The Union Budget 2022-23 presented today by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has excited some ? especially those looking at huge long-term infrastructure investments ? and has disappointed some ? those looking for some relief for individual taxpayers.
That apart, what the Budget has unequivocally and explicitly demonstrated is the centrality of digital technology in governance and all government plans. If anything, the pandemic has only accelerated digital transformation in the government, as it has done in the enterprises.
The importance of digital is best evident from the fact that it is the highest occurring specific word, next only to generic words like ?will?, ?per?, ?cent?, and ?crores?, ahead of words like ?development?, ?capital?, ?government? and even ?investment?.
In terms of applications, almost all transformative projects in diverse areas such as MSME, education, health, transport, agriculture, external affairs have technology as the cornerstone of their transformation.
In addition to application in government projects, technology also draws generous attention from the FM when it comes to favourable policy making and even funding.
Here are top 12 tech related announcements in the Union Budget 2022-23.
- The FM announced a data exchange among operators of different transport modes on a single platform, Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP), that will connect the individual entities through APIs.
- Ms Sitharaman also announced a scheme for delivering digital and hi-tech services to farmers in PPP mode, with involvement of public sector research and extension institutions and private agritech players and stakeholders of agricultural value chain.
- She also announced Kisan Drones that will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records, spraying of insecticides, and nutrients.
- The FM also announced digital ecosystem for skilling and livelihood and launch of DESH-Stack e- portal. This is targeted at empowering citizens to skill, reskill or upskill through on-line training. It will also provide API-based trusted skill credentials, payment and discovery layers to find relevant jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.
- The Budget has provided for a digital university that will provide access to students across the country with personalised learning experience. The University will be built on a networked hub-spoke model, with the hub ?building cutting edge ICT expertise?, and best public universities and institutions as collaborators.
- An open platform, for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out. It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities. A similar idea was mooted by CIOs in a discussion organized last year by CIO&Leader.
- The issuance of e-Passports, discussed for long, will finally be launched this year, according to the FM.
- To facilitate quicker bill processing by central ministries for their procurement, a paperless, end-to-end online e-Bill System will be launched The system will enable the suppliers and contractors to submit online their digitally signed bills and claims and track their status from anywhere.
- One much awaited announcement came in the form of a deadline for 5G spectrum auctions. Ms Sitharaman said the auction will happen by 2022 and the services could start in 2022-23.
- FM Sitharaman also announced government funding to support research in AI, Geospatial technologies and drones, and semiconductors among the few identified sunrise sectors.
- Data Centres have been included in the harmonized list of infrastructure. This will facilitate credit availability for this sector.
- Last but not the least, the announcement that has hogged the headline is announcement of the launch of Central Bank Digital Currency or Digital Rupee in 2022-23.