national AI strategy Archives — Carrington Malin

April 14, 2021
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Brazil’s national artificial intelligence strategy – a Estratégia Brasileira de Inteligência Artificial or EBIA in Portuguese – was published in the Diário Oficial da União, the government’s official gazette, last week. The publication of the Brazilian national AI strategy follows a year of public consultation (via an online platform), seeking recommendations from the technology industry and academic experts and benchmarking (2019-2020) and a year of planning and development. The strategy focuses on the policy, investment and initiatives necessary to stimulate innovation and promote the ethical development and application of AI technologies in Brazil, to include education and research and development.

As a country that has struggled with both racial equality and gender equality, it’s no surprise that ethical concerns and policies are made a priority by EBIA. Therefore, core to the strategy is that AI should not create or reinforce prejudices, putting the onus on the developers of artificial intelligence systems to follow ethical principles, meet regulatory requirements and ultimately the responsibility for how their systems function in the real world. Ethical principles will also be applied by the government in issuing tenders and contracts for solutions and services powered by AI. The strategy also embraces the OECD’s five principles for a human-centric approach to AI.

Brazil's national artificial intelligence strategy chart

It’s important when reviewing the new EBIA to take into account the Brazilian Digital Transformation Strategy (2018),or E-Digital, which puts in place some foundational policy relevant to AI. E-Digital defines five key goals 1) promoting open government data availability; 2) promoting transparency through the use of ICT; 3) expanding and innovating the delivery of digital services; 4) sharing and integrating data, processes, systems, services and infrastructure; and 5) improving social participation in the lifecycle of public policies and services. This last goal was clearly embraced in the development of EBIA by including the year-long public consultation as part of the process.

More to follow on Brazil’s national artificial intelligence strategy…

Download A Estratégia Brasileira de Inteligência Artificial (EBIA) summary (PDF, Portuguese)

Also read about last year’s publication of the Indonesia National AI Strategy (Stranas KA) and Saudi Arabia’s National Strategy for Data & AI.


March 31, 2021
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The impact of AI in the Middle East special report is out from Middle East Economic Digest (MEED), which includes features covering innovation, digital transformation in the construction industry, and update on Qatar’s national artificial intelligence strategy and MEED’s own Digital Transformation Index.

I was name-checked in the ‘Creating an artificial intelligence ecosystem‘ feature by Jennifer Aguinaldo, which explores the region’s quest to drive home-grown innovation and create an AI ecosystem that does more than simply buy technology from overseas. All the national AI strategies developed by countries around the region include plans to encourage innovation, incentivise startups and nurture local research and development. However, it is Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that have fast-tracked more initiatives, policy and supporting government programmes over the past few years.

As is normally the case with Middle East Economic Digest, the impact of AI in the Middle East report is behind the paywall. If you are a MEED subscriber, you can read Jennifer’s full article here.


October 21, 2020
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The Saudi national AI strategy was announced today at the virtual Global AI Summit by Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) president Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi. The National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI) includes ambitious goals for skilling-up Saudi talent, growing the nation’s startup ecosystem and attaining global leadership in the AI space. It also aims to raise $20 billion in investment for data and AI initiatives.

Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, President of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) today gave a brief introduction to some of the key goals of Saudi Arabia’s national AI strategy, now named the National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI). Speaking at the inaugural Global AI Summit, he advised that Saudi Arabia has set ambitious targets for its national AI strategy, including a goal of attracting $20 billion in investments by 2030, both in foreign direct investment (FDI) and local funding for data and artificial intelligence initiatives.

As detailed by Dr. Al-Ghamdi, the Kindgom aims to rank among the top 15 nations for AI by 2030, it will train 20,000 data and AI specialists and experts and it will grow an ecosystem of 300 active data and AI startups. He also urged participants in the virtual event to challenge themselves, to think and work together, and to shape the future of AI together for the good of humanity.

Formed last year, with a mandate to drive the national data and AI agenda, the SDAIA developed a national AI strategy which was approved by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in August 2020. No details of the National Strategy for Data & AI were shared until today.

According to an official SDAIA statement, the NSDAI will roll-out a multi-phase plan that both addresses urgent requirements for the next five years and contributes to Vision 2030 strategic development goals. In the short term, the strategy will aim to accelerate the use of AI in education, energy, government, healthcare and mobility sectors.

Saudi National Strategy for Data & AI goals
Source: Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA)

Six strategic areas have been identified in the NSDAI:

  • Ambition – positioning Saudi Arabia as a global leader and enabler for AI, with a goal of ranking among the first 15 countries in AI by 2030.
  • Skills – transforming the Saudi workforce and skilling-up talent, with a target of creating 20,000 AI and Data specialists and experts by 2030.
  • Policy & regulation – developing a world-class regulatory framework, including for the ethical use of data and AI that will underpin open data and economic growth.
  • Investment – attracting FDI and local investment into the data and AI sector, with a goal of securing a total of $20 billion (SAR 75b) in investments.
  • Research and innovation – the NSDAI will also drive the development of research and innovation institutions in data and AI, with an objective of the Kingdom ranking among the top 20 countries in the world for peer reviewed data and AI publications.
  • Digital ecosystem – the new national AI strategy also aims to drive the commercialization and industry application of data and AI, creating an ecosystem with at least 300 AI and data startups by the year 2030.

Over the past year, SDAIA has established three specialised centres of expertise: the National Information Center, the National Data Management Office and the National Center for AI. It has also begun building perhaps the largest government data cloud in the region, merging 83 data centres owned by over 40 Saudi government bodies. More than 80 percent of government datasets have so far been consolidated under a national data bank.

The formation of the SDAIA follows the adoption of the government’s ‘ICT Strategy 2023‘ in 2018, which aims to transform the kingdom into a digital and technological powerhouse. The government identified technology as a key driver for its Vision 2030 blueprint for economic and social reform. Digitisation and artificial intelligence are seen as key enablers of the wide-ranging reforms.

Artrificial intelligence, big data and IoT are also pivotal for the massive $500 billion smart city, Neom, announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017. Infrastructure work on the 26,000 square kilometre city began earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the authority has been using AI to identify opportunities for improving the Kingdom’s government processes, which may result in some $10 billion in government savings and additional revenues.

More than fifty government officials and global AI leaders are speaking at this week’s Global AI Summit, which takes place today and tomorrow. The online event coincides with the year of Saudi’s presidency of the G20.

Download the National Strategy for Data & AI Strategy Narrative – October 2020 (PDF)

Watch the NSDAI promotion video from the Global AI Summit (Youtube)

Updated 23 October 2020


September 5, 2020
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The Saudi national artificial intelligence strategy is to be launched at the Global AI Summit, which will now take place virtually from 21-22 October*, according to a statement from the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) on Friday. It was disclosed in August that the national AI strategy presented by the authority (since named the National Strategy for Data & AI) had been approved by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. PWC has forecast that AI could contribute $135 billion (or 12.4%) to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by the year 2030.

Established by royal decree in August 2019, the SDAIA was given the mandate to drive the national data and AI agenda for transforming the country into a leading data-driven economy, and has developed Saudi Arabia’s national AI strategy over the past year. Although the details of the plan have been kept under wraps, the new strategy is expected to contribute to 66 of the country’s strategic goals, which are directly or indirectly related to data and AI.

The SDAIA has already reached a number of milestones since its inception, establishing three specialised centres of expertise: the National Information Center, the National Data Management Office and the National Center for AI. It has also begun building one of the largest data clouds in the region by merging 83 data centres owned by over 40 Saudi government bodies. More than 80 percent of government datasets have so far been consolidated under a national data bank.

Meanwhile, the authority has been using AI to identify opportunities for improving the Kingdom’s government processes, which may result in some $10 billion in government savings and additional revenues.

Originally slated for March 2020, the Global AI Summit will discuss AI, its applications, impact on social and economic development, plus global challenges and opportunities. The event aims to connect key decision makers from government and public sector, academia, industry and enterprise, tech firms, investors, entrepreneurs and startups.

October’s virtual summit will be organised into four tracks:

    • Shaping the new normal;
    • AI and governments;
    • Governing AI; and
    • The future of AI.

The Global AI Summit aims to tackle the challenges faced by countries around the world, from technical to ethical. Details of the agenda and speaker platform for the Global AI Summit have yet to be announced, although the presentation of the Saudi national artificial intelligence strategy is bound to be a highlight.

*Updated 17 September 2020

Also read: Saudi national AI strategy announced with investment target of $20 billion – 21 October 2020


August 16, 2020
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The Indonesia National AI Strategy, now known as Stranas KA (Strategi Nasional Kecerdasan Artifisial), has been published. The new strategy was announced by the Minister of Research and Technology and head of the BRIN (the National Research and Innovation Agency) Bambang PS Brodjonegoro in an television address made last Monday to mark the country’s 25th National Technology Awakening Day. The minister also launched an electronic innovation catalogue, helping Indonesian technology developers to market their offerings and sell to government procurement offices.

Transforming Indonesia into a Fourth Industrial Revolution economy has become focus for the government over the past few years and the necessity of creating a digital-savvy workforce has become a top priority. Stranas KA aims to tie together many of the country’s digital initiatives and maps closely to Visi Indonesia 2045, the country’s broad economic, social, governance and technology development strategy. The National Artificial Intelligence Strategy Framework provides an at-a-glance view of how these different goals are held in context.

Stranas KA aims to support five national priorities, where the government believes that artificial intelligence could have the biggest impact on national progress and outcomes.

Health services – With 268 million people living across 6,000 of Indonesia’s total 17,504 islands, delivering a consistent standard of healthcare is a national challenge. The archipelago also faces increased risks from global disease outbreaks such as SARS and, recently, Covid-19. The country’s response to the pandemic has already somewhat accelerated plans for smart hospitals and health security infrastructure.

Bureaucractic reform – With a civilian civil service of about 4 million, reforming the government’s highly centralised administration remains a significant challenge. Indonesia is lagged in implementation of digital services, according to the United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI), ranking below Borneo, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. President Joko Widodo has promised to create a citizen-centric digitised service government (Pemerintahan Digital Melayani) in the next five years.

Education and research – Education is integral to Visi Indonesia 2045 and the move towards online schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the country’s digital divide. The pressures of the digital economy are also recognised by development plans. According to the government, Indonesia needs a digital workforce of 113 million by 2030-2035.

Food security – According to President Widodo, food security remains Indonesia’s top priority and the Food Security Agency focuses on three main areas: food availability, food accessibility and food utilisation. Food, agriculture and fisheries government departments and agencies have already begun using satellite technology, machine learning and smart farming to better plan, forecast and manage agricultural production and natural resources.

Mobility and smart cities – The number of people living in Indonesia’s urban areas is now close to 60 percent and is expected to rise to 70 percent of the total population by the year 2050. The government currently plans to develop 98 smart cities and 416 smart districts, under Indonesia’s 100 Smart Cities Plan.

Indonesia National AI Strategy, August 2020

Meanwhile, the Indonesia national AI strategy identifies four key focus areas:

    1. Ethics and Policy
    2. Talent Development
    3. Infrastructure and Data
    4. Industrial Research and Innovation

Indonesia is already one of South East Asia’s biggest investors in artificial intelligence, with IDC’s 2018 Asia-Pacific Enterprise Cognitive/AI survey finding that 25 percent of large organisations in the country have adopted AI systems (compared with 17% in Thailand, 10% in Singapore and 8% in Malaysia).

Smart cities, one of Stranas KA’s five top priority areas, have been identified as a fundamental building block for Indonesia’s Industry 4.0 future. Last year President Widodo announced plans to create a new futuristic smart city capital on the island of Borneo, to replace Jakarta. The new capital will rely heavily on sustainable smart city systems, cleantech and infrastructure run by emerging technologies such as 5G, AI and IoT (Internet of Things). Originally slated for completion by 2024 (pre-pandemic) and estimated to cost $33 billion, the project reportedly received an offer by Japanese multinational investor SoftBank Group to invest up to $40 billion.

The Indonesia National AI Strategy details a programme roadmap for both its four key focus areas and the five national priorities, for which it considers plans as short-term (2020-2024) and longer-term (2025-2045). All in all, the strategy document identifies 186 programmes, including many that aim to develop the plans, pilot schemes, policies and regulations, plus checks and balances, necessary to drive the overall strategy.

Underpinning the acceleration of Indonesia’s artificial intelligence journey, Stranas KA includes plans for national standards, regulations and an ethics board to ensure that usage of AI is in accordance with the country’s Pancasila values system.

The development of the 194-page National Artificial Intelligence Strategy was coordinated by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology or BPPT, a non-ministerial government agency under the coordination of the Ministry for Research and Technology, and was widely anticipated to be announced in July or August. A wide variety of public and private sector organisations contributed to the plan including government ministries, universities, industry associations and national telecom providers.

Although many of the programmes and initiatives detailed in the Indonesia National AI Strategy can be found in existing government strategies, plans and policy, Stranas KA is nevertheless highly ambitious. The success of the overall plan will likely rest heavily on how many of the foundation programmes it is able to get off the ground during the next 4-5 years.


August 12, 2020
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The Saudi national AI strategy has been approved, according to comments made by Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) president, Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi this week. As reported by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Sunday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has approved the Saudi National Strategy for Data & Artificial Intelligence (NSDAI), which has been prepared over the past year by SDAIA.

According to Dr. Abdullah, the new strategy will enable government and private sector programmes to contribute towards the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Overall, the authority expects the new strategy to contribute to 66 of the country’s strategic goals, which are directly or indirectly related to data and AI.

SDAIA was established by Royal Order no. 74167 in August last year, giving the authority the mandate to drive the national data and AI agenda for transforming the country into a leading data-driven economy. The decree also ordered the authority to establish three specialised centres of expertise: the National Information Center, the National Data Management Office and the National Center for AI.

Speaking at the launch of the SDAIA’s new brand identity in March, Dr. Abdullah talked of an ambitious and innovative Saudi national AI strategy that would optimise national resources, improving efficiencies and enabling the creation of diversified economic sectors. However, no details of the plan have yet been shared publicly.

The SDAIA has already been using AI applications to analyse government processes and procedures, with its initial assessment being that the opportunities identified could generate more than $10 billion in government savings and additional revenues.

The authority has also established a national data bank consolidating more than 80 percent of government datasets (or 30 percent of total government digital assets) and has rolled-out a G-Cloud (or Government-Cloud) aimed at building one of the largest data clouds in the region through the merger of 83 data centres owned by over 40 Saudi government bodies.

According to a 2017 study by PWC on the global impact of artificial intelligence, AI could contribute $135 billion (12.4%) to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by the year 2030, being the second-highest predicted share for the contribution of AI to GDP in the Middle East region after the UAE.

The timing of the national AI strategy approval comes just a few weeks in advance of the planned Global AI Summit organised by the SDAIA, which is currently scheduled to take place in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, 14-15 September.

Updated 16.57 hrs 12 August 2020

Also read: Saudi national AI strategy announced with investment target of $20 billion – 21 October 2020


January 17, 2020
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The UAE is developing a sophisticated and far-reaching range of initiatives to attract 21st century skills.

In 2015, Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, coined the term ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ to describe our connected industrial society and its increasing reliance on intelligent information systems.

As with previous industrial periods, this revolution will have a profound impact on our world, not least of all changing the nature of work and our relationship with it. However, in the short term, many of the dynamics will appear familiar, such as the increasing demand for specialist skills that serve new, upcoming industries and the competition among employers to hire those skills.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday launched two new initiatives supporting the National AI Strategy to build capacity in AI talent. Announced at a retreat organised for AI experts by the National Programme for Artificial Intelligence, the new initiatives are part of a far-reaching policy to ensure the long-term availability of talent at many levels, to help ensure the country’s competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In light of fierce global competition among nations for leadership positions in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the fluid state of the global AI talent pool, winning our new talent wars will require more than simply outbidding competitors. Today’s policymakers must recognise that they need to attract both home-grown and international talent, leverage human resources that are located around the world and create ways of building long-term relationships that will continue to support the availability of talent. It’s all about building talent ecosystems, rather than simply planning to acquire more people with the right skills.

The UAE government recognised the scale of the talent challenge early on and has been developing a wide range of initiatives to attract, train and develop talent, nationally, regionally across the Arab world and globally.

But what did the previous industrial revolutions teach us? The workforce requirements of the first three changed our planet forever. In pre-industrial societies, more than 80 per cent of the population lived in rural areas. Drawn by the promise of jobs in new industries, people flocked from the countryside to towns and cities. By the year 1850, more people in the United Kingdom lived in cities than rural areas and by 1920, a majority of Americans lived in cities, too. The mass movement of people resulted in far-reaching economic, geographic and social changes that have made our world what it is today.

The changes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring are also destined to shape the future of human existence. Artificial intelligence is set to transform the nature of nearly every single one of today’s existing jobs, eliminate job roles that currently employ millions of people and create millions of new jobs, including many roles that have not yet even been imagined. Furthermore, the pace of change is accelerating, powered by faster technology development and so putting more pressure on business, economic, political and government systems than ever before.

Critically, for the global competitiveness of both business and nations themselves, the supply of talent to fuel the development and implementation of artificial intelligence systems is in short supply. It’s a highly dynamic pool of talent that is changing rapidly, following different rules to past waves of tech-related talent and it includes people that are more independent of industry and location.

At a UAE government level, an AI Programme has been created in partnership with Kellogg College at Oxford University to train UAE nationals and help them accelerate the delivery of the national AI strategy. The first batch of 94 participants graduated in April 2019.

On a regional level, the One Million Arab Coders programme launched in 2017 incentivises Arab youth at large to acquire new skills, graduating 22,000 programmers in its first year. In 2019, several new modules were added to the curricular, including an ‘Introduction to AI’ module. The UAE also launched a One Million Jordanian Coders’ Initiative in Jordan and a One Million Uzbek Coders’ initiative in Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile, in the country’s tertiary education system, a number of AI education programmes, degree courses and research centres have been introduced to UAE colleges and universities over the past couple of years. In October, the UAE announced the world’s first graduate AI university — Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence. The research-based academic institution offers fully paid scholarships for masters and PhD courses starting September 2020.

The two new initiatives launched this week add further appeal to aspiring AI talent. The AI Talent Hunt programme will create an AI laboratory drawing together national and global expertise to solve real world issues, while a competitive AI Challenge Programme will be rolled out in partnership with Microsoft.

In the race to attract 21st century skills, the UAE is already engaging talent at multiple levels and has begun to build a reputation as an enabler of talent, rather than simply a destination. This effort, combined with its goals to become a global hub for AI research and entrepreneurism, could well encourage much sought-after talent to stay in the UAE, or, at least, keep coming back.

This story was first published on The National


November 22, 2019
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With the US and China dominating artificial intelligence development, what chances do smaller nations have?

Over the past two years, a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy has come to be seen as a pre-requisite for digital competitiveness and an essential pillar of national governance for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. So, Singapore unveiling a new, updated national AI strategy last week has received global attention.

In common with the UAE, Singapore was one of the first countries to announce a national AI strategy, back in 2017. The new one, unveiled by the Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on the last day of Singapore’s FinTech Festival last week, is holistic and zeros in on some specific national goals. Importantly, it also leverages investments already made by the government in education, technology development, infrastructure and innovation.

Developed by the Smart Nation Digital Government Office (SNDGO), the AI strategy not only identifies key areas that can be enabled by AI and the necessary resources to support nation-wide AI adoption, but also aims to set out Singapore’s stall as a leading global hub for the development, testing and export of AI applications. Recently ranked by the think tank Oliver Wyman Forum as the city most ready for AI, Singapore’s play for a greater role in the development of commercial and government AI systems has many things going for it.

Against the backdrop of the China-US trade war, Singapore is geographically and politically well placed to encourage both Chinese and American investment in AI ventures, at a time when cross-border foreign direct investment and venture capital between the two AI powerhouses is at its lowest level since 2014. Meanwhile, the combination of the country’s willingness to implement AI and the small size of the nation itself, make it an ideal testbed for AI developers to try-out their solutions before exporting them to larger countries, where implementation may face more obstacles and have higher costs.

Singapore’s strategy identifies key enablers for AI innovation and adoption, including the development of talent, data infrastructure and creating a progressive and trusted environment for AI. However, crucially, it also picks five core development projects designed to bring early benefits, plus create opportunities for local innovation and investment. By choosing AI-enabled projects that both address national challenges and deliver a visible impact on society and the economy, Singapore is also preparing the proof of concept for its goal of becoming a global hub for the development of AI technologies.

It’s no coincidence that the UAE, Finland and Singapore all first committed to national AI strategies in 2017, alongside large nations such as Canada and China, but well ahead of most of the world. All three countries have populations under 10 million, have relatively large economies and have been able to stay ahead of the technology curve.

The forward-looking policy and smaller size of these countries has helped to make embracing new technologies faster and more achievable than for many larger countries with bigger budgets, often allowing them to leapfrog global competitors.

Finland, Singapore and the UAE were all early pioneers of e-government, helping to develop new digital government processes. They were all also early adopters of new mobile standards and consumer services including mobile broadband.

So, it makes perfect sense that smaller digital-savvy countries should be able to take leadership positions in the fast-developing world of AI.

It is now well-known that the UAE was the first country in the world to bring AI decision-making into government at a cabinet level, naming His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence in October 2017. In April of this year, the cabinet approved the UAE’s AI Strategy 2031.

The UAE has also made strategic investments in a number of new ventures to ensure that the UAE becomes not only an early adopter, but also a leading producer of AI applications. Last week Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), one of the world’s largest oil production companies, announced a joint venture with UAE AI group G42 to create artificially intelligent applications for the energy sector.

Other high profile AI investments in the UAE include a world-class AI research institute in its capital, the world’s first dedicated artificial intelligence university and Chinese AI provider SenseTime’s plans to open a Europe, Middle East and Africa research and development centre in Abu Dhabi.

Singapore’s new national AI strategy makes a convincing case for prioritising the development of a homegrown AI industry, in line with the country’s core strengths and challenges. The UAE has its own set of strengths and challenges, and these too, provide a golden opportunity for it to become one of the world’s leading AI producers.

This story was first published by The National


July 8, 2019
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The first Modi 2.0 budget has been called cautious, incremental and lacking a blueprint; Will India be able to implement the right programmes at the speed required to remain competitive?

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Modi government’s budget for 2019/2020 to India’s parliament on Friday, in a statement full of vision for the future, drawing heavily on the themes from the national Economic Survey 2018–19 released last week. In a speech that aimed to garner popular appeal, Sitharaman prioritised infrastructure, digital economy and job creation. You can review the government’s online presentation here.

As expected, the new budget has received both praise and criticism, while inspiring some tough questions, depending on the economic and political leaning of the commentators.

Continue reading this story on Asia AI News (Medium)