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Punjab ministers to act as ‘goodwill ambassadors’ on NRI land
Five Akali ministers of the SAD-BJP coalition government in Punjab will leave for the US and Canada in the first week of July as ‘goodwill ambassadors’ of the state government.
The ministers will hold a series of meetings with Punjabi diaspora and talk about the achievements of the eight-year tenure of the state government and also its ‘special efforts’ for protecting the interests of NRIs in Punjab.
As per the plan, irrigation minister Sharanjeet Singh Dhillon, rural development and panchayats minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, education minister Daljeet Singh Cheema, water supply and sanitation minister Surjeet Singh Rakhra, Agriculture minister Tota Singh and CPS (rural development and panchayats) Mantar Singh Brar are part of the “goodwill team”.
NO BJP INVOLVEMENT
It seems to be purely an Akali show and there is no involvement of BJP. Revealed as a brainchild of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the upcoming tour by the ministers involves different teams which will meet various groups of Punjabi NRIs in different cities of the US and Canada. The state government is also involving the officials of Union ministry of external affairs to assist these ministers during their meetings with Punjabi diaspora.
At a number of places, including New York in the US and (Brampton) Toronto and Calgary in Canada, a tentative plan has been circulated and the relatives and friends of the visiting ministers have been asked to book the venues to hold meetings.
The ministers and the deputy CM, who is also president of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), is expected to finalise the tour plan and each location to be focused by a particular group of ministers, by Friday.
Sources said the ministers have been told to foot their bill on their own or ask their NRI friends and relatives to make arrangements.
“We would talk about our government’s achievements and ask NRIs not to spread bad publicity about their home state where they were born, grew up and have their families,” a minister told HT while requesting anonymity.
It was further revealed that the ministers have been asked to take along the data of the issues of NRIs resolved by the state government in recent times. “The government held three sangat darshans especially for the NRIs in Moga, Ludhiana and Jalandhar wherein 176, 174 and 200-plus complaints from the NRIs were received. Out of these complaints, more than 70% were resolved while the remaining pertain to the issues the NRIs have with their own family members in which government can’t do much,” adds a minister.
The ministers’ tour is also seen as an effort by the Akalis to neutralise the impact of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is being much talked about in the NRI circles. The NRIs are also expected to offer monetary support to the AAP, in case it contests the 2017 assembly polls in state. A major section of NRIs had supported AAP during 2014 parliamentary elections.
Source : hindustantimes.com
Register and breathe easy
Everyone at one point of time or other as a tenant or as a landlord, has entered into a rent agreement. At the time of entering into a rent agreement, all kinds of thoughts come to our mind; whether parties to the agreement shall adhere to the terms. If not, then what are the remedies available against such a breach? Equally important issue that comes to our mind is about the legal sanctity of the agreement.
The landlord and the tenant must enlist all requisite details such as name, father’s name, address etc. The tenant should verify as to whether the landlord has the capacity to let out the premises. The rent agreement must clearly include the rent agreed between the parties and the amount of increase of the rent should also be pre-decided and clearly incorporated in the agreement. The period or tenure of the tenancy being another crucial aspect of agreement must also be included in the agreement. The termination of tenancy is also often the subject matter of dispute in courts of law and must be codified in the agreement. The agreement must contain the purpose for which the premises are being put on rent. The rent agreement should also contain clause relating to payment of compensation to landlord by tenant in case of tenant overstaying in the tenanted premises. Though the police verification of the tenant by the landlord is not part of the contents of the rent agreement, however, it is prudent to first get the tenant verified by the police before entering into an agreement.
The advantage of properly drafted rent agreement is that the tenant is protected from the continuous demand of exorbitant rent by the landlords and the possibility of indiscriminate eviction. Rent agreement should also have clarity with regard to the payment of Property Tax, electricity dues, water dues, club fee, maintenance charges etc. Disputes have arisen between landlord and tenant on account of lack of clarity in the rent agreement as to who would be liable to pay such dues during the subsistence of agreement. Hence, rent agreement should clearly spell out such dues payable by landlord or tenant. Security deposit is a refundable amount on compliance of certain essentials which usually finds place in rent agreement. Damages to the tenanted premises, if any, are to be adjusted from security deposit.
Sound legal turf
Rent agreement having a period of more than 11 months is mandatorily required to be registered. For registration, stamp duty and registration fee have to be paid. To ensure its enforceability, registration of such rent agreements and payment of stamp duty on it are required under the law. Section 17 of the Registration Act 1908, makes it compulsory to get such agreement registered. Non-registration of rent agreement shall have serious consequences in determination of rights and liabilities of parties in case of disputes arising out of the agreement. It is always advisable to have a registered rent agreement in order to give legal sanctity to the rights and obligations of the parties. Rent agreements are usually entered into for only 11 months. One reason for this is to avoid payment of stamp duty at the time of registration of rent agreement. As per the Registration Act, 1908, clause (d) of sub-section (1) of Section 17, registration of the property that is on lease for one year or more is compulsory. However, if the parties had the intention right at the beginning of entering into the agreement to extend the same beyond the period of 11 months and in order to avoid payment of stamp duty, it was not registered, there is a possibility that court may even not accept the terms of rent agreement of this kind. Therefore, it is advisable to get the rent agreement registered properly.
These are some of the safeguards which ought to be followed by both tenant and landlord.
- Section 17 of the Registration Act 1908, makes it mandatory for registration of rent agreement of one year or more.
- Rent agreement should include other financial aspects of rent agreement other than the payment of rent namely payment of Property Tax, electricity dues, water dues, etc. of tenanted premises.
- Police verification of tenant is also necessary to avoid any legal complication
- Tenant should be careful with regard to tendency of the landlord to incorporate exorbitant compensation in the rent agreement payable by tenant to landlord in case of overstay of tenant beyond the period mentioned in the rent agreement. Law requires the damages should be genuine and realistic.
Punjab NRI Sabha headless since March
The Non-Resident India (NRI) Sabha, Punjab, has become a defunct organisation in absence of a regular president with the sabha failing to carry out its routine work in absence of any elected representatives.
Even as Jalandhar divisional commissioner R Venkatraman has been entrusted the charge of administrator of the sabha on March 4 by the state government ever since last president Jasvir Singh Shergill left the office but since the division commissioner is already overburdened with many other assignments, including his fresh posting as principal secretary in Chandigarh, routine work of the organisation has been hampered.
It was only due to the absence of regular administrators that the NRI Sabha faced embarrassment when it failed to pay the bills for the telephones and the Internet usage and ultimately, the telephone providers had to cut off the connections.
Sources in the sabha said the reason behind non-payment of bills was the delay in getting sanctions for the payment of bills from the administrator’s office. After this embarrassment hit the headlines, the bills were paid immediately and services were restored for three connections.
As per an NRI Sabha senior official, another reason behind delaying of bills was the move of the divisional commissioner to check the spending made in the tenure of previous president. Sources said the division commissioner is irked at the over-spending made during previous payments in which the sabha had total 17 mobile connections for only 15 employees.
The routine functioning of the sabha has also been hit as there is no person sitting on the head of the employees to directly monitor the functioning and the sabha employees have also been found irregular.
The sources said the other work of the NRIs have also been hit as the files first go to the table of the division commissioner to get the clarity. Notably, the NRI Sabha here remains flooded with complaints.
Meanwhile, sources in the state government have disclosed that there could be more delay in conducting the elections as the possible contenders for the post of presidents were in no mood carry the polls in coming two months citing that most of the NRI member of sabha were not in country and have gone overseas because of summers here.
“Generally, number of the NRIs remains maximum in Punjab in October and November month and that is the best suitable time to carry the polls in order to ensure the proper participation of NRIs” said a contender.
The Jalandhar division commissioner was not available for the comments, despite repeated attempts made to contact him. However, as a part of making preparation for the polls, the sabha has started verifying the voters list following reports that many “bogus” persons have been registered as voters.
During the last elections conducted in January, 2013 as well, the issue of bogus registration of votes had caste its shadow over the polls with a group led by former president of the NRI Sabha Kamaljit Singh Hayre, challenging the voters list in Punjab and Haryana High Court after Shergill was elected the chief.
It is seen as a move by the government to boost foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country but may not make a substantial difference on the ground.
The government has now announced that any investments by non-resident Indians (NRIs) on a non-repatriable basis in Indian equities or convertible debentures would be treated as investment by residents and not FDI. “This creates headroom for further FDI in companies engaged in sectors where there is an FDI cap. If a sector, say defence, has an FDI limit of 49 per cent of which five per cent is accounted for by non-repatriable investments of NRIs, then effectively only 44 per cent is open for FDI. Now, with the change in rules, the five per cent is freed for further FDI,” says Daksha Baxi, Executive Director, Khaitan & Co.
There are a total of 17 sectors with FDI caps. These include defence (49 per cent), insurance (49 per cent), telecom (74 per cent) and private sector banking (74 per cent).
Meanwhile, the government has also expanded the definition of NRIs to include persons of Indian origins (PIOs) and overseas citizens of India (OCI) cardholders. It expects these steps would “result in increased investments across sectors and greater inflow of foreign exchange remittances leading to economic growth of the country”.
Would the move really deliver the kind of result that the government and some analysts expect? If at all it does, how big could be the impact of these moves? To understand that, we have to first figure out what exactly has changed.
And while there may be a positive buzz around the announcement, the truth is that it is not a major change in policy. The government itself made it clear that the announcement is “meant to provide clarity in the FDI policy as such investment (so far) is not included in the category of foreign investment.” “The recent announcement is just a formal clarification by the government and I don’t see it having a significant impact on the flow of FDI. There are very few sectors anyway with an FDI cap,” says Shefali Goradia, Partner, BMR & Associates, a tax and merger and acquisition advisory firm.
The relaxation in FDI norms is actually only for investments made under Schedule 4 of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), which lays down the specific details for investments in shares and convertible debentures by NRIs on a non-repatriable basis (the investment cannot be encashed and taken to a foreign country).
WHAT IT ENTAILS
There is little data available that tell us the quantum of investments under Schedule 4 of FEMA which states that shares and convertible debentures can be bought “by way of inward remittance through normal banking channels from abroad or out of funds held in NRE (non- resident external)/FCNR (foreign currency non-resident account)/NRO (non-resident ordinary) accounts”. While substantial amount of funds flow into India through NRI remittances or NRI deposit accounts, only a small fraction is believed to find its way into equities and debentures.
In 2014/15, FDI inflows into Indian equities were to the tune of $32 billion, $7 billion more than in the previous year. According to the Reserve Bank of India, total NRI deposits of $14 billion flowed into India in 2014/15 and $38 billion in 2013/14. Obviously, not all the money goes into non-repatriable equity investments. The same is true about remittances that India receives. According to World Bank estimates, India likely received $71 billion in remittances in 2014.
Merger of PIO, OCI cards creates confusion for NRIs, embassies abroad await further instructions
Rupee, rules spur NRI mood
Indian Property Show opened at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday amid positive non-resident Indian investment sentiment spurred by a weakening rupee and expectations of a realty boom sparked by the investor-friendly Real Estate Regulation Bill.
Majid Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, inaugurated the three-day show at Hall No 6 of Dubai World Trade Center. The show is open to visitors between 11:00am and 8:00pm until Saturday with free entry and provision for free parking.
“The weaker rupee and the recent approval of the real estate regulation bill 2013 are expected to renew the NRI interests further and propel the real estate investments. The bill is a pioneering initiative to protect the interest of consumers, to promote fair play in real estate transactions and to ensure timely execution of projects”, said Sunil Jaiswal, president, Sumansa Exhibitions, organisers of Indian Property Show.
“It has been predicted that by 2030, Indian cities will be home to 800 million people. Which means 70 per cent of India’s total population will live in cities. To accommodate the demands of an urban expansion of such a speed, Xrbia’s mission is to build ‘100 new cities by 2030”, said Rahul Nahar, founder of Xrbia. Speaking on the impact of this bill on NRI investment, Sakshi Katiyal, Chairperson Home & Soul adds NRIs look for safe and profit driven investments. NRIs go through a number of hassled procedures to achieve the same. The buyer-seller transparency is surely going to vitalise the number of investments in future resulting in the next Real Estate Sector boom.
“NRI Investments will get a boost as a result of the bill as it will bring in lot of transparency. The application of RERA will regulate many key concerns related to quality, timely delivery, pricing etc”, said Nagraj Nallu, director at Newage Realty.
Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO – Residential Services, JLL India, said: “Regardless of its speed of growth, the fact remains that the Indian real estate sector is a dynamic one, and that long-term investments into it will pay off very well as long as the investment decision is sound. “The sector is expected to grow at 30 per cent over the next decade across the housing, retail, hospitality and commercial verticals. The market size is expected to touch $180 billion by 2020.
Singh said Indian real estate is a hot investment proposition. “As inventory has piled up in the two major cities of Delhi (the political capital) and Mumbai (the financial capital), customers can currently expect to get good bargains in these markets, as developers are offering discounts and attractive financial schemes like 20:80, 30:70, and 10:80:10.” The advantage that UAE-based NRIs (by far the largest contingent) have is that they earn in Gulf currencies that have traded strongly against the Indian rupee. This factor offsets a part of the house cost already.” Vasundhara.S., director -Marketing & Sales, Solitaire Business Hub, said Pune is the second most preferred market for UAE based NRI investors. “This is the best opportunity to invest in commercial real estate in Pune. With double the ROI compared to residential any smart investor would peg his repatriation value at bankable ROI’s which commercial real estate offers up front.”
A spokesman of Godrej Properties said it brings the group philosophy of innovation and excellence to the real estate industry. “Each Godrej Properties development combines a 118 – year legacy of excellence and trust with a commitment to cutting-edge design and technology. Godrej Properties is currently developing residential, commercial and township projects spread across 10.10 million square meters.” Widest choice of properties from across India is on display by more 150 developers from all over India. There are four regional pavilions alongside a special CREDAI Maharashtra section. The show brings you properties from Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Kolkata, Goa, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mangalore and many more cities. Some of the participating exhibitors at the show are Home & Soul Ingrates, Xrbia Developers Ltd, Newage Realty, Hiranandani, JP Infra, Kalpataru, Kanakia, Lakhani Developers, Lodha Group, Mantri Group, Paradise, Wadhwa Group, Saya Homes, Antriksh Group, Covai Property Centre (I) Pvt Ltd, Poomalai Housing, Artha Properties, Ansal Housing, SuvilasProperties, Ozone Group, ShapoorjiPallonji, Rachana Lifestyle, Investors Clinic, ICICI bank among many others.
The show also feature free, interactive and informative seminars on all three days from 1:00pm – 8:00pm These seminars aim to guide buyers on the booming real estate market and help answer questions like investment opportunities, property hot spots, where to invest and why, property trends and outlook etc. There are also seminars focusing on Vastu and legalities. Top rated lawyers from key Indian cities would be present at the respective regional pavilion.
Visitors at the Indian Property Show are entitled to get free advice on any of their property related matter whether it is for new property purchase; concerns related to existing property, tenancy laws etc. Besides guidance on real estate matters, there will also be informative and educative “Legal Seminars” by leading advocates from the different regions across India.
Show’s “Property Dhamaka” feature offers exclusive deals and discounts, including attractive EMI and down payment options for on-the spot bookings.
RBI allows NRIs to invest in chit funds
Thanks to NRIs, 3 small Gujarat villages each have Rs 2,000cr bank deposits
Eight full-fledged branches of nationalized banks cater to just 1,292 households in the tiny hamlet Baladia, some 15km from Bhuj. The NRI-rich village boasts of bank deposits worth Rs 2,000 crore. Baladia is one of over a dozen wealthy Patel villages around Bhuj. With 7,630 households, bank deposits in Madhapar stand at Rs 5,000 crore. Kera village, home to 1,863 families, too has deposits of Rs 2,000 crore. Almost half of this is NRI money.
No wonder bank hoardings flashing interest rates for NRI deposits (up to 10%) is a common sight in these villages. “Some villages in Kutch like Madhapar and Baladia have very high NRI deposits. To the best of our knowledge, this is the highest in the country,” said K C Chippa, former convener of the State Level Banker’s Committee (SLBC) Gujarat. Between them, Madhapar, Baladia and Kera have 30 bank branches and 24 ATMs.
According to bankers, other villages with bank deposits in the range of Rs 100 to Rs 500 crore include Nanpura, Sukhpar, Samatra, Kodaki, Bharasar, Rampar-Vekara and Mankuva to name a few.
The top three villages draw majority of deposits from a large number of non-resident Gujaratis (NRGs). While Kutchi Patels dominate Baladia and Madhapar, Kera has a vast number of Khoja community NRGs.
“NRGs form over 60% of Baladia village population. They put all their money in bank deposits,” said Jadavji Garasia, a local businessman from Baladia.
According to a Dena Bank official, the district has NRI deposits of around Rs 9,181 crore, the second highest in the state after Ahmedabad. Bank deposits in Kutch total around Rs 24,353 crore.
Residents of these villages are settled mostly in countries like Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, the UK and Australia.
“The high number of deposits is because they feel indebted to their hometowns,” said Haribhai Halasia, former president of the Kutch Levua Patel Samaj in the UK. “People like me who are living in the UK come to Kutch every 3-4 years and try to pay back our native place,” said Halasia, who frequents his native village Madhapar, 20km from Bhuj. Halasia says there are about 2,500-3,000 people from Madhapar in Britain. Kutch Madhapar Karyalay, a body registered in the UK, has over 1,000 registered families from Madhapar.
Interestingly, those with high amount deposits also negotiate with banks for higher interest on their deposits. In many cases, banks also agree to pay them 0.25% or 0.5% more depending on the amount of deposits.
Are you an NRI planning to buy property in India? Read on…
First, the eligibility. Any person of Indian origin and having an Indian passport can invest in real estate. Further there is no limit on the number of property purchased by NRI in India. However, an NRI cannot purchase any form of agricultural land or farm house in India.
NRIs have the option of self-funding the home purchase, or can take a home loan. RBI has set guidelines for availing of home loans by NRIs, which say:
- Financial institutions are allowed to finance at most of 80 per cent of the total amount and the rest has to provided by the NRI
- EMIs or whole re-payment for the purchase of property can be paid either by way of funds remitted to India through regular banking channels or through the balance in the NRE, NRO, FCNR account. Cheques issued from the NRIs local relatives’ bank account is also accepted.
- NRI can also take loans from financial institutions for repair and renovation of one’s home in India.
If an NRI has inherited property in India, one would have to pay tax on deemed income. Under Section 24 of the income-tax act, the interest paid on the housing loan is deductible from the income from house property to the extent of Rs 1.5 lakh per annum, and one can also deduct principle repayment up to Rs 1 lakh under Section 80C. However, this will be applicable only to the income earned inside India.
Another important factor is to decide where to buy the land / property. One should not just take an investment decision based on advertisements, but select the property after taking a look at it (or having a relative / friend look it over), and also taking into account factors such as climatic condition, amenities, etc.
It is advisable for NRIs to give a power of attorney (PoA) to a local/Indian resident, i.e, a person who has been residing in (relative or friend), as this person can look after all formalities related to purchase of property, such as registration, possession, execution of agreement deed, collecting no dues, etc. However, it is important to note that the PoA must be attested by any authorised official of the Indian embassy/consulate or trade commissioner in that country.
Punjab forms four members committee to address NRI’s issues