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Gera in News


Times Of India { Property Times } Page 01 - 1 December, 2011

Greater transparency, a quick and effective legal system and a clear regulatory framework are critical requirements for FDI inflow, which could hold the answer to the growing urban housing needs, says RAJIV DOGRA The recent issue of foreign direct investments (FDI) in retail brings to the fore its implications in the realty sector too, which generated much enthusiasm when the government liberalised its norms way back in 2005. FDI is an essential component of an open and effective international economic system and is considered as a major catalyst for development. "The Indian-built environment, too, has been witness to some of these changes, with a revision in the FDI policy for infrastructure, housing and townships in 2005, coupled with the SEZ Act of 2006," says Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director, RICS South Asia. However, the lingering structural and policy related issues with respect to lock-in requirements and exit routes coupled with the existent inflationary pressures and rising interest rates have had a dampening effect on the investment environment. Consequently, the real estate sector has seen a dip of approximately US $2.6 billion in FDI inflows in 2010-11, attracting just US $1.6 billion in comparison to 2009-10. Furthermore, Sandhir observes that investor sentiment has also been impacted on account of the continuing economic crisis in the eurozone and the US. Additionally, slower GDP growth rate projections in the country; capacity constraints of approximately 44 million skilled professionals in the built environment and high debt burdens of real estate developers are also likely to affect FDI in the sector. In a similar vein, Naushad Panjwani, Executive Director, Knight Frank India, says, "There are basically three reasons: the politicalinsecurity, instability on the growth factors and land reform issues, which are rampant, and there is a crying need to bring in reforms. Moreover, there is no regulator and execution is a huge challenge due to the fall in GDP." Similarly, Atul Goel, MD, Goel Ganga Group, observes that the RBI has been restrictive about external commercial borrowing. According to him, greater transparency, a quick and effective legal system and a clear regulatory framework are critical requirements for FDI flow into the sector. The Centre allowed up to 100 per cent FDI for setting up townships in 2002. However, the flow of FDI investments has been thwarted by the 100-acre criterion; since acquiring such a large chunk of land was impossible in metropolitan cities and even satellite cities like Significantly, FDI inflows provide a healthy stream of capital and provide a platform for foreign equity participation to broaden the base of residential real estate development. "It is, therefore, recommended to provide adequate impetus to the sector in the form of further relaxation in FDI norms for the development of townships, housing, built-up infrastructure and construction-development projects as a whole," Sandhir says. However, Rohit Gera, Joint MD, Gera Developments, begs to differ on the criterion of 50,000 sq m area limit for an FDI partnership and says it's a "well thought limit". "Though FDI might seem essential, there is also a need to protect the interests of smaller real estate developers, especially in the context of Pune. Foreign players with capital strength would prove to be a risk. We need to be a bit selfish about our interest and think whether we really need foreign capital," he says. On the contrary, CREDAI President Lalit Kumar Jain states that the cap on FDI is in fact a barrier and relaxing the norms will help bring more foreign currency into the market. "Structural funding is a way of life and the government needs to be flexible about it. Availability of funding will foster more expansion and development in the market and in fact encourage everyone to build," he shares. India in the next five years is estimated to require investments worth US $25 billion with the urban housing sector. Industry body ASSOCHAM, in fact, expects FDI in the Indian realty sector may achieve six-fold to US $30 billion in the next 10 years. The sector is expected to grow more than 30 per cent in the next few years. Meanwhile, with respect to the Consolidated FDI policy that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is proposing, a minimum area of development of townships, housing, built-up infrastructure and construction- development projects should be stipulated within the FDI policy, suggest realty experts. It's been said that FDI in the real estate sector in India would also contribute towards making the sector more organised. Besides increasing professionalism in the sector, it would bring in advanced technology and help in the creation of healthy and competitive market environment for both domestic and foreign investors.

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