With zero tolerance for poor infrastructure and amenities, Jaitley put infrastructure at the core of his budget.
A promise to create 'one hundred smart cities by putting in Rs7,060 crore this year and giving the National Highways Authority of India and State Roads Rs37,880 crore with a commitment to build 8,500 kilometers, the government kick-started the much needed investment cycle that would have a multiplier effect taking along every core industrial sector.
"The government's mission of housing for everyone by 2022 and setting up smart cities will not only help sectors like cement or steel but would go a long way in changing the country's landscape," said Subhrakant Panda, managing director, Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys.
Beyond smart cities, the real estate sector would greatly benefit from steps to attract Foreign Direct Investment in the sector.
Requirement of built-up area for FDI has been reduced from 50,000 square metres to 20,000 square metres while and capital conditions halved to $5 million.
Projects having 30% of cost for affordable housing, has been exempted from the minimum built up area.
"These coupled with pass-through of income allowed obviating incidence of double taxation on REIT would facilitate flow of savings into the real estate sector," said Harsh Vardhan Patodia, vice-president of a real estate body.
On the financing side, Jaitley talked of a modified REIT-type structure for infrastructure or Infrastructure Investment Trusts having similar pass through status while commercial banks, he said, would be helped to raise long term money to fund infrastructure projects.
"Infra Investment Trusts is not entirely new as SEBI had in December floated a consultation paper on it. Exempting CRR and SLR conditions on infra fund for commercial banks would help them raise cheap money which the sector needs," said Ashok Pareek, executive director of Srei Capital Market.
Shipping industry got a lot of attention: 16 new port projects to be awarded this year and Rs11,635 crore for development of Outer Harbour Project in Tuticorin.
The finance minister also announced an ambitious inland transport project along Ganga between Allahabad and Haldia, at a cost of Rs4,200 crore.
"If the project can ensure a minimum draft of 3.5 meters then it would be possible to sail 1500-2000 tonne barges giving shape to what the finance minister has wished for," V.K. Singh, chief executive officer of Shreyas Shipping, told dna.
Lowering of tax incidence on coastal shipping as well as changes made to Place of Provision of Services Rules, 2012, are the incentives that brought cheers from the shipping industry, he said.
In the amendment notification for Place of Provision of Services (Amendment) Rules, 2014 issued today aircrafts and vessels except yachts have been exempted.
Power sector including coal-based and renewable got the push with Jaitley proposing to channel coal supply to projects commissioned by year end and extending ten-year tax holiday to 2017.
The FM set aside Rs 500 crore for feeder separation to augment power supply to rural areas and for strengthening sub-transmission and distribution systems.
"The resources required for this, however, are far larger than budgeted, and this initial allocation should be used to attract domestic and multilateral funds," Kameswara Rao, Leader Energy, Utilities Mining, PwC India.
Import duty on coal was rationalised, a step welcomed by CESC Ltd chairman Sanjiv Goenka who said this would bring down costs at a time of poor domestic supplies and inability to power producers to pass on additional costs to consumers.
Goenka however rued that the larger issue of viability of the energy sector including poor financial health of the state-run discoms wasn't addressed.
FDI in housing
Built-area clause for FDI 50k sq mt 20k sq mt
Capital $10mn $5mn
Exemption on built-up: Projects having 30% of cost reserved for affordable housing
On a platter
100 smart cities Rs7,060cr
NHAI and state roads Rs37,880cr
Inland transport project along Ganga Rs4,200cr