Budget 2024: Adding More Muscle to the Technology Sector

Budget 2024: Adding More Muscle to the Technology Sector
Insights on India's Interim Budget 2024

The central government's goal of boosting India's employability through comprehensive training, skilling, and reskilling was reaffirmed in the Union Budget 24-25, which was delivered by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The employment situation for frontline workers in India is expected to improve as a result of the plan to increase domestic tourism, which is expected to generate numerous job possibilities for local workers.

The Budget also highlighted the importance of working together to elevate women, youth, farmers, and underprivileged workers. This aligns with our shared goal of enhancing the dignity and well-being of these diverse groups, who are steadfastly propelling India's economic growth. To further guarantee that women workers have access to medical and healthcare facilities, the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) should be extended to all ASHA and Anganwadi workers.

It was fascinating to learn about how India's tech stack has grown into a strong example for the rest of the globe to follow and how tech-first firms like ours are solving problems for markets throughout the world through innovation.

While we await more specific policies to expand gig workers' social security and formalise the workforce, business owners and executives in the sector must now engage in transparent communication with lawmakers to craft policies that benefit both employers and independent contractors.

Elaborating further on the recently concluded Budget 2024, Sumit Singh, CEO and Co-Founder of DashLoc, stated, “The budget has clearly exhibited that the government is extending full-fledged support towards adoption of technology across sectors. The special mention of deep-tech in the defence section gained in the speech truly indicates that the government is going to support emerging technologies in crucial sectors, too. Alongside, it is a matter of pride that STEM courses have seen aggressive enrolment from women. We can expect a quality and skilled workforce in India that will keep the wheel running towards striking progress.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Devan Gupta, Co-Founder and Partner, Cretum Advisory commented, “In this budget, the tax slab remains unchanged for the common man, ensuring no taxes are applicable on income up to Rs 7 Lakhs under the default "New Tax Regime." The government's focus is on simplifying business processes, and they have withdrawn outstanding direct tax demands, including INR 25,000 for FY 2009-10 and Rs 10,000 for FY 2010-11 to 2014-15. Additionally, there is a relaxation in TCS on foreign remittances under the LRS scheme, with the TCS rate reduced from 20% to 5% and no TCS imposed on expenses up to Rs 7 Lakhs. The issue surrounding the optional nature of Input Service Distributor (ISD) and cross-charging, previously resolved by a government circular allowing companies to choose whether to adopt ISD, has been reignited due to a new government proposal mandating the use of ISD. This change means companies will now face an increased compliance burden, as they will be required to register for ISD and additionally determine situations where cross-charge invoices need to be issued between branches that share the same PAN but have different GSTN numbers.”

“We commend the government's focus on tech-driven progress in the 2024 budget. The unveiling of a new scheme dedicated to bolstering deep-tech technologies for defence purposes is a testament to the commitment towards fostering self-reliance ('Atmanirbharta'). This forward-looking initiative aligns seamlessly with the government's visionary 'Viksit Kaal' objective. With the emphasis on 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat', this scheme will be pivotal for the growth and resilience of our nation's defence sector in areas such as AI, Quantum, Analytics, and more. We are committed to supporting India’s self-reliance vision and are actively engaged with the local industry and academia to build trusted high-tech capabilities in-country. We are optimistic that together we are poised to propel India's journey towards becoming a formidable force in defence manufacturing and exports on the global stage," stated Ashish Saraf, VP and Country Director, Thales

Budget 2024 on HRA, Income Tax, Tax Slabs and ITR
Budget 2024 on the Healthcare Sector

Budget 2024 on HRA, Income Tax, Tax Slabs and ITR

As predicted, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has suggested keeping the current tax rates for import tariffs, direct taxes, and indirect taxes in the year of the 2024 General Elections. She stated in her address on Budget 2024, "In keeping with convention, I do not propose to make any changes relating to taxation and propose to retain the same tax rates for direct and indirect taxes, including import duties."

"However, certain tax benefits to startups and investments made by sovereign wealth or pension funds, as also tax exemption on certain income of some IFSC units, are expiring on March 31, 2024; to provide continuity, I propose to extend the date to March 31, 2025," according to her.

Reacting to the announcement, Mahesh Krishnamoorthy, Managing Director of Core Integra, stated, “The presented budget is indeed an interim one, prompting anticipation for the formal budget scheduled to be unveiled by the new Government in July 2024. It is heartening to observe the strides India has taken over the past decade. The Government's continued commitment, as outlined in the budget, towards fostering ease of doing business, skill development, employment generation, and strengthening the entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem is commendable. In a positive development, the budget overview remains rational and aligned with the ongoing initiatives, even in the backdrop of it being an election year. The forthcoming annual budget later this year will unveil whether the new Government opts to maintain the current interim budget structure or introduces new measures, particularly concerning the implementation of the New Wage Code.”

“The 2024 interim budget has brought positive developments by extending tax benefits to startups, sovereign funds, pension funds and some IFSC units till March 2025. We expect the July budget to build on these initiatives and continue to foster growth prospects for BFSI and startups in the country. Aligning the GST input credit for NBFCs to 100% at par with other entities can boost the growth of NBFCs. Policies that improve credit access for lower-income groups and first-time borrowers would be warmly received. Following the RBI's call for diversification of funding channels beyond traditional banks, policies encouraging NBFCs to explore obtaining credit from international agencies or the government would expand their financing options. The ongoing support for startups through tailored fiscal policies, tax benefits, and easier credit access will further stimulate entrepreneurship, innovation, and employment generation,” Sashank Rishyasringa, Co-founder of Axio, opined.

Budget 2024 on the Healthcare Sector

Interim Budget 2024
Interim Budget 2024

Along with the 157 newly established medical colleges, the Union Budget 2023 included the announcement of new nursing institutions. In addition, Sitharaman has pledged to examine seven crore individuals in an effort to eradicate sickle cell anaemia by the year 2047. In addition to presenting the budget, she also stated that certain ICMR labs will be available for research to academics from public and private medical colleges as well as the business sector.

Encouraging these moves, Dr Neerja Agarwal, Psychologist and Co-founder of Emoneeds (Mental & Health Wellness), said, “While the interim budget lacked specific policies or initiatives for the mental health sector, we remain optimistic that post-election, the full budget will address this critical area. With approximately 150 million Indians requiring mental health care services and a stark shortage of professionals – only 0.3 psychiatrists, 0.07 psychologists, and 0.07 social workers per 100,000 people – the need is urgent. On a positive note, we commend the government’s commitment to other health initiatives, including the extension of Ayushman Bharat, consolidation of maternal and child healthcare schemes, and the remarkable 1-lakh crore corpus for private sector R&D. These efforts reflect a commendable focus on the nation’s well-being, growth and innovation.”

With a focus on health sector research and workforce development for budget 2023–24, the push for R&D opened the door to more advanced medical practices; now, public and private organisations can work together to educate and train healthcare workers, which will help alleviate shortages in the workforce and boost healthcare quality generally.

"The increased allocation of resources and funds is up by 13-28% from the last budget, opening the door for more innovation, especially when it is concerned with minimally-invasive, highly result-oriented fat removal procedures, i.e., 4D liposuction or when things are centrally focussed on skin rejuvenation, LHR (laser hair removal), or postpartum surgeries, including breast surgeries, abdominoplasty, and cosmetic gynaecology. We hope that in the future, we explore the option to access cosmetic surgeries, availing the facilities with insurance easily and associated financial assistance to the masses prohibited from costlier medical or cosmetic procedures," said Dr. Karishma Kagodu, Founder of Karishma Aesthetics.

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