Budget 2018: Key Highlights
With a special focus on affordable housing, rural development and infrastructure development, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivered his last Budget Speech on February 1, ahead of the general elections in 2019.
While the real estate sector and homebuyers had many expectations from the FM, here is what he announced:
The fastest growing economy:
*FM said that the country needs massive investment estimated to be in excess of Rs 50 lakh crore in infrastructure to increase growth of GDP.
*The government will leverage the India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Limited (IIFCL) to help finance major infrastructure projects.
*For Railways, the government says over 36,000-km of rail track renewal is targeted for the coming year. Elevators will be installed on all railways stations with a footfall of more than 25,000 persons every day and Wi-Fi, CCTVs will be provided in all trains.
*FM announced the construction of a new tunnel in Sera Pass to promote tourism in the north-east region. While under the Bharatmala Project, around 35,000-km road and national highways will be constructed under Phase-I with an outlay of Rs 5.35 lakh crore.
*A 160-km long suburban network for Bengaluru has been proposed at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore while 150 km of additional suburban network is being planned at a cost of over Rs 40,000 crore in Mumbai.
*Jaitley proposed to expand the airport capacity by five times to handle a billion trips a year under a new initiative-NABH Nirman. Under the regional connectivity scheme, Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), connectivity will be provided to 56 un-served airports and 31 un-served helipads.
The government, in his Budget Speech FM said, will launch a dedicated Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) in National Housing Bank. This is move will support affordable-housing buyers. Over 31 lakh homes will be constructed in urban areas in 2018-2019 and 51 lakh in rural areas.
Swachh Bharat Mission
Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government has constructed six crore toilets so far and plans to build another two crore in the coming fiscal. A total Budget Estimate of Rs 30,343 crore has been earmarked for the scheme.
The FM has laid special emphasis on smart cities. He said that he was happy to inform that of the 100 smart cities to be built under the Smart City Mission, 99 cities have been selected with an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore. The government will also set up 115 “aspirational districts” as model districts of development.
To enhance connectivity in rural areas to help agriculture, the FM has announced an allocation of Rs 2 billion. He also announced an Operation Green, along the lines of Operation Flood, to boost agricultural production. For this he allocated Rs 500 crore.
There was only one announcement for the real estate sector. According to the FM, to ease the burden faced by the stakeholders while signing a deal, no adjustment will be made for a deviation of five per cent from circle rates to the prevailing market rate. Earlier, when the market value or the value negotiated between seller and buyer was less than the circle rates, the seller and buyer used to be liable to pay tax on notional gain/profit under the provisions of sections 43CA, 50C and 56(2)(vii)(b), making the case of double taxation.
The north of India has been hit hard by the rising levels of air pollution. To address this, the government will announce schemes to support efforts in the national capital region and states such as Haryana, Punjab, UP and Delhi. FM also announced a removal of crop residue will be subsidised to tackle pollution problems.
Keeping infrastructure and employment generation a top priority in rular areas, the FM announced that over 70 lakh formal jobs will be created in this fiscal through a new employment policy.
While the FM said that there were no changes in the income-tax rates, he brought relief to the salaried class as he introduced standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for medical and travel reimbursements. This deduction will be extended to pensioners as well. Also, the existing three per cent education cess will be replaced by health and education cess to be levied at the rate of four per cent.