Modi pushes global investments in attractive India (Roundup)

New York, Sep 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday invited the global investment community to invest in his country without inhibitions, and join his “Made in India” campaign, since it was not just among the fastest-growing economies but had also done much towards the ease of doing business.

Starting his scheduled engagements here on Thursday with a roundtable on the financial sector with the Who’s Who of this business in this global commercial capital, Modi also wanted the participants to give him a detailed note on what next could be done on the concerns they have over the perception of India as an attractive destination.

“Our economic growth rate last year was 7.3 percent,” the prime minister said at the hour-long meeting.

“There has been a 40 percent increase in foreign direct investment,” Modi said, adding institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and Moody’s had maintained that the economic climate in India was bound to improve even further.

While the engagement was a was close-door event, those privy to the deliberations said the prime minister not only made a strong pitch for India, which was normal for any head of state or government, but also was candid about matters that concerned some of them.

He also assured them that all remaining bottlenecks to doing business in India would be removed.

Among the chief executives of the financial world at the event were Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan, Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone, Charles Kaye of Warburg Pincus, Henry Kravis of KKR, Bill Ford of General Atlantic and Peter Hancock of AIG Insurance.

The others included Chase Coleman of Tiger Global and Vicki Fuller of NY State Common Retirement Fund.

During the interaction, Modi also outlined the steps taken by his 15-month old government to simplify the country’s tax laws and in attracting investments, domestic and foreign, especially in infrastructure. He said much had also been done to ease doing business in India.

Soon after the meeting, the representatives of US investors who engaged with Modi said the interaction was fruitful and that the prime minister was evocative in sending out his message.

“Overall, I was very pleased with the comments of the prime minister,” said Fuller, whom serves as the chief investment officer of the State Common Retirement Fund. “India is very attractive to us.”

Dimon, chairman, chief executive and president of J.P. Morgan, said: “It was a great meeting with PM and very constructive as well,” even as Schwarzman added: India has one of the highest levels of growth and has a pro-reform government.”

Later, speaking after the roundtable at the landmark Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where Modi is staying, Kalpana Morparia, the India CEO of JP Morgan, said: “It was not a political discussion, it was about investing in India.”

She said she was “absolutely” certain about investments flowing into India.

Modi, who arrived here late Wednesday on a five-day visit to a rousing welcome from members of the diaspora, has a double agenda in the USA’s east and west coasts: High-level diplomacy as at the UN General Assembly and promoting his “Make in India” and “Digital India” initiatives.

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