The better rating of Infra companies through credit enhancement will ensure participation of insurance funds and pension funds in providing cost-effective infra funding. The balance sheet of banks loaded with long term infra loans will be off-loaded with the help of take-out finance
The Finance Bill, 2013, has several amendments with respect to investment in the infrastructure sector. Going with the past trend and stressing upon the importance of the infrastructure development, finance minister, P Chidambaram while presenting the Budget for 2013-14, has focused on the need for infrastructure development. To quote him: “While every sector can absorb new investment, it is the infrastructure sector that needs large volumes of investment. The 12th Plan projects an investment of $1 trillion or Rs55,00,000 crore in infrastructure. The Plan envisages that the private sector will share 47% of the investment. Besides, we need new and innovative instruments to mobilise funds for this order of investment.”
Though the figure of $1 trillion was based on the 9% growth target when the 12th Plan was announced, and today, for the current year, the growth estimated is 5.5%. So, the investment target has to be changed. The Planning Commission itself is of opinion that India will not be able to achieve $1 trillion target for investment in the infrastructure sector during the 12th Plan (2012-17) in view of lower economic growth prospects.
Still, there is a vast gap and to meet the targets, there is a strong need to infuse investment in the infra sector.
With such a high investment target, there is a need to attract huge investment in the infrastructure sector and in harmony with the want of promoting investment in the infrastructure sector, the finance minister has taken steps to encourage new and innovative instruments like Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs) for infra funding.
Need for IDFs:
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Budget 2011-12 laid down the foundation of IDFs:
In the budget for the year 2011-12, the setting up of IDFs was announced to facilitate the flow of long-term debt into infrastructure projects.
The income of an IDF is exempted u/s 10 (47) of the I-T Act. There is a lower withholding tax of 5% on income by way of interest received from IDFs by foreign investors u/s 194LB of the I-T Act. Also, the same withholding tax of 5% is applicable on interest income from infra bonds issued by Indian companies to foreign investors. Further, if the credit enhancement is provided by institutions like IIFCL in collaboration with ADB, we do not see a reason why the infra bond market will not accelerate. The better rating of Infra companies through credit enhancement will also ensure participation of insurance funds and pension funds in providing cost-effective infra funding. The balance sheet of banks loaded with long term infra loans will be off-loaded with the help of take-out finance.
Chidambaram pointed out that no tax burden had been imposed in the Budget on any category of people, other than a “small burden” of a 10% surcharge on the relatively affluent 42,800 people with incomes of over Rs1 crore a year
In a warning to tax evaders, finance minister P Chidambaram said a huge amount of data has been mined to go after them and ruled out any amnesty scheme.
“No. In income-tax, there is no case for amnesty. Because now almost all returns are online except a small category which was exempt. We have a huge amount of data being mined. Therefore, there is no case for amnesty today,” he said on Sunday.
“Best case I can make out is to tell people, ‘please don’t hide your income’ Just admit your income and pay tax and be a proud citizen,” he said.
Chidambaram pointed out that no tax burden had been imposed in the Budget on any category of people, other than a “small burden” of a 10% surcharge on the relatively affluent 42,800 people with incomes of over Rs1 crore a year.
That number was deliberately used to ‘shock’ the nation that there are only 42,800 people who admit an income of over Rs1 crore, he said.
Voicing the hope that “other measures” proposed to be taken and the ‘shock’ of the number would persuade more people to declare their true income, Chidambaram said that, based on data mining, notices have been issued to 35,000 people, to be followed by more.
“We have the central process cell in Bangalore that processes all income-tax returns using the most advanced software. So, if the information we have from other sources is not matched with the information from I-T returns, that will be thrown up,” he said.
To a question, Chidambaram said there are no estimates on the amount of black income and the number who should be in the net but who are not. But, he said, in a country with 125 crore people, excluding 67% of the people under food security risk and elderly people and children, there would be 15 crore people with incomes in various segments.
“The top 10% should have large income... I think the number must be several times 42,800 who have high income,” he said, adding they may not be earning Rs1 crore but certainly Rs75 lakh or Rs50 lakh.
Just three days after it was presented by finance minister P Chidambaram, Anil Harish and Vimal Punmiya delivered their engaging analyses on the budget. Several important points, gone unnoticed by media thus far, were discussed in detail by the speakers. Particular attention was paid to amendments related to real estate. Read on to find out what impact this budget will have on your life
At the 155th seminar of Moneylife Foundation, Anil Harish, a lawyer who specialises in matters related to real estate, informed a packed audience at the Bombay Royal Yacht Club, in south Mumbai, that India is one of the most difficult places to do business in. “India used to the 120th most difficult country to do business in, out of 155, 20 years ago. Today, we are 132nd. Builders may be doing a lot illegally, but they are right to complain about how hard it is for them to get permits,” said Mr Harish, a partner at DM Harish & Co.
Mr Harish believes that the government has not done much to improve processes and reduce corruption in the system. Instead, he said that several amendments to the Income Tax Act this year are unclear and could easily be misinterpreted. He said, “The finance minister said he was encouraging micro and small industries, but proceeded to give an investment allowance of 15% to those entities that invest over Rs100 crore in the “manufacture of any article or thing” in the next two years. It appears that a particular company or firm desired this allowance and managed to persuade the government. What makes this provision unclear is that even builders can claim to have manufactured an article or thing in constructing a building. They could have excluded real estate, but they haven’t. So a builder could fight for this investment allowance. This is sure to result in much litigation.”
Another ambiguous provision relates to the additional deduction of Rs1 lakh on home loans sanctioned in the current year. Mr Harish said, “The finance minister said that this will promote home ownership in a significant way. But I don’t believe this will be the case. Mainly this is because the benefit is not so substantial. The loan must be sanctioned in FY13-14, the loan must be of less than Rs25 lakh, the flat value must be no more than Rs40 lakh. Remember that it says ‘value’. So the I-T department may not care about what you’ve paid for the flat. The department will go by the stamp duty valuation. There’s sure to be much controversy over this matter. Also, the finance minister said this is available to ‘first-home’ buyers, but this is nowhere written in the Bill. This again will lead to a controversy.”
One of the most draconian provisions announced, in Mr Harish’s opinion, was related to the amendment to Section 43CA. He said, “This will affect many people. This is because it requires both the seller and buyer to pay tax according to the Ready Reckoner value if the sale price is less than what the Ready Reckoner values at. This will surely cause problems. This is a very unfair law. We’re going back to the old days, it appears—when business was conducted either under the table or out of the country.”
Lastly, Mr Harish noted the areas the finance minister completely ignored. He said, “What did need attention was black money, corruption, scams, foreign accounts, exchange rate and employment opportunities. This was simply not addressed. But we must be thankful no estate duty was proposed.”
Vimal Punmiya, partner at Vimal Punmiya & Co, then proceeded to discuss matters not related to real estate. He began, though, by discussing his view of the Budget in general. “Nothing much has been done,” he said, “I was expecting the finance minister to propose a few taxes, but he didn’t. Mr Chidambaram usually does this. He will introduce several taxes. This time it was only one, the relatively minor commodities transaction tax. Largely, this is just an election budget. Either incentives were given or charges were announced. There was lots of talk about it, but not much has been given to either women or children.”
The need for reform has received much attention in the past few months. Mr Punmiya said, “Mr Chidambaram has announced a reform committee. I personally feel that this committee has the potential to do much good in the area of taxation. It can substantially reduce litigation.”
Mr Punmiya then informed the audience of the various benefits they are entitled to this year. He said, “You can claim a deduction of Rs2,000 if your salary is less than Rs5 lakh. Then, you can also now receive a deduction of 100% of the amount you donate to National Children’s Fund under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. Usually, you get a deduction of just 50% of the amount you invest, as with the Prime Minister’s Office Fund.”
Like Mr Harish, even Mr Punmiya was glad that the estate duty wasn’t introduced. He said, “The finance minister had talked about bringing the estate duty back. This would have been devastating. At one point during the speech, I thought the estate duty was being brought back. But it wasn’t and for this I’m pleased. This would have taken us back to the 1980s.”
The seminar ended with an engaging Q&A session that lasted over half an hour.