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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 development of the last quarter is securing the license/franchise to rebrand our office building in Brigade Gateway as World Trade Center! With this, we join the elite group of 29 to own WTC buildings worldwide. WTC is the most recognised and sought-after business address anywhere in the world. WTC Bangalore is the tallest building in Bangalore (435 feet) with many unique features, including—for the first time in Bangalore—an observation deck. It should be operational in a few months. It is a proud and positive development for Brigade Group, the city of Bangalore and the State of Karnataka..
It feels good to find a place among the Top Ten Builders in the country, in the perception survey conducted by Construction World, the most circulated construction industry magazine in the country. What is particularly nice is that we may be the only developer in the country to be nominated for the award for four consecutive years (2007-2010), from the time the awards were instituted five years ago.
India’s GDP growth is right on track by achieving 8.8% growth, against the estimated 8.5%, in Q1 of 2010-11. While we have become a trillion dollar economy after 63 years of independence, due to our billion+ population, our per capita income is just over a thousand dollars—way behind the populous Indonesia and even our small neighbour, Sri Lanka, till recently a strife ridden country. While considerable progress is happening in the development of infrastructure in the country, it is always short of what is needed for the long-suffering population and India’s fast growing economy. The country has too many major problems to tackle—be it high corruption, whose tentacles are far reaching and growing by the day; terrorism in Kashmir; Maoist/Naxalite insurgency in Eastern India; increasing religious radicals even in Southern India; and, most importantly, the growing influence of China in Pak-occupied Kashmir and Sri Lanka. The answer lies in bringing prosperity to the population, thereby reducing the influence of extremist elements. From this angle, the motto of the WTCA (World Trade Centers Association, New York) is quite apt: to bring prosperity through trade; and peace through prosperity.
The much-awaited direct taxes Code Bill, which promised to bring far reaching reforms in tax administration, turned out to be a damp squib. A mountain was promised; but a mole is given. The so-called simplified version is 405 pages long! Tax consultants and advocates will have a feast, for the next few years, from the confusion it creates and the clarifications to be given by the Tribunals and Courts. Businessmen and industrialists will end up spending even more time in non-productive work.
KPL-2 (Karnataka Premier League) Cricket season will be held from September 16th to 30th. While the KSCA (Karnataka State Cricket Association) did well in pioneering the State Premier League concept in the country, it has fallen short in publicising, popularising and managing the event well. Their present efforts are not adding value to the franchisees. I hope the young bunch of Bangalore Brigadiers will better last year’s performance of reaching the semi-finals.
The Galaxy Club at Brigade Gateway is ready and looking beautiful. It is a boon to the campus occupants and its members. The same goes for The Brigade School @ Malleswaram, in the Brigade Gateway enclave, started by our Not-for-Profit Brigade Foundation. The school has received a very enthusiastic response from the neighbourhood in its very first year.
At last, our efforts to start projects in Hyderabad are on track. Our maiden project, Brigade Zenith, will soon be launched in the up-market Banjara Hills.
I am happy and thankful to the Board of Directors for instituting a ‘Chair’ at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras to do research in the field of Construction Technology and Project Management. It will be in memory of our late Independent Director, Dr T. N. Subba Rao, who was always forthcoming with ideas and advice in the interest of Brigade Group.
The festival season is on with Ramzan, Ganesha Chaturthi, Dasara and Deepavali—all in the next ten weeks. I wish our readers happy celebration and a wonderful festival season ahead.