Inviting Australian businesses to “invest and make in India”, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said sectors such as railways, defence and manufacturing now offer huge scope for foreign investments with liberalised FDI norms.
“India could manage to become a very low-cost service provider but failed to transform into a low-cost manufacturing,” Jaitley said.
Launching ‘Make in India’ conference on the second day of his four-day visit to Australia, Jaitley invited Australian businesses to be a part of India’s growth story. Separately, during a bilateral meeting with Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop, Jaitley said there is a lot of scope for foreign investment in India in various sectors, which have now been opened up to FDI, including railways, defence and manufacturing. “Global investors must seriously look at in terms of investing in India. The constituency that supports economic reforms in India today are far more bigger than the one which obstructs it... Any market that occupies 1/6 of the global population, 35-40% of them in middle class. Its purchasing power increasing by the day. Where else will you get a market of this size?”
Listing out the various reform measures undertaken by the Modi government in the last 22 months, Jaitley said India faced three major challenges -- it needs to boost exports in view of shrinking global trade, increase private investment and is hoping for a better monsoon this year after insufficient rains for two consecutive years. “For two consecutive years, we are the fastest-growing economy in the world. When we measure ourselves by our own standards, we believe that 7.5% does not reflect our true potential.”
India has to invest in infrastructure to prepare a base for an economy of this huge size, he said. “Manufacturing must occupy a space.”
Adani coal project not on agenda
During his ongoing Australia tour, Finance minister Arun Jaitley dismissed reports that he would push for funds for Adani’s $16.5 billion coal mine project during his meetings with Australian leaders, saying this was not on his agenda.
Asked if he would discuss the issue of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland with the Australian leaders he was meeting during his visit, Jaitley said, “not really”.
“This is subject which is internal to Australia and this is not the purpose of my visit,” he said.
His remarks came as media reports earlier had said that Jaitley was likely to push for easy funding for Adani’s controversy-hit project.
The reports said that Adani’s project would figure in talks when the finance minister would meet Peter Costello, the head of Australia’s sovereign wealth fund called Future Fund.
Adani CEO Jeyakumar Janakraj said the Adani issue was not on the agenda of Jaitley’s visit.