Budget 2019 lacks support for telecom sector: DG COAI Rajan S Mathews

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The government’s plans to set-up 100,000 digital villages in the next five years is a huge step towards leapfrogging India’s march on critical initiatives such as Digital India, said industry leaders. Most of them views that by placing wireless connectivity at the heart of India’s development particularly in rural areas, the country is poised to further improve its position as the global hub research and innovation. However, many of them do agree that sectors like telecom did not get the adequate support in this budget.

According to Rajan S Mathews, DG, COAI, the Interim -20 is truly pragmatic and we laud the government’s vision and commitment towards Digital India and the Digital economy. “Amongst many welcome steps, Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal expressed the Government’s intent to create 1 lakh digital villages over the next 5 years, under the ambitious Digital India initiative. The Government also stated its commitment to deploy three lakh common service centres which will be delivering digital services, especially to the rural areas,” he said.

Mathews emphasised that additionally, to take the benefits of Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies to the people, a comprehensive National Programme on ‘Artificial Intelligence’ has been envisaged by the Government. A National Centre on Artificial Intelligence is to be established, along with other Centres of Excellence. A total of nine priority areas have also been identified and plans for building a National Artificial Intelligence portal has also been put forth.

“Though several significant reforms were articulated, touching multiple industries, considering the given financial position the telecom sector is reeling under and the economic backbone that the sector provides to the economy and almost all industries, we expected concrete targeted initiatives to revitalise this sector,” said Mathews.

“While the Interim Finance Minister spoke extensively about investing in infrastructure such as road, railway, highways, electricity amongst others, geared to target a 10 trillion dollar economy; the telecom sector, which is the backbone of the country’s economy, did not receive significant support,” said DG, COAI.

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