Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget 2019 on July 5. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Budget 2019: Infrastructure, Renewable Sectors Seek Investment Boost

Representatives of the infrastructure and climate change sectors put forth Thursday their budget proposals to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who will present the full Union Budget 2019 on July 5.

Measures to boost investment in the infrastructure sector, promotion of renewable energy and steps to bring down cost of projects were some of the suggestions that they made during their pre-budget meeting with the finance minister.

The main areas of discussion during the meeting included issues relating to bringing in more capital for highways, railways, telecom and automobiles, including incentives for electric vehicles as well as for the renewable energy sector, said the finance ministry in a statement.

"Two important issues that I raised before the finance minister was re-introduction of the tax-free bonds and also raising the cap under the 54EC from current Rs 50 lakh to Rs 5 crore and lock-in period from five years to three years," said Nagendranath Sinha, chairman of the National Highway Highway Authority of India, after the meeting.

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The 54EC bonds, or capital gains bonds, are preferred by investors for earning long-term capital gains and they would like tax exemption on these gains.

These bonds are issued by NHAI, Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd., Power Finance Corporation Ltd. and Indian Railway Finance Corporation.

Rajan Wadhera, president of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, said the automotive industry, which is going through a lot of stress, should be provided some incentives by the government.

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Tilak Raj Dua, director general of Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association, said the government should provide accelerated depreciation rate for batteries and include the telecom tower industry under priority sector lending by banks.

Other major suggestions made to the finance minister included streamlining of the land acquisition process, creation of green technology acceleration fund, incentivising domestic manufacturing of solar energy equipment and fiscal incentives for development of the electric vehicle industry.

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