For 2015-16. the government has allocated Rs 22,407 crore for implementing its vision of providing a ‘pucca’ house to every household by 2022.
While presenting his second Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government planned to build 60 million homes — 40 million in rural areas and 20 million in urban areas — under the ‘Housing for All’ programme.
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Harpreet Singh, partner (Risk Advisory Services), PwC India, says: “The announcement of 60 million housing units is encouraging but needs to be backed by strong policy directives in the area. Very little has been done on ground in this direction by earlier governments. We have to understand the implementation strategy that should back such announcements.”
“A step was taken in the last Budget to encourage Reits and InvITs by providing partial pass-through to those. The collective investment vehicles have an important role in reviving construction activity. A large quantum of funds is locked in various completed projects. This needs to be released to enable new infrastructure projects to take off,” he said in its Budget speech.
The rental income arising from real estate assets directly held by the Reits was also proposed to be allowed to pass through and to be taxed in the hands of the Reit unit holders, Jaitley said.
Surabhi Arora, associate director, Research Colliers International, says: “The rationalisation of the capital gains tax regime for Reits is a positive move. This will help make Reits more financially viable for Indian markets, and further push introduction of such trusts in the Indian market.”
Real estate players like DLF have already announced plans to launch Reits in the next financial year. The move will help those like K Raheja, Unitech and other firms with large commercial assets. The real estate industry has been demanding further tax clarity to launch those for their commercial assets. Both the trusts can be listed on stock exchanges, and enabling domestic and overseas investments to come in the country’s real estate and infrastructure projects.
Reits are similar to what is allowed in developed markets like the US, UK, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. These can be listed and trading is allowed in their units like any other security on stock exchanges. InvITs are also set up for similar purposes. In September last year, market regulator SEBI had notified norms for listing of REITs and InvITs.
Shishir Baijal, chairman and managing director, Knight Frank India, says: “The Budget did mention ‘Housing for All’ but it did not have a game-plan attached to it. Additionally, no sops or exemptions for home buyers were given. Also, there is little on easing liquidity for real estate with only partial relief for Reits.”