Real Estate Current Affairs - 2019
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Lok Sabha has passed Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to bring relief to the home buyers and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The Bill replaces ordinance promulgated in this regard and amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 provides time-bound process to resolution of insolvency among companies and individuals. Insolvency is situation where individual or company is unable to repay their outstanding debt. Government in November 2017 had set up Insolvency Law Committee to review IBC and identify issues in its implementation and suggest changes. The Committee had made several recommendations such as exempting MSMEs from certain provisions of IBC, treating allottees under real estate project as financial creditors, reducing voting thresholds of committee of creditors (CoC), among others. Subsequently, President had promulgated Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 in June 2018 after approval of Central Government.
Key Features of Bill
Status of allottees: The Bill clarifies that allottee under real estate project i.e. buyer of under-construction residential or commercial property will be considered as financial creditor, as amount raised from allottees for financing real estate project has commercial effect of a borrowing.
Representative of financial creditors: It specifies that in certain cases, such as when debt is owed to a class of creditors, the financial creditors will be represented on committee of creditors by authorised representative. These representatives will vote on behalf of financial creditors as per prior instructions received from them.
Voting threshold of committee of creditors: The voting threshold for decisions of committee of creditors has been lowered from 75% to 51%. For certain key decisions of committee like appointment of resolution professional, approval of the resolution plan and increasing time limit for insolvency resolution process threshold has been reduced from 75% to 66%.
Ineligibility to be resolution applicant: Bill amends criteria which prohibits certain persons from submitting resolution plan. It provides that this criterion will not apply if such applicant is financial entity and not related party to debtor with certain exceptions. It specifies that such bar will apply if such guarantee has been invoked by creditor and remains unpaid.
Applicability of Code to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs): The Bill specifies that ineligibility criteria for resolution applicants regarding Non Performing Assets (NPAs) and guarantors will not be applicable to persons applying for resolution of MSMEs. It empowers Central government in public interest to modify or remove other provisions of IBC while applying them to MSMEs.
Withdrawal of submitted applications: The Bill increases vote required for withdrawal resolution application from National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) after such process has been initiated by 90% vote of committee of creditors.
President Ram Nath Kovind has assented to the promulgation of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 on June 6, 2018. This ordinance makes some fine-tuning mechanisms in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
This ordinance brings some specific changes affecting mainly real estate and financial sectors. The notable changes are as follows:
Homebuyers Recognized as Financial Creditors
After this amendment, the IBC law will recognize the homebuyers as financial creditors, giving them due representation in the Committee of Creditors (CoC). Thus, now home buyers will be an integral part of the decision making process. The CoC will also have representation from security holders, deposit holders and all other financial creditors.
Special Provisions for MSME
The amendment ordinance gives some special benefits to the Micro, Small and Medium Sector Enterprises. Now, the promoters of MSMEs are allowed to bid for their companies as long as they are not wilful defaultersand don’t attract any other related disqualification. This has corrected the anomaly in the section 29A of the existing act which had barred promoters of defaulting assets from bidding for their assets.
Withdrawal of Insolvency Application
The ordinance permits the withdrawal of the insolvency applications only if it is approved by 90% vote share of the CoC. Further, the CoC voting threshold has been brought down to 66 percent from 75 percent for all major decisions such as approval of resolution plan, extension of insolvency period etc. This is to encourage resolution versus liquidation.
Other notable provisions are as follows:
- It brings more clarity by laying down mandatory timelines, processes and procedures for corporate insolvency resolution process.
- Addresses some issues such as non-entertainment of late bids, no negotiation with the late bidders and a well laid down procedure for maximizing value of assets.
- Exempts pure play financial entities from being disqualified on account of NPA and NPA acquired under Insolvency Code shall not disqualify an entity for the next three years.
- Successful resolution applicants will get a minimum one-year grace period to fulfill various statutory obligations.
- It also addresses the much litigated issue of enforcement of guarantees.
This part, the corporate debtors who want to themselves trigger insolvency will need shareholders approval via special resolution.
Significance for Real Estate
This ordinance provides relief to home buyers by recognizing their status as financial creditors. Due representation in the Committee of Creditors (CoC) makes them integral part of the decision-making process. Section 7 of the law will allow financial creditors to file application seeking insolvency resolution process. This is important because many home buyers are facing hardships on account of delayed and incomplete real estate projects.