A live stream of the Budget is available here. Our notes, taken live, so subject to change:

GST still a year away: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley mentioned that Goods & Services Tax (GST) will be applicable from April 1, 2016. “GST is expected to play a transformative role by creating a common market, have already introduced bill for same.”

 

Jan Dhan Aadhaar Mobile Trinity: A mobile-based payments platform to debit payments for various government schemes directly to the beneficiaries. The Minister however, didn’t reveal any further details such as date of launch.  

Make In India and plans for encouraging startups: The Minister clearly mentioned that the government will be encouraging entrepreneurship and views them as major job creators. It’ll be interesting to see if he divulges further details of the government’s plan regarding this. For example, some light on the Rs 10,000 crore startup fund announced during his budget speech last year, will be appreciated.  

Tech startups incubation program: To address concerns of entrepreneur community like access to seed funds, incubation, etc the government proposed to establish SETU, which would be a self-talent techno-financial incubation program for startups, for which the government has set aside Rs 1000 crore. What happened to the Rs 10,000 crore startups fund?  

 

 

 

IT Hub: Initial sum of Rs 150 core to create world class IT hub to take advantage of our competitiveness.

Cashless transactions: To announce a number of announcements to increase the use debit and credit cards  and move to a cashless society.

National Optical Fibre Network: The Minister announced that the mode of implementation of the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project, whose rollout has been very slow, is to be expanded to allow states to take over, in exchange for reimbursement. He also mentioned that reimbursement of funds for the project to the states will be taken care of by the Department of Telecom (DoT). Andhra Pradesh is the first state to have opted for this form of implementation.

Read: We will provide 100mbps broadband in every home – Chandrababu Naidu, CM, Andhra Pradesh

Corporate tax rate reduced: The government has proposed to reduce corporate tax rate from 30% to 25% over the next 4 years. The Minister also mentioned that several exemptions will be removed.  

“To further facilitate the ease of doing business, online central excise and service tax registration will be done in two working days. The assessees under these taxes will be allowed to issue digitally signed invoices and maintain electronic records. These measures will cut down lot of paper work and red tape. Time limit for taking CENVAT credit on inputs and input services is being increased from six months to one year as a measure of business facilitation.”

Compliance Facilitation: 1) Online Central Excise/Service Tax Registration within two working days. 2) Time limit for taking CENVAT Credit on inputs and input services is being increased from six months to one year. 3) Facility of direct dispatch of goods by registered, dealer from seller to customer’s premises is being provided. Similar facility is also being allowed in respect of job-workers. Registered importer can also send goods directly to customer from the port of importation.

Reduction in duty on certain inputs to address the problem of duty inversion:

” Basic Customs Duty on Digital Still Image Video Camera capable of recording video with minimum resolution of 800×600 pixels, at minimum 23 frames per second, for at least 30 minutes in a single sequence, using the maximum storage (including the expanded) capacity is being reduced to Nil. Basic Customs Duty on parts and components of these cameras is also being reduced from 5% to Nil.”

Excise duty structure on certain goods is being restructured as follows:

Smart cards: Wafers for use in the manufacture of integrated circuit (IC) modules for smart cards from 12% to 6%.
– Inputs for use in the manufacture of LED drivers and MCPCB for LED lights, fixtures and LED lamps from 12% to 6%.
– Mobiles handsets, including cellular phones from 1% without CENVAT credit or 6% with CENVAT credit to 1% without CENVAT credit or 12.5% with CENVAT credit. NCCD of 1% on mobile handsets including cellular phones remains unchanged.
– Tablet computers from 12% to 2% without CENVAT credit or 12.5% with CENVAT credit.
– Specified raw materials [battery, titanium, palladium wire, eutectic wire, silicone resins and rubbers, solder paste, reed switch, diodes, transistors, capacitors, controllers, coils (steel), tubing (silicone)] for use in the manufacture of pacemakers to Nil.

Solar

Excise duty structure on certain goods is being restructured as follows:

– Solar water heater and system from 12% to Nil without CENVAT credit or 12.5% with CENVAT credit.
Round copper wire and tin alloys for use in the manufacture of Solar PV ribbon for manufacture of solar PV cells to Nil subject to certification by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).

– Reduction in Basic Customs Duty to reduce the cost of raw materials:

– Evacuated Tubes with three layers of solar selective coating for use in the manufacture of solar water heater and system to Nil.

Reduction in Basic Customs Duty to reduce the cost of raw materials:

– HDPE for use in the manufacture of telecommunication grade optical fibre cables from 7.5% to Nil.

– Black Light Unit Module for use in the manufacture of LCD/ LED TV panels from 10% to Nil.

– Organic LED (OLED) TV panels from 10% to Nil.

– Parts, components and accessories (falling under any Chapter) for use in the manufacture of tablet computers and their subparts for use in manufacture of parts, components and accessories are being fully exempted from BCD, CVD and SAD.

– Reduction in SAD to address the problem of CENVAT credit accumulation: 1) All goods except populated PCBs, falling under any Chapter of the Customs Tariff, for use in manufacture of ITA bound goods from 4% to Nil.

– Inputs for use in the manufacture of LED drivers and MCPCB for LED lights, fixtures and LED lamps from 4% to Nil.

Royalty fees reduced: Government has proposed to reduce royalty fees, and income tax on royalty will also be reduced. This is likely to affect radio FM channel operators and music streaming sites/apps.

Technical Services tax reduction: The Finance Minister has proposed to reduce taxes on Technical Services from 25% to 10% with the aim of encouraging tech startups.

Service tax: Service tax and education cess proposed to be increased from 12.36% to 14%.

Database on NGOs: A database on NGOs to be created. However, no further details regarding this was revealed.