Narendra Modi hardsells India as lucrative investment destination at ASEAN Business and Investment Summit

Adressing ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Manila, Narendra Modi touted India's growth story and wooed investors, while hardselling his government's economic reform initiatives to boost trade and investment.

Reiterating the various economic reforms undertaken by his government, Modi pointed out that his administration  completed the "very complex transition" to the Goods and Services Tax (GST), adding much still needed to be done.

Manila: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses businessmen in a parallel event of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. India is one of Eleven "Dialogue Partners" of the ASEAN. AP

Manila: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses businessmen in a parallel event of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. AP

Modi said that demonetisation coupled with measures like linking of the Aadhaar number with bank accounts has led to formalisation of a big part of the Indian economy.

"We are using our unique ID system in financial transactions and taxation for this purpose and the results are already visible."

"These steps, coupled with demonetisation of high value notes, has resulted in fomalising a large part of our economy. The number of new tax payers filing income tax returns has more than doubled. Digital transactions have increased by 34 percent as we march together to a less-cash economy," he said.

The prime minister is in Manila to attend the 31st ASEAN Summit.

Modi said that foreign direct investment for up to 90 percent industries is on automatic approval route, adding the country's economy is now "globally integrated".

"The task of transforming India is proceeding at an unprecedented scale. We are working day and night towards easy, effective and transparent governance," Modi said.

Modi listed all major economic reform measures taken by his government including rolling out of the GST and new laws and institutions for bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings. He said 1,200 out-dated laws have been repealed in the last three years as part of reform measures.

He said that his government believed in emphasising on 'minimum government, maximum governance', adding that about 1,200 outdated laws have been repealed in the last three years in the country to boost ease of doing business.

"India has climbed 30 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index this year. It is the biggest jump by any country this year and a recognition of India's long term reform trajectory. And, the world is taking notice. We have moved up 32 places in the last two years in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum," Modi said.

He said that while on one hand his government was focusing on churning out more entrepreneurs and establishing India as a global manufacturing hub, on other hand, schemes like the Jan Dhan Yojana transformed lives of millions of common people who did not have access to banking services.

Modi also pointed out how India has used the scheme to not only bring the rural populace into the banking system but has minimised the leakages in deliverance of government subsidies.

Modi said that under 59 schemes, subsidy payments (to the tune of $10 billion) are under direct benefit transfer.  "Today, the government is using Direct Benefit Transfers for 59 different schemes. Subsidies worth nearly $10 billion are being directly transferred to the bank accounts of the intended beneficiaries," he added.

"For the first time in India, collateral-free loans have been disbursed to more than 90 million small entrepreneurs under the Mudra scheme. Very near to the population of Philippines," the prime minister said.

Modi said that he wanted Indians to be job creators and not job seekers.

The prime minister said 36 "white industries" have been taken out from the requirement of environmental clearance. Incorporating a company is now just a one day affair, he said. Modi also talked about the open auction policy for natural resources including telecom spectrum, coal mines and other minerals and even private radio channels, which he said has together contributed about $75 billion in revenue.

"Using technology, we are enhancing responsibility and reducing discretion and corruption. We are using our Unique ID system in financial transactions and taxation for this purpose and the results are already visible. These steps, coupled with demonetisation of high value notes has resulted in formalising a large part of our economy," he said.

Modi said the number of new tax payers filing income tax returns has more than doubled and that digital transactions have increased by 34 per cent in one year, as "we march towards a less-cash economy".

"We have used technology to reach out to people. An online citizen engagement platform, MyGov has harnessed ideas, suggestions and inputs on policies and  programmes from 2 million pro-active citizens," he added.

Claiming that South and Southeast Asia will be the growth engine of the world, Modi claimed that India attaches topmost priority to boosting economic ties with ASEAN countries. Modi said India wants to build land, sea and air connectivity to this dynamic region and that work is already on in the construction of the tri-
lateral highway through Myanmar and Thailand to connect to other countries in South East Asia.

"We are working on the early conclusion of the Agreement on Maritime Transport between India and ASEAN and are exploring coastal shipping services with countries that are our immediate maritime neighbours," he added.

The trade ties between India and ASEAN are on an upswing and both sides want to further boost the trade and investment cooperation.

"The 'Act East' policy of my government puts this region at the centre of our engagement. We have exceptionally good political and people-to-people relations with each and every country in the ASEAN region," he said.

The ASEAN region along with India together comprises combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is one fourth of the global population and their combined GDP has been estimated at over $3.8 trillion.

Investment from ASEAN to India has been over $70 billion in the last 17 years accounting for more than 17 percent of India’s total FDI. He listed a host of infrastructural projects currently under consideration, while inviting investors from the ASEAN nations to boost regional cooperation for mutual growth.

He said India is organising an ASEAN–India Connectivity Summit in New Delhi next month with ministers, officials and business representatives from all ASEAN countries. India is also organising an ASEAN–India Commemorative Summit of ASEAN leaders in January next year.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Nov 13, 2017 21:47 PM

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