In an exclusive interview with NewsX, Niranjan Hiranandani presented his views on the Union Budget 2023. Hirananadani is an Indian businessman, co-founder and managing director of Hiranandani group.
TDG NETWORK: This is a very forward-looking pragmatic reformist budget but not the populist one. Would you agree with that? What are your views on it?
NIRANJAN HIRANANDANI: I think this is a very balanced budget. Remember the economy has been much challenged. Ukraine-Russian war, look at the recession taking place globally and look at the situation in Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Look at our imports of oil, we have been able to save Rs. 35000 crores by just dealing with Russia, instead of the open markets. So, internationally I think this is a very good budget that could have happened. There has been a surplus generation in income in terms of direct and indirect taxes. On infrastructure, we have increased the expenditure by 30%, so this is a very good budget. Yes, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with individuals or corporate or sectors of society that they are not happy as they could have given more. ‘Dil Mangey More’. So I think that has been an idea including real estate where we find that a lot of things were expected of the budget and did not happen so I can see that part of it in other sectors of society also. So by and large, I can say that for a country with 7.2% growth that we are looking forward to and the rest of the world and we have been able to manage with 8% depreciation in the rupee. The other countries have seen a huge loss in that term, including China. So all in all a good budget that has been taking place. Of course, I am also unhappy in certain positions not having happened. But that is part of the budget; you can’t expect everything you want.
TDG NETWORK: As you have talked about the Russia-Ukraine war, global economic crash, and Covid situations, what do you think is driving India’s story? What is making India the bright spot in the world amid all this?
NIRANJAN HIRANANDANI: We have not taken the western side not the eastern side, we have taken the Indian side. All our economic drivers, whether it is in manufacturing, agriculture, IT, housing or infrastructure, the entire thing is targeted towards the growth of the country’s GDP, and growth of employment and focus on that aspect of it which is to be done. Of course, there is a lot that needs to be done, but there is a lot that is happening. The target of Amrit Kaal is the target we are going through. N we do more than what has been done? The answer is always yes. We can always do much more and we hope in the next couple of years India will do even better than it is. To reach the five trillion dollar market which the Prime Minister has used as a target, we need at least an 8 % growth instead of a 6.2% growth, which we hope with all the changes and the investments this will happen in the economy even though the target is 6.2%. I am sure we will be able to do this with a focus on infrastructure, housing, and textiles; I think the employment situation can also be brought under control. But there is one big point and that has also been pointed out by the PM that there are a lot of jobs the system is bringing but there are no people skilled for the jobs. 10 years ago when I wanted 100 skilled workers, painters, carpenters, plumbers, fitters, electricians etc, I would get 500 of them. Today when I want 100, I can’t get even 20. For example, in the Real estate industry. So, on the one side, India has unemployment and on the other side, we don’t have skilling. So, one point that even the Finance Minister has mentioned is that we need to have a targeted, oriented skilling, re-skilling, un-skilling and up-skilling of the people of our country to take the job opportunities that will be there whether it is in the physical field like we are operating tourism which becomes another heavy labour intensive field of activity or in other fields of activity which we think we need to focus on including the service industry. So all in all the direction is correct whether we can do much more. Some things are still left out that could have been done but I guess everything cannot be done for every sector of society.
TDG NETWORK: What are your takeaways for the Real Estate sector?
NIRANJAN HIRANANDANI: Firstly, the point that has been bottling me is the fact that the cost of the apartments has gone up and the interest rates have gone up from 6.5 to 8.2. I would have thought that the standard deduction for Home loans which is still stuck at two lakh rupees for the last 10-12 years should have been increased to five lakh rupees because the EMI of all the common people who have bought the house and especially the middle class who has gone to buy houses is quite difficult and I was hoping that they will do it. Second is the loan to value, which is not going to affect the government at all. It is a question of getting a higher amount of loan for the thing we are looking at 65% and in the case of affordable housing, 90%. But affordable housing is defined as less than 45 Lakh. I think that is a challenge. I hope the RBI will intervene and make changes so that more borrowing can be done by individuals. Lastly, the capital gains for the sale of the houses. I think that could have been a better head.