Lock-in period for FDI in realty sector not restrictive: Sharma

New Delhi: The government today said foreign investors in the country's real estate sector will have to remain invested for a minimum of three years and rejected industry claims about the policy restricting FDI inflows, reports PTI.

"I do not see the three-year lock-in period as too restrictive. Investors must come with confidence that they are here to stay for more than that (period)," commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said at a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) meet here.

The sector has been seeking a relaxation in this FDI policy on the ground that it was discouraging overseas investors from putting money into the real estate space here.

Speaking at the '7th International Real Estate Summit' organised by Ficci, Mr Sharma, however, assured that there would not be any increase in the three-year lock-in period either.

"... We are not going to increase the duration of this lock-in period," he said.

The country has attracted about $8.7 billion worth of FDI in the housing and real estate sector since April, 2000.

India allows 100% FDI through the automatic route in townships, housing, built-up infrastructure and construction-development projects, subject to certain conditions.

The original investment cannot be repatriated before a period of three years from completion of minimum capitalisation. However, the investor may be permitted to exit earlier with the prior approval of the government through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

Projecting India as an ideal destination for FDI, the minister said the country has taken several steps to liberalise the foreign investment regime since 1991.

Earlier, Ficci Real Estate Committee co-chairman Pranay Vakil said the restrictions on FDI in the sector were affecting inflows. He further said that foreign investments in multi-brand retail would lead to the growth of malls in the country.

A high-level government committee has been set up to look into suggestions for opening the multi-brand retail sector for FDI.

On the lock-in period, a joint report by Ficci and E&Y released today said there was no clarity on "whether it is applicable for the minimum capitalisation amount or for the entire sum of the investment".

It also said there is no single window clearance system for different approvals. "In addition, the approval system is not time-bound and could take up to two years," it said.

At the summit, Dean Hodcroft of Ernst and Young said though there were restrictions on FDI in the real estate sector, India is seen as a big market.

As per the report, India ranks fifth in the world in terms of future real estate investment. China, the US and UK top the chart, in that order.


Indian IT cos should diversify their export markets: Sachin Pilot

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of rising anti-outsourcing sentiment in the US, the government today said Indian IT companies should diversify their export markets and reach out to Europe, Africa and Asia in a bigger way, reports PTI.

"We (IT companies) must diversify our export destinations to reach out to Europe, Africa and Asia so that there is the balanced approach in terms of export destinations," minister of state for communications & IT Sachin Pilot told PTI.

The state of Ohio in the US recently banned outsourcing work to foreign companies, hot on the heels of the country's move to hike fee for H-1B and L1 visas. These moves are expected to hurt the $50-billion Indian IT market, which garners a major chunk of revenues from American companies.

"It is very unfortunate that this kind of issues are coming up which the people are calling protectionist...," Mr Pilot said while asserting that Indian IT sector is robust enough to over come any challenge.

The outsourcing ban by Ohio has come as a disappointment to India, and commerce minister Anand Sharma said on Tuesday that the move is "not welcome at all."

The Indian IT industry has made a notable contribution that is acknowledged globally, even in the US. It is Indian entities which are responsible for creating jobs, even now when there are big job losses, Mr Sharma had said.

On whether Indian IT companies would be able to face challenges posed by the US government steps, Mr Pilot said," We believe that the global movement of the trade of good and services is required for the world to grow together and I am hopeful that no matter what challenges would arise Indian IT sector is robust enough to overcome on them."

Ohio governor Ted Strickland had banned offshore outsourcing by government departments. Earlier, the US increased professional visa fees significantly to fund a $600 million programme to secure its border with Mexico.

Mr Sharma had also cited data suggesting that Indian IT companies have created over 2.5 lakh jobs in the US in the last three years.


Supreme Infra wins contract worth Rs77.7 crore

Supreme Infrastructure India Ltd said it has received a contract for construction of residential accommodation for army at Hisar in Haryana. The project cost is Rs77.7 crore and is expected to be completed in 27 months.

The scope of work includes construction of around 161 units of six flats each totalling to 966 flats, the company said in a statement.

The company has also achieved the financial closure for its build, operate and transfer (BOT) project for the four laning of Manor Wada Bhiwandi road in Thane, Maharashtra. The concession agreement for this project was signed earlier in February this year. The project, awarded by Public Works Department (PWD), Maharashtra, is about Rs430 crore. Supreme Manor Wada Bhiwandi Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, the subsidiary of Supreme Infrastructure India Ltd, has already infused equity to the tune of Rs56 crore.

On Thursday, Supreme Infra shares ended 2.2% down at Rs284 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex declined 0.4% to 19,417 points.


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