M Murali, Managing Director, Shriram Properties
At the very outset, I can say, we can expect a very progressive and development oriented Budget 2017-18 aligning with the various radical and transformational reforms which we have witnessed in the recent times like Demonetisation, Real Estate Regulator Bill (RERA), FDI relaxations, GST, Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, Change in Accounting standards (IFRS).
The Government is well aware of the importance of real estate sector in GDP numbers and how the sector is sensitive to many of policies that are going to be announced both for various industries and individuals. Government is equally aware that realty sector is just emerging from a transitory but slightly prolonged and painful slowdown and is eagerly looking for all budgetary support. Government shall appreciate that there are many transparent, credible and organised players in the real estate sector who are honestly interested in national growth.
Housing for All by 2022 being national objective we can expect more favourable provisions towards affordable housing and EWS / LIG Housing. Having prioritised affordable housing, it is desired that the upcoming Budget shall focus on allocation of funds specifically for building infrastructure and improving connectivity in the peripheral areas of cities. Without this, it will be difficult to provide affordable housing in the cities and also augment the housing supply at affordable prices by the private developers.
Towards bringing down the affordable housing price and thus making price affordable for common man, Government may have to focus on reducing the approval cost for the developers. This is possible only with transparent digital online approval process taking only minimum time for approval and putting an end to unethical practices. Digital approval clearance on line is quite possible when there is call from the Government to the common man to move to digital atmosphere for his day to day requirements. The other one is Rationalization of Tax and fees. In a housing purchase, approximately 20% -25% of the unit price goes to Government by way of taxes and fees in one form or the other. There is scope for making a single tax for purchase of housing unit and thus reducing the overall price for the home buyer.
Another aspect is REIT. Despite the announcement we have not made much head way in this matter. Quicker removal of bottlenecks in the process would aid the faster revival of the real estate sector. This will also provide a significant boost to the economy in general. Therefore, Budget must address this issue.
E-Commerce is booming in India. A common definition as well as law amongst states is needed to govern this sector and help companies operate more efficiently.
Last but not the least, by and large, the organized segment of Indian Real estate sector wants to be as much transparent and fair and keen in accomplishing national and social objectives. But this possible and in all fairness, only if systems and procedures at the Government level is also made easy and transparent – eliminating the scope to be unethical at both the sides through necessary budgetary announcements besides other reforms and policy changes.