How was Budget 2018? Post Budget Reactions from Industry Leaders

“As a startup we appreciate the initiative taken by the government to introduce National programme on Artificial Intelligence. Additionally from the insurance point of view, the tax exemption will help senior citizens to enhance their insurance coverage at no additional cost by raising it from raised from 30,000 to 50,000,” said Sushant Reddy, Founder & CEO, AskArvi.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Budget for 2018 today (1st Feb). Here are reactions to the budget proposals from experts and business leaders from various sectors.

“Budget has clearly recognized Food Processing as the major tool for Rural upliftment & to enhance Farmers income. Besides double allocation, huge increase in Rural Infra & overall support to the farm sector through new initiatives will further add to the growth of food processing industry. Thrust on Agro & processed food exports will be further icing on the cake. Easier availability of Mudra loans to young & new entrepreneurs will help to build food service chain linking farms to process industry to the consumer directly,” said Man Mohan Malik, Founder & CMD Himalaya Foods International.

“FM Jaitley’s budget this year focuses on investments to be placed in artificial intelligence, machine learning and The Internet of Things with the NITI Aayog establishing a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence. The government has committed itself to the development of technology along with concentrating on AI and its applications which is a revolutionary move for the digital industry. Initiatives on infrastructure growth and education expansion have been looked at from a digital perspective, which reflects the significance of the ‘Blackboard to digital board’ movement. Decisions benefiting rural citizens – such as 5 lakh WiFi spots, give it a further impetus. Another game changer mentioned in this budget was the government’s will to proactively explore the use of blockchain technology. The allocation of Digital India has been doubled which indicates the government’s emphasis on digital, heralding a stronger digital economy. I believe this was a great budget for the digital ecosystem,” said Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group.

"Major focus to boost Financial technology is a welcome move especially initiatives to increase cashless payments on Toll booths to make roads seamless. Big Push for Rural Internet connectivity with 5 lakh WiFi hotspots. This will play a major role in providing digital literacy and empowering every citizen to be connected to the world.

The biggest Take away from this budget is National Health Control Protection Scheme covering 50cr people. Health benefits are very basic needs and every citizen irrespective of their income should get access to these benefits. This move will take India a step further towards a developed & healthy economy," said Kumar Abhishek, CEO & Co-founder, ToneTag.

“As expected, the union budget proposed by the FM was heavily focussed on uplifting the rural and agriculture sector which was much needed and very welcomed. Focus on digital technology as the biggest driver in improving quality of education, health and rural sector is praiseworthy. The proposal on universal healthcare is ambitious and can be transformational. Recognition of huge contribution made by angels and VCs, and the promise of creating more enabling regulations in this area was extremely welcomed. Further, setting up a focus on AI is a forward looking step as it will lead to policy frameworks that will allow us to leverage AI for good in areas like healthcare and education. The slew of measures announced for the MSME sector was excellent as this will give a flip to one of the biggest job creation engines in India,” said Saurabh Srivastava, Co-Founder & Director, IAN | Co-Founder, NASSCOM.

“We welcome the government’s decision to reduce corporate tax to 25%, from a flat 35% earlier. This is a boon for the startup ecosystem and will help many MSMEs in doing business more efficiently. Budget’s focus on farmers’ welfare is appreciated and the end delivery segment will also benefit from this,” said Anant Goel, CEO and Co-founder, Milkbasket.

“Today’s budget announcements are certainly creating a headway for India to become the largest digital economies in the world. Right from ploughing the seed of digital in education, creating the infrastructure to connect villages to encouraging establishment of advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence including research and development through Niti Ayog’s national programme will certainly help the existing market move towards digital,” said Manav Jeet, MD & CEO, Rubique.

“The focus on healthcare, agriculture, education and improving connectivity in the rural sectors shows the government’s focus on building a strong economy and simultaneously readying the country for a progressive future. The budget also laid due importance on the importance of skilling and employment. Recognising the MSME sector as both a key employer and an important growth driver for the economy, the setting up of online loan sanctioning is a welcome move.

From a technology perspective, a clear roadmap to build on new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things, digital manufacturing and quantum computing is a positive sign. The proposed national program to direct efforts in research, training and skilling around Artificial Intelligence by NITI Ayog is a clear sign of fuelling an innovation mind-set in the country. Blockchain is another significant area highlighted in the budget and the government is keen on using these technologies to propel a transparent and corrupt free economy. The government’s focus on further building Digital India by allocating Rs. 3073 crore showcases the emphasis on building a global digital economy,” said Vishal Agrawal, Managing Director, India & SAARC, Avaya.

"Certainly this budget will reassure and bring back the lost confidence amongst NBFCs. We appreciate the government’s move for reducing the tax burden on MSMEs. The measures for addressing the Non Performing Assets will ignite a ray of hope across the industry. We are glad about the government's decision to double the Allocation to Digital India scheme to Rs 3073 cr which will accelerate the transformation of India into a digital economy and will help our Fintech platform by extending our services to SMEs & MSMEs in the nooks and corners of the country," said Rajesh Gupta, Founder, Cash Suvidha.

"The Finance Minister's announcement to set up a national R&D program for AI and Machine Learning is most timely! AI will be the new electricity in a few years and the race to AI-supremacy is currently being led by China and the USA. With this announcement, India stands a better chance of achieving our dream of becoming a world superpower. Besides, a lot of the country's problems related to scaling Education and Healthcare could be solved to a large extent through AI-based automation. Thank you, Sri Arun Jaitley, for making sure Indian science and technology research stays relevant in the coming years," said Madhav Krishna Co-Founder and CEO at Vahan.

“The biggest good news from the budget is for the education sector. Specifically, the announcement that  1000 of the country’s top engineering (BE/B Tech) students will be chosen to become PM research fellows – and thus get eligible to pursue  their  doctorate programs at IIT’s or IISc’s – will be a big boost to merit in education. This scheme will also make professional colleges in the country rise the bar to churn out good students from their institutions. 

Besides this the announcement to launch the RISE (Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education) will also give the much needed impetus to the quality of education infrastructure in the country. Looks this revenues that accrue from the one percentage point increase in health and education cess will go towards this cause, which is a very welcome long term investment,” said D Venkat, CEO, Strides India Consulting.

"The government has taken many steps in the past couple of years to improve the on-ground execution of the Startup India program, such as easing the certification process to claim benefits and also providing seamless access to funds and mentorship. However, tax holiday status based on date of incorporation, ESOP taxation laws and the Angel Tax norms clarification would have definitely given a strong fillip to the startup ecosystem. This would also have contributed to the 'ease of doing business' index of India, that the PM is so passionate about improving year on year," said Ankit Garg, Founder & CEO,

"Education for once got due attention from the finance minister in the budget speech. Mr Jaitley acknowledged that technology will be the biggest driver in improving the quality of education. Among other major announcements are Eklavya schools in tribal districts on the lines of Navodaya schools, integrated B Ed, initiative for teachers training. Announcement of five lakh WiFi hot-spots in rural areas will enable access to high quality education to even even rural regions of the country," said Col. Rajendra Prasad Nadella, Co-Founder, Managing Director, iScholar.

“The Union Budget for the year 2018 is in line with our expectations and requirements of the economy. The country is still reaping the benefits from forward-looking initiatives proposed over the previous financial year such as demonetisation, the GST rollout and the increased focus towards digitisation. The programs that have been announced for the rural, agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing sectors will drive essential growth. The continued focus on MSME’s with the allocation of over 3000 crores for credit support along with backing the efforts of FinTech companies’ will help in creating more avenues of financial inclusion for the underserved segment. Bank recapitalisation will also sustain these efforts by adding much-needed credit in the market. The emphasis on complementing existing digitisation efforts by connecting villages through high speed optic fibre networks and building Wi-Fi spots will give an impetus to upcoming digital sectors that rely heavily on connectivity like FinTech and Edtech. We are happy with the current focus of the Government, as the country continues on the path of ‘ease of doing business’ it is great to see strong emphasis being out on ‘ease of living’ for the masses," said Harshvardhan Lunia, CEO & Co-Founder, Lendingkart Group.

“Rs5Lac is a great mediclaim amount and 50 Cr individuals is a great target. This will create tremendous awareness for medical insurance in the same way as Jan Dhan which ensured every Indian to have a bank account. This will push for every Indian to have medical insurance. On life insurance the PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yogana including Rs 2Lac Life cover is being pushed across a larger base which is a great sign. Rs 2 Lac critical cover is also being extended to a larger base," said Adhil Shetty CEO and Co-founder BankBazaar.

“We commend the focus on growing the digital footprint, providing better physical infrastructure, and improving not just the ease of doing business but also ease of living in the country. The enhancement of digital infrastructure with more broadband access in rural parts, unique ID to companies, record allocation to building national highways and railways, and multifold increase in airports will go a long way in broad-basing growth in the economy. We also welcome the emphasis on upgrading teaching methods and training teachers which will enable India to have better learning outcomes. These initiatives will make an impact when there is continued attention on the implementation of these policies," said Kunal Bahl, Co-founder & CEO, Snapdeal. 

"The Budget 2018 announced by the Finance Minister is largely populous, aimed at uplifting the rural economy and enhancing the infrastructure in the agri sector. The Government’s initiative to increase rural credit will have a positive impact on the demand for Tractors and other Commercial vehicles which are used for agriculture, at the same time the discerning rural users will also aid the growth of two-wheelers and other vehicles especially hatchbacks and SUVs. With these macro changes, digital/ online mediums will play a significant role in bringing buyers & sellers closer, ultimately resulting in growing the automobile market in the tier 2 & 3 cities," said Sunny Kataria, Director, Automobile Category, OLX India.

"The government has once again refused to recognize virtual currencies in India and has stated during today's Budget announcement that they will instead encourage blockchain technology in payment systems. The necessary next step is for the government to legislate and thereafter regulate cryptocurrencies in India. Clarifications are needed in respect of taxability, KYC, transferability, ownership, acquisition etc. of cryptocurrency in India," said Malav Virani, Partner, MDP & Partners (law firm).

“The reduction of corporate tax by 25% for companies with a turnover of 250Crore is a positive step. Moreover, the interest shown by the Government to promote online lending is also encouraging for Fintech. Although the Finance Minister touched upon the Angel Tax but it is yet to be seen that what is there to boost the business eco-system. The move to assign uniques IDs for Companies is also a welcome step. Personally, I am very happy to witness the measures taken in education and health sectors," said Dinesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO,

"The Budget 2018 that is supportive of the rural economy, agriculture and infrastructure has definitely given enough reasons for the MSMEs to smile. The reduction of corporate tax to 25 percent for companies with turnover up to Rs 250 crore is a welcome move. The proposal to revamp the loan sanctioning for SMEs including the creation of a database for financing the SMEs and online loan facilities for SMEs are sure to boost the morale. Demonetization and GSTN ushered in an era of transparency and digitization which along with the above implementations have turned the wave in the favor of SMEs and online business models," said Sunil Gupta, Founder, and Director,

“We are glad to see the Government’s focus on digital inclusion for the rural economy through this budget. With the proposal to set up 5 lakh WiFi hotspots and allocation of Rs 10,000 crore for telecom infrastructure, it will further the internet penetration for rural India and bring broadband to 5 crore rural citizens. But to make the endeavour of digital inclusion for rural economy realize its full potential, it will be crucial for the Government to create awareness about adoption of digital payments and expose various cash users in the rural India to the ease of use of digital payments.

The corporate tax cut to 25% for companies with revenue up to 250 crore will surely help in the process of ease of continuing and starting businesses for budding entrepreneurs & startups. Though the FinMin indicated that they will focus on start-ups this year, we expect operational guidance that will make it more accessible and beneficial through measures such as a greater tax relief, easier access to unsecured loans, increase in tax holiday period among others.

Another point to note is that the cash-to-GDP ratio is rising again, government needs to take measures to avoid that. Mere incentives would not suffice to give the much needed push for digital economy in India. We expected the budget to address that as well," said Harshil Mathur, CEO & Co-Founder, Razorpay.

“The Government’s decision to explore the usage of Blockchain technology, a shared digital ledger which has been fast finding favour with financial intermediaries will help ease credit flows to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) since it can track and record each and every transaction of individuals and enterprises on a shared network. This augers well for the MSME sector as well as individuals who have poor history of documentation and credit history in accessing capital. This will also help peer-to-peer lending groups in enhancing their customer base as well as business,” said Vinay Kalantri, Founder and Managing Director of tmw (The Mobile Wallet).

"We are happy that Finance Minister has acknowledged voice from Fintech Industry seeking soft touch approach to regulation and making strong case for fintech participation in supporting SME/ MSME growth. Fintech as a segment has been signalled out in this budget with a very clear objective of credit push to the last mile. We see it as strong government backing for the way fintech industry is shaping in India," said Mr. Satyam Kumar- CEO and CO-Founder, Loantap.

"The budget has not addressed some pain points of the Indian start up sector. The issue of Angel tax was not addressed directly and we will have to see the published budget documents for clarity on the same.

As for the good points - With regards to credit extension to small and micro companies, the Mudra Yojana seems a step in the right direction but the fine print of the same needs to be seen carefully to understand widespread execution. There has been a advocacy for push for technology in education, due to which I foresee increased opportunity for Ed-tech firms. The announcement for more use of artificial intelligence (AI) is promising, and it can lead to a flourishing AI sector in India. Companies in the network infrastructure space will continue to find business with the agenda of 'smart cities' and the provision for broadband and wifi hotspots. The thought of implementing blockchain technology is a welcome move and I hope it will be used in the area of land records and digital identification.

Overall, the budget showcases moves in the right direction but hasn't brought in any drastic measures to help the Indian Startup ecosystem. The efficient execution of these policies should be the difference maker," said by Ishan Singh, MD & Founder, RevStart and Active Angel Investor.

“Digitisation and formalisation seems to be the mantra, with the Finance Minister stressing on the growing digital economy and increased allocation to aid digital transformation. The government initiating a new plan on NPAs also shows the importance of rising bad loans with India currently ranking 5th in the world. We hope that this plan would help shift focus on the importance of good credit as a countermeasure. By setting the target of disbursing Rs.3 lakh crore through the MUDRA Yojana for the next fiscal is a commendable step towards inclusive funding,” said Ranjit Punja, CEO & Co-Founder,

"Allocation of 373 cr in digital India initiative is a welcome step in the direction of reducing cost of operations for all businesses sytemically while greatly aiding the ecosystem for FinTech enterprises. Further, MSME corporate tax for 2018-19 has been cut to 25% up to revenue of Rs 250 cr. This is likely to encourage larger tax compliance from MSME sector," said Mr. Rohit Lohia- CO-Founder and COO, CoinTribe Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Mayank Bhangadia, Co-founder, and CEO, Roposo said, "While Budget 2018 is majorly focused on the agriculture and education industry, there are a few points which may act as the foundation of future growth of startups in India. The reduction of corporate tax is clearly one of them and would surely help to some extent. The proposed plan to set up 5 lakh Wifi Hotspots is also quite a progressive decision, given that it is implemented properly and as soon as possible.

The budget would have been a lot better if it focused more on start-ups which comprise the bottom of the industry pyramid. I believe incorporating that into the plan would have helped in the progression of the industry as a whole. Apart from that, I am quite glad that the government has placed growth as its main agenda for the budget rather than the 2019 elections." 

Raman Narula, Managing Director, Formula Group said, "The budget 2018 -19 seems positive and will help to boost tourism sector and enhance the experience of Tourists in India. Increase in online transactions and cashless payments at toll booth will lead to higher success of ecommerce businesses and will be prime for more transparency and less waiting time at toll booths, reducing inter-state transport time. The impact of Digital India can be seen when more and more Indians will source products & services online allowing online business models to become profitable by reducing their Marketing expenses."

Oliver Mirza, Managing Director & CEO, Dr. Oetker India said, “We welcome government’s move to reduce Corporate tax from 30% to 25% for companies with revenue of up to 250cr. This initiative will give a boost to company revenue and allow businesses like us to invest more in expansion leading to employment generation, which is a primary focus for the government. This move will also provide a great stimulus to the government’s initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Startup India’. Tax benefits combined with increased allocation to the food processing sector will give a great impetus to the overall FMCG industry.”

Archit Gupta, Founder & CEO ClearTax added, "Standard deduction has been reintroduced but at a cost, it takes away medical reimbursement and travel allowance. There were several demands to raise medical reimbursement from 15,000 and bring it up according to current prices (the amount has been same since more than a decade). However, now the clamour for raising this limit will die down. With this, for a salaried, the amount taxable under salary shall be reduced by Rs 5,800. While cess will go up by 1%. Senior citizens have much to rejoice and will face much lower burden of taxes, this is especially crucial in the falling interest rates from banks and deposits."

"Union Budget 2018 has brought cheer with its emphasis on the education sector when Finance Minister Mr. Jaitley said, “Technology will be the biggest driver in improving the quality of education.” The entire edtech sector will heartily agree and resonate with this view. This extremely positive news for the edtech sector and we look forward to budget allocation and positive policy changes to enable technology in education.

Education sector could further be strengthened if there is an increased focus on increasing the quality of education rather than creating infrastructure for education. The focus should be directed towards building an administrative body, which is able to see and drive technology and quality in education.

Another key focus of the Budget 2018 was on improving the quality of teachers, who are the backbone of quality education. We look forward to further support from the government towards private edtech players, who would use technology to reach quality education from a few to quality teachers to a larger and remote student base”, said Karthik K S, founder and CEO of AEON Learning.

Rajeev Mahajan, Co-Founder, Director & CEO of Antworks Money said, “Excellent budget for Lending and Insurance sectors. These sectors will get immediate boost from initiatives like public sector Bank recapitalisation, national health protection schemes and rax relief for individual tax payers. Its heartening to see Government taking steps in field of developing Artificial Intelligence. This will definitely help in growth of Fintech sector in India.”

“This budget is propelling India towards becoming a digital economy with a clear focus on education and infrastructure development. It is great to see the Government’s continued efforts towards Digital India by increasing investment for digital initiatives and enabling the NITI Aayog to direct efforts towards Artificial Intelligence. Improving education is an admirable goal set by the government and technology will be the greatest enabler for enhancing the quality of education in our country. The government’s initiative to identify B.Tech students and provide higher education opportunities in premier institutions will increase the number of unique ideas originating from India. We look forward to partnering with the public and private sector, to create a technology driven ecosystem which fosters local innovation and research,” said Mahesh Nayak, Chief Operating Officer, SAP Labs India.

"The latest budget announcement holds great promise. I am particularly enthused by doubling the allocation to Digital India to Rs 3073 cr for the 2018-19 fiscal and. This move will empower the society in areas like broadband and mobile connectivity and government services on demand and will help the country's vision to be a digital-first economy.

Furthermore, the allocation of INR 10,000 crore for the 5 lakh WiFi HotSpots to provide Broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens is also promising. With nearly 70% of the country’s population living in rural and semi-urban geographies, the move will give the vision of a ‘Digital India’ a big boost and provide businesses an opportunity to upscale," said Ambika Sharma- Founder & MD, Instappy.

Aniketh Jain, CEO & Co-Founder of Solutions Infini Pvt. Ltd. said, "This year's budget's crucial step has been the deduction in corporate tax by 25% with turnover upto Rs.250 Cr. This will create a balance in the economy by disseminating the disparities between startups and large scale enterprises. Startups can invest the same in other useful interventions. Government's outlook towards strengthening agriculture, health, education and employment are positive notes that envision national development. The world's largest healthcare programme called the Ayushman Bharat Program is an unexpected yet a fruitful initiative that's announced in budget 2018. Fiscal scenario and farm deficit are given utmost significance and rightly addressed so, for the overall health of the Indian economy. The Fiscal deposit is expected to drop down to 3.3% in the coming year from the current 3.5% in 2017-2018. Tax incentives to senior citizens make sense."

“Boost to Make in India initiatives and aimed at a progressive development of the rural economy and growth of the entire country. The focus on infrastructure, social inclusion and progress, education, agriculture and healthcare are steps in the right direction. Though there is not much in terms of addressing the problems faced by the realty sector but the move towards no adjustment in case of the circle rate not exceeding 5 % of sale consideration is a welcome move. Standard deduction for transport, medical reimbursement for salaried taxpayers and incentives for Senior citizens will help increase disposable income at hand,” said Mr Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director of Pacific India Group.

“The Finance ministry has demonstrated incredible foresight. We appreciate that the Finance Ministry acknowledged the importance of digital lenders like Capital Float in aiding the growth of the MSME sector. As founding members of The Digital Lenders Association of India (DLAI), we met with the Finance Ministry, along with other leading Fintech lenders, last year and presented a whitepaper with recommendations to foster Fintech lending. We’re delighted to see those suggestions being incorporated in spirit and in letter. These include increased capital injection into the MUDRA Yojna up to Rs 3 lakh crores & doubling the allocation to the Digital India initiative. In addition, our request to access funds from MUDRA is also being considered by the Ministry, as they are reviewing the refinancing policy and eligibility criteria for NBFCs. We also welcome Mr Jaitley’s forward-looking approach towards adopting blockchain, which will play a crucial role in shaping digital payments in the country,” said Sashank Rishyasringa, Co-founder of Capital Float.

Rahul Garg, CEO & Founder, Moglix said, "The Union Budget 2018 is a very inclusive and progressive budget for all of us. It is indeed heartening to see that major emphasis has been laid on improvising social security, healthcare and education for everyone down the pyramid. We welcome the focus on strengthening the MSME sector in the form of capital support and interest subsidy. Investment in infrastructure would help strengthen the overall geographies of India and make it true to ease of living and doing business in the country."

Shailendra Naidu, CEO, OBOPAY, said, "Government’s decision to encourage blockchain in payments sector is a welcome measure. The decentralized technology will help simplify the ecosystem, mitigate security concerns and build a trustworthy network ensuring data integrity. Elimination of intermediaries and overhead costs will help in reduction of transaction costs. The ability to make data transfer simpler and easier between entities would encourage adoption of block chain as a preferred technology across industries. Blockchain with strong support from government would help reshape the way businesses transact and fuel the digital initiatives."

Akash Gupta, Founder and CEO - Mobycy said, "The Union Budget 2018-19 has called out some significant positive initiatives towards curbing air pollution and supporting schemes. These pro-environment steps will take the country towards a better future. We at Mobycy are doing our bit by contributing towards building a fitter cycling nation and assist government in their green initiatives. We feel that this is a step in the right direction & more & more such pro-environment steps will promise a better future for our country".

Kumar Srinivasan, CEO (India), Matchmove said, “Since the government’s push for a cashless economy with the announcement for demonetization in India, we have seen a rapid transformation and growth in the digital payments segment. With an unbanked population of over 250 million Indians and the country moving towards 520 million smartphone users by 2020, it is a wise move by the government to incentivize digital payments to encourage consumers to shift to “cashless” and increase bandwidths to reach out to a larger populace. The Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) scheme and Jan Dhan Yojana scheme are some of the major initiatives by the Government that has helped to boost India’s digital payments agenda.

He further added, “ By granting an infrastructure status to digital payments companies like us, this will open new opportunities, with our proprietary technology in digitally “moving money”, to continue our efforts in alignment with India’s vision to drive our partners, their stakeholders as well as the end-users to adopt and scale into a cashless economy towards a ‘Digital India’.”

Kiran Deshpande, Co-founder & President - Mojo Networks said, “The government’s budget for 2018-19 has a special emphasis on increasing digital intensity in education. Wireless communication technology has a big role to play in enhancing interactivity in at all levels and in creating smart campuses. Additionally, providing WiFi in trains, increasing broadband access through WiFi hotspots to 5 crore rural citizens and connecting 1.5 lakh more villages under BharatNet initiative is a step forward towards digitizing India.” He further added, “Also reduction in corporate tax to 25% is a huge boost and will benefit the entire micro and small and medium enterprises which amount for 99% of the companies filing their tax returns.”

Anurag Avula, Co-Founder and CEO, Shopmatic said, "The government is looking to invest in high-end technologies like AI, Blockchain, and the Digital India initiative, which are welcome moves. Doing so will help create the infrastructure and build a robust economy that can help India and its nimble new-age startups and speed up the digitization of businesses." 

Vinay Singhal, Co-Founder & CEO, WittyFeed said, "Keeping in mind that next year India is going to polls, there were a lot of expectations from the Union Budget, especially after the kind of discussions that have happened around development.

Hopes were high that the budget would be made on the lines to achieve Mission 2020. While we have seen some good things like free medical care, women empowerment, and digital education. However, the middle class seems to be ignored in all of this. There are no rate cuts or slab adjustments to reduce tax liability. And by saying that government will explore BlockChain Technology and discourage crypto-currency, what we fail to realize is that our position in the global market will be hampered."

Neeraj Banga, General Manager - Finance, Divine Organics said, "Since the Finance Minister has aimed at taxing big corporates, it is a concern of worry for a new start up like us, who wish to give helping hands in the GDP growth. On the other side, the best part of the budget seems to be an unusual comment of the Finance Minister in which he has said that the quatum of taxes paid - both direct and indirect - are insufficient. This gives a fair idea about the Government's approach moving forward that the main focus will be on collection of taxes."

Rajat Gandhi, Founder & CEO, Faircent. com said, "Hon. Finance minister budget speech reflects the government’s intent to increase the credit access for the MSME sector and women entrepreneurs under MUDRA scheme. P2P lending is using technology and new-age data and diligently working towards taking organised credit to the non and under-banked segments of the Indian economy. This is an opportunity for the government to directly invest or co-fund through registered P2P Lending Platforms and ensure credit access for MSMEs, New-To-Credit as well as female entrepreneurs. P2P lending is an asset class ensuring flow of investments from those with surplus to those in need. Hence it’s important that the lenders are supported through tax incentives. We look forward to working with the govt towards common goal of financial inclusion."

Mitesh Shah, Head of Finance, BookMyShow said, “The Union Budget 2018 is both populist as well as pragmatic. It focuses on growing the promising rural economy and extending digitalization to rural citizens which can yield great results in the form of increased household rural consumption, and thereby providing internet driven businesses with a great potential market opportunity to tap. Increasing allocation for digital India and the overall strong thrust on digitalization is a welcome step. Initiatives such as High speed connectivity and Wi-Fi access to 5 Cr rural citizens and tax disallowance on cash expenditures above Rs. 10,000 for all entities now also give digital movement a great push and will benefit internet businesses. However, some more direct incentives for promoting digital ecosystem in form of lower MDR or cashbacks would have been welcomed by online platforms as well as merchants. 

The move to levy 10% LTCG is commendable in the larger interest of the Economy and Fiscal situation. Another significant change proposed in the budget is inclusion of ’Significant Economic Presence’ in the definition of ‘Business Connection’ whereby even digital presence of Non-resident enterprises in India through digital platforms shall be construed to be taxable presence irrespective of whether or not the non-resident has a place of business in India or render services in India. This provision will bring about paragon shifts in nexus rules under DTAA. 

There is also positive news for startup ecosystem as the benefit of dedication u/s 80-IAC is extended to startups incorporated even after 1st Apr, 2019 but before 1st Apr, 2021. The budget also brings lot of clarity around tax administration and rationalization as well as relief from MAT for companies admitted under Insolvency Resolution Process. With 99% of corporates now being covered under the reduced corporate tax rate of 25%, the Finance Minister has substantially lived to the commitment of rationalizing corporate tax made in 2015.”

Sirish Kumar, Founder and CEO - Telr said, "Budget has shown an increase in tax collections to government exchequer since demonetisation drive almost a year back . Government of India continues to embrace new initiatives and technologies to reduce the costs of doing cashless transaction and reducing the parallel black economy. Blockchain will disrupt the present practices related to money transfer , contracts and property records , amongst other things . Blockchain should be explored to tackle bad loans by real time information exchange between banks. I believe blockchain will be pivotal on executing the smart cities initiatives , particularly the small towns in India. This will include disrupting models of transportation like Uber , Ola etc. The reduction in intermediaries will also make governments and bank efficient by replacing loads of paperwork".

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