Budget 2023-24: Focus on reforms through technology-driven mechanism
01 February 2023
Presenting the Union Budget 2023-24 in Parliament today, union minister for finance and corporate affairs Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed an overarching Saptarishi – 7 priorities of the government aimed at a multi-sectored focus on reforms through technology-driven and knowledge-based mechanisms during Amrit Kaal.
“Our vision for the Amrit Kaal includes technology-driven and knowledge-based economy with strong public finances, and a robust financial sector. To achieve this, Jan Bhagidari through Sabka Saath Sabka Prayas is essential,” the finance minister stated.
Elaborating further, the finance minister said, “Our focus on wide-ranging reforms and sound those in need, helped us perform well in trying times.”
She attributed India’s rising global profile to several accomplishments, such a unique world class digital public infrastructure, such as Aadhaar, Co-Win and UPI, the speed and scale at which the country completed Covid vaccination drive; the proactive role in frontier areas such as achieving the climate related goal; Mission LiFE, the National Hydrogen Mission and the farmer-centric Digital Public Infrastructure.
The finance minister proposed a digital public infrastructure for agriculture to be built as an open source, open standard and inter operable public good. This, Sitharaman said, would 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
As part of inclusive development, 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
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.
Sitharaman proposed the setting up of 100 labs for developing applications using 5G services 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.
Centres of excellence for Artificial Intelligence
To realise the vision of “Make AI in India and Make AI work for India”, the finance minister proposed three centres of excellence for Artificial Intelligence to 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 galvanise an effective AI ecosystem and nurture quality human resources in the field.
Simplification of KYC process
For streamlining the financial sector further, Sitharaman proposed that the KYC process will be simplified, adopting a ‘risk-based’ instead of ‘one size fits all’ approach. The financial sector regulators will also be encouraged to have a KYC system fully amenable to meet the needs of Digital India.
Sitharaman said that Fintech services in India have been facilitated by our digital public infrastructure, including Aadhaar, PM Jan Dhan Yojana, Video KYC, India Stack and UPI, and proposed to enable more Fintech innovative services, the scope of documents available in DigiLocker for individuals to be expanded.
The finance minister proposed to set up an Entity DigiLocker 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.
Sitaraman proposed that for an efficient administration of justice, Phase-3 of the e-Courts project will be launched with an outlay of Rs7,000 crore, further unleashing the potential of e-Courts.
Sitharaman stated that in 2022, digital payments showed an increase of 76 per cent in transactions and 91 per cent in value. Considering that digital payments continue to find wide acceptance, the finance minister proposed continuation of fiscal support for this digital public infrastructure in 2023-24.