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Affordable housing emerging as new focus of housing finance firms: Industry

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New Delhi, May 29:  With a slew of reforms and push from the government, affordable housing — so far the poor second-cousin of real estate — is emerging as the preferred segment for housing finance institutions and developers alike, say industry stakeholders and experts.

“Affordable housing is now attracting the interest of more developers who had previously shunned it because of its down-market image. Today, it has become a respectable segment and with the government’s determined push… it now plays a very important role in the housing finance sector,” Anuj Puri, Residential Chairman of property consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle, told IANS.

LIC Housing Finance said it has identified affordable housing as the focus area for the current year and has devised strategies and action plans for greater emphasis on the sector.

Shankara Vaddadi, CEO and Founder of online peer-to-peer lending platform I-lend, told IANS, “With quick turnaround times, this sector is ripe for a new breed of housing finance companies to enter with much lower thresholds and quicker movement on disbursal. This will lead to competition.. we can see a new breed of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) getting into the sector and making quick inroads.”

According to a report by domestic ratings agency Crisil, affordable homes are altering mortgage market dynamics. It estimates that the segment was worth around Rs 1.6 lakh crore as on March 31, 2017 — accounting for over 25 per cent of all housing loans.

Affordable housing has the potential to be clean and quick, leading to lower operational and marketing costs and helping in creating a new category within the realty space.

Amol Shimpi, Associate Dean and Director, School of Real Estate, RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University, told IANS, “However, it must be noted that the business of affordable housing can prove tricky for the players if enough caution is not exercised. For example, bringing down the construction cost without compromising on quality may be easier said than done.”

While the segment is on a growth curve, the goal of providing affordable housing to all will be achieved by bridging the gap that currently exists between access to capital and execution capability.

The other aspect of affordable housing will be the increasing use of newer material for building houses and construction techniques which might revolutionise the sector.

Brotin Banerjee, MD and CEO, Tata Housing Development Company, said, “The growth and sustenance of this segment is as dependent on a dedicated public-private partnership (PPP) model as it is on the successful creation of infrastructure in the earmarked regions.

“The government’s focus on affordable housing is likely to spur private participation further. The segment can serve as a revenue stream in the wake of slower sales in other categories,” Banerjee told IANS.

Traditionally, the onus of supplying affordable housing has been with public sector entities. However, the entire ecosystem of regulators, developers or banks are coming together to push the government’s objective of “Housing for All”.

Not only the public sector but also private sector banks have reduced the home loan rates to boost the sector. State Bank of India, LIC Housing Finance and Housing Development Finance Corporation, among others, recently reduced home loan interest rates by up to 30 basis points.

Sudhir Pai, CEO, Magicbricks said that the company was already witnessing a spike of 40 per cent in searches and 30 per cent in owner listings since February.

“In addition to the lower rates for home loans, the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) released by the National Housing Bank (NHB) has also helped. This reduces the effective home loan rate for the borrower,” Pai said.

Under the CLSS, those in a salary bracket of up to Rs 6 lakh a year can avail a credit subsidy of 6.5 per cent on housing loans. In the Union Budget, a 4 per cent and 3 per cent interest subsidy was announced for those annually earning up to Rs 12 lakh and Rs 18 lakh, respectively, on home loans of up to Rs 12 lakh.

Additionally, the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is not expected to lead to an increase in the cost to the buyers.

Many construction materials are in the 18 and 28 per cent GST slabs. For example, steel and steel products are at 18 per cent and cement is at 28 per cent. Currently, the total tax burden is calculated at 30 to 31 per cent, which is 2-3 percent more than the proposed GST rate for cement. Also, as an input tax credit is available, the overall tax incidence should be neutralised.

“Thus, the basic construction cost may come down a little, but as the input tax credit is limited to 12 per cent, there may not be much saving in the high-end specification construction,” Surabhi Arora, Senior Associate Director, Research, Colliers International India, said.

“The question for the buyer will remain whether the developer will pass the saving in the form of price correction or not, despite the anti-profiteering clause because it may be difficult to monitor in real time,” Arora said.

Moreover, infrastructure status to the affordable housing segment and Real Estate Regulation and Development Act, 2016 (RERA) are considered crucial moves for its growth.

(IANS)

By Meghna Mittal

(Meghna Mittal can be reached at [email protected])

India

Time to fight destructive elements: Amjad Ali Khan

How can someone disturb the peace, tranquility and why is nobody reacting to it?

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Amjad Ali Khan

Veteran sarod player Amjad Ali Khan feels that it’s high time everyone stood up against “disturbing elements that are trying to take away peace from the world” — and artistes should show the way.

“Creative freedom needs some space. No world can stay united if you are not together from heart and soul. It’s time for us to stand together against terrorism and other destructive elements that are curbing our growth and making us go back in time,” Amjad Ali Khan said when asked about his take on the backlash faced by some artists from a section of society.

“How can someone disturb the peace, tranquility and why is nobody reacting to it? Education is important, but that is not the only way to bring compassion in a human being. It’s time to raise a hand and fight against destructive elements as we all know that it’s just one section of the world which is committed to destroying it,” he said, adding that “it’s time to fight against arrogance, hatred and destruction.”

Controversy over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati” is one example of how the medium of art and films is going through a tough time. Not only films, even comedians in the country, and music artistes from across the border, have had to face strident, and sometimes violent, opposition.

However, Amjad Ali Khan says, it was heartening that the world had more peace-loving people than those who would destroy it.

“I hope and pray… let the younger generation experience peace, harmony and tranquility in the world. As a human being I feel proud to see the achievements of mankind. However, I feel that an educational degree is important for any artiste today as a back-up plan. Creative fields don’t have formulas or methods (for success),” he said.

“I wish to have music shape the consciousness in a way that contributes to oneness in children; it must be more practical and less theoretical,” added Amjad Ali Khan who was in the capital to receive the 2017 Dayawati Modi Award for Art, Culture and Education for his contribution to Indian classical music.

Amjad Ali Khan is one of the undisputed masters of the music world. Over the course of a distinguished career spanning more than six decades, he has won numerous accolades, including a Grammy nomination, the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum, Unicef’s National Ambassadorship and the Fukuoka Cultural grand prize. He has performed at venues the world over, including Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall, as well as at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2014 in Oslo, Norway.

He feels that musical vibrations can convey moods and emotions and have the ability tomould and shape our consciousness. “Different types of music can have different effects on the mind — both positive and negative. Our mind is like any living organism. It must be nurtured and needs stimulation to develop and grow. Music is one of the most important ‘foods’ for the intellect. Each musical note is connected to this most important part of our minds,” said Amjad Ali Khan.

He said is happy to see the progress of young artistes in India. “They are very fortunate to get access to so much content today through YouTube and many other mediums. However, to be a professional, you must learn from a teacher.” Amjad Ali Khan’s sons, Ayaan and Amaan, are taking forward the legacy and so he is satisfied with the way they have kept the tradition going.

“My years of teaching my sons were quite an experience. It was a first time that I was able to hold a student in my lap. In a family where music is a way of life and is basic to life, the training starts from the moment a child is born,” he said.

“In the course of Amaan’s and Ayaan’s training (which is an ongoing process for a classical musician), I never encouraged them to copy my style of playing beyond a point. As they developed and matured as musicians I was relieved to see both brothers developing a very distinctive and rather different approach to what was taught. This, I feel, is only natural as music is a reflection of an individual’s mind and soul,” the veteran sarod player said.

So what keeps him busy nowadays? “Today, I am experimenting, doing interesting projects. The world has indeed become a global village. Musically, there is so much more that has to be done. It’s a long journey. I am looking forward to my collaborations this year with Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Moscow State Philharmonic Orchestra. I hope that we can bring these projects to India too,” he said.

IANS

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NIIT announces strategic initiative to drive cultures of service excellence across organizations worldwide

Enters into an exclusive partnership with UP! Your Service, founded by award-winning Service Culture Consultant Ron Kaufman.

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NIIT Limited

New Delhi/ Goa, 2nd November, 2017: NIIT Limited, a global leader in Skills and Talent Development, entered into a strategic partnership with UP! Your Service, the global leader in creating cultures of service excellence worldwide. Founded by Ron Kaufman, the globally renowned Service Culture Consultant, UP! Your Service works with organizations across the world, equipping them with customer service principles, training tools, and best practices to make their strategy of continuous service improvement come alive – to make it real, scalable, and sustainable. Under this partnership NIIT will help implement a culture of service excellence across organizations using UP! Your Service’s global expertise and tools in this area.

NIIT’s partnership with UP! Your Service is a strategic move to expand its Corporate Learning portfolio to deliver internal and external cultures of Service Excellence. In addition to its cutting-edge Managed Training Services (MTS), NIIT will now offer services like Service Culture Indicator, Service Leader Workshops, and Service Excellence Workshops to take organizations to a new level of service that is enabled by fundamental principles and actionable models. Through this tie-up with UP! Your Service, NIIT aims to create a huge difference in the way organizations work to create value for their customers and colleagues.

Sapnesh Lalla

Mr. Sapnesh Lalla, CEO, NIIT Limited

Speaking on this significant partnership, Mr. Sapnesh Lalla, CEO, NIIT Limited, said, “We at NIIT, have always believed in Quality and Value Creation. We are excited to embark on a very significant initiative – Delivering Service Excellence and Increasing the Value that our Customers derive from their association with NIIT. We are delighted to partner with UP! Your Service, the world leader in this space in a strategic move to significantly expand our Corporate Learning portfolio.”

The world is in a deep service crisis. With the global economies transforming at record speed, most companies are largely unprepared for the service demands they face day and night from around the world. To address this service crisis, NIIT has partnered with UP! Your Service, founded by Ron Kaufman, one of the world’s most sought-after educators, consultants, business thought-leaders, and motivational customer service keynote speakers on the topic of achieving superior service. His methodology includes a set of proven service principles, leadership rules, culture-building blocks and implementation roadmaps that apply effectively across all industries and cultures. This methodology is easily customized to suit the unique needs of each organization, including all departments and team members from the leadership to the frontline.

Service Earns a Higher Premium

Ron Kaufman

Ron Kaufman, Founder and Chairman, UP! Your Service, said, “Providing superior service is essential to achieving continued success in our competitive world. Organizations with a powerful service reputation and a superior service culture will attract and retain the best talent, achieve market leadership, and enjoy sustainable success. Digital transformation is not just about embracing new technology, it is about a change in thinking and in organization culture. We are happy to partner with NIIT to work towards creating more digital-savvy and customer friendly organizations.”

The NIIT group of companies has been working with UP! Your Service for the last 3 years in related assignments. With this announcement, NIIT & UP! Your Service are taking their association to the next level to benefit customers worldwide. Building on the success of NIIT Technologies, NIIT Limited has embarked on a journey of strengthening its culture of service excellence. This initiative will be rolled out in every business and function of NIIT over a 24-month period commencing October 2017.

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India

Workers demand increase in NREGA wages, work days

“After peaking at 0.6 percent(of GDP) in 2009-10, Central government expenditure on NREGA declined steadily to 0.3 percent in 2015-16 and 2016-17,” he said.

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New Delhi, Sep 11 : Scores of workers and activists today staged a protest here demanding an increase in wages and work days under the NREGA scheme.

They also alleged that the Centre is “diluting” the scheme through budget cuts, low wages and delay in payments.

“Its like slow poison to kill the National Rural Guarantee Act (NREGA),” said activist Anuradha Talwar.

The women working under the rural employment scheme complained of low wages and delays in payments in their respective states.

“I get 10-15 days in a month and the payments are never on time. The wages are also less than what is expected to be paid,” said Galku Devi from Rajasthan.

Under NREGA, workers from rural areas are guaranteed 100 days work. They are also eligible for a stipulated wage of Rs 192 per day within 15 days of completion of work.

Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghtan said the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, the umbrella organisation seeking improvement in implementation of the scheme, has raised the demand of hiking the wages to Rs 600 and increasing number of work days to 240.

“NREGA wages have been held constant in real terms since 2009. In the last two years, the wages have increased by as little as one rupee per day in some states,” he said.

The activists also charged that the use of technology has further “hampered” smooth functioning of the scheme.

“The workers as needed to get their numbers listed with Management Information System(MIS) and bank accounts where the wage payments are to be made. This is just one example how cumbersome it could make the scheme,” said Professor Ritika from IIT Delhi.

Another NREGA activist from Rajasthan, Mukesh, highlighted “glaring lapses” in social audit of the scheme and how, despite a demand from the rural workforce, no jobs were available for them.

“After demonetisation, large number of workers have returned to their villages and want work. But, there is no work for them due to several reasons including budget cuts,” he said.

NREGA budgets have been “inadequate” for several years, Dey said.

“After peaking at 0.6 percent(of GDP) in 2009-10, Central government expenditure on NREGA declined steadily to 0.3 percent in 2015-16 and 2016-17,” he said.

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