What expert eyes read in the budget

Updated: Jul 06, 2019, 08:13 IST | Team mid-day

The budget has proposed several reform measures to promote rental housing. A model tenancy law will be finalised and circulated to the states

What expert eyes read in the budget
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur. Pic/AFP

Following union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's presentation of the Union Budget on Friday, mid-day spoke to experts from the housing, infrastructure, health and education sectors to understand what they liked and disliked about the Modi 2.0 government's maiden budget.

Real estate and infra

Of infrastructure and affordable housing

The budget has proposed several reform measures to promote rental housing. A model tenancy law will be finalised and circulated to the states. The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) aims to achieve 'housing for all' by 2022. In the second phase of PMAY-G, during 2019-20 to 2021-22, 1.95 crore houses have been proposed to be provided. Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-Urban), over 81 lakh houses have been sanctioned. Also, interest paid on housing loans has been allowed as a deduction to the extent of R2 lakh in self occupied property. In order to provide a further impetus, it has been proposed to allow an additional deduction of up to R1.5 lakh for interest paid on loans borrowed up to March 31, 2020 for purchase of an affordable house valued up to R45 lakh. For infrastructure, the government will provide R24,000 crore by monetizing public infrastructure, through infrastructure investment trusts, real estate investment trusts and the toll-operate-transfer scheme of the National Highways Authority of India. The government will also improve upon restructuring the national highways programme to create a network of highways for better connectivity.

Experts say

Abhishek Lodha, Managing director and CEO, Lodha Group
'The budget is optimistic towards the real estate sector since it will boost infrastructure and connectivity. The government's move on building 1.95 crore affordable houses under the PMAY scheme will be beneficial to home buyers and developers. The tenancy law will ease out the process of renting, which in turn will bring transparency during the agreement. Moreover, RBI will now regulate the housing finance companies, which will lead to efficient regulation of the housing sector'

Shishir Baijal, chairman and MD, Knight Frank India
'The attention to rental housing through creation of a model law is a welcome move and we hope this will pave way for the development of an institutional rental market in the country. The budget has also taken note of some of the key challenges of the real estate market in terms of the ongoing NBFC crisis and the tough residential market. We hope the measures of enhancing bank funding to the NBFC sector and tax incentives around affordable housing will help the cause'

Manju Yagnik, vice chairperson, Nahar Group, vice president NAREDCO
'The decision made by the government to provide public sector enterprises for developments will definitely help solve problems related to land acquisition. Multiple initiatives have been introduced for women that should encourage them to be the next active homebuyers. To encourage NRI investment, the NRI portfolio scheme route is to be merged with foreign portfolio investment route, which will drastically improve the cash flow in the economy and boost the luxury housing sector '

Transport sector 

Encouraging investment

The Finance Minister said that it is estimated that railway infrastructure would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore between 2018-2030. Given that the capital expenditure outlays of Railways are around 1.5 to 1.6 lakh crores per annum, completing even all sanctioned projects would take decades. She added that railways will be encouraged to invest more in suburban railways through Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) structures like Rapid Regional Transport System (RRTS) proposed on the Delhi-Meerut route. Sitharaman further said, "To make railway travel a pleasant and satisfying experience, we will launch a massive programme of railway station modernisation this year”. Transport, petrol diesel cess The transport sector has been allocated an enhanced outlay of R83,000 crore. Budgetary allocation for the ministry last year was Rs 78,626 crore. The Central road and infrastructure cess on petrol and diesel has also been raised by Re 1 per litre. This will give a boost to the development of infrastructure. The main objective of the scheme is to encourage faster adoption of electric vehicles (EV) through upfront incentive on purchase of such vehicles and also by establishing the necessary charging infrastructure for the same.

Experts say

Harsh Mehta, head of regional coordination, Asia Pacific, Bombardier Transportation
'We welcome the government's commitment to improve rail infrastructure with allocation of investments, identifying avenues like PPP for rolling stock and focusing on digitisation'

Bal Malkit Singh, core committee chairman, All India Motor Transport Congress
'The budget is a dampener for the road transport sector. Increase of R1 in diesel cess and levy of 2 per cent TDS on withdrawal of cash of more than R1 crore will further cripple this sector'

Ali Daruwala, spokesperson, All India Petroleum Dealers association
'We welcome the budget and describe the price rise of cess on petrol and diesel as very normal. In the last 10 days, the crude prices have gone up by nearly to USD 6 but the government has withheld the price rise'

Naveen Munjal, managing director, Hero Electric
'We welcome the recommendation to reduce GST on EVs from 12 per cent to 5 per cent. Income tax reduction of up to R1.5 lakh on the interest paid on EV loans is an extremely positive move which will encourage customers to switch to EVs. Reduction in customs duty on lithium-ion cells would help local manufacturers in scaling up the production further reducing overall upfront cost of EVs in India'

Health sector

Certain positives

Swati Deshpande, director (operations), Datar Cancer Genetics ltd
Surprisingly, there was no mention of any benefits and plans for healthcare in the budget! However, certain positives are the proposals to set up a National Research Centre and an annual global investors meet, both of which will help give an impetus and attract research proposals and funding'

Rajiv Nath, founder, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry
'We stress these [initiatives] are vital and strategic to meet the health-for-all national agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and are aligned to the Health Policy 2017 to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable, enable the placing of India among the top five medical device manufacturing hubs worldwide.'

Education sector

Focus on skill training

Discussions have been going on in the education sector over the lack of clear information on the budgetary allocations to different schemes and plans envisaged by the government. However, focus on the issue of employability and introduction of new-age learning topics such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) were among the few points which have been welcomed reactions by those from the education sector.

Experts say

Shaheen Khan, CEO, founder, CEDP Skill Institute
'Increased importance given to skill training, which stressed upon improving the skills of our youth in areas such as big data, robotics, AI is a noteworthy initiative'

Gopal Devanahalli, CEO, MeritTrac services
'Under the Skill India initiative, the finance minister has talked about focusing on new-age skills like AI, Big Data, 3D Printing, etc. This is a welcome move as more jobs will be created in these areas in India and abroad. She has also talked about reforms in the regulatory systems for the higher education sector, which I believe will help in improving the overall quality of research and addressing employability gaps'

Samir Somaiya, president, Somaiya Vidyavihar
'We applaud the FM's vision to see more Indian education institutions in the top 200 of the world. We also appreciate her focus on having India become a hub for international students'

Akhil Shahani, MD, Shahani group
'This is a forward thinking budget for the education sector. The emphasis laid on the allocation of Rs 400 crore for innovation and research will help institutions focus on these areas and build world-class education systems'

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