Toronto: Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the government will set up independent regulators for coal and road sectors in four months and vowed to bring down fiscal deficit.
Beginning his campaign in North America for wooing foreign investments, he said India sees no difficulty in concluding a free trade pact with Canada. "There will be a road regulatory authority and a coal regulatory authority within two to four months," he said at the Canada India Business Council meeting here.
The visiting Indian minister said the regulatory authorities would become effective mechanisms to address problems being faced in implementation of road and coal projects. The meeting was attended by over 100 CEOs of top North American companies. Referring to the fiscal position of the Indian government, Chidambaram said that the government was committed to bring down the fiscal deficit.
"We are committed to fiscal consolidation. Right now the fiscal deficit is 5.3 per cent (of GDP) and we want to reduce it by 0.6 per cent every year till it comes down to 3 per cent (by 2016-17)...We have drawn the red line to implement our target," he said. Projecting India as an attractive investment destination with stable fiscal regime, he invited Canadian investments in sectors like infrastructure and food processing.
India, he said, wants both foreign direct investment as well as FII inflows. Later replying to a query on the proposed India-Canada comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), Chidambaram said the two countries are keen to sign the free trade pact in the near future. "I do not see any impediment to CEPA... I see no difficulty in negotiating CEPA," he said.India and Canada had launched CEPA negotiations in November 2010 to further boost bilateral trade and investment.
Both sides expect that bilateral trade between the countries will triple to USD 15 billion by 2015 from $5 billion at present. On the Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPPA), Chidambaram said there are certain legal issues which were being sorted out. The agreement once implemented will fulfil a key demand of businesses in the two countries, especially from Canada which has been eyeing India's growing market. Referring to the Indian oil and gas sector, Chidambaram said that his government was reviewing the policy. "...we want to move from production sharing model to revenue sharing model," he said.
Chidambaram is on a week-long visit to Canada and the US with an aim to attract foreign investments in India. Recently, he had visited other major global financial hubs including Japan, Hong Kong, Germany and Singapore, to sell the India growth story. In the US, he will also participate in the World Bank/IMF spring meetings in Washington.