Budget 2023-24: Digital takes prime seat

The Union Budget 2023-24 presented Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament focuses on digital in big way through setting up three CoE for AI, 100 labs for 5G services, data embassy, digital infra for agriculture, and others

The Union Budget 2023-24 has a large digital component which focuses on setting up CoE for AI, 100 labs for 5G services, data embassy, digital infra for agriculture, E-courts, entity DigiLocker, national digital library, and Bharath SHRI.

Centres of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence (AI): Realizing the vision of “Make AI in India and Make AI work for India”, three centres of excellence (CoE) for Artificial Intelligence will be set-up in top educational institutions. Leading industry players will partner in conducting interdisciplinary research, develop cutting-edge applications and scalable problem solutions in the areas of agriculture, health, and sustainable cities. This will galvanize an effective AI ecosystem and nurture quality human resources in the field.

Entity DigiLocker – An Entity DigiLocker will be set up for use by MSMEs, large business and charitable trusts. This will be towards storing and sharing documents online securely, whenever needed, with various authorities, regulators, banks and other business entities.

Digital Payments – Digital payments continue to find wide acceptance. In 2022, they show an increase of 76 per cent in transactions and 91 per cent in value. Fiscal support for this digital public infrastructure will continue in 2023-24.

E-courts: For efficient administration of justice, Phase-3 of the outlay E-Courts project will be of Rs. 7,000 crore.

5G Services: One hundred labs for developing applications using 5G services will be set up in engineering institutions to realise a new range of opportunities, business models, and employment potential. The labs will cover, among others, applications such as smart classrooms, precision farming, intelligent transport systems, and health care applications.

Data Embassy: For countries looking for digital continuity solutions, we will facilitate setting up of their Data Embassies in GIFT IFSC.

Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture – Digital public infrastructure for agriculture will be built as an open source, open standard and interoperable public good. This will enable inclusive, farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services for crop planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit, and insurance, help for crop estimation, market intelligence, and support for growth of agri-tech industry and start-ups.

National Digital Library for children and adolescents – As part of inclusive development, Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to set up a National Digital Library for children and adolescents for facilitating availability of quality books across geographies, languages, genres and levels, and device agnostic accessibility. The Finance Minister stated that states will be encouraged to set up physical libraries for them at panchayat and ward levels and provide infrastructure for accessing the National Digital Library resources.

Bharat Shared Repository of Inscriptions (Bharat SHRI) – The Finance Minister proposed ‘Bharat Shared Repository of Inscriptions’, to be set up in a digital epigraphy museum, with digitisation of one lakh ancient inscriptions in the first stage.

Electronics – As a result of various initiatives of the government, including the phased manufacturing programme, mobile phone production in India has increased from 5.8 crore units valued at about Rs. 18,900 crore in FY 2014-15 to 31 crore units valued at over Rs. 2,75,000 crore in the last financial year. To further deepen domestic value addition in manufacture of mobile phones, the finance minister proposes to provide relief in customs duty on import of certain parts and inputs like camera lens and continue the concessional duty on lithium-ion cells for batteries for another year.

Similarly, to promote value addition in the manufacture of televisions, FM proposes to reduce the basic customs duty on parts of open cells of TV panels to 2.5 per cent.

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