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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."
OUR country is experiencing a crisis of confidence. The sudden and sharp depreciation in the value of the rupee has caught the political establishment and the corporate world off guard. Why has this happened? To put it simply, it is because of complacency, deficiency in governance and a series of scams of very high proportion. When India was Shining with 9% GDP growth, the governing fraternity thought India was moving towards super power status and took the liberty of making a series of bad decisions and introducing socialistic schemes, which India could ill afford. With BRIC countries’ steady growth in the past few years, it was felt that the United States’ influence over the world had reduced. But the USA has once again proved that ‘if it sneezes, the world still catches a cold’ (this time by way of 'Quantitative Easing’). For India to get out of this mess, it is essential to focus on strengthening its economic fundamentals rather than trying to depend on FII hot money.
However sound the intentions behind socialistic schemes like NREGA, RTE and the Food Security Bill may be, they are bound to adversely impact our country’s current account deficit—primarily because of our record of very poor delivery and execution, resulting in huge leakages. As a developing country, we are not in a position to fritter away lakhs of crores of rupees. If the same amount is spent, year after year, on employment generation projects rather than doles, it would help in self-sustenance of the poor. The old proverb of 'teaching a man to fish, rather than feeding him fish' is what needs to be done. The deadly combination of socialistic schemes of the central and state governments will have a huge negative effect on the availability and productivity of labour willing to work, in spite of our having a population of 1.23 billion.
If the government continues to act on the basis of political expediency and the 2014 parliamentary elections, the only thing left for citizens is to pray for the economy to stabilise on its own and to also pray for a stable central government to be elected in 2014. Luckily, the people of Karnataka have got a stable government after many years of instability.
In an otherwise precarious situation, a silver lining may be that Indian exports will become substantially more competitive and may result in exports exceeding imports, leading to current account surplus.
Even at this stage, it is heartening to know that international investors still think the long term India story is good, due to its population and resultant demand, and the possibility of graduating from a developing country to a developed country.
One needs to have hope. To quote Barack Obama, “Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty …. A belief that there are better days ahead.” Based on this hope, we in Brigade Group will continue to plan to start more projects in the cities in which we operate. The two recent launches—Brigade Golden Triangle on Old Madras Road and Brigade LakeFront in Whitefield—were well received. More launches are planned in Bangalore and Mysore in the next few weeks, and in Chennai in the new year.
It is a nice feeling to find ourselves, for the third year in a row, to be amongst the Best Employers in the country. Economic Times and Great Place to Work Institute has rated Brigade Group as number 2 in the real estate sector and number 52 amongst all industries surveyed. Our ranking has consistently improved year after year. I sincerely thank the entire staff of Brigade Group for this coveted honour.
After redeveloping the 3-acre Sangolli Rayanna Park in Malleswaram, another of our major CSR initiatives was completed recently. This was the development of the city authority's 5-acre land in Malleswaram West into a well-planned playground for track & field and other sports. The playground is aptly named after the founder of Bangalore, Kempegowda.
The year 2013 marks the 150th birth anniversary of the noble soul Swami Vivekananda. It is important to recollect his words of wisdom in this strife torn world. In my opinion, only good economic development can steer us away from political unrest of the kind Egypt, Pakistan and Syria are experiencing. This issue of Brigade Insight is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda.
Lastly, as major festivals—Ganesh Chaturti, Dussera and Diwali—approach, it is time to celebrate and pray for a happier tomorrow.