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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."
I must say, our Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi has managed to put India in the centre stage of global politics. Through his deft handling and statesmanship, he has enhanced both his own image and that of the country. His address to the NRI community at Madison Square Gardens in New York, and also in Australia, is nothing short of a rock star performance. The BJP’s performance in the Maharashtra assembly elections is another remarkable feat. It is no wonder that Time magazine has rated him amongst the world’s top personalities in 2014. We all need to wish him well. The hopes of a billion plus people for a better life and better country rests on Narendra Modi and his team..
ON the economic front, while the mood of business and industry is positive, this positive effect is unfortunately not felt at the ground level. Our GDP growth rate, for instance, is yet to improve. It is believed that the many structural changes that are being effected will, in time, give results. Since it is only seven months since the new government took over, one should give the situation the benefit of doubt. But if the economy does not start showing signs of growth by the time the central budget is presented in February 2015, citizens are bound to express disappointment. The BJP government is lucky that our country is the beneficiary of a 40% drop in the international price of oil. It remains to be seen how the huge savings in our import bill will be utilised for the development of the country. It is to be hoped that it will not go towards importing unproductive gold!
EVEN when the economic activity in a huge country like India is not strong, cement manufacturers have managed to cartelise and increase the price of cement by over 50% during the last few months. This is bound to adversely affect construction cost and will lead to increased real estate prices over a period of time. They will make hay while the sun shines (in other words, before the government's Competition Commission can act or react).
THE timely completion of the 256-apartment Aspen block, in the Brigade Orchards integrated smart township in Devanahalli, by our in-house precast construction team, is a creditable achievement. Brigade Group may be the only developer in the country, so far, to have an in-house precast plant. We are pleased to say that construction work at various Brigade Group projects is progressing well (though there have been a few hiccups in some cases). The coming year should see the completion of quite a few of our residential, office, retail and hotel projects.
SOME more breaking news from Brigade Group: We will be making our maiden entry into Gujarat State with residential and commercial projects in the well-conceived and planned GIFT City—probably the first Smart City to come up in the country, as per the vision of our Prime Minister. As part of our customer-friendly initiatives, we have launched a customer portal and an online booking Platform, complete with payment gateway.
IT is highly creditable that Brigade Hospitality's HIGH Ultra Lounge, on the rooftop of WTC Bangalore, has won the Times Food Award as the Best Lounge Bar in Bangalore in its very first year of operations.
IN a moving ceremony, family members of the legendary musician, Bharat Ratna Pandit Bismillah Khan, donated his priceless shehnai to the Centre for Indian Music Experience, which is supported by Brigade Group, among others.
OUR CSR activity to rejuvenate Sitarampalya Lake in Whitefield is showing excellent results. But it is a major challenge to stop the inflow of sewage. Cooperation from the civic authorities and neighbourhood buildings is sadly lacking.
THE time to exchange greetings, enjoy holidays and celebrate family togetherness is just around the corner. I end with warm wishes for a joyous Christmas and New Year to all; may 2015 bring cheer and peace to our lives.