At roundtable with global investors, PM Modi pitches atmanirbhar Bharat

Updated on Nov 05, 2020 11:44 PM IST

India, which is Asia’s third-largest economy after China and Japan, had seen a record 23.9% contraction in the first quarter of the current financial year because of the Covid-19 outbreak and the ensuing 68-day nationwide lockdown restrictions since March 25.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is the best place for generating long-term returns as it is among the countries that have the lowest corporate tax rates.(PTI File Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is the best place for generating long-term returns as it is among the countries that have the lowest corporate tax rates.(PTI File Photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRajeev Jayaswal

India’s quest to become atmanirbhar (self-reliant) is a “well-planned economic strategy” to make the country a global manufacturing powerhouse, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told 20 major global investors and invited them to become part of a “New India” in-the-making that would be free of old practices.

“Today, India is changing and for the better. From fiscal irresponsibility to fiscal prudence, from high inflation to low inflation, from reckless lending creating non-performing assets [NPAs] to merit-based lending, from infrastructure deficit to infrastructure surplus, from mis-managed urban growth to holistic and balanced growth and from physical to digital infrastructure,” he said at the virtual global investor roundtable on Thursday evening organised by the ministry of finance and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

The roundtable was focused on discussions around India’s economic and investment outlook, structural reforms and the government’s vision for the path to a $5 trillion economy, a person present in the meeting said requesting anonymity.

“It was well-timed as pandemic-hit Indian economy is fast recovering from a record low and it is encouraging investments,” the person said.

India, which is Asia’s third-largest economy after China and Japan, had seen a record 23.9% contraction in the first quarter of the current financial year because of the Covid-19 outbreak and the ensuing 68-day nationwide lockdown restrictions since March 25.

“But, there are some definite signs of economic recovery,” he said. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection, an indicator of consumption, saw a 10% year-on-year jump in October and Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for both manufacturing (58.9) and services (54.1) show expansion last month.

PM Modi said the world witnessed India’s grit and determination to fight the pandemic. “India has shown remarkable resilience in this pandemic, be it fighting the virus or ensuring economic stability,” he said.

“I’m happy to see your eagerness to enhance your engagement with us,” PM said, adding that India is committed to sustainable growth. “Today, investors are moving towards companies which have a high Environmental, Social and Governance [ESG] score. India already has systems and companies which rank high on this. India believes in following the path of growth with equal focus on ESG,” he said.

Soliciting investment, PM said, “I’m aware that I’m addressing some of the best financial brains. The ones who can convert new areas of innovation and growth into sustainable business propositions. At the same time, I am conscious of your requirement to provide the funds in your trust, the best and safest long-term returns.”

According to a finance ministry official, large pension and sovereign wealth funds such as Australian Super, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, Future Fund, GIC, Japan Post Bank, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Korean Investment Corporation, Mubadala, Nippon Life, Pension Denmark, Qatar Investment Authority and US International Development Finance Corporation participated the virtual conference.

The Prime Minister said India is the best place for generating long-term returns as it is among the countries that have the lowest corporate tax rates and enumerated policy decisions taken to enable private enterprise to flourish in the country.

“Strategic disinvestment and monetization of assets on a scale not seen before. Historic decision to bring down our share in public sector undertakings to below 51 percent. Policy regimes for private participation in new sectors like coal, space, atomic energy, railways, civil aviation and defence. New Public Sector Undertakings Policy for a rationalized foot-print of public sector,” he said.

“If you want returns with reliability, India is the place to be. If you want demand with democracy, India is the place to be. If you want stability with sustainability, India is the place to be. If you want growth with a green approach, India is the place to be,” he said.

Inviting investors to participate in India’s growth, the PM said the country has the potential to catalyse global economic resurgence. “Any achievement by India will have a multiplier impact on world’s development and welfare. A strong and vibrant India can contribute to stabilization of the world economic order,” he said.

Mark Machin, president and CEO of CPP Investments, remarked that the roundtable was very productive. “India is key to our long-horizon investment strategy, focused on growth markets, and we have a strong appetite to build on our existing investments across infrastructure, industrial and consumer sectors,” a finance ministry statement quoted him as saying.

“India is an important market for CDPQ—we have invested several billions in sectors such as renewables, logistics, financial services and technology-enabled services—and we aim to strengthen our presence over the coming years,”Charles Emond, President and CEO of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), said.

“Pension fund investors dedicate large portions of their portfolios to assets expected to benefit from growing economies and markets. The structural reforms undertaken by India are likely to provide a strong foundation for such high growth well into the future,” Jase Auby, chief investment officer, Teacher Retirement System of Texas, USA said.

Divakar Vijayasarathy, Founder and Managing Partner, DVS Advisors LLP, said the atmanirbhar Bharat is the core of the Prime Minister’s economic vision. “He has also highlighted the change in culture at the macro level from fiscal responsibility to fiscal prudence, unplanned urban growth to wholistic growth, physical infrastructure to digital infrastructure.”

“The missing link for the atmanirbhar Bharat would be FTAs [free trade agreements] to boost export demand and additional measures to revive and sustain domestic demand,” he added.

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