Housing prices rise by up to 9.6 pc in 18 major cities: NHB

Ireo Skyon, Gurgaon

Ireo Skyon, Gurgaon

Housing prices have risen in 18 major cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, by up to 9.6 per cent during October-December period 2012 compared with the previous quarter, according to National Housing Bank (NHB).

Mumbai and Delhi witnessed the maximum increase in housing price at 9.6 per cent each.

Out of 20 cities tracked by NHB ‘RESIDEX’, prices have dropped in only two cities — Faridabad and Indore.

“In majority of the cities prices are witnessing upward trend,” NHB said in a statement.

“The movement in prices of residential properties has shown increasing trend in 18 cities ranging from 0.6 per cent in Chennai to 9.6 per cent in Delhi & Mumbai, and fall in only two cities namely Indore (-1.0 per cent) and Faridabad (-5.1 per cent) during the quarter October-December 2012 in comparison to the previous quarter July-September 2012,” it added.

Prices have shot up by 9.4 per cent each in Kolkata and Patna, followed by Kochi (8.8 per cent), Surat (8.7 per cent), Bengaluru (8.2 per cent) and Lucknow (8 per cent).

Read more: The Economic Times

Land acquisition bill to re-enter with 157 changes

The UPA government is likely to reintroduce the Land Acquisition Bill with a mammoth 157 amendments in the budget session of Parliament.

Out of the 26 ‘substantive’ measure the government plans to push through includes a provision that in case of acquisition for urbanization purposes, 20% of the developed land would be reserved and offered to the original owners at a price equal to the cost of acquisition and development. But as has been the case in previous versions of the bill, the finer details of such provisions will decide who it favours in the end.

Say, in this case, the definition of what constitutes ‘urbanization’ has been left undefined. Government managers claim it will give flexibility to state governments to decide upon the matter.

The case for protecting rights of tribals in Schedule V areas has also fallen in such a grey zone. Consent from the tribal gram sabha concerned may not be a must for acquiring their lands as state governments will have the option of getting consent from a higher level panchayati raj body, such as zilla parishad or the autonomous district councils – an easier task.

Read more: The Times of India

Infrastructure

Single window clearance key for road projects

Against a background of slowing growth, increased public investment is required to crowd in private investment to pull the economy out of the current economic slowdown.

The recent reform measures initiated by the government gives positive hope that the Budget will attempt to provide a concrete road map for garnering higher growth, regain fiscal discipline and win back investors confidence.

Investments in infrastructure is expected to double during the 12th Plan, of which half is expected to come from the private sector. A boost to infrastructure sector is obligatory in the Budget to provide a momentum for the investment cycle recovery.

High gestation period and volatile interest rate environment have made most of the infrastructure projects unviable. Considering the current macroeconomic scenario, the Government should incorporate infrastructure lending under the category of priority sector lending such as agriculture, SSI and so on. Priority sector lending helps the infrastructure sector to procure loans at reduced interest rates with discounts to promote this sector.

Read more: Business Line

Rs 17,000 cr to be spent on Punjab roads next fiscal

The Punjab Mandi Board will spend Rs 17,000 crore to improve road network and set up grain markets in rural areas in the state during the next financial year (2013-14). Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board, today said the board would spend the money to repair 13,000 km of link roads in the state.

Lakhowal further said the board had already set up five grain markets while nine were under construction. He said work on four storage houses had also been completed. A portion in each store was air-conditioned. The stores would also have provisions for cold storage.

The board wanted the farmers to diversify into other crops and start growing maize which was in heavy demand around the world, Lakhowal said. “We have bought two dryers from Taiwan which could be used to dry moisture from the maize crop,” he said. Lakhowal said the Mandi Board was also busy in developing forestry in the state. It has purchased land to set up four wood markets at Ludhiana, Balachaur, Dasuya etc. He said they would also provide shops to arhtiyas, install sawing machines at the markets and waive market fee on wood.

He said a modern fruits and vegetables’ market and an office building of the board was being set up on 15 acres and two acres respectively in Mohali. Both projects would be completed at a cost of Rs 110 crore, he added.

Economy

Budget hopes for savers and investors

Savers and investors, pinched by inflation, are widely expected to get sops to put away more in the piggy bank in the upcoming Union Budget. Here are a few measures, culled from a long list that may materialise.

The first tax slab for the salaried, which is completely exempt from tax, was increased from Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 2 lakh in the last Budget, in line with the recommendations of the Direct Taxes Code Bill. This is expected to be raised further in this Budget.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended a further increase in the tax exemption limit to Rs 3 lakh. If that seems too steep, it is hoped that the limit will at the least go up to Rs 2.5 lakh. The Finance Minister is likely to help you with investing that extra money he is putting in your hands too.

The Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme that was introduced in the last Budget now offers a tax break on Rs 25,000 of investments.

This cap may be raised. The eligibility criteria for investing in this scheme are also expected to be relaxed. There may be some additional tax incentives for investment in corporate bonds too.

Read more: Business Line

Hospitality

Gurgaon emerges as a RevPAR leader in India’s luxury hotel segment

Gurgaon, New Delhi’s flourishing satellite city, is today one of the country’s most promising hospitality markets. Currently, Gurgaon’s existing branded inventory stands at above 4,000 rooms, with a planned pipeline of over 4,500 rooms. Of these, over 50 percent are mid-scale and budget supply. Virtually all domestic and international hotel operators aspire for representation in Gurgaon, if they are not already present.

Backed by a strong corporate and industrial base, the Gurgaon hospitality market has consistently demonstrated strong performance. It has gradually emerged as an independent micro-market from New Delhi. As per STR Global, the Gurgaon hotel market has emerged as a RevPAR (revenue per available room) leader in the five star segment of India for 2012.

Gurgaon posted a RevPAR of INR 7,200, which is 22 percent and 27 percent higher than the five star segments in Mumbai and Bangalore respectively. It is one of the few hotel markets in the country that did not see a dramatic performance decline during the economic downturn.

Read more: Hospitalitynet

Retail

Foreign retail chains to heat up real estate by store expansion

Starbucks, Hennes and Mauritz (H&M), Hamleys, Lacoste and Gron Stockholm are among the foreign chains set to be active in the Indian retail real estate space this year, according to market intelligence. Swedish furniture company IKEA, too, will scout for large space to set up its outlets on the outskirts of big cities.

Of these, IKEA is awaiting a clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for investing Rs 10,500 crore in India for opening stores. While Swedish fashion chain H&M is in the process of applying for India entry, American coffee chain Starbucks has opened stores in Mumbai and Delhi through a joint venture with the Tatas. Others like UK-based toy major Hamleys, French apparel brand Lacoste and European kidswear chain Gron Stockholm are present in the country through local partnerships.

Among the Indian retailers, Reliance Retail is likely to be a lead player in terms of expansion, followed by Bharti group, both for Easy Day and Bharti-Walmart’s cash and carry or wholesale stores, analysts pointed out. Aditya Birla Group and Spencers, too, may be on a store expansion spree this year. (NCR TO TOP IN MALL SUPPLY IN 2013)

Read more: Business Standard

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