Tag Archives: Bharatmala

The Tepidity Hangover

While most agencies are speculating on the estimated GDP growth rate for India and the fact that oil is a big worry for our financial health, not one is able to capture the mood of the economy despite the numbers. Are we well past the painful period in the economy? How long do we have to wait to see the green shoots seen by some (but not most)? The answers are at best befuddled. So, let’s start looking at what is definitely the positive part of what is visible.

The Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has brought all delinquent cases on the auction table and bids are at advanced stages. Having bidders indicates that the propositions are attractive. We have the case of Bhushan Steel, which has helped bankers redeem their loans by curtailing losses that would have been caused if the company had gone into liquidation. Bhushan Steel would have fetched only Rs 140 billion if liquidated, but Tata Steel has paid Rs 325 billion for the 5-million capacity plant 150 km away from its Kalinganagar plant. With most banks having already made provisions for 50 per cent of the total Rs 560 billion Bhushan owed them, proceeds from the sale are seen boosting their profitability.

What’s remarkable in this case is that while the liquidation of the company would have fetched Rs 140 billion, the transparent process of auctioning the company has been able to restore a better realisation at nearly three times this value. Further, the asset is getting a bidder that will restore two-third of the funds lent to an active status. In the erstwhile BIFR regime, this asset would have gathered rust until the plant became inoperable and the workers would have lost their means of a livelihood. If the IBC can similarly convert many of these stressed assets into earning assets despite a haircut, it would stem the loss of jobs and save assets from decimation.

On another note, subsidies to the poor in India would not reach the intended beneficiary and would be diverted owing to poor governance. Today, direct benefit transfer and Aadhar linking have helped save Rs 830 billion. What’s more, the housing shortage in urban areas is now settled at 10 million homes, while the government wants to build another 10 million homes for the rural poor by the end of 2018. Houses are being constructed at breakneck speed, with L&T, Shapoorji and NCC being some of the companies picking up large contracts. Further, mega infrastructure projects like the metro, trans-harbour link, coastal road, airports, Bharatmala, Sagarmala, railway stations, freight corridors and bullet train will continue to face execution challenges – but remain our biggest prospects. Grab them and get going or you will miss the opportunity under the hangover of tepidity.

2018: A Watershed Year?

‘Disruption’ was an oft-used word in 2017. Sometimes it was used when describing a phenomenon that turned an existing business model on its head, as Uber and Airbnb did. But more often than not, it was used when wishful thinking was allowed over logic, or when no clear solution was visible.

In essence, disruption represents a desire to change the status quo. Jio has challenged the status quo, but then it has deep pockets. Meanwhile, HAM tried to be a game-changer but did not get the desired results. The smart cities mission took on urban rejuvenation through inspiration – but it has achieved limited success.

That said, land pooling by Andhra Pradesh proved to be an intelligent solution. And, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has been a game-changer. It is addressing the need to revive assets that have potential for productivity but need some respite. Assets changing hands will ensure that they do not lie idle and rot. Putting them to use enhances the GDP.

In the construction sector, too, consolidation is the name of the game. Stressed owners are selling prime assets and seeking a new lease of life. New buyers are seeking revenue earning assets at good value. This allows a more liquid market in trading revenue-yielding assets such that the investor has an exit route and can free up capital in engaging with new opportunities.

Our cover story sets the tone for the year 2018 as Union Minister Nitin Gadkari spells out his plans for Bharatmala and Sagarmala with timelines and investments. Gadkari’s commitment to work and penchant for numbers and details are legendary. After meeting our editorial team at 7 am, he continued the discussion through his personal grooming process and then set out for the airport! He has a challenge ahead of him as he revs up to accelerate the road construction per day rate.

Indeed, the year ahead is likely to be a watershed one for the construction industry. Here’s why:

  • The GST effect has stabilised and demand is limping back.
  • The demonetisation wounds have healed.
  • Ease of doing business has helped ease regulatory hurdles.
  • The Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code has helped revived several projects.
  • Credit disbursement has picked up and private-sector investment is likely to revive.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat are likely to expedite their projects.
  • There will be ample provision for big-ticket infrastructure projects as next year’s Budget is likely to be completely populist.
  • Maximum contracts will be awarded in FY2018-19 so that they are secured before the election code kicks in by the time of the next Budget.
  • In other news, SM@RT URBANATION opens on March 22-23, 2018, in Hyderabad. Over 25 city officials will descend to seek knowledge on the latest technological smart solutions for cities at the two-day summit and expo, including an evening of awards.

To know more, check out www.SmartUrbanation.com.
And don’t forget to keep your eyes on CONSTRUCTION WORLD on the web and print – we’ll keep you up-to-date on every opportunity so you can stay ahead!