This issue is coming after a gap of one year. The April issue could not be released due to the 2nd wave of the pandemic and the connected lockdown.
People’s perceptions and attitudes toward life and work have changed a lot over the last 17 months. People and businesses who were able to adapt to the fast changes encountered, have flourished. Those who could not, have unfortunately perished. The impact of the 2nd wave was quite severe on the personal lives of millions of Indians. More than 32 million people contracted the Wuhan Virus and unfortunately, 430 thousand people have died in our country. Worldwide figures: 207 million affected & nearly 4.4 million people have passed away.
The numbers are only growing by the day, even though multiple vaccines are available. For 7,800 million people to be vaccinated twice, it can take another year or two. Luckily, more than 500 million Indians have been administered at least one dose of the vaccine. As a result, if there is a third wave of the virus, the impact is likely to be less severe than the earlier 2 waves. Only time will tell. But, as individuals, one needs to strictly follow all precautions as recommended by the health authorities for their own good.
During these uncertain times, Brigade was able to sail through the troubled waters reasonably well. While our Hospitality and Retail segments were badly affected, the Residential real estate business performed remarkably well by posting the highest sales since the inception of the Group in October 1986. Office leasing sentiments are also affected quite a bit, although the Indian software sector has had exceptional times due to their sheer resilience and ability to keep up their commitments to clients.
The concept of life and work has also undergone tremendous change. Work From Home (WFH) in the financial and technology sectors is a shining example of success, wherever remote working is possible. E-commerce has made life convenient to the technologically savvy population. It has already revolutionised the retail shopping sector. It will have a big impact in the years ahead on the traditional ‘Kirana’ stores and even Shopping Malls. Lockdowns to contain COVID-19 have reinforced the importance of owning a ‘roof over one’s head’, that too a comfortable, spacious one. With reduced expenditure & increased personal savings due to lockdowns, and real estate developers coming up with attractive price & payment schemes, the affordability factor has increased at all levels, resulting in improved demand for housing. This has been the saving grace for developers. Even with all the challenges faced during the last 17 months, we have been able to complete 15 projects with an area of 12.40 million square feet, including our marquee project, World Trade Center (WTC) Chennai. During the same period, we launched 14 projects with an area of 11.30 million square feet including Brigade Citadel in Hyderabad, and Brigade Residences at WTC Chennai.
A feather in the cap is the recognition by the international body, Great Place to Work Institute in association with the Economic Times, for the 11th year in a row - placing Brigade amongst the Top 100 Best Places to Work in the Country - the only real estate developer in the country to receive such an honour. Despite inadequate support to business and industry by the Central & State Government, the Indian Corporate Sector has shown a lot of resilience, thereby presumably, helping wipe out the 7.5% negative GDP of 2020. Good monsoon across the country, in general, has played its part. But the concerns of MSME sectors and small businesses remain. This means by the end of March 2022, India’s financial position may get back to March 2020 status. With the loss of 2 valuable years of growth, it would be a miracle of sorts if our country can reach the targeted GDP of 5 trillion USD by 2024-25. Reaching the USD 5-7 trillion mark is essential for the country. This will ensure that per capita income goes up to USD 4-5k from the present USD 2k. Only when the per capita income goes beyond USD 4-5k, can the MIG population hope to have good disposable income, which in turn will give a boost for the next stage of growth. This would be very similar to what happened in China over the last 20 years. The Central Government has taken up several structural reforms during the past couple of years to help the Indian industry grow and at the same time supporting the farmers and the poorer sections of the society. One hopes these structural reforms will start yielding results soon. Stock indices of BSE & NSE have gone through the roof on this expectation. FII & SIP fund inflows have added fuel to the fire.
With this hope, as we enter the 75th year of Independence, we can expect ‘Tomorrow to be brighter than Today’.
Wishing our readers good health and safety.
—Jaishankar CMD, Brigade.
Completion of 30 years in business is a significant milestone. One would have seen many highs & lows and weathered many a storm. It was no different for Brigade. What started as a single project venture has grown into what it is today. While I look back at the achievements, accolades, awards and landmarks created during the last 30 years, with a sense of pride & satisfaction, I realise that it is more important to look forward on what needs to be done, to continue to survive, grow & flourish to meet the aspirations of all stakeholders, for the next 30 years. It is a happy coincidence and a fitting tribute that during the 30th year of our operations, we completed 30 projects (across residential, office, retail & hospitality segments) adding up to 10 million sq.ft. in area.
Today, we are living in an interconnected, globalised world with very high customer awareness about what’s happening around us & in other parts of the world, resulting in increased expectation in the quality of products and services desired. While, we are working hard to meet the exacting expectations of customers and other stakeholders, at Brigade, we are also conscious of the fact that we need to give back to the society, that has supported us. Towards this end, Brigade has taken up three key initiatives - to plant 30,000 trees across our various projects, to build 30 toilets in schools which need them and to start a Skill Development Centre focussed in the areas of construction, hospitality and retail.
Disruptions Galore - the last few weeks the world and India has witnessed multiple disruptions and is going to witness even more, which will have a huge impact in the way companies do business. While the world was coming to terms with BREXIT, the unexpected election of Mr. Donald Trump as President of the world’s most powerful economy, United States, has come as a shock due to his unpredictable policies. If Mr. Trump sticks to his pre-election promise on Immigration, Make in America & Anti-outsourcing policies, many developing countries, including India will be affected, adversely.
As if this wasn’t enough, on 8th November 2016, our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi announced the most disruptive policy - demonetisation of INR 500 & 1,000 currency. While the intention is noble (to eliminate fake currency, to curb black money in elections & business, to fight corruption and to move towards a cashless way of doing transactions), the immediate result is one of disruption in day-to-day activities. While I wholeheartedly support this bold initiative and pray for its success, the worrying factor is that, the business sentiment has turned negative. Hopefully, it is a temporary phenomenon and the positives of the policy initiative should outweigh the negatives. Only time will tell.
Two other forward looking Acts of the Central Government will have huge disruptive implications - RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Act) & GST (Goods & Services Tax). Both are likely to become a reality by April-May 2017. RERA should help streamline the real estate business and has many provisions to protect the interest of the customers.
Unfortunately, many draconian provisions are proposed against the developer which may lead to increased harassment & higher corruption. While the intention behind introduction of RERA is laudable, the implementation of the Act will be a cause for worry. It is likely to increase the overall cost for the developer & customer alike, due to compliance costs and added finance cost required, because of additional time for project approvals by RERA authority. Due to onerous provisions of RERA, hopefully the so called ‘fly by night’ developers will disappear from the scene and that should help organised developers to pursue business in a more professional environment.
Similarly, the GST Law should help streamline the tax administration in the country and it should help bring down the overall impact of duties & taxes on many products, thereby making Indian businesses more competitive. It should also help bring, larger number of business establishments under the tax net.
All the three initiatives of the Central Government - Demonetisation, RERA & GST are highly commendable, but will have a huge disruptive effect on the way companies have been doing business so far. Their impact on the country’s economy is expected to be very positive. The detractors must realise that there is ‘no gain without pain’.
As we enter the new year - 2017, one must realise that in this globalised world, one needs to be ready, to adapt to the constantly changing environment. Change seems to be the new certainty. Towards this end, Brigade has initiated the ‘Real Estate Accelerator Programme’ (Brigade REAP) to encourage, mentor & support ‘Start Ups’ in our area of operation.
Wishing all our readers & stakeholders Season’s Greetings and the very best during the New Year!
2016 has been a challenging year so far for companies, the state, the country & the world. Most countries in the world are struggling with troubled economies. The silver lining seems to be, United States, whose GDP is growing at a healthy rate of 3%, plus considering it is the largest economy contributing to 25% of the world’s economy. Though China’s GDP is growing at 6.5% & India’s at 7.5%, both countries have the problem of excess manufacturing capacities which were built to meet the expected demand of higher growth rates. India’s growth rate is questionable after the government changed the base data for calculations. What is surprising & distressing is that the State of Karnataka, generally considered as a progressive state, had a growth rate of 6.5% last year, which is below the national average.
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.
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.