Budget 2021-22: A booster shot to infrastructure investment
Presented in the backdrop of a pandemic induced contraction in national economic output, the Budget 2021-22 marks a shift to experimental measures to boost economic growth via building infrastructure, thereby marking a shift to privatization and monetization of assets to boost infrastructure investment.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget 2021-22 presented to the parliament, announced a major push to capital expenditure for the next fiscal to ₹5.54 lakh crore, from ₹4.39 lakh crore in the current financial year. The Budget proposals are mainly focused on accelerating spending on physical and financial infrastructure, healthcare, job generation, agri-infra and rural development together with generous allocations for development schemes. In totality, she has aptly allocated funds to sectors with potential of a multiplier impact on overall economic activities and drive economic growth across sectors, alongside ensuring that the economy gets back to the pre-pandemic GDP growth levels. As a matter of fact, the Budget is sticking to the path of fiscal consolidation and is aimed to reach a fiscal deficit of below 4.5% of GDP by 2025-26.

Roads & Highways
In the Union Budget 2021-22, the FM made the “highest ever” budget outlay of ₹1.18 lakh crore for road transport and highway infrastructure, an increase of nearly 18% than what it is estimated to spend by March this fiscal. The higher allocation came amid the ministry’s target to build a record 11,000-km NHs during the current financial year. The NHAI will also be allowed to raise ₹65,000 crore from the market. “I am hopeful of taking daily highway construction to 40-km by March-end,” said road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari.

While giving details of the roadmap for eight major projects, including the Delhi-Mumbai, Bengaluru–Chennai, Delhi-Dehradun, Kanpur-Lucknow and Delhi-Katra expressways, the FM said that all new four and six-lane highways will have advanced traffic management systems with speed radars, variable message signboards, and GPS enabled recovery vans. The Budget pins its hopes on the government attracting private finance in areas such as public bus transport services and the 8,500 km of road projects to be awarded in 2021-22. The FM announced highway works in various states including a 3,500 km corridor in Tamil Nadu, 1,100 km in Kerala at an investment of ₹65,000 crore, 675 km in West Bengal at a cost of ₹95,000 crore, and 1,300 km in Assam, in the next 3 years.

The National Infrastructure Pipeline, which was launched with 6,835 projects in 2019, has now been expanded to 7,400 projects. The focus on enhancing infrastructure targets will have its trickle-down benefits for the industry, too. This will help in two ways: by creating job opportunities and income, which will add substantially to incremental aggregate demand in the economy; and by making the industry more cost-efficient by reducing the cost of logistics and transportation.

The government believes that for a $5-trillion economy, the manufacturing sector has to grow at double digits, on a sustained basis, and needs to become an integral part of global supply chains. Along with production-linked incentives, world-class infrastructure will be a key pillar of that vision.

Railways & Metro Rails
Considering railways as a priority sector, in the Budget proposals, the government has allocated ₹1.10 lakh crore with a capital outlay of ₹2.15 lakh crore - 33% more than the revised capital outlay expenditure for 2020-21. Out of the total allocation, ₹1.07 lakh crore will be spent on capital expenditure, which is also a record high. The strategic disinvestment of Container Corporation of India (Concor) will be completed this year. Also, Railways will monetize Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) assets for operations and maintenance, after commissioning, as a part of monetizing operating public infrastructure assets for new infrastructure construction.

The national rail plan of Indian Railways has been set up with a core focus to lower the logistics cost and improve Make in India program. Use of indigenous signalling technology, focus on increasing safety, are some of the other announcements in the Budget. The Budget also announced funds for Kochi Metro, Chennai Metro (₹63,246 crore), Bengaluru Metro, Nagpur Metro and Nasik Metro. Also, two new, light-rail technologies – Metro Lite, Metro Neo – will be used for tier-2 cities and feeder routes in bigger cities.

Railway Board Chairman and CEO Suneet Sharma described the Budget as a "transformational" budget for the national transporter and said the budget has focus on deliverance. "This budget is a different budget altogether as it is a transformational budget, a future-ready for railway and is a path-breaking budget," Sharma added.

Real Estate
Sticking with the government’s focus on affordable housing, the Budget has extended the provision of deduction up to ₹1.5 lakh in respect of interest on loan taken for the purchase of an affordable residential house property from taxable income under section 80EEA by one year up to March 31, 2022. This benefit is over and above the ₹2 lakh deduction against interest paid on a home loan taken to buy a house under Section 24 of I-T Act. So, a buyer can get tax rebate on ₹3.5 lakh interest paid on home loan. In fact, it would almost cover the entire interest to be paid in a year if one were to take a home loan of ₹40 lakh to buy a house of ₹45 lakh. The benefit will bring down the effective interest rate to around 5.5% from the existing 7% if the taxpayer comes in the bracket of 20%, and the net EMI after adjusting for tax benefit would be around ₹26,000 only. The real estate sector was upbeat about the move saying it would keep demand buoyant for affordable housing. For developers, the custom duty on steel, which has been reduced to 7.5%, is also a welcome move.

REITs & InvITs
Debt financing of real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs) announced in the Union Budget is expected to be a game-changer for the fundraising requirements in the real estate sector. Ashoo Gupta, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, said, “Debt financing of REITs and InvITs will be enabled by making a suitable amendment; this can be a game-changer for the fundraising requirements of these entities and thereby enable greater transaction in completed brownfield projects.”

Piyush Gupta, Managing Director, Capital Markets & Investment Services at Colliers International India, added, “Providing flexibility to REITs and InvITs to raise more debt capital would provide additional funds to acquire assets, which could lead to faster closure of transactions with lower cost.”

Rental housing has been given a big boost with a tax deduction for those undertaking rental housing projects; this is likely to enhance supply. Shishir Baijal, Chairman & Managing Director, Knight Frank India, said: “In context to the real estate sector, budget announcements relating to monetization of infrastructure and real estate assets will help increase private sector participation and also assist the government in enhancing fund flow for development of critical infrastructure assets.”

“The proposed easing of restrictions on leverage by InvITs/REITs will attract more REITs listings and thus higher investments into real estate. The announced monetization of surplus land of government and government bodies is a welcome move; however, the implementation will need to be monitored,” said Dr Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head of Research, JLL India.

The Finance Minister made several announcements in airport infrastructure and that more airports will be monetized for operations and management concession, including those in smaller cities — meaning they will be run the PPP way. Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Raipur, Indore, Amritsar, and Trichy airports will be given to PPP players by clubbing with smaller airports. Which means a corporate entity taking over one of these six airports will need to take small airports too. The (names and numbers of) smaller airports have not yet been finalized yet,” she said. The core infrastructure assets will be rolled out under the Asset Monetization Program including Airports Authority of India airports in Tier II and III cities and that the next lot of airports will be monetized for operations and management concession,” she said. AAI manages a total of 137 airports which include 24 international airports (3 civil enclaves), 10 custom airports (4 civil enclaves) and 103 domestic airports (23 civil enclaves).

Rural Infra
Increased spending in rural infrastructure, sops for the farm sector and a focus on job generation are expected to help spur demand for daily household products and groceries — a market that has already recovered strongly during the last quarter. Finance minister increased spending on rural infrastructure development by 34% to ₹40,000 crore and doubled micro-irrigation corpus to ₹10,000 crore among other measures that could help create jobs and boost farm incomes in the hinterland – home to more than 800 million people, whose purchasing behaviour is largely linked to farm output.

Urban markets and cities, which were severely impacted by the pandemic-induced disruption, too, could get an impetus with the Budget’s focus on infrastructure spending and job creation. "The growth momentum should continue even as the bottom-of-the-pyramid urban consumers are still stressed,” said Saugata Gupta, MD of Marico, which makes Saffola edible oil and Parachute hair oils, and stressed on the need for effective execution of the Budget measures to the last mile. “With the drive on infrastructure and job creation, there should be a boost, but execution will be a key,” added Gupta.

Power & Renewable Energy
The Budget announced a financial assistance package of about ₹3.06 lakh crore for India’s ailing electricity distribution companies. The funds will be allotted on a results-based approach tied to the discoms’ financial improvement. The funds would be spent on infrastructure investment such as installation of prepaid and smart meters, and feeder separation. Currently, all discoms in the country, whether private or state-owned, are monopolies. A framework will be put in place to give choice to the customer in the form of at least two discoms in every market. Transmission assets of Power Grid Corporation will be rolled out under the asset monetization program.

The minister announced that a National Hydrogen Mission will be launched that will aim to scale up generation of hydrogen from green sources. Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) will get an additional capital infusion of ₹1,000 crore and ₹1,500 crore, respectively. The minister also announced a hike in the import duty on solar inverters from 5% to 20% and solar lanterns from 5% to 15%, adding that this will give a boost to domestic manufacturing. She also announced that the government will introduce a phased manufacturing plan for solar cells and panels.

Jal Jeevan Mission Urban
The FM announced that Jal Jeevan Mission Urban will be launched with an outlay of ₹2.87 lakh crore over 5 years; it is aimed at universal water supply in all 4,378 urban local bodies, with 2.86 crore household tap connections and liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT cities. She also announced the Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 with an outlay of ₹1,41,678 crore for over 5 years from 2021, focused on complete fecal sludge management, wastewater treatment, source segregation, management of waste from urban construction, and bioremediation of legacy dump sites.

Industry Reactions on Budget

Satish Parakh, Managing Director, Ashoka Buildcon
A path-breaking budget with shift from tax source of funding, with no additional levy, to monetising of public sector assets, leading to relief to businesses which are already recovering from Covid and bringing PSUs to mainstream business units. Major thrust on infrastructure program and allocation of funding. Also support to infra investment structures like Invit in roads and power and also an exemption of TDS on dividend will attract foreign investment.

Deepak Shetty, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, JCB India Limited
It is heartening to note that the two key areas which needed a strong focus in the budget have been given the impetus. These being Infrastructure development and Health care. The outlay for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is the highest ever this year. The capital expenditure allocation for FY 2021–2022 is also much greater than the previous years.
Encouragingly Railways is set to emerge as a growth driver in addition to Roads and Highways, which was long overdue. A record allocation for Railway Corridors and other Structural Developments has been made. This will certainly help in generating on-ground activity in the sector.
With the formation of a Development Finance Institute (DFI), the stress in Capital Requirements for long-term infrastructure projects should significantly ease out. This was critical to infrastructure development. The Government has shown a strong intent towards generating funds by proposing a Privatisation drive and Monetisation of assets. Another positive in the budget announcement is focus on Hydrogen Energy and the aim to create an ecosystem for Alternative Fuels. These are welcome steps towards the vision of creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Infrastructure development has a multiplier effect in the creation of jobs and livelihoods. We feel that the budget will support the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) and other Large Scale Infrastructure projects, thus creating more opportunities for Construction Equipment Manufacturers.

Anil D. Yadav, Group Chief Finance Officer, IRB Infra Group
The move to increase allocations for Roads & Highways segment in the Infrastructure Sector will facilitate the development agenda. Road development has always proven to boost economic growth, since it has a direct impact on land prices, facilitates urban development, creates direct employment and CAPEX generation.

Sandeep Singh, Managing Director, Tata Hitachi
The Construction Equipment Industry lauds Union Budget FY21-22 for its bold attempt to address the disruption caused by the pandemic. Despite the backdrop of the huge fiscal deficit of 9.5% for FY21 and an estimated deficit of 6.8% in FY22, the government has outlined robust measures to boost health care infrastructure, infrastructure development, power sector reforms, promote innovation and R&D, education, and skilling. All of these will help accelerate revival of the economy. The Budget proposals related to expansion of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) to include 7400 projects, enhanced outlay of ₹1.18 lakh crore for MoRTH, new economic corridors in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam, allocation of ₹1.4 lakh crore towards Clean India mission, increased focus on railways, airports, and affordable housing, amongst others, will help create demand in the construction equipment Industry. The announcement of a new Development Finance Institution (DFI) for the infrastructure sector will ease access to long-term funding. The push to InvITS and REITS through creation of a National Monetization Pipeline of potential brownfield infrastructure assets is a good step towards monetizing operating public infrastructure assets. Enhancement of the Rural Infra Development Fund to ₹40,000 crore and doubling of the micro-irrigation fund under NABARD are positive steps towards a more inclusive and all-round growth.”

Ramesh Palagiri, MD & CEO, Wirtgen India
Increase of over 35% Capital Expenditure for Infra Sector with major portion going to Road Sector and launch of the National Monetization pipeline for brownfield projects are major highlights of the Budget.

Ajay Mandahr, CEO, Escorts Construction Equipment
The Budget is focused on demand generation. Increase in infrastructure outlay – 34.9% in roads, 8.7% in metros and 33.6% in railways in FY2022 will bolster Construction Equipment demand. Setting up of a new DFI with an initial allocation of Rs. 20,000 crore, and expansion of projects to 7400 under NIP is a positive move with respect to infrastructure construction & financing. Launch of National monetisation pipeline to monetize brownfield infrastructure, creating 42 urban centres for tackling air pollution, investment in health & railways and correction of custom-duty structure will incentivise the government's Make in India initiative.

Sandeep Mathur, Brand Leader, CASE India
Budget 2021-22 has put a lot of focus on reviving the infrastructure sector. The government’s effort towards further enhancing the roads and highways projects to 7,400 new projects is a welcome step which will ensure a better year for the infrastructure sector as well as for the construction equipment industry. The announcement of a Development Finance Institution providing ₹20,000 crore to launch the National Asset Monetization Pipeline to fund new infra projects, will strengthen the stability of the sector. Additionally, the multitude of announcements on the highway projects in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, and Assam will give a much-needed boost to the sector.

The government’s vision of committing ₹1.97 trillion to the manufacturing sector over 5 years will help the industry immensely. We are confident that all these efforts will play an important role in reviving the sector and bringing back the economy to normalcy.

Ashwin Reddy, Managing Director, Aparna Enterprises
The focus on infrastructure development is a positive move. The allocation of ₹1.10 lakh crore and ₹2000 crore towards railways and development of ports under the PPP mode, respectively, coupled with the government’s plan to complete 11,000 km of national highways will have a significant impact on the economy as well as the building materials industry. The setting up of a professionally managed Development Financial Institution and infusing 20,000 crores to it is highly commendable. Lack of alternate financing models has been a key concern that most infrastructure projects have been struggling with. The DFI can lead to an increase in number of projects being rolled out or completed.

Rohan Khatau, Director, CCI Projects
Government has rightly continued its focus on affordable housing projects. By allowing additional deduction of ₹1.5 lakh on home loan interest for homebuyers and tax holiday for developers undertaking such projects by another year, it has ensured to create a right balance between demand and supply. The focus on infrastructure development and passenger transport facilities is one of the key areas to magnify real estate.

Kamlesh Patel, CMD, Asian Granito India
It is a growth-oriented, inclusive budget with focus on infrastructure, investment, MSME and health sector to revive growth. The measures are expected to give the right momentum to the economy in the medium to long term. Tax reforms and tax simplification measures especially reducing the time-limit for reopening of assessment to 3 years are steps in the right direction. Higher allocation to infrastructure, extension of exemption for the purchase of affordable houses till March 2022, and tax exemption to rental housing projects will boost the ceramic industry.

Vamsi Gaddam, Joint Managing Director, Visaka Industries
Tax exemptions already exist for developers of affordable houses. Further interest deductions available from income tax on loans borrowed up to ₹45 lakhs on affordable houses. These benefits have been extended for one more year till March 2022. This augurs well for our building material products.

Jayakumar Krishnaswamy, Managing Director, Nuvoco Vistas Corp
The Union Budget 2021 focuses on resetting the economy with a slew of measures to provide a leg up to the ailing real estate and construction industry. Infrastructure received a big boost with a proposed financial institution for financing big-ticket infrastructure projects. Coupled with an enhanced outlay of ₹1,18,10 lakh crore for the ministry of road transport and highways, the government is clearly banking on large-scale infrastructure projects to kickstart the stalled construction industry. Real estate was the other major beneficiary with continued tax relief for affordable housing. The move is expected to revive the industry, which was left reeling during the pandemic. In another major benefit for taxpayers, the government will continue the existing income tax slabs with no additional Covid cess. With its focus on increasing spending, the budget is a step in the right direction in invigorating the sector and rejuvenating the post-pandemic economy.

Himanshu Chaturvedi, Chief Strategy Officer, Tata Projects
A robust infrastructure is a pre-requisite for national development, economic growth, and improving lives of citizens. Hence, it is good that the government has reiterated its commitment to achieving targets laid out under the national infrastructure pipeline. But creation and augmentation of infrastructure requires long-term financing at reasonable rates. The setting-up of a professionally managed Development Financial Institution with targeted lending portfolio of ₹5 lakh crores within three-years is, therefore, a welcome move since it will act as a provider, enabler, and catalyst for infrastructure financing.

The sharp increase in capital expenditure to ₹5.54 lakh crores which is 34.5% more vis-à-vis current year showcases that the government’s focus is on infrastructure and allied sectors. In addition, the ₹2 lakh crores being provided to States and Autonomous Bodies for their capital expenditure will further reinvigorate infrastructure creation at the state governmental level across India. This is especially important since the financial health of states and autonomous bodies has been hit badly due to the pandemic thereby restricting their ability to upgrade and augment infrastructural amenities.

Focus on national highway corridors, railway lines including electrification, and metro rail lines will lead to easier and cost-effective transport of people and goods across the nation. The ₹2,87,000 crore Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban), which aims at universal water supply in all 4,378 Urban Local Bodies with 2.86 crores household tap connections, as well as liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT cities will provide enormous opportunities in this important sector.

The AtmaNirbhar Bharat – Production Linked Incentive scheme wherein the government has committed nearly ₹1.97 lakh crores, over five-years starting FY 2021-22 will be a game changer, especially since it will provide a major fillip to construction of industrial and manufacturing facilities – both greenfield and brownfield.

Continuation of tax benefits for affordable housing and tax exemption to rental housing will spur activity in the realty sector thereby providing support to key industry and creating thousands of new jobs. The long-term prospects of India’s construction and infrastructure sector were always good because the nation needs better and augmented infrastructural amenities. With the impetus provided in this Budget through policy and financial support – it will usher in higher growth across the construction and infrastructure sector.

Rajiv Parikh, President, CREDAI Maharashtra
To boost the sale of affordable housing, the Finance Minister has extended the eligibility of deduction of interest amounting to ₹1.5 lakhs for the loan taken to purchase an affordable house for one more year till Mar 31, 2022. Further, a tax holiday on affordable housing projects for one more year, will surely keep the real estate market moving. Even the tax exemption for notified rental housing projects for affordable rental housing to migrant workers will help the rental market. The proposed increase of safe harbour limit from 10% to 20% for the specified primary sale of residential units will incentivize home buyers and real estate developers.

Debt Financing of InVITs and REITs by Foreign Portfolio Investors will be enabled which will ease access of finance to InVITS and REITs thus boosting funds for infrastructure and real estate sectors. These are small factors that will give some relief to the real estate market. But on the contrary, the expected rise in petrol and diesel prices will escalate the cost of basic construction material, which will inadvertently affect the real estate industry.

Chintan Patel, Partner & Head, Building Construction & Real Estate, KPMG in India
The proposed Debt financing for REIT’s and InvIT’s (through a suitable amendment) is expected to provide a major fillip and will attract more investments for the sector.

Mohammad Athar (Saif), Partner, Economic Development & Infrastructure, PwC India
The Budget has focused on bringing safety, quality and clean transport to the front by announcing a slew of initiatives. The voluntary scrapping policy announced, will, for the first time, bring fitness test as a criterion for scrapping old vehicles. Over one crore Light, Medium and Heavy commercial vehicles of more than 15 years have been plying; the policy will enable shifting of older to new vehicles which will be safer and cleaner and reduce road accidents.

The scheme to support Public Bus Transport with an investment of ₹18000 crore will to enable public transport mobility in Indian cities and reduce ownership of private vehicles in urban areas. Electric and cleaner public bus transport could change the urban transport landscape of the country and bring in the much-needed quality of life for daily workers who depend on public transport as a critical enabler of their livelihood. Bus transport has remained one of the largest sources of public transport mobility, and the Government's commitment to the sector will enable transitioning of the old fleet to new technology-driven mobility.

Alternate models of mass transit in the form of metro lite, and metro neo will appeal to cities with narrower right of ways and with higher urban density. The continued investment focus on Kochi, Nagpur, Nashik and Chennai metros will enable completion of various project phases, and investment in the Bangalore suburban railway network will bring relief to urban transport challenges in the IT and R&D hub of the country.

Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, National President, NAREDCO
It is a get well soon type of Budget; the ‘V’ shaped recovery being powered by the Covid-19 vaccination program. The proposals reinforce the Government’s focus on affordable housing. For the home buyer, the second extension of the deadline till 31 March 2022 for the additional ₹1.5 lakh tax deduction given on home loans in an affordable housing project is welcome, as is the developer whose affordable housing projects also get an extension for tax benefits, for projects completed till March 31, 2022. Similarly, tax exemption for notified affordable housing for migrant workers, and the deduction on payment of interest for affordable housing being extended by a year will give a fillip to this emerging segment. As affordable housing attracts only 1% GST and ₹1000 stamp duty in the state of Maharashtra, it will augment the production of affordable housing in the state. The enhanced spending on public infrastructure projects like ports, railways, airports, warehousing, gas pipelines, metro rails, and other economic corridors is laudable as it will give an impetus to employment generation and attract the essential investments for economic revival.

Jayanta Roy, Senior Vice-President & Group Head, Corporate Sector Ratings, ICRA
The Budget has made a strong push for infrastructure-led growth in the country, with capital outlay for infrastructure projects raised by almost 35% in FY 2022. Investments in core sectors like Railways, Roadways, Urban Infrastructure, Affordable Housing, Power, Petroleum and Natural Gas, which have the potential for spurring demand for metals, has seen a healthy increase across the board. To address the funding challenges associated with infrastructure projects, the Budget has focused on asset monetization schemes like REIT and InvITs for redeploying capital stuck in completed projects, and in turn strengthening the funding pipeline for new projects. This augurs well for metal players. However, 2.5% to 5% reduction in customs duty on certain finished steel products and semis would affect domestic prices of such products, and thereby adversely impact the margins of affected players.

Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Trimble Middle-East and India region
Budget 2021 announcement is focused on the nation’s growth and brings a positive sentiment to the overall economy. The announcement of Increased capital expenditure, allocation of ₹2000 Cr for DFI's and push into asset recycling will put the Indian infrastructure industry in a route to recovery. We believe that prioritization of government spending on infrastructure promises to be the much-needed push for economic revival.

Ramesh Baliga, CEO, Watertec India
The Budget has primarily pushed for growth: out of the six pillars mentioned, our industry has two distinct advantages. First, a major boost to affordable housing and second, push on manufacturing and MSMEs will help in job creation and spending, which will boost the economy and GDP growth. Skill India will also give us an opportunity to have trained people both for manufacturing as well for our plumbing fraternity. Overall, the Budget is a step towards growth of the construction industry.

Vimal Kejriwal, Managing Director & CEO, KEC International
It forward-looking budget for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, focuses on construction and capex-led economic recovery. Significant allocation towards creating a future-ready Railway system, 100% Railway Electrification by 2023, focus on DFCs and Urban Infra, including new Metro projects and emerging technologies, infra creation for Power Distribution companies, expansion of Gas Distribution network to 100 new cities, thrust on Renewables, developing one lakh Digital Villages through BharatNet, and the creation of a Development Financial Institution for infrastructure financing, augurs well for our company.

KM Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group
Beyond numbers and policies, the Budget signals the self-confidence of an India ready to place big bets. It marks a bold departure from the conventional stimulus playbook. The big push on infrastructure, privatization thrust, and a clean-up for stressed assets are effective booster shots. The world will watch India take off.

Kshitish Nadgauda, Senior Vice President | Managing Director - Asia, Louis Berger
As the backbone of any economy, impetus to infrastructure is one of the key tools to give the economy a solid boost. It is one of the surest ways for an economic rebound, especially after the global health crisis which has slowed down and crippled many economies. Infrastructure has been a key focus area of the government. It was therefore encouraging to see it amongst the top 2 pillars of the Budget for FY21-22 as announced by the Honourable Finance Minister, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman.

In particular, we welcome the focus on continued investment in the development of urban mass transit (Metro Rail) projects in India. Such mass transit projects are vital to realize multiple benefits such as reduction in air pollution, time saving for commuters, reduction in accidents, reduction in traffic congestion, fuel savings, etc. The announcement of the central fiscal funding for Metro Rail projects showcases the government’s continued focus on Metro connectivity. We welcome this move and believe that this will lead to building safe, world-class transportation facilities.

We also welcome the proposals of the continued development of Economic Corridors. These road and highway projects will boost the economy by creating thousands of jobs and attracting greater investment along the corridors because of the improved infrastructure. Additionally, the soon to be tabled bill on DFI (Development Financial Institution) is a much-awaited step which will provide funding for construction in the Infrastructure sector. Additionally, we welcome the announcement of the new 11,000 km of proposed roads and highways in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and West Bengal and we would urge similar investment in other states.

Kush S, CEO, Essar Power
In a highly anticipated move, our Honourable FM announced a ₹3,05,984 crore scheme to reform the power distribution sector in the country. T&D losses have plagued the Power sector for a number of years and this scheme will surely help reduce losses and improve efficiency of electricity distribution companies (discoms). The proposed amendments and Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 with measures such as ‘de-licensing’ of the power distribution business to bring in competition is a very consumer-centric move which aims at creating a level playing field for all distribution companies. The ₹1,000 crore grant for the growth of the Solar Energy sector and ₹1,500 crore to the Renewable Energy sector will help the country in achieving the ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022. These measures and reforms will help improve the health of the sector and enhance growth in the coming years.

Vivek Bhatia, MD & CEO, thyssenkrupp Industries India
The Union Budget for 2021-22 has introduced many reforms benefiting the manufacturing, infrastructure and automobile sector, along with the announcement of additional PLI schemes. The government aims to spend ₹1.97 lakh crore on various PLI schemes over the next five years to boost the manufacturing sector. This will attract global players in the Indian manufacturing sector, as the government is planning to offer plug-and-play infrastructure to the companies willing to come to India. In the automobile sector, the introduction of the scrapping policy will be a game-changer for the auto-component segment. Under this policy, all private vehicles beyond 20 years and commercial vehicles older than 15 years will have to undergo a fitness test, which will provide many opportunities for the auto-component manufacturers. Besides, the holistic approach towards creating AtmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojona with an outlay of ₹64,000 crores for the next six years is a big step towards bringing back the health of the country.

For the year 2022, more economic corridors are planned to boost road infrastructure with capital expenditure at 5.54 lakh crore. Also, the government’s aim to complete 11,000 km of national highway infrastructure this year will encourage and offer a positive relief to the related sectors. With this, we have already started observing that the increased outlays in road sector, infrastructure development, railways, gas pipeline development will create major boost to the V – shaped recovery. We also expect strong growth to continue in the cement and mining sectors driven by recent policy initiatives which are further reinforced through the budget today. Besides, chemicals and power sectors which are critical for us, should also grow strongly given the support from the government. We welcome all the policies announced and are positive that it will put the Indian manufacturing sector back on an aggressive growth trajectory after a pandemic induced setback.

Ajay Sharma, Managing Director, Valuation Services, Colliers International India
As part of the push for investment in infrastructure space, the announcement of metro lite and metro neo schemes are likely to improve infrastructure connectivity. This will spur significant investment in smaller cities thereby increasing economic growth through induced expenditure. Affordable housing projects get s boost with both buyers and builders by increasing the tenure of tax subsidy by a year. Further, rental housing gets a bigger boost by having a tax deduction for those undertaking rental housing projects.

Arvind Subramanian, MD & CEO, Mahindra Lifespaces
The 2021 Union Budget is progressive on multiple counts, including health, sanitization, new institutional structures, and the infrastructure needs of the economy. On the residential real estate front, the proposal to extend the additional 1.5 lakhs tax exemption available to first time home buyers on the purchase of affordable homes will boost end-user demand in the category. The tax holiday on affordable housing projects till 31st March 2022 is a supply-side stimulus that will aid developers. Combined with the all-time low home loan interest rates, these initiatives are expected to provide a strong stimulus to the affordable housing market.

The Budget has also identified warehousing and allied services for the asset monetization program for core infrastructure assets. These initiatives will help drive the growth of the infrastructure sector and bodes well for planned industrial parks and integrated cities. As a pioneer of green buildings in India, we welcome the plans for energy transition and increasing investment in renewable and sustainable energy initiatives. Such initiatives are laying the groundwork for an urban India that is environmentally resilient and responsive.

Ashwath Ram, Managing Director, Cummins India
At first glance, it appears to be a progressive budget. There is a focus on the socio-economic development of the country with an emphasis on railways, the power sector, infrastructure, healthcare, and enhanced digital connectivity. The voluntary policy on the scrapping of vehicles will drive the commercial vehicle and auto sector forward, the industry wanted an incentive-based scheme, so we are still seeing the details. In addition, MSMEs and other user industries have been severely affected by the recent sharp rise in iron and steel prices. The industry will receive a push by the decision to double the allocation of MSMEs and reduce the customs duty on some of the steel products. The focus on highways and the infrastructure investment plan will give the necessary impetus to CV and construction equipment businesses.

Manish Bhatnagar, Managing Director, SKF India
Concentrating on the revival of the economy, this budget is totally one of its kind. Along with bringing cutting edge technology, increasing the demand for new commercial vehicle (CV) and passenger vehicles (PV), creating new jobs, schemes like the PLI and voluntary scrappage policy are likely to boost the Indian manufacturing industry to become an integral part of the global supply chains. Furthermore, ensuring liquidity in the economy and unhindered flow of capital, the package for roads and railways infrastructure is bound to give an impetus to the covid-hit economy. The robust push to infrastructure including economic corridors, manufacturing and MSME’s collectively, is likely to help boost demand for heavy and medium-duty CVs.

Suresh KV, President, ZF India
The Union Budget, as expected, is in line with the government’s vision for an Atmanirbhar Bharat. We welcome the announcement of a voluntary scrappage policy. This will induce the demand for new commercial vehicles (CV) and passenger vehicles (PV). Though the scrappage policy is voluntary, this could be seen as a significant step in view of the fact that the scrappage would be dependent upon the fitness certificate. This policy backed up by an effective implementation plan would boost the industry’s growth.

Announcement of allocation of 1.18 lakh crores to improve the public transport in Indian cities and the procurement of 20,000 new buses will provide an impetus to the bus segment. A push in infrastructure building including roads, economic corridors and railways will be instrumental in enhancing demand for heavy and medium duty commercial vehicles which in turn will have a positive impact on employment opportunities. It is also heartening to see the allocation of 1.97 lakh crores over the next 5 years, towards the production linked incentive scheme (PLI). This will boost manufacturing and further propel growth of the Indian automotive industry.

Overall. It is a progressive and well-balanced budget and with the continued government support, we hope to see all industry segments returning to the path of growth.

Rakesh Reddy, Director, Aparna Constructions & Estates
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the Union Budget 2021 was highly anticipated to fuel economic revival. It was to be a balancing act between high expectations and minimal resources. The Budget focused on healthcare – to provide crucial Covid-19 rehabilitation - and infrastructure as key segments to aid in the revival. The infrastructure sector is a key driver of India’s economic growth and is the second-largest employer in India. The growth of the sector has a multiplier effect on the growth of the entire economy and must be bolstered.

Rapid development in infrastructure requires a strong inflow of capital. Debt financing of InvITs and REITs will be enabled by making a suitable amendment to attract more investment in the real estate and infrastructure sector. In a positive step for the affordable housing segment, the time period for taking loans in this segment will be extended by one year, until 31 March 2022, to avail additional tax benefits of ₹1.5 lakh under section 80EEA of the Income Tax Act. The benefit is over and above the tax benefit of ₹2 lakh on interest on Housing Loan available under section 24(B).

Although several proposals were announced for the benefit of taxpayers, there was no change in income tax slab rates. Disposable income is a substantial constraint on demand so personal tax relief must be addressed by revisiting the tax slabs and also increasing the deduction limit under Section 80C. Such benefits will provide crucial support to the real estate sector.

The Budget also proposed to provide GST relief by reducing inverted GST structures. There are hundreds of old exemptions in indirect taxes which must be addressed. This is a positive step that must be implemented immediately. Although the government continued to provide fiscal and policy support to the real estate sector, it is important for the government to lay the foundation which will provide a strong impetus for demand generation and growth in order to regain the pre-Covid momentum. Policies must be enacted that address raw material price escalations, input tax credits, and reduction in GST rates.

Ajay Kapoor, CEO, Adhiraj Constructions
The Budget of 2021 clearly defined its intentions for a new and aspirational India. One of the critical pillars of the budget – infrastructure - achieved the much-needed progression and will continue to grow and expand. Focus continues to be on development of roads, railways, ports, airports, and urban transport. With this growth, India is all set to break new barriers with respect to connectivity and ease of commuting. With the further inflow of funding with the ease of finance to InVITS and REITs it will be a boon for the infrastructure and real estate sectors.

Homebuyers sitting on the fence can take advantage of the extension of tax benefits on home loans up to FY22 and added extension exemption on the purchase of affordable houses. Middle-class taxpayers now have another year better to manage their finances and investment in their dream homes. Hardships for NRIs are also resolved with the removal of double taxation, allowing them to be stress-free while house hunting in micro markets of their choice.

On the other hand, builders will avail the tax holiday for another year till March 31, 2022 for affordable housing projects, along with the tax exemption available to them for affordable rental housing projects. With minimum wages applicable to all, men and women workers from all categories can now work together with adequate protection. This move will amp up employment in the sector and boost proficiency and efficiency.

The nation-first approach will take India closer to become a $ 5 trillion economy in the coming years. We look forward to the necessary measures taken to correct other requirements from the industry.

Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA
As expected, health and infrastructure rightly occupied center stage in the FY 2022 Union Budget, with spending directed towards healing the Covid-19 induced scarring. Timely implementation of the plethora of well-targeted budget announcements will hold the key for sustaining the nascent growth revival that is currently underway, and helping the Indian economy attain a higher growth trajectory over the medium term.

Based on the FY2021 RE, expenditure is expected to more-than-double in Q4 FY2021. Moreover, the capital outlay for FY2022 exceeds our forecast and should support a higher pace of GDP expansion in the coming fiscal. Substantially higher-than-expected expenditure, including support to FCI, has pushed the fiscal deficit for FY2021 and FY2022 well above our projections. However, the dated market borrowings are only somewhat higher than what we had foreseen, casting a discordant note. In our view, yields are expected to sustain a hardening bias, in the absence of frequent OMOs. Moreover, the glide path for the correction in the Government of India's fiscal deficit is both back-ended, and more modest than what we had expected. A higher fiscal deficit anchor for the state governments should allow them to prioritise capex and NIP funding, but add to the overall general government borrowings in the coming fiscal.

Manish Aggarwal, Partner and Head – Energy & Infrastructure M&A and Head – Special Situations Group, KPMG in India
Budget 2021 has made transformational commitments to push infrastructure investments backed by massive capital mobilization measures. 34.5% increase in investments, asset recycling which was introduced as a core funding strategy and creation of a DFI (Development Financial Institution) coupled with further steps initiated around ease of doing business, rationalizing SWF tax exemptions and a conciliation mechanism, are positive steps. By and large the message is that- Indian Infrastructure is again open for business.

Rajeshwar Burla, Vice President, Corporate Ratings, ICRA
The massive increase in capital outlay bodes well for road sector. FY2022 remains a crucial year for two reasons: a) the importance of Government spending on infrastructure to revive the economy and b) the significant catch up required in the ongoing Bharatmala and allied programmes. In this backdrop, the massive increase in the budgetary allocation towards capital spend for the ministry of road transportation and highways by 32% to ₹1,08,230 crore in BE FY2022 bodes well for the road sector. Including the IEBR (market borrowings) and asset monetisation proceeds for NHAI, the total capital outlay increased by 35% to ₹1,98,230 crore in BE FY 2022 from ₹1,46, 975 crore for BE FY2021.

Ankush Kaul, President, Sales & Marketing, Ambience Group
The focus of the Union Budget 2021-22 is to improve economic efficiency and infrastructure growth. Increased focus on infrastructure growth and capital expenditure will impact the overall growth of the real estate sector too. A good infrastructure could propel the development of real estate, both commercial and housing, along the transit corridors, highways and newly proposed airports.

Kaushal Agarwal, Chairman, The Guardians Real Estate Advisory
It’s a pragmatic and forward-looking budget. The estimated, gradual reduction in the fiscal deficit from 9.5% to under 4.5% by 2024-25 will help boost consumption in the economy. The government’s big bet on infrastructure is bound to pay off in the long-term & will also catapult desired growth for real estate & the economy. The NPA’s of PSU banks have seen an encouraging reduction from 8.96 to 6.8 trillion by end of Fiscal 2020. The setting up of ARC & AMC for banks troubled with bad loans and NPA’s alongside the further recapitalisation of ₹20,000 crores will help improve the lending capacity of the banking & financial sector. The government’s decision to extend tax holiday for affordable housing projects by another year is a step in the right direction to realise the PM’s dream of ‘Housing For All’ by 2022.

Lindsay Bernard Rodrigues, Co-Founder & Director, Bennet & Bernard Group
The Budget demonstrates the government's resolve to focus on demand generation, spurring jobs, increase infrastructure spends, healthcare for all, attract foreign institutional investors and increase farm income. It is also noteworthy that the government has stressed upon building on an aspirational India in order to boost standard of living and economic development. Infrastructure development continued to remain on top of the government's agenda of propelling economic growth and undoubtedly, it has a major multiplier effect on not just the overall economy but on the real estate market as well.

Clearly, this was a crucial budget for the government with most sectors including real estate seeking concessions to boost consumption and investments. While the government has furthered its commitment to the affordable housing sector, many issues remain unresolved for the real estate sector overall. The government has announced various measures recently which were commendable, but the real estate sector needed many more interventions on the demand side for meaningful growth. The Indian real estate sector is the most highly taxed with the combination of high direct and indirect taxes, stamp duties and levies for development approvals which have been crippling growth. A key expectation was the restoration of income tax benefit on a second home which would have benefitted home buyers in a big way and stimulated the real estate sector. It was also important to bring back the input tax credit as part of GST reforms and lower GST rates for purchase of raw materials which would have helped reduce the cost of construction. An important measure to boost demand in real estate would have been to introduce a GST waiver on under- construction projects too. As far as income tax is concerned, a higher tax relief for home buyers is essential which will boost demand with more money going into the hands of people.

The real estate sector has the potential and is poised to be one of the key drivers for supporting the overall growth in the economy. The pace of revival can quicken, provided the government extends a helping hand and injects enough stimulus to boost the real estate sector. In conclusion, it can be said that the budget 2021 has set the stage for the economy and hope to grow positively and achieve new heights through its reform measures.

Sudeep Singh, Founder & CEO, MPowered
Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman has announced some landmark measures in the Union Budget 2021-22, which spells out concrete reforms for businesses, especially Startups. The extension of tax holiday for Startups until March '22 is definitely one such move which will allow small and mid-sized companies the much needed financial breather. We also welcome the extension of the capital gain exemption for investing in Startups until March '22, which will aid in the recovery of India's funding ecosystem and attract foreign investors.

Speaking specifically of the real estate and infrastructure sectors, the extension of Housing Loan legibility till March '22, as well as, allowing the taxpayers to get tax benefits on the interest paid on home loans are some measures that the real estate industry certainly stands to benefit from. Lastly, the relaxation of the existing norms in the infrastructure vertical to attract more foreign investment is something that everybody in the fraternity will look forward to.

Udaya Bhaskar Rao Abburu, CEO & MD, iRam Technologies
We expected more from the Union budget 21-22. While the focus has been on infrastructure, FM has allocated ₹93,400 crores for roads only, no allocation has been made for development of Smart Cities. Though FM talked about double-digit growth of the manufacturing sector for India to become a $5 trillion economy, no roadmap has been laid out for the same. We also need more clarity on how ₹2217 crores allocated for setting up 42 urban centres to tackle pollution problem will be used. Change in definition of small companies may benefit some small-scale companies, provided more support for them is announced.

Dhruvil Sanghvi, Chief Executive Officer, LogiNext
We welcome the incentives proposed by Honourable FM Nirmala Sitharaman. Strengthening global and national supply chains is of paramount importance for economic growth. The proposals to set up freight corridors across the country, as well as the proposal for a future-ready rail system, along with development of national highways will bridge the gaps that currently exist, bringing in better connectivity between production and consumption markets. Furthermore, the push towards digitization along with proposal for a one-year tax holiday for startups and extending cap gains tax exemption for investment into start-ups shows the intent towards making it easier to do business in India and push forward on the technology wave.

Surendra Hiranandani, CMD, House of Hiranandani
The Union Budget presented is visionary and has focused on the nation’s growth. With its focus on the agricultural and rural sectors, infrastructure, health, education, job creation, digital economy, etc, it is a holistic budget that will have an overall positive impact on the economy. With the growth outlook looking promising and support in terms of government spending, we will witness noteworthy traction in the real estate sector too this year. The government has played a tough balancing act between providing demand impetus and keeping a watch on fiscal deficit.

Though real estate has not got anything directly from this budget, there are announcements that will indirectly help the sector. Allotment of a massive capital expenditure corpus in order to enhance and support national highway projects, roads and other ancillary infrastructure shows the continued commitment of the Government to strengthen connectivity across the country, which in turn will largely improve real estate over the next few years. While affordable housing continued to remain a priority area for the government with few additional reforms, the government could have given further boost to real estate, which fuels the Indian economy, as it is the second largest employer after agriculture and supports over 250-allied industries. There have been many pressing concerns in the real estate sector that have not been addressed such as easing liquidity, reduction in levies/taxes, tax deductions on home loans to give impetus to buyer sentiment, granting of industry status to the overall real estate sector and implementation of single window clearance amongst others.

Overall, while the social sector has received good support and is welcome, we are convinced that the government will do its best to get the economy to bounce back, and sustain long term growth of the real estate sector too with substantial measures in the near future. We also hope that there will be more announcements soon to enhance ease of doing business for the developers and are optimistic that with green shoots in the economy in sight, the real estate sector is ready for explosive growth in the post pandemic era.

Vipula Sharma, Head - Infrastructure Ratings, Brickwork Ratings
As has been the case for the past so many years, infrastructure continues to remain the main thrust area for the government due to its multiplier effect in strengthening the economy, which is of paramount importance now more than ever. From setting up a developmental finance institution to fund infrastructure projects (particularly those part of NIP), monetisation of assets through InVIT and other ways to a whopping increase of 34.50% in the capital expenditure from the B.E. of FY21 in budgetary allocation for the sector taking it to ₹5.54 lakh crores, the budget hit all the right chords. Increased allocation to SECI/IREDA strengthens the renewable energy financing. Specific announcements for strengthening of roads, railways and waterways infrastructure, in addition to the framework for improving viability of discoms were much needed reforms and are expected to bring substantial positive changes in the respective sectors.

Pradeep Misra, CMD, Rudrabhishek Enterprises
As it was expected and much needed, there is massive emphasis on infrastructure in the Budget. The number of projects under NIP (National Infrastructure Pipeline) has been extended to 7400, which will help in generating immediate employment. Focus on the Affordable Housing section continues with the extension of eligibility to avail benefits for another year.

Plan to set up ‘Development Financial Institution’ with fund infusion of ₹20,000 crores for financing infrastructure & development projects will further help in mobilizing the long-term capital, especially through debt instruments. This should be vital in pulling out the projects that are stuck or slowed down. The aim to complete 11,000 km of National Highways; seven Port projects worth ₹2,000 crore in PPP mode; extending metro in Tier 2 cities and peripheral areas of Tier 1 cities etc. will collectively create vibrant economic conditions of growth. As mentioned by the Hon’ble Finance Minister, fund infusion in the infrastructure sector will have to be accentuated by multiple measures, including monetization of assets, creating institutional structure as well as raising the union and state governments’ budgetary allocations. Overall, the Budget has set the tone of intense infrastructure development in FY 21-22 and for the following years.

Abhishek Jain, Chief Operating Officer, Satellite Developers
The Union Budget 2021-22 continues the government’s focus on the affordable housing sector. The government’s decision to extend tax holiday for affordable housing projects by another year is a step in the positive direction to boost the sentiments among real estate players and achieve ‘Housing for All by 2022’. This Budget has focused heavily on infrastructure that will indirectly lift the housing demand, especially in Tier II and III cities. Also, the Government's continuous efforts to promote affordable housing will help the real estate sector business, going forward.

Prem Kishan Dass Gupta, CMD, Gateway Distriparks
The Union Budget 2021-22 places key focus on healthcare, infrastructure, digital economy and job creation. The announcement of massive investment of ₹2000 crore on seven port projects under PPP mode will boost the logistics sector and enable overall economic growth. Under the Recycling Act, 2019, a recycling capacity of around 4.5 million Light Displacement Tonne (LDT) will be doubled by 2024. This will not only benefit us as a company but also be a way of providing employment opportunities.

With road and rail connectivity being an indispensable factor of the economic development, an allocation of ₹1,10,055 crore for Railways has been made where the eastern and western dedicated freight corridors will be commissioned by June 2022. This will help in bringing down the logistics cost as well as ensure smooth connectivity between different points in the country and ensure easy and faster freight movement. The Union Budget targets 100% electrification of broad-gauge railways to be achieved by 2023. This will increase efficiency and reduce dependence on conventional fuels. The Government’s push to port, road and rail infrastructure through various investments, initiatives and projects will further add to the development of the logistics industry in India.

Manpreet Singh Chadha, Chairman, Wave Group
The Budget 2021 will set the foundation stone for a high growth rate trajectory. With a clear road map for privatization, the budget proposed Capex led to a high trajectory growth story. Retaining tax holiday on Affordable Housing projects till March 31, 2022, and the proposal to make dividend payments to REIT and InvIT exempt from TDS is a much-needed relief for the real estate sector. In a difficult time, it's a very good budget as it has not changed the tax structure, leaving the disposable incomes in the hands of the people unchanged.

Aditya Vazirani, CEO, Robinsons Global Logistics Solutions
The 2021-22 Budget was a highly anticipated one, given the current economic situation and the global environment of volatility and uncertainty. While this Budget comes at the heels of the mini budgets announced throughout 2020, in the wake of the pandemic, it has been progressive, and offers an objective and detailed plan of action. The ₹1.15 thousand crore allocation for railways, plan to privatise airports in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, and completion of 8,500 kms of strategic highways by March 2022, are all efforts in the right direction, to bring down the cost of logistics and transportation. Further, the development of Eastern, Western, East-coast, East-west and North-South dedicated freight corridors, is set to give a boost to logistics and supply chains across the country, improving connectivity and bringing down the costs. The voluntary scrapping policy for vehicles and the thrust on electronic/greener transportation, will, in turn, help reduce the carbon emission and control the air pollution index, which is vastly attributed to transportation. This has out and out been a well-planned and detailed budget that showcases the actionable points by the government and the desired impact, in line with the long term economic goals.

Ashish Deora, CEO & Promoter, Aurum Ventures
The various sops extended to the real estate sector in the 2020-21 Budget is a welcome sign given the ongoing pandemic. Adequate measures have been taken keeping affordable housing in mind and the number of decisions taken with respect to extension of tax holiday and housing deduction by another year, and extra tax exemption for affordable housing loan by another year. These initiatives will put additional liquidity in the hands of home buyers which would further boost demand.

Also, the proposal to make dividend payments to REIT (real estate investment trusts) and Invit's (infrastructure investment trusts) exempt from TDS will give the sector the much needed fillip. Granting Infrastructure status to the entire Real Estate sector which could be beneficial for lenders, developers and home buyers and will enable access to liquidity and speed up project completion is something which we were hoping for but no announcement was made in this regard.

Sanjay Dutt, MD & CEO, Tata Realty & Infrastructure
The lockdown in 2020 and its subsequent continuation in 2021 has caused a lot of disruption and setback to the economy as well as the real estate sector. The Government therefore had to focus on providing relief to people and the industry. We welcome the Government’s intent to deliver a growth-oriented budget. However, we had expected the government to do more for the sector because of the multiplier effect it has on the economic growth. The Government’s measures in 2020 have only provided some relief. The Budget provided an opportunity to consider lowering GST on building materials, no GST on JDA and TDR; extending the tax benefit from affordable to mid housing would have made a significant impact. Additionally, allocating additional capital for distressed funds could have eased the liquidity needed for last mile funding, allowing FDI in ready-to-move in inventory to unlock capital and provide for liquidity to NBFCs, Banks and Developers.

Acknowledging the role of NRI homebuyers and increased interest amid the pandemic, the Government’s decision to reduce NRI residency limit will help. Raising customs duty on solar inverters to 20% from 5% is likely to add to the cost of the commercial and residential developments, while monetization of land is likely to provide more land for development and arrest its rising cost.

For the investor community, we are pleased with the proposal to make dividend payments to REITs and INVITs exempt from TDS. The Indian real estate sector is at an interesting juncture and I strongly believe REITs will define the future as they allow investors to expand their range of properties. The Finance Minister’s plan to introduce a bill to set up a DFI (developmental financial institution) for long-term funding infra projects with a capital of ₹20,000 crore and lending ₹5 lakh crore in the next 3 years is a great move for India’s sustainable infrastructure. We look forward to working with the government for these crucial infra projects by leveraging the Tata brand to contribute to India’s exciting growth story.

Rahul Singla, Director, Mapsko Group
Budget 2021-22 has been enacted as a game-changer for policy support in the residential sector. It embraces tax exemption for rental housing that has been extended for a year aiming to provide affordable housing for the marginal workers. We could see the flourishing aim of the Housing for All in affordable price has been prioritized; which will benefit both consumers as well as the developers. Further, affordable rental housing projects will boost demand in the real-estate sector as will providing additional interest deduction for loans amounting to 1.5 lakh to purchase affordable housing.

Shreyans Shah, Managing Director, MJ Shah Group
The announcement of the government giving a huge push to affordable housing and rental housing in India will have a positive impact on the housing sector. The decision to extend the tax holiday for affordable housing projects by another year is a right step, in line with the PM’s clarion call of ‘Housing For All by 2022’. The government’s push for the infrastructure sector is a welcome move as it will have a positive impact on better connectivity within the country, and more job creation among SMEs. The proposal enabling entry of FPIs into debt financing of InvITs will open new funding avenues for the sector. This will have a ripple effect wherein it will create positive and strong global investor sentiments and potential for further investments into the infra sector.

In conclusion, the Budget is good considering it being the first budget after the pandemic. Therefore, the focus is on building better public healthcare, infrastructure development and housing for all. These steps will help in job creation, increase housing demand, and improve the economy at large.

Purnachandra Rao, National President, Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACC)
Growth-oriented and transformative, the Finance minister's 2021-22 Budget includes many welcome signals for entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment. To begin, allowing 74% FDI in the insurance sector is a 'game-changing' reform. The boost to healthcare and infrastructure, areas dear to American companies, will lead to more FDI and better employment opportunities. We specifically laud their decision to set up seven textile parks. Moreover, we at IACC, welcome the government's encouragement to NRIs to operate One Person Companies or OPCs in India. They have done this by reducing the registration timeline from 182 days to 120 days.

Prashant Narang, co-Founder, Agility Venture Partners
The Budget looks promising for the start-up industry as measures like an extended tax holiday will help the start-up scenario in the country. Consequently, focus on skill development by partnerships with UAE and Japan, as well as reforms proposed for MSMEs like collateral free loans and funds for MSMEs is a highly encouraging move for the sector. Overall, the new Budget is welcomed for its positive focus on boosting entrepreneurship in India.

Alok Deora, Sr. Research Analyst, Institutional Equities, YES Securities
The Budget is extremely positive for the infrastructure sector. There has been a sharp jump in overall Budgeted Capex for FY22 to ₹5.5 trn (26% yoy over FY21). Key segments like Railways and Roads have seen strong allocations. Around 8500 kms of projects would be awarded under Bharatmala program by March 2022, which would provide strong opportunities to road contractors.

For infra projects, a development financial Institution (DFI) would be set up to help fund projects. Asset Monetization to be key focus across segments. NHAI and PGCIL to see assets being transferred of ₹5000 cr and ₹7000 cr, respectively. The measures are better than expectations and would be significantly positive for companies across sectors.

Chiranjeev Saluja, Managing Director, Premier Energies
Our honourable finance minister in her 2021-22 Budget speech, announced promoting clean energy initiatives as the Government’s commitment to combating climate change. Allocation of resources for solar and renewable energy is a step in the right direction. This will certainly help tackle the burgeoning problem of poor air quality in major Indian cities. By focusing on clean energy, we will be also able to contribute to a cleaner and greener world. As one of the leading domestic players in the renewable energy sector, we will work with the government closely to achieve the target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022.

Dilip Oommen, CEO, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India & President, Indian Steel Association
The Budget is truly expansionary and progressive, striking a right balance between welfare and growth without being constrained by the fiscal deficit. The Government is fully geared up to support and facilitate the economy’s reset and strengthen the country as the business epicentre of the world. Introduction of Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana in addition to the National Health Mission is commendable. Heavy spending on infrastructure and increased spending for capital expenditure creation – a 25 % rise – are welcome moves. Asset creation in Roads, Rails, Pipelines, Textile Parks, Power sector, etc. is a forward-looking initiative. Development Finance Institution (DFI) has been conceptualised and lending portfolio of ₹5 lakh crore in 3 years is a step in the right direction. A targeted program of disinvestment to raise ₹1.75 lakh crore can unlock value in the public sector units, as I mentioned in the pre-budget discussions. Voluntary vehicle scrappage policy will improve business sentiments. The Budget truly intends to propel the goal of a 5-trillion dollar economy. If there was no reduction in customs duty on finished and semi-finished steel, it would have helped the domestic steel sector instead of some non-FTA neighbouring countries.

Geetamber Anand, CMD, ATS Infrastructure and co-Chairman, Real Estate Committee, FICCI
Union Budget 2021-2022, is the much needed catalyst for India’s post-Covid revival. It’s a budget for the People of India as it focuses on strengthening the Healthcare and Infrastructure - the much-required needs of the nation today. Well-developed infrastructure assures good connectivity and paves the way for development of Tier 2 and 3 cities. As far as the realty sector is concerned, the exemption of Tax Holiday on Affordable Housing projects till March 31, 2022 will be a significant step in fulfilling the PM’s vision of Housing for All by 2022. Additionally, the proposal to make dividend payments to REIT and Invit's exempt from TDS, along with exempting of duty on steel and copper scrap for a specified period, is a much required relief for the Housing sector, which has been facing headwinds owing to the pandemic.

However, what the sector requires is immediate infusion of liquidity to kick-start the stalled projects and support the 270 allied industries that are dependent on the realty sector for survival and revival.

Sripad Nandiraj, Founder, Hocomoco
The government's intent of pushing Housing for All and affordable housing in Budget 2021, is a welcome move after the slump in the construction industry due to the pandemic. The proposition of extending exemption available for purchase of affordable housing and tax holiday for affordable housing projects for more than one year till March 2022 will give a fillip to the buyers. We also hope that the measures of tax incentives around affordable housing will help in a formidable growth of the housing market.

T Chitty Babu, Chairman & CEO, Akshaya
We welcome the move to launch a portal to maintain information on gig workers and construction workers. This would help in monitoring their health and in providing the benefits. We also welcome the major proposal of boosting the road, rail and airport infrastructure for a robust public transport. This will ease mobility and people will also think about property investments outside the city. This budget allocation towards public transport will reduce air pollution. Government’s decision to extend eligibility of erstwhile tax sop on home loan up to FY22 and the proposal for affordable housing projects to avail tax holiday for one more year, will ease financial constraints on the real estate developers. It will certainly boost the real estate sector and accelerate. Homebuyers can expect a slew of options in the coming quarters as developers get the due support from financial institutions as well as the government.

Harsha Kadam, CEO, Schaeffler India & President, Industrial Business
This Budget has the ingredients to deliver long-term growth. The government is bullish on public spending and we are encouraged by it. We were certain that Budget 2021 would surely consider the gloom that hovered over the Indian auto industry and it is reassuring to see that it did. The infrastructure boost will surely benefit the heavy and medium commercial vehicle segment. The voluntary scrappage policy implementation is surely a step in the right direction keeping in mind the environment and auto industry at large.

The announcement regarding the PLI scheme investments will be an accelerator for the manufacturing sector, which has seen really tough times along with the auto industry. This gives reason for double celebration as it will encourage global manufacturing firms and also provide incentives for local manufacturing firms to expand. This is a huge step in terms of creating job opportunities for the youth.

This Budget has been very progressive for the railways as well. The decision of commissioning dedicated freight corridors will not only improve the overall movement of goods but also spur economic activities in the long run. The continued push for investment in railways with the additional allocation towards MetroLite and MetroNeo for smaller cities bodes well. The only caution here is to look at the inflating fiscal deficit.

Overall, the Budget provides an opportunity for the state and the central governments to come together and rebuild for the future and we must seize these opportunities for growth.

Dr Malini Saba, Founder & Chairman, Saba Group
Given that the economy is well on its path to recovery, the Union Budget 2021 has focused on enhancing expenditure while keeping the fiscal targets at bay in the short term. The Budget focuses on augmenting infrastructure with a special focus on expediting urban infrastructure projects which will act as a strong catalyst in driving real estate in urban areas. The proposed easing of restrictions on leverage by InvITs/REITs will attract more REITs listings and thus higher investments into real estate. The monetisation of surplus land of government and government bodies is a welcome move; however, the implementation will need to be monitored. The continuance to promote affordable rental housing schemes by providing a tax exemption for notified rental housing projects is a great effort. This will accelerate the pace of investments in this scheme and is likely to fall in line with achieving the overall objective of ‘Housing for All’.

Farrokh Cooper, Chairman & MD, Cooper Corporation
Budget 2021 is optimistic, driving the country towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat by putting significant stress on railways, power sector, infrastructure healthcare, banking, insurance, and agriculture, which will not only enable the country to revive its economy but will also stimulate growth. Voluntary policy on the scrapping of vehicles would have a positive effect and will move the commercial and automobile industries ahead. The industry would definitely be encouraged by the decision to double the allocation of MSMEs and to reduce the customs duty on steel. Focusing on highways and the investment plan would certainly give the CV and construction equipment the requisite impetus. The government’s increased focus on the infrastructure sector will certainly have a positive impact.

Anshul Singhal, Managing Director, Welspun One Logistics Parks
Government’s focus on capital expenditure and infrastructure development will be a shot in the arm for the warehousing and logistics sector in the country. The proposed Development Finance Institution will act as a provider and enabler.

Rajesh Neelakanta, ED & CEO, BVC Logistics
The logistics industry was looking forward to this year’s budget speech. We were expecting an update on the long-awaited National Logistics Policy. However, there have been some hits and misses for us. Certain good points to look forward are reduction in timelines for reopening of assessments from 6 years to 3 years. Businesses can now breathe relatively easy because of this announcement. Boost to infrastructure development by allowing TDS exemption for investments in to INVITs. Rationalising custom duties on gold and silver is a welcome move. The focus on logistics through the development of road and highway projects will encourage economic transformation and improve connectivity, which is much needed for our growing economy.

Shashi Kiran Shetty, Chairman, Allcargo Logistics, ECU Worldwide and Gati
At a time when the Indian economy has been scaling a fast recovery trajectory, FM Sitharaman has effectively navigated the challenge of balancing fiscal concerns and addressing economic growth. This is further strengthened by the 13 points that outline the vision for a self-reliant or ‘Aatmanirbhar’ nation. In light of the 6 pillars of this vision, namely, health and wellbeing, capital and infrastructure, inclusive development, reinvigorating human capital, innovation and R&D, and minimum government and maximum governance – the initiatives to drive ahead FDI and FII inflows, infrastructure spend and facilitate legal and tax settlements are also noteworthy. Proposals to boost operational contingencies of road infrastructure and build more economic corridors have the potential to increase efficiencies across the logistics ecosystem and simulate regional economies to encourage local entrepreneurial initiatives. The government’s intent to increase the share of green energy in the national energy grid and transition to a zero-carbon fuel regime is in line with its steadfast commitment to sustainability. The proposed one-year extension of tax holiday for affordable housing projects is likely to ensure inclusive housing for the underprivileged and foster community empowerment and resilience.

Ambrish Parajiya & Gopal Goswami, Directors, GAP Associates, JK Projects
This Budget seems to have balanced out infrastructure and healthcare well. Allocation of Healthcare at the highest, almost 137 percent higher than the last year will also ensure mass vaccination in India. This will de-burden India at large.

A lauded initiative by the FM Nirmala Sitharaman is capital expenditure of ₹5.54 lakh crore towards infrastructure development for FY 2021-22. Further, the government aims to provide states and autonomous bodies with more than ₹2 lakh crore. The FM announced a massive boost in Infrastructure spending in various sectors in India in water supply, schools, roads, highways, railways, ports, and power.

As a stimulus to the Real Estate Industry, the government has given ₹1.5 lakh crore for financing affordable housing projects. Affordable housing has become the backbone of the Real estate companies these days. Looking at the current condition of the industry, investment flow was sluggish and most of which was local. Amid such a situation, government expenditure will enable the industry to have finances to continue with its plans for diversification, R&D, or restarting stalled projects.

In India, the real estate industry is among the key pillars of the Indian economy. Estimated to be worth more than ₹13.5 lakh crore at present, it projects the sector to reach a market size of ₹75 lakh crore by 2030 and it will contribute around 13% to the national GDP.

As a surprise for affordable housing segment, the deadline for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’s Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) for the Middle-Income Group (MIG) is extended from March 2021 to March 2022. Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and the Lower Income Group (LIG) can avail the benefit of CLSS subsidy until March 31, 2022.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman noted 11,000 km of the national highway corridor is expected to complete by March 2022 and that projects for 8500 km will be awarded. FM also announced the government's intentions to set up more economic corridors in the future, hinting at 3500 km of national highway works at an investment of ₹1.03 lakh crores. She announced a huge outlay of ₹1,10,055 crore for the Railways of which ₹1,07,100 crore has been provided for capital expenditure and announced the setting up of dedicated freight corridors across the country’ the Western and Eastern dedicated freight corridors will be commissioned by June 2022.

FM also allocated ₹18,000 crore towards public buses and revealed that a PPP model will maintain over 20,000 buses. This will create employment and give a fillip to the automobile sector. The FM announced a scheme for promoting flagging of merchant ships in India to be launched, by providing subsidy support to Indian shipping companies in global tenders floated by Ministries and CPSEs of ₹1,624 crores over 5 years for this. Ship recycling capacities of around 4.5 million light displacement tonnage to be doubled by 2024, expected to generate around 1.5 lakh jobs for the youth.

Meanwhile, Jal Jeevan Mission has got ₹2.86 lakh crore to provide tapped water in urban areas. 100 new cities will be brought under city gas distribution network for piped gas, which will be a huge boost to infrastructure. Over a hundred new schools, micro irrigation and five new fishing harbours, National PSU pipeline project, seven new Mega Textile Parks will attract investment worth ₹5 lakh crore in the next three years.

This Budget is really huge and employment centric in the true sense. FM Sitharaman has emerged as a saviour at the right time for the people looking for job and businesses looking for a market. The Budget is ‘Amrut’ for real estate and infrastructure sectors. Sitharaman’s best budget so far!

Dr. Srini Srinivasan, Managing Director, Project Management Institute (PMI) South Asia
The announcement of strengthening infrastructure through heavy investments in highways, railways, ports and power sector will create huge demand for future-ready engineering and project professionals in the country. The various proposed infrastructure projects are expected to be built on newer technologies, innovation and global best practices to deliver better design and execution. These projects will create huge job opportunities across various states and would require upskilling of the project managers and engineers, to ensure successful project completion within defined timelines at estimated costs and with expected benefits. The timing is perfect for young career professionals to look at project management as a career. There is heightened awareness in project management and its potential in reducing costs, time and making project execution successful. Especially during the pandemic and post-pandemic situation, we are going to see a greater focus by project leaders in both the public and private sector on getting projects completed on time and within budgets.

Sanjay Bhatia, Co-Founder & CEO, Freightwalla
For most of the last year, the shipping & logistics sector has been under strain due to global headwinds. The industry was expecting short term measures to lower the current pressure faced by the industry. Having said the budget did include steps to boost the sector in the long term. Invitation to private players to manage the ports is a beneficial move for the industry. Private port management players having knowledge and competencies can transform the overall functioning, thereby increasing its potential in shipment handling. It can also lead to digitizing the entire port facility and providing an experience to the consumers and users. The industry provides direct and indirect employment opportunities to millions of people in the country. The launch of the scheme to promote merchant ships' flagging will further give a rise in employment. It also sends a signal that the Indian government is welcoming to the international logistics industry.

Additionally, the goal to double the ship's recycling capabilities is another move to generate career opportunities among the nation's youth. Aggressive road infrastructure push will help in smooth cargo movement to and fro from port to shipper. Overall it has been a reasonable budget for the sector, more investments or steps to digitize the industry could have made it even better.

Tulsi Tanti, Chairman Suzlon Group & Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers (IWTMA)
I am particularly inspired by the Union Budget presented by our FM. It has the right set of priorities and initiatives required to stimulate our nation's economy post the COVID 19 crisis. The budget is bold and focusses on the basic drivers of our economy. Focus on infrastructure, power sector and renewable energy is particularly encouraging, however, there is ample impetus for healthcare and Aatmanirbhar Bharat. I am also delighted to see that the government is focusing on Inclusive Development, Innovation and Human Capital which is going to build the new India of our dreams.

This is a very comprehensive budget and there is enough in this budget for all sections of the industry and society. The stimulus for the MSMEs will help build the foundation of a strong domestic economy. It is rare to see such a wide range of coverage in the Union budget and I congratulate the Finance Minister and the Government of India for the same. I am sure this budget will go a long way in building a sustainable and strong India.

Tomohiko Okada, Managing Director, Toshiba India Pvt. Ltd.
The Union Budget 2021 is geared towards recovery, revival and growth for a more sustainable and inclusive economy. Our key takeaway is the government's focus on initiatives like Jal Jeevan Mission and Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0, CapEx fund for Railways, and Voluntary Vehicle Scrappage policy, that we may relate our business to. The Jal Jeevan Mission initiative calls for countrywide wastewater treatment infrastructure. Through our subsidiary – Toshiba Water Solutions, we will be happy to utilise our strengths in providing water and wastewater treatment solutions and support the government's aims.
Voluntary Vehicle Scrappage policy will boost demand for fuel-efficient, environment friendly vehicles. Toshiba's rechargeable battery – SCiB is ideal for hybrid vehicles for features like excellent safety, long life and rapid charging. We expect the SCiB can promote green transportation in India. Toshiba looks forward to offering more of our infrastructure solutions to India, turning on the promise of a new day for a sustainable economy.
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