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Realtors seek reforms to pep up sector

Times of India - 10 July, 2014

Granting the real-estate sector the status of an industry , interest rate subvention to encourage home buyers and higher tax deductions for home loan and interest on these loans top the wishlist of city-based realtors ahead of the Budget on Wednesday.

They have pinned hopes on the change of guard at the Centre while expecting a politically chastised regime in the state to pave the way for a policy and measures that will close the demand and supply gap for homes.

Hemant Naiknavre, president of Credai Pune Metro, told TOI, “This year, with the Modi government at the Centre, we are looking for some revolutionary changes in the real-estate sector to increase the housing stock. Urbaniza tion has led to a huge shortfall and if the situation con tinues, we fear our cities will be transformed into slum cities.“

Credai Pune Metro vicepresident Shrikant Paranjape said the topmost expectation from the budget was recogni tion as an industry for the re al-estate sector. “It will bring the sector on a par with other industries for bank funding on competitive terms and oth er benefits,“ Paranjape added. Subvention in the econom ic slowdown of 1998 when the government offered interest rate conces sions has not improved drastically and a resumption of these concessions will work even now.

Aniruddha Deshpande, managing director of City Corporation Ltd., said to realize the new government's promise of a pucca house for every family in 15 years, huge fiscal and tax initiatives will be necessary . Low cost, longterm funding will play a key role here and clearances for real-estate investment trusts (REITs) will be important to make funding available, Deshpande added. Any stimulus to housing will generate jobs, incomes for people and tax revenue for government, he said.

Another measure to source low-cost funds for housing would be to treat large-scale real-estate projects (which exceed 20,000 square metres of built area) as infrastructure projects, said Kumar Gera, chairman of Gera Developments and founderpresident of Credai.

Also important will be to raise tax exemptions for interest paid on home loans to a cumulative Rs 5 lakh, even if it includes a second home, Gera said.

Anant Pandit, chairman of Apex Multicons, felt there is need to standardise tax structure as it applies to the real-estate sector. There are a plethora of taxes such as value-added tax, service tax, stamp duty and registration charges or local body tax which together adds 12% or more to the selling prices of homes, Pandit said.

Sachin Kulkarni, managing director of Vastushodh Projects, said the government should enter the housing sector once again and empower housing boards to work with the private sector to expedite affordable housing stock for millions of Indians.

Surajit Chanda, regional director of Sobha Developers, said the realty sector needs liberalized funding flow and an announcement of progres sive new policies allowing foreign direct investment will be a boost. The interest rate charged to both developers and buyers are an all-time high and some relaxation in the interest rates will prove to be a breather for people opting for home loans, he added.

Amit Bhosale, executive director, Avinash Bhosale Infrastructure Limited, said construction industry is hit by delay in getting project related permissions and environment clearances. This is a big hindrance in the overall functioning and growth of this segment, which forms a sizeable part of national income, he said.

“The government needs to bring about clarity about the special economic zone policy which has been diluted and rolled back detracting prospective investors and potential business opportunities.

The benefits for the SEZs should be reinstated. On a macro level, we need to see consistency and steadfast resolve in policies and their implementation to build credibility,“ said Rohit Gera, vice-president of Credai Pune Metro.

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