Soon, check online if housing project has got all approvals

Ireo Fiveriver, Panchkula

Ireo Fiveriver, Panchkula

The government plans to fast track approvals for real estate projects and put up all approval status online in a move that will help consumers check if a project is approved before booking a house and bring down home prices.

A committee on streamlining approval procedures for real estate projects, headed by former Competition Commission of India chairman Dhanendra Kumar, will submit its report to the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation this week and it will form the basis of a policy guideline that all states will need to follow, a senior government official said.

“These guidelines would be one of the conditions precedent for states to access central government funding from the housing ministry,” the person said on condition of anonymity.

The committee is likely to suggest bringing all state and central clearances on two separate electronic platforms so that builders can get faster clearances without having to go to multiple authorities for individual approvals.

Uploading approval status on the Internet will be a great relief to home buyers who till now have had to go by the developer’s word that all approvals have been taken before the launch of a project, only to see it gets stuck after paying significant sums due to the lack of some approval or the other.

Faster approvals will also help builders bring down home prices significantly because approval delays, which sometimes run into years, result in costs escalating by up to 40%.

Read more: The Economic Times

An optimistic future

Developers across the city are expecting favourable policies and industry status in the New Year, says NISHA SWAMI

While the end of 2012 witnessed the initiation of a few regulations by the government benefitting the realty industry, 2013 can be considered as the starting point for these policies to be executed. Several experts feel that 2013 would witness the much needed steps to be formulated for the realty sector.

Sukhraj Nahar, CMD, Nahar Group says, “The real estate industry is currently passing through a transformation. All of its participants have made serious efforts to bring transparency in 2012. Going forward, we feel this will help both industry players and stakeholders. The industry is still unorganised and its efforts with the government for awarding them industry status are in progress.” Nahar also has a lot of expectations from the government in terms of various positive initiatives like priority lending from banks, immediate rate cut by RBI and single window clearance for project approvals.

The economy had its share of ups and downs during the last year, but it picked up in the end because of a few government initiatives. Samujjwal Ghosh, Head of Marketing, Lodha Group says, “The Indian economy slowed down between mid 2011 and mid 2012, but then bottomed out and started rebounding. This was partly because interest rates started falling and partly because the government started taking proactive measures to push up the economy in the last few months. Also, last year many developers adopted a wait and watch attitude due to changes in FSI norms and approvals, which will now change as the sector will be buoyant this year. This is good news for the industry as well as for customers being a win-win situation for both.”

Read more: The Times of India

Investment

Indian American hoteliers looking at big investments in India

Hoteliers of Indian origin, who independently own over 8000 properties in America valued at around $54 billion, are now keen on investing in various sectors in India including hospitality, healthcare and education. “Hospitality is where our members see the biggest value when making investments in India. For us, it will be very easy to replicate the business model that we have followed successfully in America for so many years. There is a huge requirement of rooms in India and the budget hotel model that we are looking at is different from the ones already there in India. For us budget properties means quality hotels which are safe, secure and clean and the opportunity in India, specially smaller cities, is huge,” Alkesh Patel, chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) of America, told ET at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas event in Kochi.

Patel is president of the family-owned Trupadi Inc in Washington state, which manages branded and boutique properties and strip malls. “This is a very good time for Indian origin hoteliers in America to diversify their portfolio and enter the Indian market. In fact, it’s also a good time for business persons in India to tap opportunities in the US in the hospitality sector for a good return on investment through partnerships with us,” Mr Patel added.

Read more: The Economic Times

Infrastructure

India will soon have world’s most extensive NH networks

The country will soon have one of the world’s most extensive National Highway networks through various phases of the National Highways Development Project, Union minister of state for road transport and Highways Sarvey Sathyanarayana said here today.

The projects were being financed largely through user fees from toll collection points on these improved highways, he said after inaugurating the 73rd annual session of Indian Roads Congress (IRC), here tonight.

The country has very large road network of over 3.34 million KM, comprising around 79,116 KM length of National Highways, 1.30 lakh KM State Highways, 3.14 millions of Major District Roads, rural and urban roads, he said.

However, maintenance and rehabilitation was one of the important areas for which availability of funds was not adequate compared to the demand, he said, adding that there was the need to work out appropriate maintenance strategies keeping in view the available budget and the required demand.

There was also the need to save scarce physical resource like aggregates, sand, earth, cement, bitumen, looking to huge programme of construction of highways in the country.

Construction of roads required huge amount of soil and a great part of it was drawn from fertile top soil suitable for agriculture purpose.

Read more: The Economic Times

Banking

LIC Housing Finance product to offer 0.25% discount to women

Insurance giant LIC’s home finance subsidiary LICHF today launched a new loan product for women that is offering a 0.25 per cent discount on card rate.

The product, christened ” Bhagyalakshmi”, will attract a 10 per cent interest for the first two years, which is 0.25 per cent lower than the company’s card rate, LIC Housing Finance (LICHF) said in a statement.

After the completion of the two-year-term, it will turn into a floating interest rate product, with the interest rate being linked to the company’s prime lending rate, the statement added.

Even after the migration to floating interest rate, the rate of interest will be 0.25 per cent lower, it added.

The floating rate “will be set at 25 bps lower than the rates applicable for other floating category home loans,” it said.

One bps (basis point) is equal to 0.01 per cent. The offer is valid till March 31 this year, it said.

Read more: The Economic Times

RBI eases foreign borrowing limit for infrastructure companies

The Reserve Bank of India said on Monday it has relaxed overseas borrowing limits for infrastructure finance companies, a move that will enable companies in the investment-hungry sector to raise funds more easily.

The Indian central bank said infrastructure finance companies will no longer need to seek approval for raising funds overseas equivalent to up to 75 percent of their owned funds. The limit had been 50 percent.

India’s infrastructure companies raise a large chunk of their borrowings from overseas because of attractive rates.

The RBI also relaxed the hedging requirement for currency risk for these companies to 75 percent of the exposure, from an earlier limit of 100 percent.

See article: The Economic Times

NRI

IRS to implement changes in ITIN procedure; to impact NRIs heading to US

Beginning January 1, 2013, the IRS will implement improvements to the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) application process. These changes will impact individuals who have recently moved to the US or who plan to move in the near future.

“The objective of these changes was to prevent fraudulent transactions. The IRS noticed an increase in fraudulent claims of certain provisions such as child tax credits and hence introduced these new stringent requirements. As a result, this will impact all immigrants,” explains Roy Vargis, an Illinois based CPA and promoter of http://www.IndianCPA.com.

Let us look at these changes and their impact.

What is an ITIN?

ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

When does one need an ITIN?

IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a US taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). Some examples:

1. You have arrived in the US on a visa that does not permit your dependent spouse to work (for instance H1). However, there are certain benefits such as increased standard deduction and personal exemption if you file your taxes as ‘Married Filing Jointly’. But in order to file such, your spouse would need an ITIN.

2. If you have moved to the US and your spouse is still in India, you will still be able to claim your spouse’s personal exemption in your tax return. However in such cases too, your spouse will need an ITIN.

Read more: The Economic Times

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