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The Central Budget - 2016, in general, was a commendable exercise by the Finance Minister. He was able to deftly handle many difficult issues. Thanks to the benefit the country is deriving from low oil prices in the international market, we can only hope that industrial growth picks up the way it is expected by the Government. It is sad that most State Government’s are not keeping pace with the vision of the Prime Minister and the efforts of the Central Government, to give a bigger push to the Indian economy.
The Central Budget has done its bit to give a push to the Real Estate Sector, particularly to affordable housing. So also, the much talked about Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), which should help unlock a lot of capital for commercial property developers and help bring in foreign exchange to the country. However, the concept of Smart Cities requires more clarity and much more fund allocation for the initiative to succeed.
Real estate sector continues to be plagued by excessive taxes, duties, charges under various heads by the Central, State & Civic Governments, resulting in an impact of more than 30% of the product price (whether it is affordable housing or otherwise) incurred by the consumer. To realise the dream of ‘Housing for All’ by 2022, an essential element is to reduce the numerous taxes and charges on the housing sector.
5 State Governments are in election mode. The results are important to the present Government at the Centre to implement many major policy initiatives – GST for example. One wonders why so much of governance time is lost due for conducting elections at the Centre, State & Civic bodies at different times? If elections are held together for all, huge saving of resources and time could be achieved. The Indian election commission has the capability & has already excelled in conducting National & State elections very efficiently.
With bank interest rates in the downward mode, if the ruling party in the Centre does well in the State elections & gains majority in the Rajya Sabha, and if the country receives good monsoon during the next few months, there is no reason why the consumer & investment sentiment should not change for the better very quickly. With this hope, optimism for the future continues."
The most significant happening in the last quarter is the manner in which Barack Obama was elected as the President of the world's biggest economy, on the plank of promise of CHANGE. For me it was a moving experience to watch the final stages of the US election process and to listen to the high quality speeches. If one reads Obama's Audacity of Hope, one can realise what a clear thinking person he is. It certainly brings hope of a better tomorrow for the world as his views are full of sense.
By and large, the last quarter has seen the stock markets world over getting battered, India not being an exception. Once the December quarter results start pouring in, the mood is unlikely to become better. The spectre of falling rates, increasing unemployment and tougher visa conditions in the western economies is not the fodder stock markets like.
Unlike the bold 'bail out' packages of the US and European economies, the stimulus package/s announced by the Indian Government are at best knee-jerk reactions which are unlikely to have a significant positive impact. What is required is an extraordinary response to an extraordinary situation. Also required is a major initiative to spend US $50 to $100 billion on infrastructural projects like building highways—completing the golden quadrilateral and networking other roads that will generate large employment and improve the core sectors. Why not a 'Great Wall of India' bordering our problematic neighbours, which will also help in reducing infiltration? The three most important sectors of the old economy are agriculture, automobiles and construction. In the new economy unquestionably it is the IT sector. All these sectors require great support if the government is even half serious about improving the state of the economy.
The November terrorist attack in Mumbai is the most heinous and boldest ever, exposing all the chinks in our armour. It has made the citizens angry, dumbfounded and helpless. Many political leaders were behaving like Nero when Mumbai was under attack.
If the government does not ACT now by taking measures similar to what United States took post 9/11, I do not know what will make them move. The time has come to stop barking and start biting when driven to do so.
In an otherwise gloomy quarter, the highlight event for Brigade Group is the recognition from Forbes Asia as one of the 200 Best Under a Billioncompanies in the Asia Pacific region. It is a recognition of the hard and result-oriented work of the entire Brigade team for the past two decades. My sincere thanks to the valuable contribution by our Board Members, the entire staff of Brigade Group and our associates.
As the curtain comes down on what can be called as the most forgettable year in the recent times (from the economic stand-point), let me sincerely wish all the readers a brighter, happier and peaceful 2009.
There is no dearth of headline making news in the last few months—worsening US financial crisis; Nuclear agreement; Terrorist attacks; New BJP Govt. in Karnataka; High inflation; Volatility in crude price; natural calamities & impending Presidential Election in the United States.
It is amazing & unbelievable to see century old institutions which are revered in the financial circles—Bears Sterns; Lehman Brothers; AIG; Merrill Lynch; Washington Mutual, Wachovia—drop like 9 pins. Who knows whether the worst is over or yet to come? Greed to make more and more money with casino like operations & throwing caution to the wind has resulted in this financial catastrophe of humungous proportions, affecting each of us in some degree or the other. The magnitude of the problem is difficult to comprehend.
The uncertainty of life has increase with increased terrorist activities. This is extremely sad. Before it is too late, it is time for us as a nation, as corporates & as responsible family members to take all required security measures to avoid being victims of terrorist attacks. The whole meaning of safe neighbourhoods and safe cities has changed with the ease at which fundamentalists are able to operate. If the government desires to ensure the safety of its citizens and desires to maintain the secular nature of the country, then it needs to take tough measures without bothering about the political consequences of such decisions.
Full kudos to our 'Sing is king' Prime Minister for finally taking bold steps to conclude the much delayed Nuclear deal to enable us to produce Nuclear Power to meet our energy needs, without which our industrialization & economic growth will be severely affected.
High lending rates by financial institutions have curtailed the demand for residential units and other luxury items. This can lead to a negative chain reaction by reduced demand for services and core sector products like steel, cement etc. This is also likely to bring down the country's GDP growth from a very healthy 8%+ to a modest 5-6% growth. For the economy to bounce back, it will take quite sometime. Even then, it would be wise for genuine buyers to take their decision to buy properties (but on floating interest rates, if one desires to borrow). Otherwise, year on year inflation of 8-12% p.a. will only jack up the prices of real estate in the medium to long term.
A silver lining for non-residential buyers, in an otherwise gloomy scenario is that the rupee has depreciated by 20%+ making it attractive to buy properties and to make investments in India. Better to strike gold when the opportunity exists.
With single party rule (BJP) in Karnataka, expectations for improved infrastructures & governance were running high. But ground realities seem to be different. Action on many long pending people is yet to be taken. Citizens are still hopeful of positive steps by the government.
Impending Presidential election in the United States in November '08, and parliamentary elections in India (March '09), will be interesting to discuss and watch. They will certainly keep the media busy.
Let me hope the festival season of Dussera & Diwali will bring some sparkle to our lives.
Though the year 2008 started off well for the economy, the 'subprime' crisis in the United States and the short-term liquidity crisis (due to the Reliance Power stock issue) knocked the bottom out of the Indian Stock Market. This resulted in the sudden drop of Sensex by 30 per cent, as if to confirm the reality of globalisation and inter-dependence of the economies. The old adage—'If America catches cold, the whole world sneezes'—appears to still be true.
Unfortunately, realty stocks were one of the worst hit and Brigade Enterprises' stocks were no exception. Only sustained, good performance can change the perception of the industry.
Although the Indian economy is doing well by and large, and a growth rate of 7+ per cent may still be possible during 2008, its inherent strength is under question.
High economic growth results in higher inflation. Although some amount of inflation is acceptable, there is no consensus among economists on the acceptable percentage. In an election year, inflation is a touchy subject. Isn't moderate inflation better than stagflation?
In the law of averages, details get hidden. While the general inflation may be 7 per cent, in certain sectors like construction industry, it is much more. The recent unprecedented 50-60 per cent jump in steel prices was a shocker. So also the salary jumps in the sector, which has overtaken the rates of software industry (this might make more students opt for civil engineering field, instead of the fancied computer science). All this is making the developer community think of introducing an escalation clause in the agreements, with a formula linked to the wholesale price index of the RBI. Otherwise, it will be impossible to absorb the cost increases during a typical 18-36 months' project period, that too after giving hefty discounts for pre-launch and introductory bookings.
Election fever in Karnataka is on a high! Kannadigas certainly deserve a single-party government and a better deal. The negative effect of the coalition government is there for all to see. Bangalore is losing its pre-eminent status as the best city in the country. One should pray that a single party will come to power in assembly elections in May. (But God helps those who help themselves). It is important that citizens should exercise their franchise by voting for the right party/candidate.
Brigade has posted fairly good results for the year ended 31 March 2008. We will be launching a few medium-sized projects in the months ahead, and are gearing up to launch a few large projects in Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore. It is high time the master plan for the Inter-national Airport Planning Area is released by the government. Otherwise, it will lead to unplanned growth and unauthorised structures. No point in 'locking the stables after the horses have bolted'.