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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.