Opening Indian economy to FDI has helped: Jaitley

Sydney, March 29 (IANS) India’s decision to open various sectors to foreign direct investment (FDI) has helped the country, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.

“Opening of the Indian economy and sectors like insurance, railways, defence and several others which were earlier unavailable for FDI has helped us,” he said at the Sydney campus of the SP Jain School of Global Management. Jaitley began a four-day visit to Australia.

“We have also removed the unnecessary conditionalities which were slowing down foreign direct investment and this, probably in greenfield projects, has made India the most sought after destination as far as FDI is concerned,” Jaitley said.

Describing the moves to ease doing business in India as “important work which is still in progress”, Jaitley said the NDA government was trying to make taxation systems compatible with global standards.

“There is a greater realisation in India that in the competitive world today, not only to attract foreign investors but also persuading domestic investors, we will have to ease our business processes. That’s an important work which is still in progress as far as India is concerned,” he said.

“In term of ease of doing business, you are measured by the stability of policies, by predictability, by cutting short the time between the decision to make an investment and actual implementation. You need few approvals and easy approvals.l

“We are now working on a direct tax system. we want to put disputes behind us. We want people to clean up their taxation issues and to bring down India’s corporate tax gradually to a fair international level which would be at a flat 25 percent,” he added.

Jaitley said reforms in key areas and focus on fiscal prudence and price stability have stabilised the economy and prepared ground for growth rates of 8 percent plus in the next few years.

“Despite the global slowdown, we have managed to maintain the growth rate of 7.5 percent. All our current figures are very acceptable and I am reasonably certain that as the global push to the economy improves, and hopefully we have better monsoon, and these figures will look even better in years to come,” he said.

Indian High Commissioner Navdeep Singh Suri said India was looking at strengthening bilateral relations with Australia across a wide canvas and Jaitley’s visit would be yet another building block in the process.

Australian High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu said Jaitley’s lecture was “a terrific talk”.

Earlier on Tuesday, Jaitley met the Premier of New South Wales Mike Baird and he invited businesses from the Australian province to invest in India.

According to an Indian finance ministry release in New Delhi, Baird told Jaitley that he intends to visit India during the next Vibrant Gujarat summit slated in January 2017.

Jaitley also inaugurated the Sydney Branch of state-run Union Bank of India.

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