Dr Shailendra Chouksey, President, Cement Manufacturers Association (CMA)
“The increase in the outlay on rural infrastructure is one positive feature. However, there were more expectations in terms of encouragement or need for incentivising the house building activity. ‘Housing for All’ is already a focus area of the government. It has already done 5.1 million homes in rural India. In 2018-19 too, it expects this 5.1 million. But I am not seeing a growth or traction in the Budget outlay. That’s a bit of a disappointment. Another thing that is missing is the need to give a fillip to the real estate sector, which has been lying dormant for almost three years now. It was also one of the worst affected sectors after demonetisation. We do not find anything in the Budget to help revive it. Apart from that, the Budget has obviously been made keeping the general elections in mind. Although fairly populist, it is good for the world’s largest healthcare programme that this government has announced. It is something that everyone would welcome as a great move. I do not see any major fillip of growth in the cement sector. The only area where one sees some traction is ‘Housing for All’, but that is low-ticket in terms of cement consumption. At the moment, the infrastructure sector is there to sustain the cement industry, to even help it register 2-3 per cent growth. I am not expecting any major change in this growth in cement consumption to the much-desired level of 7-8 per cent.”
Ujjwal Batria, Managing Director & Country CEO, Nuvoco Vistas Corp (formerly Lafarge India)
"The focus of the Union Budget 2018-2019 has been to boost investments in rural development, education, healthcare and social sectors. With sizeable allocations to the rail and road sectors; it clearly recognizes the infrastructure sector as a growth driver.
Revisions in MSP, emphasis on rural MSME credit, and similar initiatives should lead to a significant improvement in rural incomes. A push in rural development, road and rail sectors, affordable housing and smart cities will all help the cement industry; as an increase in rural spending power should translate into more housing.
With an increased GDP, which facilitates connecting and integrating the country with a network of roads, airports, railways, ports, and inland waterways; the infrastructure sector should see a growth in demand. The focus on roads and rails will also positively impact consumption of cement and concrete. A growth of 7-8 per cent by the third quarter of the next fiscal is something that the cement industry would eagerly await."
Ravi Kirpalani, CEO, thyssenkrupp India
“Emphasis is on infrastructure development and electrification of rural India apart from modernisation of railways. A stronger push has also been given to urban mobility by focusing on improving access facilities for passenger convenience in places with high urban density like railway stations and airports. The railways have received a major thrust from the government as 600 stations have been identified for upgradation by the railways. All the railway stations with more than 25,000 footfalls will have escalators. Such upgrades will undoubtedly help move people faster at railway stations and make the entire travelling experience more convenient. The proposal to enhance airport handling capacity five-times to one billion trips and the allocation of Rs. 2.04 lakh crore for the development of the 99 identified smart cities will also catalyse the growth plans of the country. We, at thyssenkrupp, are looking forward at being an active partner.”