The real estate sector should be accorded top priority status in the upcoming budget to boost employment and growth of the economy, developers said. The construction industry has proven itself a “resilient sector against the pandemic”, and is now riding on a positive growth trajectory, they claimed. The sector is expected to reach a market size of USD 1 trillion by 2030, and will contribute around 13 percent to the GDP by 2025, a builder said.

“The real estate, a resilient sector, should be accorded top priority status in the budget to boost employment and growth of the economy,” Credai West Bengal President Sushil Mohta said.

Shristi Infrastructure Development Corporation CMO Abhishek Bhardwaj said there is demand in the industry to redefine affordable housing. “We expect that the government will relook at the definition of affordable housing both from the value of houses and size to provide a much-needed boost to the sector,” he said. Credai appealed to the Centre to enhance the cap of Rs 45 lakh to Rs 1 crore for affordable housing in metro cities.

“The Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme benefits should be extended to all segments up to middle-income group II level as it has been extremely helpful for people at large as they are feeling the need for buying their own home. Further tax breaks for organisations building affordable housing will be of great support in these difficult times” Eden Realty Managing Director Arya Sumant said.

Harpal Singh Chawla, Director, Spaze Group, said that the budget should aim to increase the present savings limit so that the young population gets a higher spending power and look at the real estate sector as an investment avenue. Siddha Group Managing Director Sanjay Jain said developers want the government to help them with a single-window clearance system for affordable housing and projects for people belonging to the middle-income bracket, “which are stuck at the advanced stages of development”.

Ideal Group Managing Director Nakul Himmatsingka said, “Relaxation in GST on under-construction projects will help reduce the overall cost burden as it doesn’t attract input tax credit. This will encourage sales.” Mohta, who is also Merlin Group chairman, said the budget could focus on “amending Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to increase the repayment time limit for housing loan principal”.

Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com, Makaan.com and Proptiger.com, said that housing demand did bounce back strongly after the first as well as the second wave of the COVID pandemic, driven mainly by historically low-interest rates on home loans. “However, the sector is still plagued with two perennial problems — unsold inventories and stalled projects.  The third wave — in the form of the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus — has emerged as a challenge for the sector and the economy. To deal with the legacy issues and also this new challenge, the real estate sector needs support in the upcoming Budget,” he said.

“The corpus of the government-backed stress fund SWAMIH should be hiked to at least Rs 1 lakh crore. The current corpus of Rs 25,000 crore has already been committed. This will help in the completion of stuck projects and bring back the much-needed consumers’ trust in the under-construction property market,” he said, adding that the government should give more tax incentives for both principal and interest paid on home loans. 

Ankit Kansal, Founder & MD, 360 Realtors, said that the budget should also take prudent steps to boost demand in the form of increased tax subsidies, lowering of stamp duty, etc. This will be pivotal since Indian real estate is a mission-critical sector in terms of the government’s long-term agenda to achieve a USD 5 trillion economy. Rajat Goel, JMD MRG World, said that the government should reduce the GST to a single digit on building materials like steel, cement, etc and contractor service, among others.