Modi's Push to Regulate Indian Builders Finds Bipartisan Support

  • Bill to set up real estate regulator clears upper house
  • Proposed law to help protect interests of property buyers

Three years after it was originally introduced, the upper house of India’s parliament approved a bill to establish a real-estate regulator in a rare show of bipartisanship by a legislature often known for gridlock and tit-for-tat politics.

Lawmakers in the Rajya Sabha passed the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill on Thursday after support from opposition parties including the Indian National Congress boosted numbers needed in the house, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party lacks majority. The bill will become a law once the lower house, or the Lok Sabha, also approves it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is seeking to improve credibility and transparency of the country’s real estate sector by establishing a regulator, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said in parliament on Thursday. In a largely unregulated and opaque market, consumers lack access to sufficient information while developers often get away with promises they don’t intend to keep, according to the government.

The proposed law would protect the interests of consumers and also boost the growth of property developers by ensuring their credibility. It would require more disclosure and penalize builders who change terms of contracts that have been agreed on.

“Increased focus has been placed on bringing in accountability and transparency in the sector whilst safeguarding the financial security of home buyers,” Rakesh Makkar, managing director, Fullerton India Home Finance Ltd. said in an e-mail. “Another positive is the speedy redressal of disputes in relation to construction of new houses.”

Many other crucial bills such as proposed legislation on a national sales tax and a new bankruptcy code stay stalled as the Congress party and its allies in parliament have blocked them over issues ranging from corruption allegations to claims of rising social strife in the nation.

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