The National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO) has sought 200 billion dollars (about Rs 15 lakh crore) from the government as a relief package to minimise the economic impact of COVID-19 and called for a partial lifting of the lockdown on construction sites to reduce job losses.
The real estate sector accounts for 7 per cent of the gross domestic products (GDP) and employs 11 per cent of the country’s population.
NAREDCO also called for suspending all cases under the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for the next six months amid economic slowdown which is likely to worsen due to coronavirus pandemic, saying it is imperative to capture the loss of jobs and incomes for millions of construction workers.
“We urge the government to provide us with a stimulus package to deal with the current situation, while we take care of our labour force to ensure that their health and safety are not compromised,” said NAREDCO Chairman Rajeev Talwar.
Industry leaders say the extension of lockdown on construction sites may lead to an unprecedented challenge of re-acquiring the workforce, which will further delay constructions and developers will have to bear significant losses as monsoons are approaching.
“Breathing space must be provided to companies which have faced huge losses due to rapidly-decreasing stock prices. This has made high net worth companies prone to be taken over by foreign investors, the results of which can be devastating for India,” NAREDCO said in a statement.
NAREDCO representatives have compiled standard operating procedures guidelines to ensure safety or people in and around construction sites, which were unveiled recently in the presence of Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
NAREDCO National President Niranjan Hiranandani said the shutdown of retail outlets, malls, entertainment and fitness centres has put commercial real estate deals on wait-and-watch mode.
He urged the government for intervention measures like rescheduling loan repayments, a one-time rollover for debt restructuring and deep interest rate cuts for the sector.
The sector has been facing dropping sales due to sagging buyer confidence and an overall slowdown in the economy. The crisis in non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) after the collapse of IL&FS and Dewan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL) led to a severe credit squeeze.
“Now with coronavirus pandemic impacting all sectors of the economy, the troubles of real estate industry appear to have been compounded,” said Hiranandani.