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Pranab positive on India's debt scene

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived in New York on Wednesday banking on India's reforms and growth potential to seek investments amid international apprehensions about the global economy. Saubhadra Chatterji reports.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2011 21:38 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived in New York on Wednesday banking on India's reforms and growth potential to seek investments amid international apprehensions about the global economy.


While Europe reels under a debt crisis, Mukherjee will also tell investors that New Delhi's sovereign debt is at a concessional rate over a long repayment period. "We don't have to worry about any debt issue," he said.

Although the government failed to push most of its bills in monsoon session of parliament, Mukherjee told HT on board Air India flight, "my message in the US will be that reforms are taking place in various sectors. But in a democracy, legislations may require wider consultations."

In his meetings with the US India Business Council (USIBC) and 8th annual investment forum, the finance minister will highlight the recently-introduced land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement bill to show the government's commitment to reforms.

"I will also say that the new Direct Tax Code (DTC) will get introduced from April 2012 and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill is likely to be implemented sometime in 2012," Mukherjee told HT.

Mukherjee also harps on youth issue — a political tool of the ruling Congress party — to drive home the point that India enjoys the demographic dividend. "Labour force in India will rise by 32% over next twenty years, when 70% Indians will be of working age. But in the industrialised countries and China, the workforce is on a decline at 4% and 5% respectively," he said.

During his four-day long US trip, Mukherjee is slated to hold meetings with World Bank, IMF, G24, G20 apart from his bilateral talks with some counterparts.

Seeking investments, Mukherjee will also highlight that India enjoys a huge domestic market: "India doesn't need to go elsewhere to find markets. Our growth is largely driven by this domestic demand."

"We have an average rate of investment of 36.5%, the rate of domestic saving is 34%. So it is possible to have 9%growth," he said.