India ranks 9th globally for office space demand, says RICS

Ireo Waterfront, Ludhiana

Ireo Waterfront, Ludhiana

India ranks ninth in fourth quarter of 2012 as compared to the nineteenth in the third quarter of the same period in terms of occupier demand and available commercial real estate space in the country, according to RICS’ global commercial property survey.

However, India still lags behind Thailand, Hong Kong and China on these parameters, as was the case the previous quarter but it improved its performance over Japan.

“Asia appears to remain a particularly attractive location for investors seeking out commercial real estate assets with sentiment still strongly positive,” Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said.

The better pattern for realty markets in the country is visible in the investment market, which is also starting to filter through to the occupier side as well. Investment enquiries in India edged up and elicited a positive trend for the first time since 2011, the report mentioned.

During the last quarter of 2012, enquires for the office segment has been the most pronounced with both investment activity and prices looking to be positive for the second consecutive quarter.

“There should be an increase in demand for commercial real estate and increased investor confidence, as presently there is a mismatch in lease rates and capital values. All this would motivate developers to build quality shopping centers with a clear vision to long term profit.”” Mohit Verma, MRICS general manager – sales and leasing (Commercial), Raheja Developers said.

Read more: The Economic Times

2013 a fresh beginning, with hopes for policy reform and better sentiment in real estate sector

The year 2013 will be a game changer for the real estate industry, in terms of policies and regulations , with most pending bills expected to be passed in Parliament in the coming quarters, according to Pranab Datta, Chairman – Knight Frank India. Specifically in the case of real estate , these include the passage of two crucial bills, namely Real Estate Regulation Bill and Land Acquisition Bill, which are expected to boost the sentiment of all stakeholders.

Pointing out that the government is serious on introducing reforms in India – as can be seen from the recent approval of FDI in multi-brand retail – Mr Datta believes that the RBI can also 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 the last year,” he says.

Looking on the bright side from a home buyer’s point of view, he observes that the year can be considered positive for property buyers as prices have remained stagnant unlike the previous two years where most of the cities witnessed a steep price rise. “This offers a window of opportunity for those buyers who were sitting on the fence till now to start considering their purchase decision,” he explains.

Read more: The Economic Times

Norms relaxed for EWS flats

With less than nine months left for the assembly polls, chief minister Sheila Dikshit took a step towards wooing the city’s poor. She relaxed eligibility norms for allotment of EWS flats build to relocate slum dwellers. The cut off deadline for eligible slum dwellers now stands extended from March 31, 2007 to June 4, 2009.

To bring more people into the eligibility fold, the government has decided to make way for documents like the UID Aadhaar numbers and all documents recognized by the election commission as proof of identity. It has also been decided that all JJ dwellers located on right of the way, road berns and footpath will be relocated provided they fulfil other eligibility conditions.

The CM had before the 2008 assembly polls promised expeditious allotment of EWS houses to eligible poor. While nearly 10,000 flats lie vacant in areas like Bawana, Narela in northwest Delhi, the eligibility criteria of allotment of flats to slums dwellers to be relocated has been revised many times over the last few years as few were seen to be making the cut.

Even the state’s eligibility survey on the basis of the 2007 cut off date came under controversy as it was found that barely 40% of the slum dwellers could make the cut defeating the very purpose of relocation and rehabilitation. “Earlier people were asked to produce ration cards. But most don’t have them. Thus this time we have decided to ease the norms by adding all those documents that are recognized by the Election Commission of India as a proof of identity and residential proof,” minister for urban development Arvinder Singh said.

Read more: The Times of India

Economy

India will eventually need no aid: Bill Gates

"The lives of the poorest have improved more rapidly in the last 15 years than ever before, yet I am optimistic that we will do even better in the next 15 years."Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates today said India is becoming less dependent on aid and eventually would not need it.

His remark came while observing that economic growth is allowing many developing nations to devote more resources for their poorest people.

“The good news on resources is that many developing countries have growing economies that allow them to devote more resources to helping their poorest people. India, for example, is less dependent on aid and will eventually not need it,” Gates said in his annual letter.

Gates, Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is actively involved in various developmental activities in many countries, including India.

According to him, aid is critical as it helps in meeting the basic needs of people in the poorest countries.

“Unfortunately, aid generosity is threatened by big deficits in almost all of the rich countries … A single story, true or not, about a small amount of aid being misused can often cloud the entire field,” he noted.

Gate, who is the co-founder of software giant Microsoft, said that some countries, like the UK, Norway, Sweden, Korea, and Australia, are increasing their aid while traditionally generous givers such as Japan and the Netherlands have reduced it.

Read more: The Economic Times

Infrastructure

National Highways Authority reaches out to highway builders for smoother drive

Stung by the decision of two leading developers to walk out of two large road contracts, key ministries led by the Prime Minister’s Office have initiated a damage control exercise to ensure that other private developers do not follow suit, leaving behind a raft of halfbuilt highway projects.

The last two weeks have also seen a concerted attempt by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to informally reach out to these highway builders to ascertain the extent of the problems they face, top officials at three large infrastructure firms told ET.

“We have been asked to submit a laundry list of developers’ problems with proposals for remedial steps, which we should be sending within a week,” said M Murali, director general of National Highway Builders’ Federation. He added that the PMO, finance ministry and the road transport and highways ministry were concerned about the crises enveloping the sector, one of the rare successes in India’s infrastructure story.

Some 21,000 km of road projects were awarded in the last three years, but earlier this month GMRBSE 6.88 % and GVK walked out of previously awarded projects citing delays in getting environmental clearances. GMR was the first, walking out of the Rs 7,200 crore Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad road project for which it had bid to pay NHAI an annual premium of Rs 636 crore. A fortnight later, GVK Infrastructure turned its back on the Rs3,200 crore Shivpuri-Dewas project it had won in January 2012.

Read more: The Economic Times

Bond-guarantee fund to boost infra likely

The finance minister may announce in the upcoming Budget a bond-guarantee fund, which would be aided by multilateral institutions like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), as a part of the effort to carry forward the financial sector reforms needed to mobilise resources for infrastructure development in the 12th plan period.

The proposed fund will help reduce the reliance on government guarantees for various projects, especially public-private partnership. The fund is aimed at attracting more takers for corporate debt by reducing the risk of bond holders. The idea is to garner more long-term funds from the domestic debt market.

ADB officials confirmed to FE that they are providing technical assistance for setting up the bond-guarantee fund. “India has requested the ADB to examine the modalities, scope and potential for the establishment of a bond guarantee-fund for India that supports the development of the local currency bond market to meet India’s infrastructure and non-infrastructure financing requirements,” an official said.

The modalities will be completed by October 2013 but an announcement may be made in the Budget for 2013-14, an official said requesting anonymity.

Read more: Financial Express

Skywalk or tunnel? Plan to link rly station to Airport Metro

Dragging strolleys from the New Delhi railway station to the Airport Metro’s New Delhi station will soon be a thing of the past. Because there is now a move to directly connect the Ajmeri Gate end of the railway station to the Airport Metro platform.

Sources said the plan to connect the railway station to the Metro source was proposed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). The Delhi division of the Northern Railway is analysing the technical feasibility of the plan. The division is looking at plans to have an elevated skywalk or an underground tunnel leading to the Airport Metro station.

“This proposal to bridge the distance between the railway station and the Airport Metro station will boost connectivity and increase ridership on the airport line,” a senior official said. The Airport Metro line originates at the New Delhi station, which is over 200 metres away from the Ajmeri Gate end of the railway station.

“The idea behind the Airport Metro originating at New Delhi was to receive commuter footfall from the railway station, especially those with connecting flights. All airport metros globally are connected to another mode of transport,” the official said.

Read more: Indian Express

Info-tech

Maps tech helps economy make its way ahead

The Indian geoservices industry generated $3 billion in revenue in 2011, while accounting for approximately 1.35 lakh jobs.

Though we use maps every day to find a range of information, whether it’s a nearby hospital or a good cup of coffee, there exists a huge industry behind the maps. The contributions it makes to our economy, and the benefits it provides to both consumers and businesses was mapped by Google, which commissioned BCG to tabulate a report.A Google map view of India and its neighbouring countries. (Image Courtesy- Google Map)

The report said the impact of the geoservices industry is valued at approximately 15 times its own size. In India, geoservices help Indian businesses drive $40-45 billion in revenue, save $70-75 billion in costs and affect 8-9 million jobs in India.

Ready to pay more

The BCG report also found that Indian consumers are also willing to pay $1.5-2 billion more than they currently do for geospatial services such as online maps, navigation systems and local searches.

Lalitesh Katragadda, Country Head, Google said, “Geoservices helped generate $2 billion in revenue within the Indian accommodation and food services industry alone. Restaurants reported benefiting from new customers finding them through local searches, while users benefit as it makes it easier for them to find the information on local.”

Read more: Business Line

Retail

Italian brands like Alberta Ferretti, Pollini, Gattinoni are gearing up to enter India

A clutch of Italian fashion brands is gearing up to enter India, in the latest thrust by high-end merchandise makers wanting to tap new money in a country where luxury retail is showing signs of a pick-up.

According to Luxury Connect, a Delhi-based marketing firm that works exclusively with luxury brands, fashion houses Moschino and Alberta Ferretti, Pollini, Gattinoni, Byblos and Scorpion Bay have signed up their entry strategy and partner search operations.

“We have signed agreements to scout for potential partners in India for these brands,” said Abhay Gupta, Luxury Connect’s founder promoter and CEO. All, except Scorpion Bay, have plans of appointing a franchise partner.

Joining these brands are Brunello Cucinelli and Sergio Rossi, which two people familiar with the development said are in talks for a partnership in the country.

India’s luxury market is expected to touch $14.73 billion by 2015, according to industry estimates, from an estimated $8.21 billion this year. Analysts attribute it to the expanding class of high networth individuals in the country.

Read more: The Economic Times

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