Union Budget 2014-15
Unearthing the country's great growth story got buried beneath the debris of surmounting scams and scandals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Central Government's maiden budget has initiated multi-pronged strategies mainly focusing on building infrastructure, accelerating the pace of manufacturing and job generation so that the economy regains its pristine growth glory. To achieve the laid down targets, the government has set aside a staggering sum worth Rs. 37,800cr for building roads, highways and bridges and has also earmarked Rs. 500cr to prepare road map for expressways along the country's industrial corridors and for the development of new airports in tier I and II cities. In the budget proposals, the government has committed 8,500 km of highways in the current fiscal thereby stretching it three times more than the best achieved in any year to date. The funds allocated will also allow awarding of a larger number of projects on an engineering-procurement-construction basis; this route has more takers now than those on a build-operate-transfer model and bidding could thus be more successful. In order to steer clear the stalled infra projects, the budget offered twin proposals that can become a game changer. Firstly, it allows banks to raise long-term funding without the need to set aside statutory requirements. This can bring down interest rates for infrastructure companies, in turn freeing cash flows, reducing project costs, and therefore revive bidding for new projects. Secondly, Infrastructure Investment Trusts akin to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) is more ambitious as REIT pools money from various investors and makes equity investments in commercial projects, which generate rent. These incomes are then paid out as dividends to investors. In the budget the government has also made provision to allow developers to sell equity stake in projects where they are generating revenues — tolls on roads, incomes from ports and airports, rentals from multi-level car parks and so on. Developers may also find it easier to sell stake to a trust which diffuses its risk by investing in multiple projects than a single private-equity investor.

In addition, in the budget proposals the government has also made a provision of Rs. 7,060cr to be invested on building modern infrastructure to improve the living conditions of people living in the upcoming smart cities and in and around the satellite areas of existing cities and also on the creation of new mid sized townships. To boost investment in these cities the government has liberalized FDI and PPP norms. In its entirety the PPP model will be put to use to upgrade infrastructure in about 500 urban areas across the country. In order to decongest urban roads the budget also made provisions for the introduction of new metro projects in cities housing a population of over 200 million and funds worth Rs. 100cr have been sanctioned for the Lucknow and Ahmedabad metro projects. As per budget proposals, as many as 16 port projects are set to be awarded this fiscal. Boosting power generation across the country, the government has made it crystal clear that players can take 10 years tax holiday if they start generating, distributing or transmitting energy by March 2017 and big concessions have also been announced to the clean energy generation segments under which the solar industry will gain from the decision to invest Rs. 500cr on ultra mega solar power projects, industry will also be entitled to get benefits from Rs. 100cr allocated for solar plants along canals and Rs. 400cr for solar irrigation pumps. That apart, the government has also planned green energy corridor and a slew of indirect tax concessions have been announced for solar and wind energy equipment to make clean energy more affordable. In the energy sector, the government plans to expand city gas distribution by building a national gas grid whereby PPP would be used to build 15,000 km of new pipelines network.

Industry's reactions on Budget :

Kamal Bali, Managing Director, Volvo India

"The Indian Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister this morning in Parliament is both progressive & fiscally prudent. It addresses a lot of concerns of many sectors, with focus on reviving economic activity & job creation.

The provisions such as investment allowance, push on infrastructure & manufacturing sectors, increase in FDI in certain sectors, deepening the debt market & advance ruling on transfer pricing, are some of the positive moves that will encourage investment and a regime of predictability on taxation.

Also, of particular significance is the announcement with regard to the mining sector, which has been languishing in the recent past. The planned changes in the MMDR Act will help encourage investment & promote sustainable mining practices.

However, what is a disappointment is the lack of correction in the inverted excise duty structure in the Commercial vehicle sector. The mismatch between the input and the output rates of excise duty has led to huge accumulations of credit in the system, which has had a crippling effect on the cash flows of manufacturers. In the twin contexts of the need to bring state-of-the-art automotive technology into India and the much needed socio-economic imperative of providing impetus to manufacturing in India, this inverted duty structure is becoming a big deterrent. This is making manufacturing of high technology products in India uncompetitive, which will indirectly also encourage the undesirable imports of fully built vehicles. We do hope that the Government will in the near future address this pressing issue".

Anand Sundaresan, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, SCHWING Stetter

"Investment in NHAI Projects, Port Connectivity, Smart City Development, North East Road Development Project and the 16 new Port Projects & port connectivity, are some of the initiatives which will definitely create market for the construction equipment industry. This was something which we were eagerly waiting for quite some time.

We only hope that these projects are implemented quickly so that the construction equipment industry will be benefitted fast. The budget clearly indicates governments intention towards policy reforms towards stabilising the economy and boost investment. We had expected that the retrospective amendment issued during the last budget will be rolled back, whereas again a committee has been appointed to look into this. We hope that this committee will put an end to this problem quickly to boost investor sentiments. There are many other issues which we expected will be brought out in this budget. We have to look at the fine prints. Then we will have more clarity on these issues."

V.G.Sakthi Kumar, Whole-time Director, SCHWING Stetter Sales & Services Private Limited

"The First Budget of the New Government looks very positive with many new Projects in Infrastructure NHAI, Power (Conventional & Non-Conventional), Housing, Ports & Airports, Commitments for supplies to Thermal Plant and extension Tax Holiday to Power Companies will encourage more investments in this area. Allowing banks to decide on Long-term Financing in Infrastructure Projects is a welcome move which will benefit companies in Infrastructure area. Tax exemption of Housing Loan Interest increase, will be a boost for Housing Projects is also very positive. Rural Infrastructure & Smart Cities, creating authority for New Industrial Corridors and announcing 20 New Industrial Clusters, Textile Parks and various measures like reviving SEZs will help Manufacturing. Encouraging PPP and reviving Mining will all drive the growth of Infrastructure thereby Machinery used for Infrastructure development."

Sanjay Sethi, Head Infrastructure, Kotak Investment Banking

"The budge is good for infrastructure as it touches on all aspects that investors wanted to hear across sectors like coal, power, roads, airports and ports, though it was a tad short on specifics, he insisted."

Neel Ratan, Executive Director, Government and Public Sector, PwC India

"With the urban migration trend, the only way for us to sustain as a society is to invest in new cities. These new cities need to focus on leveraging technology to improve service delivery, quality of life and at the same time optimise the usage of resources. Although actual creation of 100 new cities will require large financial outlays, however the current budget allocation is a step in the right direction.

This announcement will definitely excite the stakeholders including urban planners, city administrators and industry to come together and create sustainable models for new cities. It is essential to focus on the right governance and regulatory frameworks to ensure speedy execution and benefits realisation. Since smart city concept, on the whole, is a nascent development hence it will be prudent for the stakeholders to take insights from the planners of the few smart city initiatives like GIFT, DMIC and Naya Raipur. Conceptualising and developing new cities is a time taking process therefore this announcement will give the required thrust to fast track the planning of new cities.

It has been witnessed during the recent past that technology companies have become wary of the government contracts, which has led to their reduced participation. To reinforce the level of confidence in the investor community, it is pertinent for the government to work out measures which help in "Ease of doing business" with government."

Anshuman Magazine, Chairman and Managing Director of CBRE South Asia Pvt. Ltd.

The biggest announcement for the real estate sector was that SEBI was being directed to introduce REITs in India. We expect the entry of this much-awaited investment instrument to provide alternative funding channels to the realty sector. Going forward, it will also act as a key enabler for capital markets in the country, and provide investors with exit options. I perceive this announcement as the single most consequential reform witnessed in the sector in recent times.

Allowing FDI in smaller projects of 20,000 sq. m. instead of 50,000 sq. m. by companies with capitalization of US$5 million instead of US$10 million will encourage more FDI, including in tier-II and III cities.

Allocating Rs. 4,000cr for providing cheaper loans for low cost housing to support the ‘housing for all by 2022' scheme is a positive move.

Allocation of Rs. 7,060cr to smart cities; announcement of 20 industrial clusters; Rs. 5,000cr for warehousing in rural areas; the development of more airports at tier-I and II cities; and including slum development in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities are all encouraging."

Raising FDI in the insurance sector to 49% will also bring in funds in the long-term to the infrastructure and real estate industry.

The deduction of interest on the housing loan from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh is disappointing as this will have no impact in encouraging purchase of homes, this exemption should have gone up to Rs. 5 lakh instead.

Although the statement on the revival of SEZ was encouraging, the demand for removal of MAT and DDT was not mentioned.

Overall, this was a good budget and will stimulate growth in the real estate and infrastructure sector. However, the real impact on the economy will be upon investing all the funds allocated in the budget through project implementations, with a sense of urgency for which our country does not have a good track record.

Pradeep Jain, Chairman – Parsvnath Developers

"We hail the maiden budget speech by Hon Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitly, this clearly suggests the development flank taken by the NDA govt. Real Estate sector for long time was ignored with no significant proposals made to spur growth in this sector. For the first time after the slowdown the Union Budget 2014 gives a boost to the real estate sector. We thank Hon'ble Minister for paying attention through legislations like REIT, promoting affordable housing and allocating over USD 50,000cr towards urban infrastructure.

The government's emphasis on PPP shows its commitment towards a collective growth. Allocation of Rs 7,060cr to develop 100 smart cities is certainly going to promote the sector on global front. Funding had always been a concern for us as developers. Foreign investors were also shying away due to ambiguity in rules. With implementation of REITs and relaxation in FDI norms, the problem of fund crunch will get mitigated. Cutting down the total built-up area requirement to 20,000 mn sq ft, minimum lock up period to 3 years and a minimum investment of $5 million is indeed a welcome move. The government has also shown its willingness to boost rural housing scheme and low cost housing for urban poor and EWS, with an allocation of Rs 8000cr and Rs 4000cr respectively. Introducing the tax rebate under 80C, an increase by Rs. 50,000 to Rs.1.5 lakhs and housing interest deduction limit extension from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakhs will help empower the middle class by giving them more purchasing power.

Though we have moved ahead in the right direction, a lot more has to be done, primarily awarding an infrastructure status to the real estate sector."

Aman Agarwal, Director – K V Developers:

"We are extremely delighted with budget. Real estate has finally got its long pending attention in the Union Budget. We sincerely applaud the decisions made to boost this sector. The relaxation of norms under FDI and implementation of REITs are certainly going to provide a cheaper alternative to costlier loans by banks. We were expecting this from the Finance Minister. Allocation of Rs 8000cr for rural housing and Rs 4000cr for urban housing for poor and EWS are in line with the government's ambition of housing for all by 2022.

Allocation of another fund of Rs 7,060cr to develop smart cities also shows government's commitment for a collective growth. The government has also emphasised on involvement of private corporate in the development measures. This is indeed a welcome move and will allow private companies play a measure role in government's mission 2022.

We, however, were expecting to get an infrastructure status in the budget. This would have allowed the sector reap some more benefits in terms of funding. But, this remains unfulfilled. Overall, this is a welcome budget by the Union Government and certainly promises Acchhe Din ahead."

Anil Chaudhry, Country President and Managing Director, Schneider Electric India

"Smart City lies at the heart of the Union Budget of the new government. The allocations and the measures announced now give shape to Mr. Narendra Modi's initial idea of 100 smart cities. The government has made an allocation of Rs 7060cr - an enabling factor that will boost the planning and development of the smart cities. And to complement it, the government has incisively identified 7 corridors. Overall, these are very promising preamble to the realization of the smart city concept. It now needs to be seen how the details are worked out by the government.

The budget has adequately focused on energy in sync with the new government's vision, and announced various measures that will ensure sustained growth for the sectors. The reeling power sector will find some respite, if the measures announced in the budget are implemented properly. There are measures accounted to strengthen the entire power value chain. From Rs 100cr allocation for super critical ultra modern thermal power to the rationalization of coal linkages will facilitate the struggling power producers and put the stranded power plants on a rebound course. The government's promise to resolve the existing deadlocks in coal sector and provide fuel to all projects coming up before March 2015 will be a massive thrust to get the flailing sector on course to meet the government's 12th Plan target of 88,000 MW.

The budget has adequately focused on the solar energy sector. Rs 500cr allocation for ultra-modern solar power projects will give the deserving boost to solar companies to increase generation capacity which is currently a mere 1 % of India's total energy production. Rs 100cr for the development of 1 MW solar parks on the banks of canals and Rs 400cr for setting up solar power driven pump sets are some unique measures introduced that will further drive utilization of solar energy and reduce our dependency on conventional energy resources. Implementation of the Green Energy Corridor Project will be a great move to integrate channels for evacuation of solar power – a formidable challenge for generating companies at the moment. The removal of customs and excise duties on solar equipment on the other hand will incentivize indigenous companies to increase domestic manufacturing and reduce reliance on import. These are most welcoming moves."

Vipin Sondhi, MD & CEO, JCB India Ltd, India's largest Construction Equipment Manufacturer:-

"Given that this government has been in office for less than 2 months, no big bang reforms were anticipated. The Union Government recognizing the need for revival of investment cycle had already extended the Excise Duty Cut on Capital Goods for another 6 months in June, 2014 itself. The budget's focus on infrastructure sector, encouraging banks to lend long term funds to infrastructure sector, extending the benefit of investment allowance to Small and Medium Enterprises and emphasis on manufacturing growth should help revive the capital goods sector. While PPP in relation to many new projects has been announced, however, a roadmap for execution of existing held up projects could have helped turn things quickly."

A.M.Muralidharan – President, Volvo Construction

Considering we have a new government, expectations from the Union Budget 2014-15 were quite high specially with regards to segments like infrastructure but there were no major infrastructure policies announced to kick start like land acquisition. However the government's plan to allocate Rs.2,037cr to clean up Ganga; Rs. 50,000 cr for urban infra projects and announcement of metro projects in cities with 20 lakh people is very encouraging for construction equipment manufacturers. Further, the government's plan to allocate Rs. 14,389 cr for rural road development, Rs. 8,000 cr for rural housing scheme and Rs. 7,060 cr towards development of 100 smart cities is a boost to the infrastructure segment. It will also be allocating Rs.37,850 cr for road building plan via NHAI and will soon initiate work on selective highways along with corridors. The government's push for PPPs whether in roads or rails will help in mobilizing the massive investment that is required for infrastructure development. This will also encourage more and more projects to be developed on PPP model. Rs. 100cr set aside for Metro scheme in Ahmedabad and Lucknow is a good decision in this regard. The government's move to break the impasse in mining iron ore, I believe, is one of the high points of the budget since mining companies will look at venturing into newer projects and upwards revision of royalty would be a bonanza for states like Odisha. The government also has plans to set up 16 new ports for which Rs. 11,000cr has been allocated. We were expecting the GST model to be given a nod but this did not happen since the government is still in consultation with different states.

This would have been a huge boost for construction equipment manufacturers as it will reduce taxes on sales of equipment between states. Overall, I would have liked to see lots more initiatives from the government. Having said so, I am looking forward to some positive developments in the construction equipment manufacturers industry.

Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, ElectroMech Material Handling Systems

"The thrust on setting up newer industrial clusters is a step in the right direction. The government has also promised to review all the retrospective tax imposition cases. This coupled with overall increase in investments in highways and tax holidays for power plants will definitely contribute in kick starting the capex cycle in various industries."

David Walker, Executive Director SARE Homes

The new government has provided a balanced, insightful budget which clearly lays out a road map for development. The commitment to a stable and investor friendly tax regime, resolving disputes and blocked projects and various measures to simplify rules and regulations will give great confidence to investors and providers of capital, which is essential for India to achieve high growth. For the real estate sector, the increase in interest tax deductibility on home loans and that increase in limits for the priority lending are welcomed as it reduces the cost of finance. The introduction of REITs is also welcomed as it eliminates duplication of taxation and so will lower cost of finance. This will help developers attract long-term funds from foreign investor community.

Kamal Taneja, Managing Director TDI Infracorp Ltd

"This is a natural budget with positive and focused approach towards growth. Proposal of the revised housing loan rebate hiked from 1.5 to 2 lac, is a good step and it clearly indicates the government's positive intention towards housing sector. Personal tax exemption limit raised to Rs 2.5 lakh from current Rs 2 lakh for taxpayers below 60 years is also a welcome move although it is not as good as expected. Provision of 8000 Cr for national housing banking programme and an outlay of Rs. 7000cr for the Prime Minister's vision of 100 smart cities will boost infrastructure and real-estate sector."

"We also welcome 4P India to boost infrastructure growth and provide support to mainstreaming Infrastructure development."

Sumit Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, CommonFloor.com

Amidst several speculations and high expectations, finally the maiden budget of Modi government was unveiled. Infrastructure development being the forefront of the new government's agenda in order to propel economic growth found a place in the budget.

Ambitious projects such as Lucknow metro, National Industrial corridor, allotment for 16 new port projects and SEZs will significantly boost the sector. Emphasis on PPP shows the government's commitment towards a collective growth. Allocation of Rs 7,060cr to develop 100 smart cities is certainly going to promote the sector on global front.

Interestingly, initiatives that had helped Gujarat climb the growth ladder seem to have been replicated in the Union budget. Riverfront development is just one example. Allocation of Rs 8000cr for rural housing and Rs 4000cr for urban housing for poor and EWS will support the PM's ambition of Housing for all by 2022. Further, the decision to give necessary incentives for real estate investment trusts (REITs) is also much appreciated. Though, it would be given a tax pass-through status to avoid double taxation, it lacks clarity on whether DDT or capital gains on transfer of assets to REITs are exempt.

The reduction in built up area from 50000 sq mtr to 20,000 sq. mtr, and minimum capitalization from 10 million to 5 million will spur a lot of foreign money into Indian real estate sector, which in turn will increase the avenues for growth. And with raised housing loan rebate from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh, home buyers got a reason to celebrate too.

All this together will increase a lot of demand in the real estate sector. People who have been patiently waiting on the fence might finally take an entry into the market.

Like every year, the hope to get an industry status has been quashed once again. All and all, the budget has been a mixed bag for realty sector. With these measures, we certainly hope to see some "achhe din" ahead for the realty sector.

M Murali, Managing Director, Shriram Properties

Retaining the fiscal deficit target around 4.1 % of the GDP, the budget decisions reflect that they are bold and against mindless populism.

Commitment to provide Housing for all by 2022 augurs well and is the most welcome step for citizens and the real estate industry. FDI liberalization/ relaxations are a positive step and will go a long way. So also, incentivizing REITs and granting pass through status for taxation is an excellent step for successful implementation of REITS in India.

Raising the income tax exemption limit and tax exemption on home loans from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh will be a breather for home buyers in the present inflationary conditions . So also increase in investment limit under Sec 80C from Rs. 1 to Rs. 1.5 lakh.

Finance Minister's assurance to revive SEZ , allocation of 7060cr for 100 smart cities, planning metro cities with population of over 20 lacs and the budget focusing on urban infra structure revive the hope. Yet, there are several other long awaited requests from Real estate developers like industry status for real estates, encouragements in terms of tax sops and land allocation for taking up affordable housing projects, governance issues etc.

The real estate sector as a whole today has been witnessing multiple challenges like huge increase in input costs, cost escalation , tepid demand , rising interest rates, liquidity issues, in addition to governance issues. I request Finance Minister and Prime minister to revisit the requests from real estate industry and further revitalize the industry which contributes in a big way to the economy through supplementary budgetary measures.

Manju Yagnik, Vice Chairperson, Nahar Group

We welcome the budget presented by the honorable Finance Minister. From real estate point of view, we feel it is a mixed budget. Allocation of funds for creating housing stock through development of new cities, national housing program, low cost housing through National housing bank is sure to create massive opportunities for construction across the country. Introduction of Real Estate Investment Trust is another decision to welcome as this will safeguard the interest of the investors and help in creating transparency in real estate transactions. The limit of rebate on interest on Housing loans has been increased to Rs 2 Lakh from Rs 1.5 Lakh which is also one of the positive aspects of the budget.

While, the above announcements are sure to bring in some positivity in the sector, the industry was expecting more than this from the budget. Important long pending decisions such as infrastructure status to the real estate sector and providing for single window clearance scheme were some of the most awaited announcements. However, silence on these facts has been a disappointment.

Shailesh Puranik, Managing Director, Puranik Builders Pvt. Ltd

"We welcome the budget presented by the Finance Minister today. The overall budget from the real estate point of view is positive. We see attempt being made to solve the issue of lack of housing stock in the country by allocating funds in the National Housing Banking Program. This will create housing stock which is a positive move. The reduction in built up area from 50,000 square metre to 20,000 sq. metre for projects and reduction in investment limit from $10 million to $5 million, is a positive move towards development in real estate sector. The budget also provides for creation of smart cities which will create immense construction opportunities, thereby increasing the volume of construction in the sector. Another decision of introducing REIT is commendable as it would ensure that the interest of investors as well as developers is safeguarded as they invest in real estate. Slum development will be recognized as CSR. This move will encourage developers to fulfill the CSR objectives while they create housing for the poor. For home buyers, increase in the limit of housing loan interest from Rs. 1.5lakh to 2lakh will certainly be of help.

While these steps have been taken with a long term solution for housing and real estate sector, there were certain long pending decisions such as giving "Industry Status" to the real estate sector and "single window clearance" system where the government has failed to talk. These decisions would have made a greater impact on the real estate sector."

R.K. Arora, CMD, Supertech Ltd

While presenting the Union Budget, the Finance Minster has tried to maintain the balance and aim to bring fiscal deficit low to 3.6 for FY15-16 and retain it to 4.1% for current FY14. An incentive for affordable housing loans of Rs 4000cr was announced for urban poor and weaker sections of society through National Housing Bank (NHB), which will certainly set momentum in real estate activities. Also, for the aim to bring 100 new smart cities a budget of Rs 7060crore was allocated, which will provide opportunity to developers to start setting up projects in new locations where land is available at reasonable costs.

As a special incentive, introduction to REITS will resolve issues of taxation, long term financing and liquidity for infra project. The opening routes for FDI will bring new investment opportunities, which is a welcome step in the real estate market.

The proposed increase in personal income tax exemption from the present Rs. 2,00,000/- to Rs. 2,50,000/- and investment limit U/s 83 from Rs. 1,00,000/- to 1,50,000/- and the exemption for Housing Loan Interest from Rs. 1,50,000/- to Rs. 2,00,000/- will provide relief in tax liability to middle income group which will translate into demand in real estate properties. Further, the proposal to provide investment allowance to small scale industry will help set up many small scale units all of which will improve the employment market and bring more money in markets.

Overall it is a good budget for real estate sector although its demands to grant infrastructure status and Income Tax exemption under Sec. 80 IB to promote real estate have not been directly addressed.

Nimesh Bhandari, Co- Founder & Director, Realtycompass.com

The budget will have a very positive impact on the real estate investor sentiment. Creation of smart cities would mean that new micro-markets would emerge near the main cities creating investor wealth in those cities. Also incentivizing REITS would channel additional fund into the real estate sector and will create a new breed of investors. From an end home buyer perspective also the budget is very favorable as housing would become cheaper and affordable. Since fund availability to infrastructure sector has been made easier, and there is also a budget allocated for low cost housing, it will reduce the total ownership cost of the home buyer. Apart from this, the budget also aims to have easy flow of FDI for small real estate developers, which would increase competition and hence benefit consumers in terms of better quality product and reduced prices.

Tulsi Tanti, CMD, Suzlon

  • The budget promotes manufacturing led growth, infrastructure and clean energy. This is a growth oriented and futuristic budget.
  • The big shift in policy initiatives will revive and promote manufacturing thereby paving the way for 7% growth.
  • Key announcements on investments in physical infrastructure development, direct allowances for new investment in Plant & Machinery, FDI, GST implementation and long term financing options are all likely to boost manufacturing.
  • Extending 10 yr tax holiday for power companies by 31st March, 2017, provides much required predictability for investors investing in power projects. The target of the new government to provide 24/7 uninterrupted power supply to all homes augurs well for the growth of energy sector in India.
  • The budget proposal to increase clean energy cess from Rs.50 per ton to Rs.100 per ton for financing and promoting will indeed be a major boost for wind energy in particular. The Clean Energy Fund will now be doubled annually from 4000 cr.
  • Investment allowance along with continuation of additional depreciation (Total -60%) is also likely to benefit SMEs which would like to invest in the wind sector.
  • The FM provided much awaited relief in the form of exempting special additional duty of 4% on parts and materials required for the manufacturing of wind operated generators.
  • Early execution of the Green Energy Corridor Project is also likely to act as catalyst in evacuation of power from wind.
All these measures are likely to boost investment in the Wind energy sector which is likely to grow by 50% in 2014-15.

Mahendra Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Gati Ltd

"The Finance Minister has set the tone for an aggressive and sustained growth path by announcing a progressive Union Budget. Being the lifeline of the economy, logistic companies expected a set of reforms and thrust across related sectors of the economy and the Finance Minister didn't disappoint.

"The proposed investment of Rs 5,000cr in warehousing, a clear focus on implementing GST by the end of this fiscal will provide the much needed impetus to the logistic industry. The proposed investment of Rs 37,800cr into NHAI and State roads and a specific focus on development of select expressways in parallel to the development of industrial corridors will improve overall infrastructure, connectivity and lend efficiencies to supply chain. A commitment of Rs 500cr for Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects and development of Green Energy Corridor Project will encourage further investments in the renewable energy sector.

"Setting aside a corpus of Rs 10,000cr of private capital to aid startup companies, promises the creation of employment opportunities that in turn will act as a catalyst for the growth of the overall economy and improve per capita income. Allowing manufacturing units to sell their products online is a positive move for the e-Commerce business that can now reap the benefits that lie beyond a B2B and marketplace model."

Mike Holland, Chief Executive Office, Embassy Office Parks

At Embassy group, we are very pleased with the measures taken by the Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitly for reviving the Real Estate sector. It is absolutely appropriate that the government has taken up measures on the two fronts (FDI and REIT taxation provisions) which should both have a much needed positive medium term impact on the sector. The government intends to provide necessary incentives for the introduction of real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the country and will also enable REITs with a tax pass-through status to avoid double taxation. The various clarifications on tax pass through and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) are welcome and this creates a level playing field between REITs and other forms of indirect investment in the real estate sector e.g. equities in listed real estate entities. We look forward to seeing the details of the draft regulations but the overall sentiment is certainly quiet positive.

This year's budget has the capability to bolster the economy in such a way that it can attract foreign investors. FDIs were once a key part of India's economic growth. Today, India can garner the same level of FDI inflows with a stronger and more successful real estate sector. The reduction in the threshold of FDI in real estate will allow a new class of overseas investors into smaller projects which can support the need for housing across the country.

Increased liquidity from REITs and/or additional FDI sources made possible through the reduction in the threshold for FDI will have multiple benefits for the economy. Increased liquidity should feed through to added construction activity and therefore employment at all levels of society.

Vineet Mittal, Founder President, Solar Power Developers Association (SPDA)

The overall sentiment in the industry post the budget is very positive. It is a very business-friendly budget. We would like to congratulate the Finance Minster on putting together the vision of the new government on the critical sectors of the economy. Our compliments for the great road map drawn up for the Renewable Energy industry as a whole and the special thrust for broad basing and up scaling the Solar power sector nationally.

To start with, the proposed UMPPs in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Ladakh in J&K with a budget of 500cr are very encouraging. If the govt ensures that issues of evacuation, land and availability of the water are taken care of – there will be a lot of players willing to enter this segment. Another positive move is the govt relaxing requirements of CRR, SLR, priority sector lending, because of this banks are now being able to issue long term bonds as loans for projects as long as 25-30 years!

There is good news for the manufacturers as well especially with regards to concession of duty. A concessional basic customs duty of 5 percent is also being extended to machinery and equipment required for setting up of a project for solar energy production. This will give a shot in the arm for the local manufacturers.

Even the issue on supply of power which was a major area of concern has been addressed – now instead of annual extensions – it has been extended by 3 years. This will give predictability to the tax implications. This stability in our policy will help the investors to plan their investments better.

An additional budget of Rs. 100crs has also been set aside for the development of 1MW Solar parks on the banks of canals. Implementation of the green energy corridor project will be accelerated in this financial year to facilitate evacuation of renewable energy across the country. Overall it is a step in the right direction.

Mr. Arjunpreet Singh Sahni, Executive Director, Solitaire Group

"It's a progressive budget which has brought much needed relief to real estate sector by announcing positive measures such as allocation of Rs. 50000cr for urban infra projects and Rs 8000cr for rural housing development. Further, the announcement that the government plans to develop metro projects in each city with population of 20 lakh and more, will surely boost real estate profiles of tier-2 and 3 cities. Obviously, it's a development oriented budget for the real estate sector."

Dr. Chandan Chowdhury, Managing Director-India, Dassault Systemes

The Union Budget 2014-15 underlined its focus on providing good infrastructure and smart cities. We at Dassault Systemes see this emphasis on the urban renewal of cities and towns as great opportunity to further develop our nation. To accommodate this massive urban migration the need of the hour in India is to plan and develop sustainable Smart Cities. While this rapid urban growth creates tremendous opportunities, it also puts extreme pressure on our resources. Collectively, cities need more space in order to accommodate the influx of people.

The true measure of what will attract and retain people and business to a smart city will be in a city's response to the increasing demands of its inhabitants, making a 'Smart City', one that listens, communicates and attends to its citizen's needs.

Our Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCity in line with government's initiative will help to understand the impact of say, population increase, on potential of technology enabled intervention strategy on optimising water and energy utilisation, recycling, storage and reuse and then work with this information to create a Smart City.

The exchange of ideas, initiatives, resources and technology in this virtual collaborative platform should help in creating a momentum strong enough to propel innovation in this area.

Mr. Rumi Engineer, Head of Green Buildings, Godrej Green Building Consultancy Services & Head of Energy Conservation, Godrej & Boyce Ltd

"The Economic survey by our government hinted at reforming existing policies for the energy sector with focus on correcting the present pricing disparity for indigenously produced natural resources such as gas, coal and crude oil. It also mentioned its aim towards bringing the price of these products at par with those in the international markets. Thankfully in the budget speech the FM has allocated Rs 500cr to set up ultra modern power projects to be taken up in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Ladakh. To support such projects, we should encourage financial institutions to extend flexible products and concessional credits to support green sector development and the government should create standards on material procurement for infrastructure project and make it mandatory for them to follow the Green Code. Also, a green growth fund can be created to better facilitate and coordinate capital mobilization and transfer of funding from international sources only then can such power plants be linked to sustainability.

As India aspires to achieve a higher GDP growth, it is also important to address the overarching issues of resource security, climate change and sustainability. The three pillars of India's energy security are an adequate and reliable supply, environmental sustainability, and affordable access for all. As Indian economy grows, managing demand by phasing out subsidies so that prices reflect true costs, incentivizing green innovations in R&D and technology development, planning for sustainable infrastructure, and changing citizen's behavior are crucial to achieving green growth in a cost-effective manner. These areas were unfortunately lacking clarity in today's budget. FM did announce more investments on the R&D and technology that can help optimize resource utilization but the government should provide a clear and achievable roadmap to alter the country's energy mix and promote sourcing and usage of more sustainable energy resources, which is possible through a stable policy that encourages investment in renewable energy, use of bio-fuel and electric-vehicles in the transport sector, use of energy efficient equipment, lesser use of water in industry and agriculture. Policy interventions announced in terms of clean energy cess have been increased from Rs. 50/tonne to Rs 100/tonne to encourage use of natural sources of energy. However, the government needs to ensure they are implemented effectively and give stronger political will to reduce policy uncertainty that will boost not just domestic but foreign investors' confidence to invest in the country's green sectors.

Allocating Rs 50,000cr to urban infra development to improve safe drinking water, sewage treatment, digital infra and Rs 7,060cr for development of 100 smart cities are positive steps as it will encourage investments in sustainable technologies. Since smart cities are not just those with high-end technologies and digitalization but also those that are sustainable and green. Thus building such cities will surely impact green development and certifications and most importantly, energy efficiency and conservation. India can look into the creation of smarter cities near the metros in order to reduce pressure on the infrastructure. A smart city should be at the centre of major economic development in each state and should be self sufficient with its own industrial zones equipped with sustainable water and energy and transport solution. Such cities, through their sustainable practices, can be the model cities for the rest of the country.

A truly smart generation is the one that realizes that its existence needs to be in harmony with nature and thus focusing on renewable energy like solar, wind, etc. can help cut down our consumption of the exhaustible resources like coal, natural gas and crude oil. On the demand side, we need to cut down on oil imports which only add to the CAD for the economy. This can be achieved by increasing the usage of renewable energy to meet our domestic needs. Therefore, we need policies which shift our dependence from fossil fuels and increase the use of renewable energy instead. Reshuffling our energy mix is India's first step towards being energy independent and the Finance Minister's announcement that solar power equipment manufactured in India will be cheaper is a much needed policy towards the same.

Mr. Pankaj Srivastava, COO, Maitreya Realtors ​​

​"​The budget has been a good news to the real estate sector as good allocation has been given to National Housing Bank, rural housing improvement etc. Inclusion towards slum development, that was otherwise always the issue, as part of CSR will aid slums in the country.The National Housing Banking programme is a boost. The implementation is a key factor here that is now to be considered ​"​.