India slow to reform, but consumer confidence robust: Parekh
New Delhi: Optimistic about the India story getting better going forward, industry leader Deepak Parekh on Friday said the consumer confidence remains robust in the country despite its 'unpredictable and slow to reform' nature.
"No doubt, India is a complex and challenging market. It is dynamic and exciting, yet often unpredictable and slow to reform. Despite a series of recent set-backs in the Indian economy, consumer confidence has remained steady," he said.
"The middle-class segment is growing, there has not been widespread loss of jobs and incomes of our target customers (home loan borrowers) have been rising," he said.
Parekh, the Chairman of the country's biggest housing finance provider HDFC, in his annual letter to the company's shareholders, also said it was his "strong belief that the India story will get better".
However, he expressed concern on the persisting delay in implementing reforms in the real estate sector and accused the developers of lobbying against measures aimed at making the sector more transparent and bringing in better regulation.
"As far as legislation to improve transparency in real estate sector is concerned, it once again is the unfortunate case of the proverbial one step forward, two steps back.
"Various attempts have been made to revive the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill. The case for a real estate regulator remains compelling to protect home buyers and ensure transparency on the part of developers.
"Developers continue to lobby against the bill as they consider it far too draconian and claim this would be one more deterrent in long-drawn out process of obtaining approvals.
"However, there is no denying how imperative it is to cleanse the real estate sector which has been characterised by opaqueness, speed money, vested interests and complete lethargy on part of the authorities in granting approvals," he said.
Parekh, who has been a member of various government advisory bodies, also stressed on the need to speed up the grant of approvals and setting up of a single-window mechanism in the sector.
"While getting a real estate regulator in place requires Parliamentary approval which may be difficult in the current milieu, implementing a single window clearance is an administrative job and is clearly doable.
"Ironically, the country is still left with a Land Acquisition Act that is over a century old while the new Land Acquisition Bill is being debated for over a decade, having been tossed over three different governments.
"The fate of the bill is now uncertain and this is extremely regrettable since recently, consensus was achieved with the Opposition. However, a disruptive Parliament once again rendered this effort fruitless," he said.
Parekh, at the same time, lauded the steps taken by many states to move ahead with computerisation of land titles.