At the offset, the Finance Minister said that Budget 2022 will be a digital one. It will be focused on boosting the digital economy as well as bridging the digital divide, she added. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman then announced certain initiatives as well as regulations to lay the ground for a digital economy. From the Digital Rupee to a digital university, Budget 2022 saw an unprecedented push for digitisation.
The minister said that India is currently in the ‘Amrit Kaal’, the 25-year lead up to India@100. In these 25 years, the government has certain goals to achieve, including promotion of the digital economy and fintech, technology enabled development, energy transition, and climate action.
The government aims to enhance the Ease of Doing Business, she said, through its next phase. The second phase of Ease of Doing Business will be driven by digitisation of manual processes and interventions among other things.
FM Sitharaman added that the government is allocating Rs 1 lakh crore to states for PM GatiShakti-related and other productive capital investments. It will also include components for “digitisation of the economy, including digital payments and completion of OFC network”.
The Budget 2022 also aimed to bridge the digital divide. In order to do so, it aimed to deliver digital and hi-tech services to farmers along with public sector research. ‘Kisan drones’ will be promoted for crop assessment, digitisation of land records, spraying of insecticides, and nutrients.
Moreover, the government’s skill development programme aims to upskill digitally. The Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood – the DESH-Stack e- portal – will empower 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,” said the FM.
Next, the minister said that in an attempt to universalise quality education, high-quality e-content in all spoken languages will be developed for delivery via internet, mobile phones, TV and radio through ‘Digital Teachers’. Moreover, a digital university will be established to provide world-class quality education and personalised learning experiences.
Furthermore, 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,” she said.
The government aims to ease banking digitally too. In order to do so it aims to establish 75 digital banking units in 75 districts of the country. “The financial support for digital payment ecosystem announced in the previous Budget will continue in 2022-23. This will encourage further adoption of digital payments. There will also be a focus to promote use of payment platforms that are economical and user friendly,” stated Sitharaman.
Additionally, to enhance transparency, “a completely paperless, end-to-end online e-Bill System will be launched for use by all central ministries for their procurements”.
Coming to one of the major highlights of Budget 2022, the minister announced the introduction of a digital rupee. The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will give a big boost to the digital economy, said Sitharaman. The Digital Rupee will be introduced using blockchain and other technologies and will be issued by the Reserve Bank of India in 2022-23.
Sitharaman also said that any income made from virtual digital assets will be taxed 30 per cent. “Gift of virtual digital assets is also proposed to be taxed in the hands of the recipient,” mentioned the minister.
Dr. Jaijit Bhattacharya, President, Centre for Digital Economy Policy Research said, “A budget that is high on technology focus and technology-led provisioning of services to vulnerable sections. From central Bank digital currency (CBDC) to using farm stalk for firing coal power plants which will reduce pollution, the budget appears to put high focus on technology adoption in all sectors. This is a very positive aspect.”
Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar, DG Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said, “The Union Budget of the year 2022-23 is pro-growth with emphasis on providing further impetus to the Digital India initiative. We are glad to see the focus on the enhancement of digital connectivity and the announcement for the required spectrum auction in 2022 for the rollout of 5G mobile services.”