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Budget 2014-15 Live: The Digital Industry updates: Rs 10,00 Crore Startup fund, FDI In Insurance, E-commerce platforms

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

GST: Nothing yet: “The debate whether to introduce a Goods and Services Tax (GST) must now come to an end. We have discussed the issue for the past many years. Some States have been apprehensive about surrendering their taxation jurisdiction; others want to be adequately compensated. I have discussed the matter with the States both individually and collectively. I do hope we are able to find a solution in the course of this year and approve the legislative scheme which enables the introduction of GST. This will streamline the tax administration, avoid harassment of the business and result in higher revenue collection both for the Centre and the States. I assure all States that government will be more than fair in dealing with them.”

Retrospective tax: This government will not bring any change retrospectively which creates a fresh liability. A few cases have come up in courts. These cases are in different stages of pendancy. I would like to convey to the house, that we are committed to providing an investor friendly regime. Henceforth, all cases arising out of amendments of 2012, will be scrutinised by a high level CBDT committee.

Also read: the Vodafone retrospective tax case.

– FDI in Insurance is being increased to 49%. This will benefit companies like policybazaar.com, which was affected by the 26% limit for online aggregators.

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“The Insurance sector is investment starved. Several segments of the Insurance sector need an expansion. The composite cap in the Insurance sector is proposed to be increased up to 49 per cent from the current level of 26 per cent, with full Indian management and control, through the FIPB route.”

– No FDI in e-commerce. The FM teased, but doesn’t appear to have relented:
“FDI in the manufacturing sector is today on the automatic route. The manufacturing units will be allowed to sell its products through retail including E-commerce platforms without any additional approval.”

– Smart cities get Rs 7,060 crore in the current fiscal:

“To encourage development of Smart Cities, which will also provide habitation for the neo-middle class, requirement of the built up area and capital conditions for FDI is being reduced from 50,000 square metres to 20,000 square metres and from USD 10 million to USD 5 million respectively with a three year post completion lock in.”

“As the fruits of development reach an increasingly large number of people, the pace of migration from the rural areas to the cities is increasing. A neo middle class is emerging which has the aspiration of better living standards. Unless, new cities are developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people, the existing cities would soon become unlivable. The Prime Minister has a vision of developing ‘one hundred Smart Cities’, as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernizing the existing mid-sized cities. To provide the necessary focus to this critical activity, I have provided a sum of Rs 7,060 crore in the current fiscal.”

“A National Industrial Corridor Authority, with its headquarters in Pune, is being set up to coordinate the development of the industrial corridors, with smart cities linked to transport connectivity, which will be the cornerstone of the strategy to drive India’s growth in manufacturing and urbanization. I have provided an initial corpus of ` 100 crore for this purpose.

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The Amritsar Kolkata Industrial master planning will be completed expeditiously for the establishment of industrial smart cities in seven States of India. The master planning of three new smart cities in the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor region, viz., Ponneri in Tamil Nadu, Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Tumkur in Karnataka will also be completed.”

– E-visa’s will be allowed for specific countries:

“Tourism is one of the larger job creators globally. Many economies world over are supported by tourism. In order to give a major boost to tourism in India, the facility of Electronic Travel Authorization (e-Visa) would be introduced in a phased manner at nine airports in India where necessary infrastructure would be put in place within the next six months. The countries to which the Electronic Travel authorisation facility would be extended would be identified in a phased manner. This would further facilitate the visa on arrival facility.”

– Pilot scheme for security of women in cities and road transport. Could help the CCTV industry:
“An outlay of Rs 50 crores will be spent by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways on pilot testing a scheme on “Safety for Women on Public Road Transport”. A sum of Rs 150 crores will also be spent by Ministry of Home Affairs on a scheme to increase the safety of women in large cities. It is also proposed to set up “Crisis Management Centres” in all the districts of NCT of Delhi this year in all government and private hospitals. The funding will be provided from the Nirbhaya Fund.”

– Rs 100 crore for virtual classrooms: To take advantage of the reach of the IT, I propose to allocate a sum of Rs 100 crore for setting up virtual classrooms as Communication Linked Interface for Cultivating Knowledge (CLICK) and online courses.

– 5 more IIT’s: “I also intend to set up five more IITs in the Jammu, Chattisgarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.”

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– Startup Village entrepreneurship scheme, for which Rs 100 cores are being provided. We wonder if the Finance Minister was referring to the Startup Village in Kerala, set up by the founders of Mob Me, but this appears to be for Rural India

– Special focus on technology product startups.

– e-Governance: Rs 500 crore.

‘There is an imminent need to further bridge the divide between digital “haves” and “have-nots”. For this it is proposed to launch a pan India programme “Digital India”. This would ensure Broad band connectivity at village level, improved access to services through IT enabled platforms, greater transparency in Government processes and increased indigenous production of IT hardware and software for exports and improved domestic availability. Special focus would be on supporting software product startups. A National Rural Internet and Technology Mission for services in villages and schools, training in IT skills and E-Kranti for government service delivery and governance scheme is also proposed. I have provided a sum of ` 500 crore for this purpose.’

– National Institute of Animation: Setting up a National Institute of Animation, for supporting Gaming and Animation.

– Community Radio: “So far around 400 permissions for setting up of a Community Radio Stations have been issued. To encourage the growth in this sector, a new plan scheme is being taken up with an allocation of Rs 100 crore. This scheme would support about 600 new and existing Community Radio Stations.”

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– Farming: investment in agro technology and development, and easing of agricultural business. An Agri technology infrastructure fund being set up, with Rs 200 crore available for investment.

– States need to provide export promotion. An export promotion mission to bring all stakeholders under one umbrella. (Can help software exports)

– Small and Medium Enterprises: Finance available for these sections, and there is a need to examine the financial architecture for this sector. A committee is being appointed for

– promotion of startups and entrepeneurship has been a challenge: In order to create a condusive ecosystem, a Rs 10,000 crore fund for VC fund for equity and soft loans for startup companies.

“Promotion of entrepreneurship and start-up Companies remains a challenge. While there have been some efforts to encourage, one principal limitation has been availability of start-up capital by way of equity to be brought in by the promoters. In order to create a conducive eco-system for the venture capital in the MSME sector it is proposed to establish a `10,000 crore fund to act as a catalyst to attract private Capital by way of providing equity, quasi equity, soft loans and other risk capital for start-up companies. ”

– A plan to address bankruptcy related complications, and develop a bankruptcy framework:

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“Entrepreneur friendly legal bankruptcy framework will also be developed for SMEs to enable easy exit. A nationwide “District level Incubation and Accelerator Programme” would be taken up for incubation of new ideas and providing necessary support for accelerating entrepreneurship.”

– a nationwide incubation and accelerator program to be set up.

– An online platform for bill payments

– Liberalise the ADR, GDR regime to allow raise fundings from abroad. Revamp the Indian Depository Receipt (IDR).

“Completely revamp the Indian Depository Receipt (IDR) and introduce a much more liberal and ambitious Bharat Depository Receipt (BhDR).’

– Introduction of a common KYC norm for use across the financial sector. This could be linked to Aadhaar, but the FM hasn’t said anything. Common KYC norms will help reduce costs

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– Introduction of a single DEMAT account for all finance transactions

– Arun Prabha 24 hour TV channel being launched for the North Eastern Region.

– Kisan TV, dedicated to the interests of the agriculture and allied sector will be launched in the current financial year. This will disseminate real time information to the farmers information regarding new farming techniques, water conservation, organic farming etc. I propose to set aside a sum of `100 crore for this purpose.

– Adverse tax consequences, to encourage fund

– investment allowance for manufacturing firms, of 15% for 3 years, for firms investing over Rs 25 crores in plant and machinery. Custom duties: being reduced on

– Cathode ray tube TV’s are being made cheaper by reducing customs duties. What’s the point?

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– Basic custom duty on LCD and LED panels below 19 inches is being reduced to nil. This will make computer monitors cheaper.

– Smart cards: “Exempt 4 percent SAD on PVC sheet and ribbon used for the manufacture of smart cards.”
“I propose to withdraw the concessional excise duty (2 percent without Cenvat benefit and 6 percent with Cenvat benefit) on smart cards and levy a uniform excise duty at 12 percent. Consequently, imports will attract higher CVD. This will help domestic industry.”

– 10% basic customs duties on telecom products, to discourage imports. “Impose basic customs duty at 10 percent on specified telecommunication products that are outside the purview of the Information Technology Agreement”

– Exempt all inputs/components used in the manufacture of personal computers from 4 percent special additional duty (SAD);

– Service tax is back in case of online and mobile advertising, but not print.

– “I also propose to extend the investment linked deduction to two new sectors, namely, slurry pipelines for the transportation of iron ore, and semi-conductor wafer fabrication manufacturing units.  This will boost investment in these two critical sectors.  ”

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– “Impose education cess on imported electronic products to provide parity between domestically produced goods and imported goods”

Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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