India says foreign investment norms will become more open

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) The central government on Tuesday listed some 15 areas in which foreign investment norms have been liberalised, including defence, aviation and retail trade, adding that the exercise will facilitate further opening up of the economy.

“Today, India is the fastest-growing economy among major nations. The World Bank has improved India’s ranking by 12 places in the 2016 study of ease of doing business. Foreign direct investment has gone up by 40 percent,” an official note said.

The move comes within days of the ruling BJP’s crushing defeat in the Bihar assembly elections, and a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for his first visit to Britain.

“To further boost the entire investment environment and to bring in foreign investments into the country, the government has brought in foreign investment-related reforms and liberalisation touching upon 15 major sectors of the economy,” the note said.

“The crux of these reforms is to further ease, rationalise and simplify the process of foreign investments in the country and to put more and more proposals on the automatic route instead of government route where time and energy of the investors is wasted,” it added.

The note from the commerce ministry, which refers to initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has been asked to consolidate all foreign investment-related into one document.

“This exercise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is intended on the one hand to further open up the sectors for more foreign investments in the country, and also to make it easy to invest in India.”

Modi government has increased FDI limit in the insurance sector to 49 percent and allowed foreign participation in the defence sector to up to 49 percent. The government has also allowed up to 100 percent FDI in railway projects.

The government is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha where the opposition parties have blocked most of the reforms including the Goods and Services Tax bill.

The latest government move on FDI is being seen as aimed at sending out the message that the government continues to be focused on the economy and the reforms agenda.

India received $31 billion in foreign investment through the first half of 2015.

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