Budget 2024: Sitharaman hails digital public infrastructure as ‘new factor of production’

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India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Interim Budget in parliament on Thursday (Jan 1), laid stress on how the country’s digital public infrastructure emanated as the ‘factor of production’ in the 21st century and has played a significant role in the formalisation of the economy.

“Digital Public Infra is a new factor of production in this 20th century and is instrumental in the formalisation of the economy,” Sitharaman said during her speech.

The statement by the finance minister stands true as the country’s digital payments, via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), surpassed 6821.26 million transactions in the first 17 days of January 2024.

India’s digital public infrastructure (DPI) which comprises of technology stack Aadhaar, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and others, has been recently gaining international recognition.  

“In 2022, they (digital payments) showed an increase of 76% in transactions and 91% in value. Fiscal support for this digital public infrastructure will continue in 2023-24,” the FM said.

The people in the country have created over 51.11 crore accounts (61,59,439.87) with a deposit of over Rs 2.08 lakh crore (26.67 billion USD).

Sitharaman said that the direct benefit transfer of Rs 34 lakh crore from the centre using Prime Minister Jan Dhan accounts, has contributed to the savings of Rs 2.7 lakh crore for the Indian government.

“This has been realised through the avoidance of leakages. The savings have helped in providing more funds for Garib Kalyan,” she said.

DPIs were one of the major talking points during New Delhi’s G20 where at the end of the summit, the Delhi Declaration laid emphasis on the adoption of DPI in order to bridge the digital divide and ramp up development.

Watch | India Budget 2024: Decoding Indian Government’s interim budget ahead of polls

Sitharaman proposes Rs 1 lakh crore corpus for research in tech

Sitharaman during her speech, unveiled the government’s plan to create a corpus of Rupees One Lakh Crore to propel private investment in sunrise technologies.

This corpus will forerun what the Finance Minister defined as a “golden era for our tech-savvy youth.”

While addressing the parliament, the finance minister highlighted the importance of combining the talent of India’s youth with cutting-edge technology.

Sitharaman stated, “This will encourage the private sector to scale up research and innovation significantly in sunrise domains. We need to have programmes that combine the powers of our youth and technology”.

(With inputs from agencies)

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