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One year of RERA: Tardy implementation restricts gains

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RERA-ACT
Photo Credit: Aparna Constructions

By Vinod Behl

Two years after the Centre notified the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act (RERA) of 2016 to empower and protect property consumers and make property transactions fair and transparent by regulating the sector, the sluggish and flawed implementation of the progressive act, has put a big question mark on the gains of RERA.

RERA was passed by both the houses of Parliament in March 2016 and on May 1, 2016 a majority of the sections of the Act came into force. Under this model Act, every state was required to set up its regulatory authority within a year (by May 1, 2017). And in the next one year, the states were mandated to make their RERA websites operational for the benefit of home buyers. Other sections were notified in April 2017 and on May 1, 2017 the full act became operational.

Today, two years after RERA became an Act, only 20 states have notified rules. What’s more, except for the states of Maharashtra, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, which have permanent regulators, all other states are making do with interim regulators.

Under RERA, all developers need to register to launch projects, which get registered only after all necessary permissions and land for the project are in place. They are required to provide all the mandatory information to be up on the official website of RERA to help buyers take an informed decision about buying property.

RERA’s performance on this front is also dismal as 15 states are without an operational RERA website. Even on the functional websites, the projects information is either incomplete or questionable, with no way to check its authenticity. As a result of the weak and faulty implementation of RERA, home buyers are deprived of the gains and protection guaranteed under the Act.

Notwithstanding the criticism about flawed and slow implementation of RERA, this progressive regulation has helped in project execution and delivery, boosting demand and sales, in turn contributing to the revival of residential real estate, though the gains are limited.

As RERA takes root — along with low interest rates, stable property prices and the government’s loan subsidy for affordable housing — its positive impact is already visible. There has been an eight per cent hike in housing demand in Q1, 2018, compared to Q4, 2017. Home sales registered a 33 per cent rise in the top nine cities during this period. In fact, housing sales exceeded new supply by five per cent during the last two years.

It’s another matter that buyers have so far not developed complete confidence and prefer ready homes to avoid development risks. The preventive and penal provisions of RERA have made developers focus on deliveries, readying a good pipeline of completed homes for sale.

Besides various other factors, fund constraint has been the prime reason for large-scale delivery defaults. But RERA, aided by other key reforms like GST, FDI liberalisation, ease of doing business and demonetisation, have brought in much-needed transparency, fair play and financial discipline by regulating realty, in turn giving a boost to the confidence of global investors.

Statistics speak for themselves. PE investments witnessed 52 percent rise since 2014. PE investments grew 17 percent in 2017 to Rs 42,800 crore, as against Rs 36,590 crore last year, with residential realty attracting highest investment of Rs 15,600 crore.

RERA, besides empowering and protecting consumers, has put grievance-redressal on the fast track. It was following the enactment of RERA that a group of aggrieved home buyers could directly approach the National Consumers Dispute Redressal Commission (NCRDC), thereby bypassing lower consumer courts to ensure fast-track justice. It is also because of RERA that the government, development authorities and the judiciary have become pro-active in coming to the rescue of aggrieved home buyers of stalled projects.

The much publicised cases of Jaypee Infratech and the Amrapali Group are cases in point where developers are facing the ire of about one lakh home buyers. In both cases, the companies are staring at insolvency and the Supreme Court has come down heavily on the errant developers, saying it is committed to safeguard the interests of home buyers in terms of project completion and refunds.

Meanwhile, it is also the result of the pressure created by RERA that home buyers are set to get relief under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) as the government plans an ordinance to treat home buyers as financial creditors to facilitate refunds.

Considering the pros and cons, RERA needs to cover a lot of ground for its effective implementation, in order to serve its desired purpose. And according to Dr Samantak Das, Chief Economist, Knight Frank India Property Advisory, in the current scenario, the sentiment that drives the purchase of residential property is unlikely to change. He may sound too negative. But one thing is certain: The patchy implementation of RERA has delayed the revival of real estate, especially residential realty.

Gautam Chatterjee, Chairperson of the Maharashtra RERA, the front-runner in the implementation of the Act, believes that this “transition pain of RERA” may last at least a couple of years. And Anuj Puri, Chairman of Anarock Property Consultants, sums up the scenario well, saying that although real estate recovery under RERA will be gradual, yet it will be extremely durable — and based on very sound market dynamics.

(Vinod Behl is Founder & Editor, Ground Real(i)ty Media, a real estate content consultancy. He can be contacted at [email protected])

IANS

Business

Tata Group’s total investment in Odisha to cross Rs 1 lakh cr soon

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Tata

Bhubaneswar, Nov 12: Tata Group’s total investment in Odisha will soon cross Rs one lakh crore, said its Chairman N. Chandrasekaran here on Monday.

For the Tata Group, the association with Odisha is “very long, more than 100 years old”, he said.

Chandrasekaran also said Tata Steel was given its first iron ore lease by the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj in the early part of 20th century. Since then, the group has significantly expanded in the state.

“Already, we have made investments worth Rs 75,000 crore and with the announcement of expansion of (Tata Steel’s) Kalinganagar plant, another Rs 25,000 crore would be invested. Total investments will soon cross Rs 100,000 crore in the state,” he said at the Make in Odisha Conclave here.

Not only Tata Steel has a large capacity, Tata Motors has a significant presence with its 30 service stations and dealers network and Tata Power has four generation units here, he said, adding that the TCS is the largest IT company in the state with about 5,000 professionals and the second phase would take it to a total of 12,000 professionals.

The group’s companies in retail and services sectors have engagements in the state, Chandrasekaran said.

He said the group’s experience in the state has been extremely “satisfying”.

The state is blessed with a lot of resources with stable government, proactive bureaucracy, ready infrastructure, strong mineral reserve, large pool of skilled manpower and secured social environment, he said.

The state produces 1.8 lakh technical graduates from over 950 institutions, who are excellent resources for development of any part of the country.

IANS

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Cabinet extends ITI Ltd’s quota for procurement by BSNL, MTNL

Provision of procurement quota from BSNL, MTNL and BBNL will provide further boost to-the order book of ITI and help in improving its financial health

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New Delhi, Nov 8 : The Union Cabinet on Thursday extended the procurement quota of government-owned telephone equipment maker ITI Ltd for procurements made by the public sector companies of BSNL, MTNL and Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) for three years.

“BSNL, MTNL and BBNL would be requested to extend the benefit of procurement quota to ITI for a period of three years,” the Communications Ministry statement said.

According to the statement, the cabinet decided “to continue the Reservation Quota policy for ITI Ltd by reserving 30 per cent of the procurement orders placed by BSNL, MTNL and BBNL for ITI for the products manufactured by it”.

It also approved reservation for those outsourced items in which there is a minimum 12 per cent value addition by ITI during 2018-19 and 16 per cent value addition in 2019-20 and 20 per cent value addition in 2020-21, the statement said.

“Provision of procurement quota from BSNL, MTNL and BBNL will provide further boost to-the order book of ITI and help in improving its financial health,” it said.

The cabinet also approved reservation of 20 per cent of the orders for the turnkey projects like GSM network roll-out, WiFi and others of BSNL, MTNL and the BharatNet project of BBNL.

The validity of reservation benefit extended to ITI expired on May 31, 2018.

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Analysis

Demonetisation was an ‘unmitigated disaster’, says ex-banker Meera Sanyal

The PM’s promise that Demonetization would eradicate corruption was undoubtedly one of the main reasons for the initial goodwill towards Demonetization from the very poor, despite the hardships it inflicted on them. Sadly, however, this promise too was belied.

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ew Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) Exactly two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government commenced the exercise to ban over 85 per cent of high-value currency notes, former banking industry honcho Meera H. Sanyal says in her upcoming book that in its implementation, the 2016 demonetisation was an “unmitigated disaster”.

Sanyal, former CEO and Chairperson of Royal Bank of Scotland in India is currently a member of the National Executive Committee of the Aam Aadmi Party. In the chapter titled The Surgical Strike, she says that as financial and human costs of demonetisation began to add up, it became “painfully clear that what had been intended as a surgical strike on black money had regrettably turned out to be a carpet-bombing of the Indian people and our economy. It was a classic case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.”

The Big Reverse: How Demonetization Knocked India Out — brought out by Haper Collins India — will be available in stores from November 8, 2018.

Following is an extract from the book:

There is no doubt that the PM touched a deep chord in the heart of India, when he talked of the menace of corruption. Who among us has not felt “Some people have misused their office for personal gain… that corruption and black money tend to be accepted as part of life… that it has afflicted our politics, our administration and our society like an infestation of termites…”

According to the 2017 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report, 73 per cent of the bribes paid in India were by “the low economy groups, who had to pay money due to unavailability of other options, or had less influence to avoid paying bribes… high bribes were demanded for accessing public education and healthcare facilities… approximately 58 per cent and 59 per cent bribery rates were seen in education and healthcare sectors in India, respectively. The times when people paid a bribe was also seen to be almost equally high for police, identification documents, and basic amenities.”

The PM’s promise that Demonetization would eradicate corruption was undoubtedly one of the main reasons for the initial goodwill towards Demonetization from the very poor, despite the hardships it inflicted on them. Sadly, however, this promise too was belied.

In February 2018, Transparency International reported that India continued to be among the most corrupt countries in the world. In the 2017 Global Corruption Perception Index report, India with a score of 40 points, was ranked 81, down two places from its ranking of 79 in 2016.

Worse still, the report named India as the most corrupt country in the Asia-Pacific region, with 69 per cent bribery rates, which means that almost seven out of ten people had to pay a bribe to access public services. Vietnam was the second-most corrupt country with 65 per cent bribery rates, whereas Pakistan with only 40 per cent bribery rates, ranked much better than India. Japan came out as the least corrupt nation, with a 0.2 per cent bribery rate.

This demolishes one of the main arguments presented in favour of Demonetization. The Economic Survey for 2016-2017 had stated, “Across the globe there is a link between cash and nefarious activities: the higher the amount of cash in circulation, the greater the amount of corruption… In this sense, attempts to reduce the cash in an economy could have important long-term benefits in terms of reducing levels of corruption.”

As it happens, data does not support this argument. Japan is a case in point. Japan’s Currency to GDP ratio in 2015 was 18.61 per cent, much higher than India’s at 12.51 per cent. In the same year (2015) Japan was ranked as the 18th least corrupt nation in the world while India was ranked 76th, i.e. Japan, which has a much higher currency to GDP ratio than India, has far less corruption.

Clearly, therefore, Demonetization failed in its second big goal — eradication of corruption. If anything, the new 2,000 notes made it simpler for corrupt officials to take and stash away larger bribes, compounding the problem for ordinary Indians.

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