Budget 2022-23 Blueprint for Infra Sector Growth
The Union Budget 2022-23 makes a strong push for infrastructure-led growth in the country, with capital outlay for infrastructure projects raised by 35% in FY2023 and investments in core sectors like Railways, Roadways, Multimodal Logistics Parks, and Energy. It is a very constructive Budget in the challenging economic environment - maintaining continuity to charter the set path for accelerating developments in real estate, housing, and infrastructure - the key drivers of the Indian economy.

Report by NBM&CW with inputs from ICRA
The Union Budget proposals unveiled by the Finance Minister aim to deploy capital expenditure as its main growth instrument for 2022-23 and lays the blueprint for growth over the coming two-three decades. There is a clear emphasis on R&D, technology, and digitalization along with some important elements like a new SEZ legislation, funding schemes for new metro rail systems, urban planning for sustainable living, and the Battery Swapping Policy. “The gross budgetary support towards capital expenditure has been increased significantly with the infrastructure sector being the key beneficiary,” comments Rajeshwar Burla, VP & Group Head, Corporate Ratings (ICRA).

Positive for Construction Comp- anies & Contractors

Positive for Construction Comp- anies & Contractors: The capital expenditure is budgeted to increase to ₹7.5 trillion in FY2023, which is 35.4% higher than ₹5.5 trillion in FY2022 BE, and 24.4% higher than ₹6.0 trillion in FY2022 RE. This apart, the special assistance as loan to states for capital expenditure has been increased to ₹1.0 trillion in FY2023 BE from ₹15,000 trillion in FY2022 RE. Significant support to states is expected to revive the capex by state governments. This along with higher capex by the Center is expected to support the order inflow for contractors, as per the ICRA report.

The Union Budget has also proposed to allow use of surety bonds from insurance companies as a substitute for bank guarantees in government procurements. This will reduce the margin money/collateral requirement and consequently indirect costs for construction contractors. Further, provision for release of 75% of running bills mandatorily within 10 days will support cash conversion cycle of contactors. Overall, these measures are positive for construction companies.

Impetus to Job Creation: Apart from capacity creation, speedily executed projects could set off ripples of income, and not just this, private investment would stir into motion drivers of growth that would finally let the government rein in its fiscal deficit after the pandemic overrun. In totality, the Budget will prove to be a strong impetus to job generation, as employment will be a by-product of 9.2% GDP growth projected by the government. In fact, it will have a multiplier effect on the economy and the focus on capital expenditure will help in achieving employment generation.

Massive Connectivity Expansion Envisioned: The FM has announced to set up 100 new cargo terminals, four logistics parks, eight ropeway projects, and help start 400 new Vande Bharat trains over the coming years. The announcement outlines the scope of a massive connectivity expansion that the government has envisioned.

The Gati Shakti National Masterplan is largely a platform to track planning and execution of infrastructure projects across over a dozen ministries for projects that aim to serve connectivity and logistics requirements of MSMEs, small farmers, and the public at large. The PM’s Gati Shakti National Master Plan will facilitate coordination between 16 union ministries. The idea is to create a synergy between infrastructure and logistics (both of people and goods), location of projects, and bring down their cost.

The FM announced an allocation of ₹44,000 crore on Ken Betwa River project. She also allocated a 50-year interest-free loan worth ₹1 lakh crore to states to assist them in catalyzing overall investments in the economy in FY 2022-23.

Filip to Hill States: The ‘Parvatmala’ scheme announced in the Union Budget could be a game changer in hill states. Eight ropeway projects across 60 km will be constructed in the coming financial year in hill states. The scheme is aimed at facilitating modern mode of transportation in the hills and will give fillip to border villages in remote areas. Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said “the National Ropeways Development Program 'Parvatmala', is a gift to the hill states. The project will provide pollution-free transport and help create jobs.”

Increase in Budgetary Allocation for Roads & Highways

Increase in Budgetary Allocation for Roads & Highways: The ICRA report states that to strengthen the road logistics and supply chain, expressways are expected to be extended by more than 25000 km and four multi-modal national parks contracts will be awarded in FY2023. Further, eight remote connectivity roadway projects for over 60 kms to be awarded in FY2022 and FY2023 through PPP mode to enable trade facilitation as well as job creation.

FY2023 is a crucial year for two reasons: the importance of Government spending on infrastructure to revive the economy; and the significant catch up required in the ongoing Bharatmala and allied programs. Given the rising debt levels at NHAI, the GoI decided to fund the capital outlay for national highway projects largely through budgetary support in FY2023. Therefore, NHAI is unlikely to borrow incrementally in FY2023. To plug this, the budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Road Transportation and Highways has increased sharply by 73% to ₹1.87 trillion in BE FY2023 from ₹1.08 trillion in BE FY2022 and 55% higher than RE FY2022 of ₹1.21 trillion.

However, including the IEBR (market borrowings) and asset monetisation proceeds for the NHAI, the total capital outlay increased marginally by 4.8% to ₹2.08 trillion in BE FY2023 as against ₹1.98 trillion in BE FY2022 but 1.7% lower than RE FY2022 of ₹2.11 trillion. Further, the asset monetization target of ₹200 billion in FY2023 can be comfortably met given the strong appetite for road assets as witnessed during FY2022.

Constructing, Expanding & Reviving Airports

Constructing, Expanding & Reviving Airports: The government’s focus on the airport infrastructure sector continues with the budgetary allocation of ₹51.74 billion in FY2023, an increase of 24% YoY as compared to revised estimates (RE) FY2022. Of this ₹45.74 billion (against ₹31.82 billion for RE FY2022) is towards development of infrastructure for existing airports, construction of new airports under airports authority of India (AAI) and ₹6.00 billion (against ₹9.94 billion for RE FY2022) towards revival of 20 airports and for commencement of 90 routes under regional connectivity scheme (RCS).

Boost to Cement Sector

Boost to Cement Sector: The government’s continued focus on agriculture sector along with rural development is reflected in an increase in the budgetary allocation by 2% to ₹2.7 trillion in FY2023 BE compared to FY2022 BE. This is expected to support income for farm households and thereby support demand for rural housing, which is a significant contributor (of around 30%) to the overall cement demand. In addition, the target construction of 80 lakh houses under PMAY, both rural and urban, supported by a budgetary allocation of ₹480 billion along with a 35% increase in capital outlay towards infrastructure to ₹7.5 trillion including additional allocation of ₹1.0 trillion towards state government projects is expected to bolster cement demand.

Spurring Domestic Steel Demand

Spurring Domestic Steel Demand: According to Priyesh Ruparelia, VP & Co-Group Head - Corporate Ratings, ICRA, Investments centered around the Gati Shakti Master Plan in core sectors like Railways, Roadways, Multimodal Logistics Parks, and Energy, which has the potential for spurring demand for metals, have seen a healthy increase across the board. Cumulative allocation to flagship schemes like PMAY and Jal Jeevan Mission has been increased by 39.3% year-on-year, which is a positive for long steel and pipe manufacturers. Moreover, focus on Atmanirbharta, especially in Defence and Solar Module manufacturing, remain incremental positives for domestic steel demand. On the raw material side, the extension of customs duty waiver on ferrous scrap in FY2023 is a welcome development for secondary steel manufacturers. However, withdrawal of ADD/CVD protection on certain stainless steel and coated steel products remain the only negatives.

Railways and Metros - One Station, One Product

Railways and Metros - One Station, One Product: The railways have been allotted ₹2.38 lakh crore for capital spending in 2022-23; 400 Vande Bharat high-speed trains will be introduced, and 100 PM GatiShakti cargo terminals will be built in the next three years. The national transporter will also build upon the concept of “One Station, One Product” that will help develop efficient logistics for farmers, agri-enterprises, and local businesses. It had set a target of ₹2.15 lakh crore capital expenditure last year.

An outlay of ₹19,130 cr has been made in the Budget for metro projects across the country. In November last year, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri claimed that 723 km of metro network was operational in 18 cities, and an additional over 1,000 km of network was under construction in various cities.

Boost to Real Estate Sector

Boost to Real Estate Sector: The Budget provides the big direct booster to real estate by way of ₹48,000 crore allocation for affordable housing under PMAY to build 80 lakh homes to meet the goal of 'Housing for All'. The other initiatives like fast tracking land and construction related approvals single window clearance for green projects, modernisation of building byelaws, greater focus on urban planning and tier 2-3 cities, Transferable Development Rights, Transit-oriented Developments, metro systems, sustainable development through sovereign bonds, digitization of land records, are direct boosters to real estate. Alternative asset classes in real estate like logistics, warehousing, data centres have got a big boost through multimodal connectivity under Gati Shakti, unified logistics interface and industry status to data centres. Infrastructure being a big propeller of real estate, gets a shot in the arm with a mega ₹7.5 trillion public investments to trigger private investments.

“Significant surge in the allocation towards capital expenditure, infrastructure investment and proposed implementation of Multimodal Logistics Parks are going to provide the required impetus to construction sector. For promoting affordable housing for middle class and economically weaker sections in urban areas, the Central government will work with the state governments for reduction of time required for all land and construction related approvals, comments Dr. Arun Singh, Global Chief Economist, Dun & Bradstreet. “Vibrant village programs which include activities such as construction of village infrastructure, housing, tourist centres, road connectivity, provisioning of decentralized renewable energy, direct to home access for Doordarshan and educational channels, and support for livelihood generation is likely to help the sector, going forward. Further, the Ken-Betwa River linking project will prove to be beneficial.”

However, the Budget fell short on tax incentives for personal income tax and housing loans and expansion and extension of home loan interest subsidy. Yet several key measures like capping of long-term capital gains surcharge, scrapping of SEZ Act, simplification of laws, industry status to data centres, land records digitization, and streamlining approval processes, makes this budget investor-friendly.

Propelling India for Next 25 years: The Union Budget 2022-23 is a clear directional statement setting the tone for India@100; it talks about building a digital and green India along with development of infrastructure and rural areas in a blueprint for India’s Amrit Kal of the next 25 years. The growth target of 8-8.5% for the coming year seems ambitious, but achievable, given the state of the economy.

The Prime Minister’s Gati Shakti masterplan—a transformative approach for economic growth and sustainable development is driven by seven engines: roads, railways, airports, ports, mass transport, waterways, and logistics infra, which will pull forward the economy in unison as they will be equally supported by energy transmission, IT communication, bulk water and sewerage, and social infra. The plan, which will focus on economic transformation, seamless multimodal connectivity, and logistics efficiency, is designed to propel India ahead in the next two decades.

Industry Reactions on Budget
Vipula Sharma, Senior Director - Ratings and Head – Infrastructure, Brickwork Ratings
Roads and Highways: The GatiShakti Master Plan for Expressways can be expected to dovetail well with the parallel announcement of the 4 MultiModal Logistics Parks to be developed as PPPs in FY23.

Indeed, the budget seems to take a stronger focus on outcomes in terms of actual national productivity improvement by tying it directly to strategic infrastructure initiatives. The announcement of the Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP) can be expected to complement parallel initiatives in the government’s GatiShakti plans.

Road Construction momentum is expected to be carried forward into FY23, given the announcement of an expansion target of 25,000 km of National Highways for FY23. ₹20,000 crores of additional finance to be raised will enable this accelerated implementation.

Urban Infrastructure: The allocation of ₹48,000 crore under the PMAY scheme indicates that the government is focused on the need for housing for all. The Budget seeks to build on the social infrastructure build-out stance it has taken in earlier budgets, as evidenced by the stated coverage of 5.5 crores of water connections under the Har Ghar, Nal Se Jal scheme over the past two years and aims to build additional homes for rural and urban beneficiaries.

Ramesh Nair, CEO, India & MD, Market Development - Asia, Colliers
The Budget is forward looking and focuses on a long-term plan for the country with digitization, urban development, and sustainability at its core. For the real estate sector, the budget placed an outlay of ₹48,000 crores under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, and the construction of 80 lakh homes will facilitate affordable housing. However, we would have liked if there was more push on the demand side, such as the extension and expansion of the credit-linked subsidy scheme.

The Budget made several announcements to spur growth of the logistics sector in the country. The government repealed about 1,490 union laws in recent years, paving the way for improving ease of doing business. The government also plans to launch ‘Ease of Doing Business 2.0.’ This should include more dynamic aspects and make India a more investment friendly destination.

The Budget announced a few laudable incentives for start-ups. The time extension provided to claim tax benefits will provide a breather for start-ups and encourage more start-ups in India. We look forward to the announcement on the replacement of the Special Economic Zone Act with new legislation. This has the potential to make export-led parks attractive for investments. The new benefits will also trickle down to technology companies who export services and have a positive bearing on commercial office real estate.

Dimitrov Krishnan, President, ICEMA & MD, Volvo CE India
The FM has delivered an investment-oriented budget that will drive infrastructure development with over 35% increase in capex outlay for infrastructure development covering road construction, river linking projects, last mile delivery of drinking water, investment in railways, investments in digital healthcare, affordable housing, and many other initiatives.

The PM Gati Shakti Master Plan for expressways, aimed at faster movement of goods and people, should spur road construction activity, especially with the announcement that the highway network will grow by 25000 kms in 2022-23, allocation of ₹1 lakh crores to states for rural roads and infrastructure development. These measures should help create sustained demand for Construction Equipment industry. We look forward to speedy implementation of the announced measures, that will then regenerate strong demand for Construction Equipment which has seen a slackening pace in the current fiscal year.

Rajan Aiyer, VP & MD, Trimble, South Asia Region
The Budget has opened wide opportunities for the infrastructure and construction industry, with a clear focus on building a modern and world-class infrastructure for India. We welcome the significantly increased allocation to infrastructure capex compared to last year, while the measures to speed up approvals for low-cost housing projects and additional allocation to the PM Awas Yojna will go a long way in delivering housing for all. Finally, we are glad that the government is looking to align the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) with the PM GatiShakti framework, with the larger goal of economic transformation through improved pan-country logistic efficiency.

Sandeep Mathur, Brand Leader, CASE New Holland Construction Equipment
The Union Budget has brought the focus back on Bharat. Building further on India’s infrastructure requirements will have a tremendous effect on achieving sustainable growth for the economy and will have an exceptional positive social impact.

The transformative approach for economic growth in the infrastructure sector driven by seven engines – roads, railways, airports, ports, mass transport, waterways and logistics infrastructure – is a smart move with an eye towards achieving long-term goals. The announcement regarding aligning National Infrastructure Pipeline with Gati Shakti Master Plan will certainly give an edge to the Indian economy, encouraging smooth and seamless urban development in the nation. Additionally, the government’s continuous investment in expanding the national Highway network by 25,000 km in 2022-23 by mobilizing INR 20,000 crore will also be enormously beneficial for the infrastructure sector.

Vivek Bhatia, MD & CEO, thyssenkrupp Industries India
The Budget will re-energize the infrastructure sector, including multi-modal transportations through the PM Gati Shakti. With Capital Expenditure at more than 4% of GDP and a renewed push in incentivizing various sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, health, digital education, and a big move for transition to clean energy, the Budget will drive industrial growth in a big way. The creation of more efficient freight corridors through an additional 25,000 km of roadways, and the launch of a Unified Logistics Interface platform will not only be a major boost for the economy but it will iron out the gaps in both supply and demand.

The renewed thrust on Make in India is expected to generate 6 million jobs, which is important in restructuring the economy with a digital push, going forward. The additional allocation to the PLI scheme will certainly bring in more investments into the economy. Concessions in import duties on raw materials, and export incentives are the right moves to make India a global manufacturing hub.

Manish Bhatnagar, MD, SKF India
The heightened expectations from the Budget 2022 have met with a matching delivery. The Budget is more capital incentive - focusing more on the supply side and growth-oriented, with no adverse tax rollout. We are excited to see announcements under the ‘Battery Swapping policy’, supporting the clean tech in urban mobility space. PM Gatishakti plan of expanding national highways by 25,000 will act as a catalyst in seamless mobility, employment generation, and efficient connectivity across the nation. We welcome FM’s announcement on cutting down of import duties on metals including steel and aluminum. The move will benefit the manufacturing sector to lower input cost and unburden the businesses from hiked steel prices.

Ramani Sastri, CMD, Sterling Developers
Despite the fact that the real estate industry was expecting a number of immediate demand-side pushes for the sector, some significant opportunities were missed. However, the push to infrastructure spending and sops for affordable housing have kept the sector hopeful of positive changes. While affordable housing continued to remain a priority area for the government with few additional reforms, the government could have given further boost to overall real estate which fuels the Indian economy and supports over 250-allied industries.

The real estate sector has started showing signs of recovery after the pandemic disruption, however, it requires careful support from the government in order to sustain the recently achieved growth momentum. There are currently several grey areas when it comes to schemes, taxation, funding, etc where the government should provide a helping hand going forward.

Virendra D. Mhaiskar, CMD, IRB Infrastructure Developers
One of the strongest parts of this Budget is the Government’s commitment in strengthening the country’s infrastructure. The proposal to fund infrastructure through PM Gati Shakti, Public Private Partnerships, etc. will mark the escalation of economic prosperity. Overall, the Budget seems to have given a booster dose to facilitate faster economic growth of the nation; roads is definitely one of the prominent sectors to get the deserved focus through adequate funding.

Vimal Kejriwal, MD & CEO, KEC International
I welcome the forward-looking, capex-led Budget 2022, with a sharp 35% increase in outlay. A strong focus on improving the safety of Indian Railways, faster implementation of metro rail systems, infrastructure status for data centres, along with emphasis on PM GatiShakti with significant allocation towards Jal Jeevan Mission, Affordable Housing, BharatNet and building 100 Cargo Terminals for multimodal logistics facilities augur well.

Further, initiatives such as the use of Surety Bonds as a substitute for bank guarantee, a cap on Surcharge of AOPs/ consortiums at 15% as against 37% earlier and an end-to-end online e-Bill System to enhance transparency are steps in the right direction for EPC contractors.

Kshitish Nadgauda, Senior VP & MD (Asia), Louis Berger International
The Budget has the necessary long-term vision with the horizon established as India@100 and has a clear focus on infrastructure development. With Gati Shakti, involving the seven engines from roads to mass transit, the Budget has the right emphasis on infrastructure to drive rapid and inclusive economic growth.

For the infrastructure industry, the allocations for various infrastructure sectors and projects are welcome and will pave the way for increased efficiency in logistics and supply chains and enhance the competitiveness of the Indian economy. In addition, the Budget is clearly in favor of increased private investment and PPPs. For citizens, the Budget promises safe, convenient, and cost-effective multimodal transportation not only in Tier I but also in Tier II cities and towns. The ambitious 25,000 km expansion of national highways, and announcement of intended investment in light rail and metro lite in Tier II cities and towns and as feeder networks in Tier I cities will rightly increase the share of public transport in urban areas, thereby contributing to sustainable development.

A key aspect of the Budget with its focus on investment in infrastructure, urban and housing development, and river-linking, and transportation projects is that it should drive employment and create thousands of much-needed jobs. Increased employment coupled with the greater efficiency in the movement of people and goods would likely bring down inflation. Overall, it is a positive, promising and job-driven budget that has all the elements to revive the economy and revitalise society.

Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, National Vice Chairman – NAREDCO & MD, Hiranandani Group
As the Budget decodes Kaam, Kisan and Kamai as the focus, the outlays have come out with a ‘budget for the economy’, with sustainability and infrastructure investment as its underlying theme. Rating it at 7/10, the Budget is clearly about complementing macro-growth with micro-all-inclusive welfare, digital economy and fintech, tech-enabled development, energy transition, bolstering investment and climate action – all of which augur well for the nation.

The Industry welcomes much awaited focus to resolve long standing issues of reduction in approval timelines for land and construction. Emphasis laid towards modernisation and reforms in building by-laws, TDR reforms, urban town planning schemes, transit oriented multimodal corridors and transferable development rights. Impetus to urban development policy with enhanced capacity building will lead holistic development of urban cities. With rise in population and career mobility, focus on nurturing new smart tier 2-3 cities will result in a big boost for Real Estate infrastructure with cascading impact on additional job creation. Extension of PMAY scheme till March 2023 along with an allocation of ₹48,000 crores outlay will further enhance affordable housing benefits for 80 lacs new beneficiaries under the middle-class and the economic weaker sections in urban areas.

Single window portal for green clearances is a step to promote ease of doing business in augmenting sustainable development along with special mobility zones for electric vehicles. Granting of infrastructure status to data centres in lieu of impetus to data localization and protect data sovereignty is a shot in the arm. This will enable the data centres industry to avail long and cheap credit financing to become a global data centre hub. Additional impetus on Gati Shakti, inclusive development for last mile connectivity, public investment, capital spending and financing of investments will augment steady economic growth.

Jayakumar Krishnaswamy, MD, Nuvoco Vistas Corp.
The slew of measures announced will provide the necessary thrust for an infrastructure-led economic revival. Announcements like allocation of ₹20,000 crores towards Gati Shakti Yojana, public investments for modern infrastructure, plans for the construction of 25,000 km of national highways, urban development and sustainable living, increased budgetary allocations of ₹48,000 crores under the PM housing schemes, and introduction of modern building by-laws will provide a much-needed impetus for India’s building material industry.

The allocation of ₹44,000 crores under PM Awas Yojna to complete 80 lakh affordable houses in 2022-23 is a positive for the cement industry. Also, the proposed 35% increase in capital expenditure will help revive the economy and rising inflation.

Neeraj Akhoury, CEO India, Holcim, CEO & MD, Ambuja Cements
The major boost to the infrastructure sector will help the economy to recover and grow. The PM GatiShakti framework is a visionary approach to long-term development. The Budget highlights the importance of Sustainable Development and shows India’s seriousness of its Net Zero commitment made recently during the COP26 Summit. Along with the focus on clean mobility and green energy, the proposed measures and reforms for boosting the hydro-power and solar power capabilities of India will help the nation to achieve the targets of 500-gigawatt renewable energy by 2030.

The introduction of Sovereign Green Bonds in public sector projects is the right direction in financing the decarbonizing initiatives. Overall, Budget 2022 can be termed as a progressive policy in enabling India to transition towards a green and digital economy.

J C Sharma, Vice Chairman & MD, SOBHA
We welcome the forward-looking Union Budget 2022 outlining the vision for growth for the next 25 years with a focus on urbanization, infrastructure and sustainability. It is also admirable to note that this Budget provides impetus for growth along key areas: PM GatiShakti; Inclusive Development; Productivity Enhancement and Investment, Sunrise Opportunities, Energy Transition, Climate Action, and Financing of Investments.

When the economy grows at around 8-9% with the kind of focus this Budget has on growth, employment generation, and containing fiscal deficit – they are bound to contribute to the growth of the real estate sector as well. The proposal to complete 80 lakh homes in 2022-23 by allocating ₹48,000 crore under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) is a significant step.

The Budget proposal to form a high-level committee to refine urban development is reflective of the government’s long-term planning towards creating urban centers of excellence which can develop as thriving spaces for sustainable living and offering economic opportunities for our youth and women.

However, we must not negate the challenges that the pandemic has thrown up and still exist at large. Some of the steps like reintroduction of input tax credit in GST, deduction of interest on home loan for the first-time home buyers or at least the interest subsidy should have been increased from ₹2 lakhs to ₹5 lakhs. Granting infrastructure status to the real estate sector, and single window clearance to fast-track approvals would have gone a long way to give the much-needed fillip to the national economy.

Sunil Mathur, MD & CEO, Siemens
The growth-oriented budget with a focus on productivity, climate action, financing investments, and PM Gati Shakti plan, are steps in the right direction, and should positively impact the economy. The increased capex outlay of ₹7.50 lakh crore further demonstrates the intent of the government to create the necessary impetus for the economy.

N Venu, MD & CEO, India & South Asia, Hitachi Energy
The four priority areas in the Budget: PM Gati Shakti, Inclusive Development, Climate Action, and Energy Transition - will steer India toward sustainable development with a strong focus on financial support to MSMEs and expansion of emerging sectors such as solar power, EV infrastructure, railways and data centres.
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