New Year Holds Great Hope!

Kitchen at Ireo Waterfront, Ludhiana

Kitchen at Ireo Waterfront, Ludhiana

Year 2013 is going to bring cheer to homebuyers. Rohan D’Silva, the national director of Knight Frank India, says: “The silver lining for all those who missed the boat, both developers and consumers, is that 2013 will start a fresh innings. In a country that has an acute housing shortage there will always be takers provided the offerings are enticing.”

Pranab Datta, the chairman of Knight Frank India, said 2013 is going to be a game changer in terms of policies and regulations, as most of the bills that have been pending for the last few years are expected to be passed in Parliament in the coming quarters. Especially, in the case of real estate, the passage of two crucial bills, Real Estate Regulation Bill and Land Acquisition Bill, will boost the sentiment of all stakeholders, Datta says.

Parliament’s recent approval of FDI in multi-brand retail will attract foreign investment, which will not only benefit the retail industry but also boost the demand for commercial real estate. It also showcases the government’s seriousness in introducing reforms in India and this is just a preview of things to come. Additionally, the RBI can be expected to lower interest rates in the coming months, which will benefit developers as well as consumers.

The change in sentiment on account of the above measures will have a positive impact on all the segments of real estate, whether it is retail, office or residential and will certainly make 2013 a much better year in comparison to last year.

Read more: The Times of India

Indian real estate to see revival in 2013, says study

The Indian property market is likely to recover in 2013 as the policy and regulatory environment is expected to have a positive impact on the sector, according to a Knight Frank India report.

The passage of the real estate regulation Bill and land acquisition Bill are likely to boost sentiment. The approval of overseas investments in multibrand retail will also increase demand for commercial real estate, the property consultant said.

The current year has been disappointing for real estate developers because of falling sales and rising construction costs.

The cumulative revenue of the top 25 real estate companies declined 4% to Rs.6,744 crore in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to a report released earlier this week by Knight Frank.

Projects that offered differentiated products at a good price were well accepted by consumers, the report said. Some of the quick movers in the mass housing segments were products priced at Rs.4,000-5,500 per sq. ft in locations such as Noida, Navi Mumbai and north Bangalore. Launches in the range of Rs.16,000 to Rs.19,000 per sq. ft from reputed developers in central Mumbai also saw good demand.

Read more: Mint

No government role in land acquisition for private hospitals, institutes

Hotels, hospitals and educational institutions belonging to the private sector will no longer be eligible for land acquisition by government, implying the promoters will have to negotiate and buy land themselves.

The proposed land acquisition amendment bill has removed private hotels, hospitals and educational bodies from the definition of ‘infrastructure’ that falls under ‘public purpose’ – a category entitled for acquisition by government which is a big advantage over having to buy land through private negotiations.

A gazette notification in March 2012 had detailed the activities to be treated by state agencies as part of ‘infrastructure’.

The Union Cabinet has cleared the much-awaited legislation, paving the way for its introduction in Parliament in the last week of the winter session. While rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has set the process in motion, there are doubts if it can be passed in the remaining period which will be occupied by ‘promotion quota’.

The urgency over the bill is evident since Congress sees it as part of its farmer outreach. While Rahul Gandhi has made it an integral part of his political quiver, the delay in its enactment has frustrated the leadership.

Read more: The Times of India

Infrastructure

Relax infra lending norm for hospitality sector: FHRAI

The guideline for infrastructure lending in the hospitality sector needs to be relaxed further so as to cover a majority of upcoming projects to fuel growth in the sector, according to industry body FHRAI.

According to the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), under the harmonised master list of infrastructure sub-sectors only hotels of 3 star and above category – located outside cities with population of more than 1 million – are covered under infrastructure lending.

“This restrictive stipulation effectively excludes nearly 95 per cent of all hotel projects from within it’s preview,” FHRAI President and Vice Chairman and Manging Director of Hotel Leelaventure Vivek Nair told PTI.

Expanding the Master List of Infrastructure to include all the hotels throughout the country is required to make the benefit available to the industry, he added.

This would enable the hotel industry avail of financial assistance for 15 years, compared to present 8 to 10 years, at relatively lower rates of interest and replace the existing debts with external commercial borrowings (ECBs), Nair said.

Read more: The Economic Times

2 Metro trains on their way to Gurgaon

With hardly three months left before the network opens for commercial operations, the Rapid Metro authorities claim that things are moving as per schedule and the deadline would be met.

“Things are moving as per plan and almost all the infrastructure is in place. Already two trains have arrived and two other trains are on their way and will reach Gurgaon by the end of this month. In all five trains will be on the network but since one train will always be on standby, we can say that we will have all the operational trains in couple of weeks,” said a Rapid Metro Rail spokesperson.

“In the meanwhile, the electrification work and lying of tracks is going on as per schedule and as soon as it is complete we are likely to ask the commissioner of rail safety to come and inspect the line. Once we get this clearance we will start the commercial operations. Once these two trains arrive by the month end, we will integrate them with the network and the trial runs will begin. The trial run for the two trains that are already here are going on every day,” he said.

Read more: The Times of India

2-lane highways to be toll-free

New Delhi: In a major shift from its earlier stand of bringing more roads under toll network, the highways ministry would drop any proposal to charge toll on two-lane highways.

Sources said that this view has emerged following consensus among officials that providing a minimum two-lane highway is government’s “social responsibility”.

For over three years, there has been a debate on bringing all two-lane highways under tolling in order to recover the investment made for their expansion and the ministry had been planning to bring the issue before the Cabinet for its approval. But it has faced objection from one department or the other. “We don’t want any tolling on twolane highways. However, we need to take a decision on what should be the norm for levying toll. Without providing any additional facility or big comfort to commuters, bringing a tollfree road under tolling would go against commuters’ interest,” a government official said.

Read more: The Times of India

Business

In changing business world, HR is the key

Challenging times: (From left) Rajeev Bhatnagar, Vice-President and Head- HR, L&T; Arokia Sagayaraj, Head- HR, Renault Nissan Technology and Business Centre India; Sandeep Bhushan, Vice-President, HT Media Ltd; E. Balaji, MD and CEO, Randstad; David Raj, Global Head – Virtusa Corporation, at ‘The Hindu Shine HR Conclave – The Chennai Chapter’, in Chennai. — Bijoy Ghosh

The human resource fraternity must be at the forefront to battle out the challenging business environment, said E. Balaji, MD and CEO, Randstand, an HR consultancy firm.

“With dark clouds in the horizon in India and globally, can HR handle the strong headwinds, whether it is in cost optimisation or lay-off or any other decision? That is the big question,” said Balaji, at a panel discussion at an HR conclave organised by The Hindu and Shine, a job portal.

According to Rajeev Bhatnagar, Vice-President and Head – HR, Larsen & Toubro, talent acquisition is a major issue today.

“People are retiring but there are no leaders to fill the positions. Where do we get these people?”

Over 75 per cent of Virtusa Corporation’s 6,500 people belong to the millennial generation.

How does the IT consulting company address this challenge?

“By giving them the platform they want,” said David Raj, Global Head of HR.

“It is not true that Gen Y is casual and has no loyalty. They are serious about their careers provided you give them the relevant opportunities. They are loyal to their community, not the brand. You must provide the environment they are used to.”

Read more: Business Line

Economy/Policy

India Inc hopes CCI works, land Bill clears House

With the Cabinet on Thursday clearing the proposal for constituting a Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to fast-track large infrastructure projects along with the Land Acquisition Bill, India Inc is hopeful that the government would give the required push to make the first work effectively and ensure that the second doesn’t face roadblocks in Parliament.

Since the setting up of the CCI is an executive decision, the Cabinet’s decision is final and the government only needs to ensure that it works effectively and doesn’t end up like the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure that it has replaced. However, the Land Bill needs to be passed by Parliament and industry hopes for its smooth passage though it has some reservations on it. Further, land being a state subject, it remains to be seen how far the different state government are willing to go in following the guidelines set by it.

Industry captains FE spoke to expressed mixed reactions. While some expressed disappointment since the CCI’s mandate is seen to have been watered down from what the original proposal entailed when it was referred to as the National Investment Board (NIB), there was also hope that since the PM is chairing it, the mechanism would be effective. Earlier, the idea was that the body would work as an agency that can overrule line ministries and also act as an appellate authority against their rulings. However, the Cabinet has approved a structure where it would work as a coordinating agency with no powers to overrule line ministries or act as an appellate body.

Read more: Financial Express

Call to improve land customs infrastructure

Anup K. Pujari, Director-General of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Commerce on Friday said the land customs infrastructure should be improved to boost the bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh.

According to Pujari, 43 per cent of the total trade between the two countries is dependent on land ports.

“Condition of roads from Kolkata to Petrapole needs to be improved. Turnaround time for trucks should also be reduced (to improve the infrastructure),” Pujari said here while addressing a convention on Indo-Bangladesh relations organised by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce.

He added that the Indian Government was “deeply concerned” about the rising transaction costs in the bilateral trade. “Common weighing (for trucks from both India and Bangladesh) should be introduced…to reduce the transaction costs,” he said.

Read more: Business Line

Education

MDI Gurgaon faculty in Harvard Business School Hall of Fame

On the occasion of successful completion of 10 years of Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, founder professor Michael E Porter presented Dr Amit Kapoor, honorary chairman, Institute of Competitiveness, India with Competitiveness Hall of Fame award for his exemplary contribution with substantial global and national impact in the area of national economic competitiveness, strategy, creating shared value et al.

Kapoor received the honor during a ceremony at Harvard Business School on December 11, 2012. The distinctive honor – Competitiveness Hall of Fame – is awarded to those dignitaries who with their academic and research contributionsto the competitiveness network have made a positive influence on the society. The competitiveness network comprises of both universities and business schools spread across the globe, which are more than 100.

The award was given to Kapoor for his contribution to the study and evolution of the concepts of competitiveness internationally and for India specifically. Only nine people globally have been admitted to this hall of fame.

Read more: The Times of India

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