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FM Arun Jaitley urges foreign players to invest in infrastructure, railways

FM Arun Jaitley urges foreign players to invest in infrastructure, railways

NEW DELHI: India is a bright spot amid global economic turbulence but has the potential to expand even faster, said finance minister Arun Jaitley, adding that the government is committed to putting in place a framework to boost growth and investment.

“We have eased processes. And several conditionalities which made investment process more difficult- those conditionalities have also been sliced away,” he said in his inaugural address at the India Investment Summit on Thursday in the national capital.

The government, he said, has ensured that “decision making becomes faster, policy changes and improvements, including structural reforms, which are to take place–the pace of those reforms is consistent and direction is one way itself.” In the 19 months of the Narendra Modi government, India has “opened the gates for investment,” he said, pitching the country as an attractive destination to foreign investors, including representatives of sovereign wealth funds and pension funds at the conference. This includes making it easier to do business in the country, he said. “One of the greatest challenges before India was to reestablish the credibility of its markets and… establish the credibility of the economy,” he said.

“It was important that we not only reform but continue reform only in one direction.”

Investors look for credibility when seeking options, he said. “Credibility is established by stability of policies, by consistent action in allowing it to grow and I think, in the midst of this otherwise global slowdown, it is a great opportunity that India has which we are fully trying to realise,” Jaitley said. He said the country needs improvements in infrastructure, the private sector and banking in order to achieve global standards. It needs substantial investment in infrastructure, including roads, highways, flyovers, railways, power, renewable energy, oil and gas, ports and airports.

“It will be a win-win situation for both India and those who are investing in India,” he said. “We want that both domestic and international resources are optimally used for development of the whole country.”

The government is committed to preserving the economic strength of the nation, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said. The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) can emerge as a major vehicle to attract large amounts of foreign investment, said State Bank of India chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.

The summit showcases the investment opportunities in India’s infrastructure sector.

The government set up the Rs 40,000 crore NIIF in December as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects.

Das said the government has already identified five-six infrastructure projects in the railway and highway sector.

The process of selecting the NIIF CEO is underway, with the job having been advertised globally. “We have received 70 applications,” Das said. Bhattacharya spoke of SBI’s engagement with NIIF.

“We will also look at whether we want to get involved in the fund. As you know, SBI is a debt lender. Our equity appetite is very low but to the extent that we do invest in various funds, we will think about some of these also,” she said. It was yet to take a call on this, she said.

( Originally published on Feb 04, 2016 )

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