Budget 2018: Agency speak

Agency honchos pen their thoughts on #Budget 2018

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Ashish Bhasin,
Chairman & CEO South Asia – Dentsu Aegis Network:

The budget has focused on the right areas, particularly the rural and agricultural sector, which is definitely going to spur rural demand in the coming months and years. The rural economy needed a boost. I also like the fact that the Finance Minister has focused on Ease of Living rather than just Ease of Doing Business and has introduced Healthcare benefits which will benefit nearly 50 crore Indians. It is a landmark step.

The emphasis on Digital, particularly higher-end digital areas like Artificial Intelligence and usage of Block Chain shows that the government is committed to providing a further digital thrust. The steps being taken, like provision of free Wifi and other forms of internet to all parts of the country will be extremely beneficial in the long run for the digital sector. It will help agencies like ours who are partnering clients for Digital Transformation.

The introduction of the Long Term Capital Gains tax on equities will soon be digested by the industry I’m sure, but in some ways I see a missed opportunity because the simplification of GST processes for the services sector would have gone a long way to help the advertising industry. The advertising industry doesn’t mind paying the taxes but abhors non-productive, complex procedures including filing of hundreds of returns every year.

Over all I think the right sectors have got the incentives and therefore it should be good for the country. If it is good for the country, it will be good for the economy and once the economy grows, the advertising sector will benefit from it.

Sahil Chopra,
CEO and Founder, iCubesWire

“The much-awaited announcement of Union Budget prompted a gust of anticipation & higher expectations. While Mr. Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister touts the Union Budget as primarily focused on the agricultural sector, it sure reeks of reforms beneficial for numerous other sectors as well
The government has always encouraged the digital sector to flourish & the budget rightfully justifies their farsighted approach. This year the allocation to Digital India Scheme has been doubled to INR 3073Cr which is a worthwhile move for the industry as a whole. Not only that, with the onset of fast-paced technology & Artificial Intelligence shaping the new segment of digital World, NITI Aayog will establish a national programme for Artificial intelligence. This is a clap-worthy reform which will help organizations diversifying with AI to have a wider scope with vast awareness among everyone. For a higher internet penetration, 5 Lakh wi-fi hotspots will be set up in rural areas, which again is beneficial for the rural dwellers. The need to eliminate cryptocurrencies which are funding illegitimate transactions was also mentioned. The government has proposed to revamp the system of sanctioning loans to SMEs. As per the budget reforms now the information will be linked with GSTN & will be fetched from the same. This comes across as a welcome move as not only will it streamline the process but will enable people to get accustomed to the digital ingress. Corporate companies with a turnover of up to INR 250 cr. will also be highly benefitted from the budget as the corporate tax has been further reduced to 25%
As per my opinion, the Union Budget has surely set a benchmark & the year looks promising with excellent reforms leading to growth & development of the economy.”

Prashant Puri,
Co-Founder & CEO, AdLift

“Rs. 3073cr allocation to Digital India programme is a huge win. India currently has the second largest internet population – this investment might see us getting to the first spot sooner than predicted which is sooner than 2022.”

Chetan Asher,
Founder & CEO, Tonic Worldwide:

“This is an excellent budget from the digital perspective. As expected, the government has doubled its allocation to digital India initiative at 3073 cr. This will grow the entire digital economy and the government has shown that this is going to be focus area. Its commitment to exploring blockchain and AI only ratifies its vision for digital India. The other game changer is enhancing rural regions with 5 lakh Wifi hotspots. This would lead to higher adoption, skills upgrade and rural citizens embracing digital quickly. This budget gives me hope that we are on our way to becoming a digital led economy.”

Kshitiz Randhir Shori,
Country Manager- RTB House India 

“Government’s boost to upcoming technologies like AI is extremely forward thinking and progressive. India currently needs more researchers working in this to develop cutting-edge technologies which can compete with the best out there. Additionally, this will also encourage more people to contribute their talents to Indian companies and provide more growth opportunities to Indian startups. Increased focus on connectivity with 5G and public WIFI is very exciting for digital companies in the space of advertising and also content creators. This is a very digital savvy budget and stand to benefit technology and ad tech companies immensely”

Vivek Bhargava,
CEO, DAN Performance Group

“FM Jaitley’s budget this year focuses on investments to be placed in artificial intelligence, machine learning and The Internet of Things with the NITI Aayog establishing a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence. The government has committed itself to the development of technology along with concentrating on AI and its applications which is a revolutionary move for the digital industry. Initiatives on infrastructure growth and education expansion have been looked at from a digital perspective, which reflects the significance of the ‘Blackboard to digital board’ movement. Decisions benefiting rural citizens – such as 5 lakh WiFi spots, give it a further impetus. Another game changer mentioned in this budget was the government’s will to proactively explore the use of blockchain technology. The allocation of Digital India has been doubled which indicates the government’s emphasis on digital, heralding a stronger digital economy. I believe this was a great budget for the digital ecosystem.”

Gopa Kumar
Executive Vice-President, Isobar India

“This year’s budget reaction is Mixed, I think there could have been more done. Some Positives which I see is an increased focus on digital India initiatives and the allocation increasing to around 3000 crore. Broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens and setting up pf Wi-Fi hotspots is also encouraging and will give a huge boost to digital economy. While Government has said they would explore usage of block chain technology, Cryptocurrency still not becoming mainstream is a disappointment. Feel there should definitely have been some roadmap for the same, if not immediate. Focus on Digital & technology in the education sector is also a step in right direction. No Change in Personal taxes is a dampener as it was expected that there would be some change in that regard, while Standard Deduction of 40k is some relief.”

Shrenik Gandhi,
Co-founder White Rivers Media

Double the Budget Allocation to Digital India scheme (3073 Cr) vis a vis last year is a welcome move. This coupled with half a million Wifi Hotspots to get 50 million more people under the Digital Universe is a positive sign. Increasing focus on Digital Education sector & artificial intelligence and a national program for cyberspace are pretty thoughtful gestures. All of these clearly indicates governments’ keen interest in making the Digital India Story stronger. Derecognizing the CryptoCurrency market shall have a negative global impact, yet is a strong statement coming from World’s Largest Democracy. A 5% relief in corporate tax for companies below 250 crore revenue shall give a lot of impetus to the SME segments.
Overall, the budget is pretty balanced & covers a lot of important aspects and is not an appeasement filled budget. Most importantly, the success of these lies in Digital Adaptation, the same can make it or break it, in the last Pre-Election Year!

Arun Raman,
National Planning Head , GREY group India.

This budget has tackled the long needed health security for the have nots. This is a fantastic initiative to bring in over 50Cr of our fellow citizens to a state of better living.Overall, as an economy, we are forgetting that GDP growth is inherently linked to consumption growth. Both as a tax-payer and a marketer, I am disappointed. There have been no measures to improve the ‘consumption-side’ of the economy. Neither is there a tax benefit for me to improve my disposable income, nor are there any measures that reduce the cost of acquisition for a wide array of products. How will we achieve great economic prosperity when neither the supply side (higher income) nor the demand side (lowering of prices) are being addressed.

With not much ‘sops’ for any sector, I am keen to find how marketers across the board are going to look at 2018.

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