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.