The Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman, on Thursday, reviewed the performance of Special Window for Affordable and Mid Income Housing (SWAMIH) with ministry officials and senior management team of the State Bank of India, SBI Capital Markets Ltd and SBICAPS Ventures Limited (SVL).
The fund has so far approved 81 projects with an investment of Rs 87.67 billion.
The SWAMIH Investment Fund has progressed from a policy announcement to an operational initiative on the ground. It has approved 81 projects that will enable the completion of almost 60,000 homes across India. These projects are spread across a mix of markets including large cities such as the National Capital Region (NCR), Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune and also Tier-2 locations including Karnal, Panipat, Lucknow, Surat, Dehradun, Kota, Nagpur, Jaipur, Nashik, Vizag and Chandigarh.
Amongst these projects, investments in 18 projects have been given final clearance and disbursement is at various stages across seven residential projects. Applications from 353 stressed projects were under examination for the provision of assistance.
It was also highlighted that activation of these construction sites by the special window would provide employment opportunities for various skilled and semi-skilled labourers. Additionally, the fund is actively evaluating options to provide relief to nearly 15,000 homebuyers in certain long-stalled projects that were pending before the Supreme Court for resolution.
While reviewing the performance achieved by the special window, Sitharaman appreciated the efforts. The recent initiative by the fund to reduce the cost of capital to 12 per cent has increased the number of projects that meet the funding criteria laid out under the special window. While acknowledging the steps taken by the special window to expedite participation from existing lenders, Sitharaman suggested that both private and public banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies (HFCs) should see the special window as a stakeholder and increase support for early completion of stressed projects.
The team also apprised the finance minister about the control mechanisms being built in by the fund to monitor project progress and ensure prudent utilisation by calibrating investments in line with project progress. These steps would also bring in greater transparency in the sector in terms of accountability of project cash flows and eliminating diversion of funds.
During the review meeting, the finance minister asked the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) to closely monitor the performance of the SWAMIH Investment Fund-I to ensure that the capital raised was rapidly committed to resolving stressed projects and remove any impediments that could arise in the process. Sitharaman also wanted speedy efforts to complete the construction of projects for which last-mile funding had been sanctioned. The opportunity provided by the special mandate in this fund combined with active support from existing project financiers should be directed towards this objective of providing immediate relief to homebuyers.
Sitharaman stated that this special window was an unprecedented initiative that had provided extraordinary support to the real estate sector and poised it at the cusp of a turnaround despite such turbulent economic times.