With an objective to inculcate culture of cashless economy among the masses, easpecially the poor, the government has come out with a move to motivate people for buying smartphones. Given that smartphones have an edge over feature phones when it comes to using different cashless transaction options, the government is mulling to waive off central taxes on smartphones for the people belonging to lower income groups.
According to sources, the government is preparing a roadmap for its implementation across the country as most of the cashless transaction options could be availed through smartphones only and when people won't have smartphones, the whole objective of the demonetisation cannot be achieved. When the tax waiver would be implemented, the smartphones worth of Rs 3,200 would be available for lower income group at the price of Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,300 only, a government official said.
The idea was floated at a meeting held at Niti Ayog recently, in which the suggestion was endorsed by members of Niti Ayog, officials of Finance Ministry and Committee of Chief Ministers. During the meet, the convenor of Chief Ministers' Committee and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minmister Chandra Babu Naidu had suggested providing subsidy on smartphones.
"As its easier to make payments through smatphones by using different cashless options such as UPI, USSD and other mobile apps rather than feature phone, the government is chalking out plans to make available new age phones to every household. Without availability of smartphones, the mandate of demonetisation cannot be served completely," the official said. As per data of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), India's mobile phone subscriber base has crossed the 1 billion user mark, which makes India the only country after China to cross that milestone.
The government is also eying on the big mobile user base and planning to convert a major chunk of it as smartphone users by offering attractive offers.