ECONOMICS TOP OF MIND, PM REJIGS TEAM

The Financial Express

The first cabinet reshuffle in the UPA government’s second term on Wednesday saw ministers eased out from key economic portfolios where the government has been accused of non-performance, but stopped short of removing them from the cabinet. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accordingly took away the ministries of food and consumer affairs from Sharad Pawar to counter charges that the government has been slow in waking up to the inflation spiral. The reshuffle was accompanied by the swearing-in of eight ministers by the President, including three of cabinet rank.

Singh also moved Jaipal Reddy from urban development to steer petroleum ministry. Among the senior ministers who got the axe was roads and highways minister Kamal Nath, who failed to live up to his promise to get 20 km of road built daily. He has moved to urban development.

Real Estate Brokers Unite

REAL ESTATE BROKERS FORM FORUM TO ADDRESS ISSUES
Naresh Kamath, Mumbai
Hindustan Times

With the Real Estate Regulatory Body all set to come into existence in the next few months, around 900 real estate brokers have decided to organize themselves and form a collective forum. The decision was taken in a meeting held on Tuesday where brokers decided to adopt a professional approach to their business and also institute a code of conduct for themselves. Sangeet Kumar, CEO, 1stMumbaiproperties.com, a leading brokerage firm, said “Our forum would take up issues like licensing of the brokerage community and standardization of brokerage amounts.”

According to experts, brokers are facing stiff competition from corporate and banking firms, which have started offering property search services.

Real Estate Finance

LIC HOUSING FINANCE’S PROFIT INCREASES 39 PERCENT TO RS 2,13.5 CRORE
Mumbai
The Financial ExpressThe Hindu Business LineThe Economic Times |

Mortgage lender LIC Housing Finance (LICHF) on Wednesday announced a profit after tax (PAT) of Rs 213.49 crore, for the quarter ended December 2010, up 39 percent year-on-year. A strong net interest margin of 3.14 percent drove up the net interest income (NII) by 55 percent to Rs 352 crore. Sequentially, the NIM rose 21 basis points.

V K Sharma, director and chief executive, LICHF, said, “Driven primarily by retail business, growth has been robust. Despite tight liquidity and rising cost of funds, we have raised funds at very competitive rates, thereby improving the NIMs over Q2.”

Sharma added that the firm had become extra cautious while giving project loans. “Our project loan shares of the total loan book has come down to 10.5 percent from 11.4 percent in the September quarter, 2010. We are revising all sanctioned project loans and part- disbursed loans and checking every supporting document.”

Sharma explained that the profit from sale of investments was due to the sale of a 19 percent stake in LIC Mutual Fund to the Japanese Financial services company, Nomura. LICHF now holds around 20 percent stake in LIC MF. “We have generated Rs 137 crore through the sale,” he said.

In compliance with the latest National Housing Board (NHB) clarification regarding provisioning on standard assets, LICHF has made provisions of Rs 235 crore on loans disbursed under fixed cum floating rates. The shares of the company on Wednesday ended at Rs 170.35, up 9.61 percent on the NSE.

Delhi NCR/Gurgaon News

NO NEW SEZ IN GURGAON TILL WATER ISSUE SETTLED: HARYANA TO DEVELOPERS
Sukhdeep Kaur, Chandigarh
The Indian Express

With 30 of 34 Special Economic Zones notified so far in “parched” Gurgaon, Haryana, no new SEZ in the area may be allowed unless the area’s water supply is augmented or the developer shows from where it intends to source water.

Haryana Principal Secretary (Industries) Y S Malik on Wednesday said: “Gurgaon is a grey zone as far as the groundwater situation is concerned. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has also banned digging of borewells in the area.”

MCD REITERATES DEMAND TO AMEND MASTER PLAN-2021
New Delhi
The Hindu

Blaming the Congress-ruled Central and Delhi Governments for “failing” to find out a permanent solution to the problems of sealing and demolition in Delhi’s Special Areas, rural areas and unauthorized colonies, the BJP-led Municipal Corporation of Delhi has re-iterated its demand for necessary amendment to the Delhi Master Plan-2021. The civic body has also requested that till such a permanent amendment bringing these areas under protection from sealing and demolition as a matter of policy comes through, a notification should be issued to stop demolition and sealing in these areas with immediate effect.

MCD Leader of House Subhash Arya said: “The government keeps issuing temporary ordinances and notifications for a limited period moratorium on sealing and demolition action. However, inaction to find a permanent solution has left the sword of demolition hanging over people residing in these areas due to which they are neither able to repair or rebuild their old houses nor was the MCD able to sanction their building plans.”

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