Modi reaches out to Singapore business community

Singapore, Nov 24 (IANS) Admitting that there were still a number of regulatory and taxation issues in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday tried to hard sell the country’s business potential to Singapore’s corporate community and assured that he will do the hand-holding when they come to India.

“In the past few months, the interest of foreign investors in India has gone up tremendously. However, there were a number of regulatory and taxation issues which were adversely impacting on their sentiments. We have taken very decisive steps to remove many of the long-pending concerns,” Modi said.

He was addressing the Singaporean business community at the India-Singapore Economic Convention here in the city-state.

Referring that IMF chief Christine Lagarde has recently said that India is a bright spot in the global economy, Modi said: “I did not want to wait for that brightness to reach to you on its own. Hence, I am here. I am here to invite you to India in a bigger way. I have also come to assure you that I am there to carefully hold your hands.”

Modi was hopeful that the much-awaited goods and service tax regime will roll out from 2016.

He said India’s growth rate was 7.3 percent last year and the World Bank has projected even better growth this year.

“Indian economy is the fastest growing economy among major countries. We are also working hard that the benefits of this growth reaches to the common man.”

Modi observed that Singapore has emerged as the second largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in India. “Outward Indian FDI to Singapore has also increased in recent times. Singapore is now one of the top destinations for Indian investments.”

To take the partnership further, Modi said: “You have the habit of precision; India has the scope for expansion. You are fond of going vertical; India’s development is both vertical and horizontal. You are an exciting incubator; India is a vast laboratory. Thus, Singapore and India can work together in many promising areas.”

He also spoke of the potential of his pet projects like Digital India, Skill India and Start-up India Campaign. He also highlighted the various reforms that his government has taken.

“We are working hard to make sure that our tax regime is transparent and predictable. We are also keen to see that genuine investors and honest tax payers get quick and fair decisions on tax matters. To this objective, we have already made a number of corrections,” the prime minister said.

Modi said FDI inflows to India have gone up by 40 percent compared with previous year’s corresponding period.

Pointing out that the India was setting up a National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, Modi said: “We are also coming up with Tax Free Infrastructure Bonds with a view to broaden the corporate bond market. This will also provide long term finance for infrastructure.”

“For infrastructure, we have also decided to launch rupee bonds in some countries. Singapore could be among them. We are quite eager to work with Singapore in this regard.”

He also said that in the last 18 months of the National Democratic Alliance-run government, reforms were happening in a “big way” and were now reaching to the last mile.

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