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.
It may seem strange that while the Indian economy is subdued, the Indian stock market indices are breaking records every other month. While too much hot money is channeled into the stock market, one only hopes, that this reflects the underlying strength of the economy.
Our country is slowly but surely recovering from the shock of Demonetisation and GST. Unfortunately for the government, Demonetisation did not succeed as expected and it also did not give the government, the expected windfall. Despite this, Demonetisation was a bold initiative which helped in bringing idle black money into mainstream circulation, resulting in softer interest rates.
On the other hand, GST implementation is a mammoth effort. We must credit the State & the Central Government for all the proactive steps, they are taking to make this most complicated initiative a success. Over time, the benefit to the country will be immense and there will be a paradigm shift in the way, business is conducted across the country. While there are many critics, one should remember - Nothing ventured, Nothing gained.
GST is one major legislation to help integrate our subcontinent. It is generally felt that other initiatives like ‘Make in India’ are beginning to make the intended impact, as order books of several Indian manufacturing companies are believed to be full.
The much-awaited RERA has come into effect in most States during the last 6 months. It is bound to have its disruptive impact on the sector but will help separating the ‘grain from the chaff’. Realising that the Indian Real Estate is still reeling under the three-pronged attack (Demonetisation, GST & RERA), the Central government has liberalised the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme by extending credit linked subsidy of about `2.30 lakhs to even good sized apartments of upto 150 sq.m. for people with income up to `18 lakhs. This should surely help in giving the required push, to improve demand for real estate.
With ‘profit booking’ expected in stocks & mutual fund investments, some amount of the profits are expected to flow into the Real Estate sector, which is also showing ‘green shoots’ in Q3 as compared to earlier quarters.
During the last few months of the year, we were able to complete a number of projects (Brigade AT No. 7 in Hyderabad; Brigade Mountain View & Pearl at Brigade Palmgrove in Mysore; Brigade Cosmopolis and Brigade Lakefront ‘A’; Brigade Omega and Wisteria @ Brigade Meadows; Cedar, Deodar and Parkside @ Brigade Orchards; Brigade NorthRidge; Brigade Bhuwalka Icon, all in Bangalore).
Our 274 keys CBD hotel, Holiday Inn Express Race Course Bengaluru became operational helping us cross the magical 1000 room mark, under our portfolio. And we are gearing up to launch several exciting, new Commercial & Residential projects, mostly in Bangalore and a few in Mysore.
With all the surprises and shocks of the last twelve months behind us, one hopes that the New Year will augur well for Brigade and for the Indian economy. With that hope, wishing everyone, Season’s Greetings and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.