Giving a fillip to affordable homebuyers, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman extended the time limit to avail additional tax benefits of Rs 1.5 lakh under Section 80 (EEA) of the Income Tax Act. The Government also announced steps towards improving the civic and transport infrastructure in the country. For instance, under the Jal Jeevan Mission, an outlay of nearly Rs 3 lakh crore was announced to improve water supply across 4,400 urban local bodies, and Rs 18,000 crore were allotted for augmenting public transport, such as bus and metro networks in Tier I and Tier II cities. While the Government did not provide any direct benefits to homebuyers, it tabled several fiscal benefits to boost the economy and address unemployment at large.
The Government showed its inclination towards boosting affordable housing supply by proposing an extension in time line for developers to avail a tax holiday for another year till March 31, 2022. The Union Finance Minister also granted additional tax exemptions for affordable rental housing projects, which are aimed at providing rental housing for migrant workers. Moreover, the Government proposed to make suitable amendments in the legislations regarding debt financing of Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs), to ease access to finance for InvITs and REITs, therefore augmenting funds for the realty sector. Apart from these inclusions, there was no mention of key industry demands such as reduction of GST slab rate or reintroduction of Input Tax Credit (ITC).