London: British Premier David Cameron's Infrastructure Envoy to India Alok Sharma is visiting India this week to discuss ways to build closer economic and financial ties between the two countries especially in capital markets and raising joint funds for infrastructure investment.
The Indian-origin British MP is the key contact between the UK and Indian governments, Indian public and private sector infrastructure companies and British financial practitioners as part of his new role as the Infrastructure Envoy announced soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's UK visit last November.
"I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron as his Infrastructure Envoy to India, this is an incredibly exciting role," Sharma said on the eve of his five-day visit starting Monday.
Sharma is making his first visit to India since being appointed Cameron's Infrastructure Envoy.
"Plans to launch a flagship rupee-denominated bond in London by the Indian Railway Finance Corporation was a key announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to the UK and a strong endorsement of the UK's position as a leading international financial sector.
The Indian government has a hugely ambitious programme of infrastructure projects and I look forward to working closely with colleagues in both governments to ensure that we develop rupee-linked debt markets and build closer ties between the UK and Indian capital markets," he said.
During the Economic and Finance Dialogue between the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in London last month, both countries agreed to explore ways to encourage increased investment in infrastructure with the aim of developing an India-UK partnership fund under the umbrella of India's flagship infrastructure investment initiative, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
Sharma's visit will coincide with the maiden visit to India of Harriett Baldwin, Economic Secretary to the UK Treasury, also known as 'City minister' because of her responsibility for the City of London's financial centre.
They will both discuss the prospects for this collaboration with key private and public sector leaders, with the expectation of signing terms of reference governing the partnership at the G20 finance ministers meeting in Beijing later this month.
With the recent upsurge in rupee denominated bonds listed in London's financial markets last year, Baldwin and Sharma will hold deliberations with Indian Ministers and Reserve Bank of India Governor to encourage listing of rupee bonds in London.
They will discuss how the City of London can develop as a trading hub for the rupee, and the potential for cooperation on green financing that can help to fund India's renewable energy and clean transport plans.
Baldwin said, "Developing closer economic and financial ties between India and Britain is key to boosting exports and investment, and creating growth in both of our economies. That's why I am delighted to visit India to bolster our cooperation across several key areas.
India is the fastest growing major economy in the world, and with a population of over a billion people, the opportunities for UK financial firms to partner with and export to India are unlimited."
The two British government representatives will meet Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, and other senior leaders from the banking and the financial services sector, via one to one meetings and roundtables.
Both the leaders will discuss key areas of shared interest between the two countries including financial inclusion, regulatory reform, financial technology, and the raising of finance in the UK to fuel India's growth.