No Big Boosts for Space Sector in India’s Interim Budget

Written by staff writer.

India’s interim 2024 budget, handed down early evening (AEDT) on January 31, 2024, offered that country’s space sector little in the way of additional funding despite calls for a substantial increase in space spending.

The interim budget provided stop-gap funding ahead of general elections due to be held in April or May. While interim budgets typically contain few big-ticket announcements, preferring to leave that to the next government, they can facilitate targeting funding opportunities designed to win voter approval.

The Satcom Industry Association-India (SIA-India) wants an increase in India’s space budget to USD 62 billion, an exponential leap from the USD 1.5 billion allocated in the 2023 budget. They say the increase would allow India to match the US space budget and lock-in the country’s place as a top-tier space nation.

Last year, the successful Chandraayan 3 mission to the Moon shot the domestic space sector to prominence and was a source of national pride. The current Narendra Modi administration has supported the space sector but has placed significant emphasis on encouraging private sector capabilities rather than exclusively focusing on the country’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation.

In addition to more money, the space sector was lobbying for GST exemptions, tax holidays, and concessions on customs duties. The sector also called for clarity on foreign investment policies, production-linked incentives,  subsidies, investments, and innovation in the private space industry.

But pending the election, the government’s interim budget offered the sector little more than platitudes. “My Government is working towards making India a major space power of the world. This is a mode to make human life better,” said President Droupadi Murmu. “This is also an effort to increase India’s share in the space economy. Important decisions have been taken for the expansion of India’s space program. Several new space startups have been formed. The day is not far when India’s Gaganyaan will go into the space.”

India is the world’s fifth-biggest economy and is tracking to become the second-largest by the mid-2070s. However, India only spends 0.04% of its GDP on space, whereas the United States spends 0.28% of its economy on space. In 2021, Australia spent 0.004% of its GDP on its space sector.

SIA-India, a non-profit organisation representing the interests of the Indian space industry, says that with additional funding, liberalised foreign investment rules, an expedited approvals process, and supportive policies, India could achieve a 10% share of the global space economy by 2030.

The successful Chandraayan 3 mission handed India’s space sector a handy platform to demand more money. SIA-India says additional funding is needed for bold and transformative reforms.

However, last night’s budget offered the lobby group and space sector little beyond a business-as-usual agenda. There were no significant funding announcements or policy shifts. The space sector’s attention will now turn to the new government and the definitive annual budget for the next twelve months, which will be handed down mid-year.


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