cent in India could translate to 5 per cent-6 per cent increase in country’s GDP to the tune of $135 billion. Additionally, it will help to achieve the goal set as a part of government’s strategic programmes such as Digital India, Skill India, E-governance etc.

Accordingly, it appears that the budget proposals recognised the above and bring focus on strengthening the broadband and digital infrastructure as under.

The provision of BharatNet project to provide high -speed broadband on optical fibre for 1.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) will enhance the digital infrastructure. In addition, the increased leveraging of bank accounts, Aadhar and mobile through schemes like -Aadhaar Pay service, BHIM app to provide services to individuals and merchants, Aadhar based health cards for senior citizens and “DigiGaon” will promote both – digital empowerment of citizens and transparency.

Proposal of computerizsation and integration of 63000 PACS (primary agricultural credit societies) with the core banking system of district central banks through NABARD will add to the financial and digital infrastructure for rural areas.

The enhanced use of analytics and data mining by the Income Tax Department for detecting tax evasion will strengthen governance and transparency.

The physical connectivity is sought to be enhanced by a proposed spend of $59 billion on airports, roads and railways to enhance physical connectivity will interact with digital connectivity on the backbone of broadband.

The combined interplay of the above will accelerate geographical and financial inclusiveness, creating a multiplier effect on the GDP.

However, though the telecom sector is expected to be about 8.2 per cent of GDP by 2020, we need to keep in mind that the telecom sector is having a collective debt burden of Rs 350,000 crore and faces many litigations, multiple audits which distracts attention and delays roll out of newer technologies. Further investments over $100 billion would be needed to make our telecom infrastructure world class to prepare for smart everything, IOT and a connected world. In order to attract such investments and unlock a trillion dollar opportunity through digital, a comprehensive review of the national telecom policy and closure of all litigations in telecom sector is very important.

(Nikhi Kenjale, Senior Manager with Deloitte Haskins and Sells LLP,  also contributed to this article)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
Union Budget 2017-18 telecom digital india e governance

Hemant Joshi

Hemant is a Partner in Deloitte Haskins and Sells (DHS), India. He is TMT India Leader

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