Realty sector looks for green shoots

Dubai - Naredco, the country’s apex real estate body, shares industry expectations ahead of federal budget due on February 1.

Interest on home loans should be fully allowed under IT deduction without any ceiling. — Reuters
Interest on home loans should be fully allowed under IT deduction without any ceiling. — Reuters
Dr Niranjan Hiranandani. — Supplied photo
Dr Niranjan Hiranandani. — Supplied photo

By Dr Niranjan Hiranandani

Published: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 4:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 7:04 PM

In India, the real-estate sector accounts for an estimated seven per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs around 15 per cent of the total workforce in construction and real estate sector with a multiplier effect on 270 ancillary industries. It is the second-largest employer in the country after agriculture and is also expected to touch a market size of $1 trillion by 2030 and contribute 13 per cent to the country’s GDP by 2025. The construction industry in India ranks third among the 14 primary sectors in terms of direct, indirect, and induced effects in the economy.

It received Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth $25.7 billion from April 2000 to September 2020 and requires investment worth $777 billion across infrastructure development by next year. The influx of overseas capital will help to create additional jobs in the economy that has been roiled by the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

The disruptions like demonetisation, Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera), Goods and Services Tax (GST), Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (ILFS) fiasco, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and lastly the raging pandemic brought sagging real estate sector to a grinding halt due to a lack of liquidity, migrant labour crisis following the 68-day-Covid-19-induced nationwide lockdown restrictions and growing stalled projects.

Timely fiscal measures by the government and apex bodies are laudable, but not enough to resurrect the limping sector. The Aatmanirbhar Bharat roadmap augmented stakeholders’ confidence index, consumers’ pent up demand fuelled an uptick due to festive bonanza from state governments and developers across the board.

As part of the pre-budget consultative process, India’s real estate apex body, Naredco, would like to share some industry expectations ahead of the federal budget due on February 1.

Subvention Scheme: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, and the National Housing Bank should reconsider lifting the ban on subvention schemes for direct benefits to the homebuyers.

Quantum of Loan: The RBI has allowed a loan-to-value ratio of up to nine per cent for home loans for affordable houses of Rs30 million or less. Same facility should be permitted for other housing.

Income Tax (IT) Deduction: Interest on home loans should be fully allowed under IT deduction without any ceiling. The current limit of interest deduction under Section 24 of IT Act, 1961 on housing loans of ₹200,000 should be removed or increased up to ₹500,000 spurring overall demand. Also, loss from house property should be fully allowed to be adjusted against other heads of income. In case of unadjusted loss, it should be fully allowed to be carried forward to subsequent years.

Long Term Capital Gains: Long term capital gains from sale of property should be taxed at 10 per cent (provision similar to section 112 for equity shares) and period of holding of house property should be reduced to 12 months from existing 36 months to qualify the same as long term capital asset.

One Time Restructuring of Loans: Debt restructuring permitted by the RBI comes with a caveat that makes the benefit unavailable to most units. If the requirement of the standard unit is done away and restructuring is permitted for all units as per mutual agreement with the financing enterprise and the borrower will have a positive impact.

SWAMIH Funds: Currently established Special Window for Affordable and Mid Income Housing (SWAMIH) (₹250 billion) to help stalled projects is much appreciated but is inadequate to meet the target of last mile funding of estimated project cost of around ₹1.25trillion. Many housing finance companies (HFCs)/non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), if permitted, are ready to establish such funds that will grant faster appraisal and sanctions.

Dr Niranjan Hiranandani is the national president of Naredco and MD of Hiranandani Group. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect on this newspaper’s policy.

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