With the Union Budget 2020 to be announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tomorrow, CW tracks expectations across the construction industry.
Real Estate

With the Union Budget 2020 to be announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tomorrow, CW tracks expectations across the construction industry.

Ranganath NK, Area MD, INDO Region, Grundfos: 
“We are optimistic that this year’s Union Budget will sharply focus on increasing demand for goods and services. The only way to increase demand will be to put more money in the hands of middle and lower income segments. This, coupled with the already lowered corporate taxes, should spur demand. I also think the budget will see adequate allocation of funds for water. The scheme for bringing piped water to all can be achieved only if there is budgetary support for water management and conservation along with building the infrastructure.”

Prakash Chhabria, Executive Chairman, Finolex Industries:
“We look forward for robust policy reforms in the agriculture sector to develop farm production, productivity and farmers income growth from the forth coming Union Budget of 2020. We request the government to form a well-structured and a futuristic budget that will expedite growth of the Indian economy.”

Amit Gossain, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Urban Development & Smart Cities and Managing Director, Kone Elevator India:
“I expect the Union Budget 2020 to address issues in strategic sectors to support growth. It will augur well for the economy to promote and invest in infra that will help in pushing the economic growth. Real estate is one the highest employers in the country and an important driver of growth. The liquidity-hit and stressed real estate sector needs more liquidity support and steps to boost demand. Increase in tax benefits for home buyers and allocation of funds can provide some relief in this direction. The last budget provided a Rs 1.5-lakh tax exemption to affordable houses bought under Rs 45-lakh. This year’s budget is expected to raise the exemption limit to Rs 75 lakh because an individual cannot buy an affordable house under Rs 45 lakh in large metros.
We also expect a fair growth after a bunch of recent interventions, including the slashing of the corporate tax. Overall, the housing sector, which has seen piling up of unsold inventory and half-finished inventory projects hopes that the budget will address issues like single-window clearance and industry status for real estate sector. Also, if more funds are provided to develop smart-cities the growth momentum can be accelerated. Smart cities will play an important role in overall development and ease of living”.

Kamlesh Patel, Chairman and Managing Director, Asian Granito India:
"Tiles and Sanitaryware should be brought in the 12 per cent GST slab from 18 per cent currently as it is no more a luxury item. Making the tiles and sanitaryware more affordable will help the industry to grow faster and thus will help in fulfilling the government vision of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Make in India and Housing for All by 2022.
To boost exports of Indian tiles, it is imperative that the incentive on export of tiles should be reviewed and increased so that Indian exporters remain competitive in the World market and the adverse effect of the anti-dumping duty imposed by the Gulf countries be minimised.
 
Natural gas is one of the cleanest and most efficient fuels and is the major cost component for the tile industry with 18-20 per cent of the total cost. Presently, natural gas is kept out of GST regime and is left subject to different VAT rates of the states. Keeping natural gas outside the ambit of GST is putting the industry using natural gas at a disadvantage and we expect that it should be brought under GST regime at the earliest. 
 
The economy is going through a phase of low GDP growth, Finance Minister should adopt softer interest rates to encourage new investment and expedite Capex cycle aiming at generating more employment opportunities and roll out tax benefits for individual taxpayers so consumption can also get a boost. 
                      
Tiles industry in India is estimated at around Rs 40,000 crore and growing at healthy single-digit employing over 6 lakh people in direct and indirect employment. Over 70 per cent of the Indian ceramic industry production comes from the Morbi and the industry there has gone through a couple of years of demand slack, cost increase due to shifting from coal gasifiers to gas and the heavy anti-dumping duty imposed by Gulf countries recently. GCC countries account for 35-40 per cent of the Rs 12,000 crore export from Morbi. 
 
Indian Ceramic industry has now moved to green and environment complaint industry and will continue to play an important role in the growth engine of the country and aim for global leadership in the industry and success of 'Make in India'."

Suramya Nevatia, CEO, Hind Rectifiers:
“The Indian Railways is one of the key drivers of country’s economy, boosting it through supportive infrastructure and adequate connectivity to handle the increasing traffic volumes will help it grow and thrive. In the Budget 2020 speech by FM, we are expecting increased emphasis on public-private-partnerships. Indian Railways has been vigorously ramping-up its capacity to accelerate accomplishment of objectives such as infrastructure development programme, which will provide more opportunities to the private players to be roped in for various services. Also, it will contribute in setting up of railway stations and operation of technologically advanced trains for better convenience of passengers. The strategic announcements on increased investment in infrastructure will provide further impetus to boost the overall economy. 
In the next five years, the Indian railway market is expected to be the third largest, accounting for 10 per cent of the global market. It  is likely to see an 18 per cent increase in its capital expenditure (capex) for 2020-21, up from Rs. 1.6 trillion lined up for the current financial year. It will not only help in job creation but will also generate growth opportunities for smaller businesses contributing to the Indian Railways.”  

Aditya Vazirani, CEO, Robinsons Global Logistics Solutions:
“Currently, logistics costs amount to 13-14 per cent of the GDP, which is over 2.5 trillion – much higher than the cost in other countries. This is detrimental to the competitiveness of domestic products in the international markets, thereby impacting exports. With an aim to address this, the government has drafted the National Logistics Policy (NLP), which is designed to promote faster and seamless movement of goods across the country, while reducing the transaction costs. In line with this, the National Infrastructure Project (NIP), which is set to develop over 102 Lakh Crore worth of Infra projects in the next 5 years, is also designed to aid in faster and cost-effective logistics solutions. While these are progressive policies, effective and timely implementation of these will be vital to generate the expected results.  

Apart from the above, budgetary policies that can strengthen India’s domestic markets, especially the manufacturing and the transportation sectors, can help boost exports and international trade, thereby strengthening the logistics sector and bring in the foreign exchange. “

Neetish Sarda, Founder, Smartworks:
“In this Union budget, we do expect the government to focus on reducing GST, provide the co-working players with a single-window approval approach and tax benefits to the emerging co-working sector. Also, request the government to provide investment benefits to the investors of the co-working sector. This will lead to an increase in the flow of funds to the co-working sector help them to fulfill their increasing fund requirements. We would also request the government to consider providing unused/underused government buildings to co-working players at a subsidized rate which will help revive the real estate sector. This will also help the co-working sector to progressively invest and provide access to good infrastructure to the enterprise and start-up sector.”

Samir Jasuja, Founder & MD, PropEquity:
“The problem with the stalled projects cannot just be solved by providing finances, so there is a need for a body to be setup that facilitates coordination with all the stake holders i.e. government agencies, developers, lenders and costumers for ensuring faster execution of stalled projects. This will restore confidence in the entire ecosystem and will go a long way in reviving the real estate sector. Furthermore, the deductions being claimed on loan interest for housing should be increased from Rs. 1.5 Lakhs to a much higher amount. Lastly, the rental received in residential properties should be allowed to be offset against the interest on housing loans.” 

Ashwin Reddy, Managing Director, Aparna Enterprises:
“The budget needs to allocate more funds across sectors that impact the overall infrastructural development of the country. It needs to focus on improving ease of doing business. Reforms with regard to taxes, solutions to sail through the NBFC crisis and introducing single window clearance will be crucial. Encouraging the creation of alternative channels for funding, as NBFC's currently are not in a position to take further exposures is also crucial.  It would also be ideal if the government can rationalize GST rates in the sector. GST rates for few essential raw materials needs to be reduced to 18 per cent from the current 28 per cent bracket. Even products like petroleum and natural gas need to brought under unified GST, instead of VAT. This will bring more uniformity in the sector.  Additionally, the union budget should look at increasing incentives for affordable housing, especially with regard to income tax benefits for builders under section 80.  To make home buying more conducive, the government should reduce personal taxes for higher income brackets, as it will help in boosting the purchasing power of consumers”

Anshuman Magazine, Chairman & CEO - India, South East Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE:
“The first ever budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in 2019 provided a strong ground for the country to move towards its ambitious goal of a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025. It also struck a fine balance between ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and ‘Ease of Living’ in the country. This was followed up by measures related to corporate tax, financing options for housing project and a massive allocation of Rs 102 lakh crore for infrastructure projects. The policy level intentions of the government are positive and are aimed towards addressing the key issues faced by the Indian economy. This makes the implementation of all these projects even more important and we are hopeful that the Budget 2020 will pave the way for reviving the economy. 
The massive allocation for infrastructure projects was a major boost for the economy and its timely implementation will go a long way in propelling GDP and result in an improvement in connectivity and logistics. While the government has taken measures during the year to address the liquidity challenge by NBFC’s and banks, it is imperative that more concrete steps are taken in the direction of a fiscal consolidation path. There is a need to ensure better transmission of the repo rate cuts – as the same were undertaken to enhance credit growth in the market. While real estate has attracted investment over USD 6 billion in 2019, however the government should take more steps to ease and widen domestic/international fund flow, fasten approvals/ clearances, provide incentives to aid use of technology to allow faster construction and launch some skill development programmes specifically aimed towards RE- which is the second largest employer in the country. Measures to streamline operations, funding, skill and timelines will go a long way in the development of a stable and mature real estate and infrastructure sector in the country.”

Sumit Padmakar Joshi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Signify Innovations India (previously known as Philips Lighting):
“We are hopeful that the government will continue its focus on both urban and rural development and improving infrastructure such as highways, roads and transportation. Budget 2020 should also aim at expanding the number of smart cities in our country and leveraging connected technologies such as smart street lighting that can make these cities safer, energy efficient and more livable for its citizens. We also hope that the government will work on stricter enforcement of compliance regulations and safety norms against illegal lighting products that put customer safety to risk. Furthermore, reducing the GST rates for LED lighting products will enable a wider penetration of LED products, especially in the rural areas, which in turn will also help reduce the electricity consumption for our country.”

Nikunj Ghodawat, Chief Financial Officer, CleanMax:
“India has continued its solar and wind energy journey by adding around 11 GW capacity in 2019. This growth can be further enhanced, by addressing key barriers in the upcoming budget.

Renewable, like any other infrastructure business, is capital-intensive and availability of funds at competitive price is an important ingredient for growth. While the RBI has brought down the repo rates periodically, it hasn’t been translated to the banks passing on the benefit to the end customer. Add to this, the tight lending environment on liquidity front - there are a handful of financial institutions doing fresh project finance. This needs to change soon to uplift investment and confidence in the industry. Additionally the removal of capping in the priority-sector lending limit for rooftop solar projects will ensure higher credit financing and give a much needed boost to the sector.

The Government should also focus on implementing the amendments in the Electricity Act of 2003 with a focus on accelerating open access policies, privatisation of the DISCOMs and separating content & carriage, to address many of the challenges and inefficiencies prevalent within the power distribution sector. This will eventually reduce the energy cost burden on the end consumer and improve the financial health of the DISCOMs.  

Further, a comprehensive Credit Guarantee Mechanism promoted by the Government or perhaps, a multilateral agency for MSMEs with a credit rating below 'A', would be a welcome step. This would throw open the rooftop solar market to a multitude of small businesses, creating a huge market and would also bring down electricity costs for these companies.”   

Rajesh Mehra, Director & Promoter, Jaquar Group:
“Easing liquidity will be the primary expectation for the sector from the Union Budget 2020-21. Initiatives from the government that act as consumption boosters for the affordable segment like rebates on housing interest loans, would greatly help put back the power into the hands of the consumers. Alternative investment funds for stressed residential projects, and GST recalibration on construction raw materials will reduce the price burden passed on to home buyers – especially in the Tier 3 and 4 markets and boost construction in those markets. For the lighting segment too – incentivising consumption for LED lighting would pave the way for energy conservation overall.”

Jatin Chokshi, Chief Investment Officer, Allcargo Logistics:
“As global geopolitical headwinds pose downside risks to export earnings and inflation-adjusted growth pegged at 5 per cent, the Indian economy has entered a slowdown mode. The gloomy sentiment has been compounded by declining consumer demand and reduced private sector investment. The FM will need to initiate strong structural changes to achieve inclusive economic development and steer the economy on a sustained growth trajectory. Enhancing the competitiveness of India’s manufacturing sector will increase its share in GDP and facilitate India’s integration with global value chains. The US-China trade war is a golden opportunity for India to expand its global trade footprint and facilitate companies from both countries to set up huge production bases in the country which will spur manufacturing sector momentum and invigorate investment climate. The ease of doing business should remain central to optimizing the competencies of Indian companies through the creation of an investor-friendly regulatory environment, single-window clearances for businesses and the removal of tax roadblocks. Not becoming another policy document, the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) mechanism should aid in the speedy execution of mega infra projects and ensure there are no time and cost overruns. There should not be any inordinate delay in long-pending projects like the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC). The implementation of the National Logistics Policy will create a single-point digital platform for all supply chain stakeholders and facilitate cooperation rather than unhealthy competition among them. The FM will steadfastly need to pursue the path of economic reforms and ensure that the execution of infrastructure projects is not gridlocked to achieve the vision of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024.”  

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