Half of calendar year 2023 is over. Unfortunately, there isn’t much ‘feel good’ news in the world, except in India, Middle East & few countries in Southeast Asia.
The mindless war between Russia & Ukraine continues. Other than helping clear the stockpile of weapons in few western economies & securing billions of dollars of fresh orders for manufacture of weapons, it has only resulted in destroying large areas in Ukraine & displacing millions of its citizens. The war resulted in much of Europe to go into recession. From a unipolar world with United States ruling the roost since the disintegration of USSR during 1991-92, the world is getting back to a bipolar world with the 2nd largest economy of the world, the communist China supporting Russia.
While politically the world has become bipolar again, economically countries have become more interdependent than ever before due to globalisation & WTO policies. This is posing a huge challenge to different economies, particularly to the United States and to the countries in Europe.
The Indian Government has played its cards smartly. Our country is beginning to see the benefit of China+1 strategy of the developed economies, not only for sourcing their product requirements, but also because they see India as a good investment destination. This has greatly helped the Indian economy to become resilient and not be affected so far by the war in Ukraine. The best indicator is the stupendous increase in Sensex & Nifty indices and Indian foreign exchange reserves crossing US$ 600 billion again. Many senior bankers feel that for the 1st time after many many years, all sectors of business are doing well. One can only hope this good show sustains for a longer time thereby helping Indian GDP reach US$ 5 trillion, sooner than later. The spoil sport can be poor monsoon, interest rate increase and unexpected events like political turmoil.
The ruling party at the centre got the shock of its life by badly losing State Elections in Karnataka. The smart electorate of Karnataka has punished the unexpected poor performance of the previous Government, apart from succumbing to the lure of multiple freebies offered by the winning party. While this has invigorated the opposition parties against the ruling party at the centre, it has also made the 2024 parliamentary elections more unpredictable. Anything can happen. What India requires is political stability and retaining its position in the world order & the goodwill generated during the past few years. What all this means to the business is the question? Uncertainty to a great extent. One never knows when the current positive sentiments will start turning negative, though there is absolutely no indication at present.
The Residential Real Estate sector is continuing to grow in a healthy way. Financial year 2023 is the best so far for the sector. The WFH/ A (work from home/ anywhere) culture continuing in a big way in USA & Europe has created millions of square feet of vacant office space in those countries, which has resulted in cautious approach by Indian & MNC companies in the tech sector to sign up new office space. Most experts feel this could be a cyclical and temporary phenomena. The good news is many MNC companies are increasing the size of their GCCs (Global Capability Centres) in India as a way to cut costs by offshoring work thereby helping to retain/ improve their profitability. This is the saving grace for the Indian Office Real Estate sector. The data localisation policy of the Indian Government has also resulted in increased demand for Data Centres. So also, the growing organised retail business has increased the demand for Fulfilment Centres/ Warehouses.
In such a macro environment, Brigade is trying to play its cards well but carefully. We have made headway in increasing our presence in Chennai significantly. We are trying to do the same in the highly competitive real estate market of Hyderabad.
While a number of new launches are slated in this financial year, obtaining civic authorities approvals is becoming more challenging than ever before, for a variety of reasons. By adhering to the multiple rules, administrative procedures and after overcoming red tape, if one succeeds in real estate business in India, they deserve to receive accolades and a pat on their back.
Rightly, the new Congress Government in Karnataka is talking of ‘Brand Bengaluru’ – to improve the image of the city which has taken a beating due to severe traffic congestion, insufficient infrastructure planning & implementation. Bengaluru deserves much better treatment by the State Govt.
Bengaluru, which contributes more than 50% of the tax revenue of the State; should receive similar share in the expenditure budget of the State to improve its infrastructure. Bengaluru is not just a city of Karnataka, it is now a Global City, known for innovation and home to 100s of MNCs.
Hyderabad with its superior infrastructure is already breathing down Bengaluru‘s neck and sure to overtake Bengaluru as an attractive investment destination, if the Karnataka Government continues to be complacent.
The advent of ChatGPT & AI (Artificial Intelligence) into our lives, slowly but surely, will have a profound effect, not fathomed by us so far. It will become a necessary evil in the years ahead. While there would be demand for people with new skills, it may also lead to thousands of job losses. So, it is very important for people and businesses to gear up the skills to keep pace with the ever changing technological advancements.
The festival season is approaching. My warm season's greeting to all our readers.
—Jaishankar CMD, Brigade.
APRIL 21, 2012 was a red letter day for Brigade Group—the day that Orion Mall was completed. What sets this day apart as an especially significant milestone in our history is that it marks not just the completion of the mall, but, more importantly, the completion of an iconic project: Brigade Gateway. Both the enclave as a whole, and the individual components within it—Orion Mall, World Trade Center, Sheraton Hotel, Galaxy Club, The Brigade School, Columbia Asia Hospital—have set new standards in development. Brigade Gateway has set benchmarks for others to follow. The Orion Mall launch event itself was considered by many to be the best product launch ever in Bangalore. This milestone, coupled with shifting of our Corporate Office to WTC @ Brigade Gateway, should be considered a new chapter in the life of the organisation..
Sheraton Bangalore Hotel @ Brigade Gateway received a coveted recognition at the annual HICSA Conference of HVS: as Best New 5 Star Upscale Hotel in South Asia in 2011. What is significant and very satisfying is that our Mercure Homestead Serviced Residences (now Grand Mercure) won a similar award in the Apartment Hotel category in 2009, making both of our hotel properties the 'best in class'.
As they do every year, the Central and State budgets, in the first quarter, bring new taxes and reliefs. While the Karnataka budget was thankfully mild, giving relief by way of reduced Stamp Duties, the same cannot be said about the Central budget. Excise Duties and Service Tax was increased substantially, adding to inflation when the government is talking of reducing it! While 50 basis points interest reduction by RBI is a positive step, it is insufficient to boost the industry and trade sentiment. It is to be hoped that a further reduction in interest rates will be announced soon.
Finance ministry’s flip-flop policies in taxation, particularly with retrospective effect, has sent a scare to foreign investors affecting fresh FDI into the country. Retrograde legislations like GAAR will only make matters worse. The country has to stop the 1-step-forward-and-2-steps-backward approach to development issues.
The mood among industrialists and businessmen continues to be subdued, with not many positive signals or developments seen in the national and international scene. With all the efforts being made by the European leaders, one is not sure whether the debt crisis bothering Europe (and, in turn, the world) is over.
The power crises in the mid-90s prompted both central and state governments to launch many power sector projects, which helped improve the situation over the past ten years. Then complacency set in and most states are back to a power-starved situation. Power sector policy paralysis has only worsened the outlook for relief in the near term, which is bound to have an adverse effect on GDP growth. The not-so-encouraging monsoon prediction will be a matter of concern to all.
A study by the National Housing Bank, published in Times of India on 21 April, says that real estate prices in Namma Bengaluru have been one of the slowest to rise during the last five years, in comparison to other cities. For the most part, Bangalore rates have remained at what they were in 2007. This should make buyers act fast in making their investment decisions, which, in turn, will bring some cheer to the developers.